When you’re running a busy and often pressurized business, you need to think carefully about the environment in which your employees work. If that environment is not as attractive as it can be made but, above all, is uncomfortable for people to work in, then you could be storing up problems ahead.
It’s useful for you to have a brief overview of what ergonomics is and how it can be applied successfully to your workspace.
Essentially, ergonomics is about designing a workspace for people wherever they have interactions with products, processes or systems. Good design often goes unnoticed because there’s no reason to notice it (unless, maybe, it’s exceptional). Poor design, however, does get noticed, so what ergonomics does is make sure that workspace design complements the abilities and strengths of your employees. Ergonomics minimizes the effects of people’s limitations and removes from them the need to adapt to an uncomfortable environment.
What can you do to establish or improve on the workspace ergonomics of your business?
The benefits of a process for workplace and ergonomics
There are several benefits to having a well-planned ergonomic workspace:
- Cost reduction: injuries and consequently absence from the workplace due to MSDs – musculoskeletal disorders – can be costly in terms of compensation and lost productivity. You can greatly reduce the risk of injury due to ergonomic factors by ensuring a good process is initiated and continued.
- Productivity improvement: employees who are comfortable in their workspace are likely to be more productive. If a job is designed so that it allows for good posture, the workstation can become more efficient.
- Quality improvement: poor ergonomics means that workers become tired and frustrated and consequently don’t work to their optimum level. A good environment will encourage them to concentrate on the work rather than problems with their bodies.
- Better health and safety: your employees will appreciate your business committing to ergonomics because they can see that it has health and safety as a core value. They are far more likely to engage with you if they are not experiencing discomfort and tiredness, and the likelihood is that it will increase turnover and employee involvement, decrease absenteeism – or lengthy periods off sick – and improve morale.
Designing the workspace well
- Lighting: poor lighting can cause eyestrain, fatigue, headaches and general irritability. It reduces concentration, making it harder to stay focused and to contribute creative input. You could work to get as much natural light in as possible and encourage employees to bring in their own lighting if this proves difficult given the constraints of your premises.
- Chairs and tables: comfortable seating and tables at the right height to prevent stretching and straining are an important part of good ergonomic design, cutting the potential for minor or serious back strains. Leather swivel chairs are ideal for comfort and maneuverability, so you should consider these as a good addition to your employees’ overall comfort.
The benefits of good ergonomics far outweigh the costs of implementing a process, and your employees will be responsive to an environment in which they feel comfortable and valued.