The way our work environment is set up has a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. Workplace design has evolved rapidly over recent years, with more companies recognising the importance of creating a healthy and productive environment for staff. Yet, we still see the same mistakes repeated, and often, it’s the small (most cost-effective) things that can make a big difference.
- Monitor arms
We regularly get asked to recommend task chairs for new projects. The client will sit, adjust, analyse, and evaluate multiple chairs in a line-up, larger clients tending to select from the higher-end ergonomic ranges. Often the chairs are then left on site for the end-users to test, remark on, and even score. They select a winner, and everyone gets an expensive ergonomic tool, usually neglecting one crucial element in the mix – adjustable monitor arms.
When we ask about monitor arms, we’re regularly told that it’s an IT decision and part of the IT budget. The computer screens come with a stand, so monitor arms are seldom ordered due to the perceived cost.
But, vision and reach influence posture, meaning everyone naturally hunches forward to see the screen. Just look around and see. When this happens, you lose contact with the back of the chair and its ergonomic benefit is wasted. An adjustable monitor arm is an easy solution to maximise your investment, maintain the correct seated position, and support range of motion.
- Mobile pedestals
Offices have changed from knowledge-based centres (where we’re paid for what we know) into idea-led centres (where we’re paid for what we can create). Various research shows that a higher number and better quality of ideas come from groups of two to six people. As a result, collaborative furniture is a common feature of the modern workplace.
It’s important to remember that most collaboration is unplanned. It usually happens at a single workstation, with someone showing another person their screen. Many offices continue to order mobile pedestals for personal storage, so it’s surprising when they don’t spend a little bit extra to expand their functionality by adding a cushion to make a seat. This fosters collaboration at the desk, ultimately saving on expensive meeting room space.
- Desk heights
Depending on the manufacturer, standard desk heights vary between 750mm and 720mm. This is because the height is chosen to match the adjacent storage, which, in turn, was designed to fit two foolscap folders placed on top of each other.
It’s a problem then that the typical desk accommodates someone between 6’2” and 6’4”, rather than reflecting the average person’s height. In a culturally diverse environment like the UAE, many office staff are from Asia where the average height tends to be lower, exacerbating the problem further. Not all employers can afford sit/stand workstations that go lower than standard desk height. In this case, a simple way to solve the issue is to provide footstools, allow the feet to be supported in a comfortable seated position, quickly increasing comfort and efficiency.