Ergonomic furniture. A topic that is making the rounds in the office world of interior design. If you’re not sure what it is, well then this is one piece you absolutely have to read, especially if you’re searching for new offices and you’re wanting to keep your employees happy, comfortable and healthy.
In the blog post, we’re going to look more closely at what makes furniture ergonomic, the harm office furniture does to our body if it’s not adaptable to our individual bodies as well as get some insight from Dr. Alexander Kraft on the world of ergonomic furniture.
WHAT IS ERGONOMIC FURNITURE?
“Ergonomic furniture describes products which have been designed with comfort, functionality and the movement of the human body in mind. This type of furniture is becoming more popular in modern office design schemes” – Penketh Group
We were privileged enough to have a talk with orthopedic doctor and author Messer Weg, Dr. Alexander Kraft to get his insights into why ergonomic furniture is so important in the workplace. He’s given us some tips and we’re all listening as our health is our top priority. Seeing as we spend 8+ hours in the office every day sitting down (most of the time), we thought it would be beneficial to all of us to shed some light on how to make your day sitting down at work a healthy one.
So without further ado, let’s get well informed by Dr. Alexander Kraft on the effects that ill-designed office furniture has on the body.
Dr. Alexander Kraft
Due to changes in the world of work today, people, jobs that still require physical activities in the workplace on a day-to-day basis are steadily decreasing. There is a massive increase in computer activity these days, which requires sitting for 8 hours per day or even longer. For physical activities, especially in the industrial sector, occupational health and safety measures are commonly employment-induced. But the risk for getting diseases caused by sedentary activities in the workplace is still not treated with the same importance as the risk to suffer from other work-related diseases or injuries, meaning employees don’t get much protection from the diseases that arise from being desk-bound for hours.
However, there are ways in which we can ensure that we don’t get sedentary related diseases while being at work. Particularly for seated activities, the main focus is on the right workplace. For example, an adjustable work chair that can be adjusted to the proportions of the body height, along with an adjustable and tiltable work surface is already a good start. When it comes to the positioning of the screen, this is crucial. One should make sure that the position of your computer screen, the keyboard, and the field of vision are aligned in one axis along with the center of the body, while arms and shoulders remain relaxed. The forearms should be supported by the elbows, which in turn will support the wrists too. For this reason, the keyboard cannot be at the same level as the tabletop.
Alternatively, height-adjustable standing desks with movable and adjustable stools, for spinal support also are a good option when having to work hours on end.
Balance balls or rocking stools with a sloping seat and knee support have a strengthening effect of the back muscles and can be used as a training device, so to speak. Although those devices are only recommended when sitting for a short amount of time, let’s say a max of 60 minutes. So they are ideally used to take a break from the regular seated position. However, overuse of these balance balls and rocking stools could possibly lead to overstretching of the spine, so this should not be the all day, every day seated position, but definitely a good deviation of position for an hour here and there throughout the workday.
Summarizing the above points, we can see that it’s most essential for the individual to be able to adjust their workplace seating arrangement to suit them, as we all have different body types and heights. The most important measures are height-adjustable tables, work surfaces where the inclination can be adjusted, height-adjustable chairs, and an adjustable seat with lumbar support that also has a headrest.
Now let’s have a look at what a not-so-good workstation could look like and the implications on the user’s health. A table which is too high with a chair which is too low. This does not lead to a relaxed posture as the shoulders will be raised and the forearms must be actively bent in the elbow as tensioning of the forearm muscles leads to tension in the neck muscles and that ultimately results in headaches. This also means that the screen will not be at eye-level, so the focus will either be too low or too high, again, this leads to more headaches and when looking at the screen at a slant, this also causes one-sided headaches. This is just the immediate effects, in the long run, this false posture can lead to severe back problems.
When budgets for office interiors are set in place, especially in the public service sector, there is, unfortunately, a tendency to especially start saving at the office furniture. Although it seems like an economic move at the time, this is a short-term strategy because, with a poorly equipped, non-adaptable workplace, the employee has a significantly increased risk of disease resulting in sickness leaves and hence a reduction of individual productivity. No company nowadays would allow workers on a construction site without a helmet, but it’s very common for employees to work at an ill-equipped workstation where they run the risk of getting diseases brought on by poorly adapted office furniture. These diseases evolve gradually over time, not like a work-accident during manual labor, but they are as serious. The continuous malposition of the body creates occurring illnesses that manifest themselves by muscle tensions in the neck, shoulders and upper spine. Combined with stress and a lack of sleep, those tensions will become chronic and muscular imbalances will arise with headaches, dizziness, and lack of concentration. Along with this, we get to even more pressing issues wherein the lower region of the back, the balance of the muscles is disturbed, potentially resulting in chronic disease.
So with all this being said, it’s safe to say that it’s in the interest of every company to invest in office furniture that aids in the well-being and quality of life for their employees. Employees who are comfortable are also more productive. Just what the employer needs.
So next time you’re in your office, have a look at the furniture you’re using on a daily basis and see what adjustments can be made to ensure your body is at it’s the best position, keep these thoughts in mind from Dr. Alexander Kraft as they will come in handy.
Bene, one of the brands that we love and really takes the time, research and effort to create office furniture that looks good in the workplace and at the same time serves our bodies well. When brands go the extra mile to create products that are well-crafted and functional, we take the time to read up on them and get them on board so we can get these outstanding pieces to you (and your office).
The office furniture brand which we’re shedding some light on today is Bene. Bene is an international office expert, they’re a specialist in the design and furnishing of modern office and working environments. Bene defines the office as a living space, and its concepts, products, and services turn this philosophy into reality. Bene stands for innovative concepts, inspiring offices, and high-quality design.
Bene creates fine office furniture. They specialize in workplaces, auxiliary products, collaboration furniture, executive furniture, meeting room, and conference furniture, partitioning screens, seating, and storage.
Bene focuses a lot on ergonomic seating when it comes to the design of their products. Their products are dynamic as moving while sitting is a crucial factor for high-performing, productive and motivated employees. The ergonomic design of the working environment and the right choice of an office swivel chair are the prerequisites for the office, according to them. Bene is educating its customers through their innovative design, reminding us that people aren’t built to sit for long periods of time. Today’s everyday office life is shaped by a lack of movement. Another thing which they have shed light on is that daily sitting is even becoming part of leisure time, and they couldn’t be more right, and back pain is the consequence. By changing the seating posture, we can engage different muscles and parts of the body and with the right furniture in place, all our muscles and body parts will get the support they need.
La Belle Maison. Global Design. Offices in Vienna, Dubai and Delhi.