HR Management & Compliance

How to Set Up an Ergonomic Office Workstation

A thoughtfully curated health and wellness program can have a positive impact on acquisition, retention, productivity, and even profitability. More companies are choosing to invest in their people through benefits that go beyond traditional health insurance and 401(k) matches. From on-site gyms and child care to continuing education programs to ergonomically designed office spaces, data have shown that happy, healthy employees are just as important to a business’s long-term success as the bottom line.

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The Importance of Ergonomic Workstations

In fact, one of the most popular and easiest actions companies are taking is investing in an ergonomic workplace. While ergonomics, as a term, may seem like a trendy buzzword, the concept has existed for quite some time. Ergonomics, by definition, is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment (and is imperative to avoiding occupational fatigue), even if your occupation requires you to do little more than sit and type 8+ hours a day.

But why is it so important now? If you take a deeper look into shifts in the labor force, the typical workday today looks quite different than it did 50 years ago. In 1960, 50% of the workforce consisted of jobs that required moderate physical activity. Today, that percentage has dropped to a mere 20%, and thanks to our technological boom, those jobs have been replaced with primarily sedentary jobs, requiring us to sit for long periods of time tethered to our computer screens. An ergonomically designed work space is engineered specifically to mitigate the myriad negative effects (both physical and mental) associated with sitting for extended periods of time.

So where do you start? Consider these simple steps you can take and modifications that can have the most impact.

Posture Assessment

The first step is to determine your “natural posture,” as this is the posture your ergonomically designed workstation will mimic and encourage throughout your workday.

Sitting with your chair slightly away from your desk, find a position that feels natural, with both feet on the floor, shoulders relaxed, and hands in your lap. As awkward as it may feel at first, this is your goal posture, and it ensures your pelvis and vertebrae are properly positioned. The good news is that as “unnatural” as this natural posture may feel (at first), your ergonomic workstation will be configured around your natural posture and will make it effortless to maintain throughout your long workday, regardless of height, weight, and body type.

Time for a New Chair

Learn what individual workstation changes are most impactful when you download this *FREE* report: Office Design & Ergonomics.

An ergonomic chair is the fundamental building block of an ergonomic workstation and will ensure you are positioned correctly, enabling you to significantly reduce back and neck strain. Specifically engineered to support your natural posture and keep you aligned, ergonomic chairs significantly reduce physical stress on the body. A quality ergonomic chair is easily customizable to your body—with adjustable height, arm rests, and even lumbar support. It is one of the most critical and affordable ways to incorporate an ergonomic lifestyle and reap its many benefits.

Even Your Desk Should Be Designed with Your Individual Needs in Mind

From electric standing desks to standing desk converters to more traditional desks that are ergonomically engineered, switching out your traditional desk for the right ergonomic desk doesn’t have to be complicated or cost a fortune. Ergonomic desks are designed for optimal keyboard, mouse, and monitor placement, which are critical to an ergonomically friendly workstation.

Get Up and Get Moving

In addition to investing in the tools employees need to maximize their well-being at the office, a company culture that encourages standing and moving throughout the day, engaging with other employees, and valuing employee connection is also critical to bringing an ergonomic vision to life.

The Takeaway

Ergonomics are all about recognizing that every individual has different needs and creating a work environment that is easily accommodated and intentionally constructed to honor and support those needs. By creating a workplace that matches the capabilities of people with their work environment, work-related stress on the employee’s body and mind is mitigated, making the work more enjoyable and productive. Smart companies can even train someone on staff who knows how to customize each work space for each individual employee. Your employees, your company culture, and even your P+L will be better for it.

Mike Whaley is the VP of Sales at Eureka Ergonomic.