Ergonomics is the design of products and environments that have been optimised for human interaction. From the handle on your beloved coffee mug to how your smartphone perfectly fits snugly in your hand, this aspect of design delves into how we interact with objects with maximum efficiency. In our case, we look into the nitty-gritty of functional design and first and foremost look at how the workspace is going to be used with maximum productivity and comfort in mind.
When it comes to ergonomics, a lot of conversations revolve around ergonomic office chairs. Office chairs come in all shapes and sizes and there is no ‘one size fits all solution’, that’s why ergonomic office office chairs combined clever mechanisms with a high level of adjustment to enable the employee to recreate an ‘ergonomic workstation set up’*. Preventing back pain and other common muscular problems, ergonomic office chairs are an investment well worth having. Now that they are more widely manufactured, you can now get an ergonomic office chair from as little as £250+VAT.
The evolution of ergonomic office furniture design doesn’t end with clever chairs. Following in the footsteps our Scandinavian friends, standing and height adjustable desks have also become more commonplace across the UK. We wouldn’t recommend standing all day, but an electric height adjustable standing desk gives you choice to move freely, rather than sitting in a fixed position all day. Another little known benefit of electric standing desks is that they make the workstation accessible to everyone no matter what their shape or size. A person who is 6’4ft will most certainly have a problem sitting at a standard height desk (which is usually around 73cm from the floor to underside). Vice versa, a wheel chair user that sits lower than standard desk height would struggle without a height adjustable desk.
From the support and comfort aspect to how you interact with each piece, there won’t be a stick of furniture in your office that hasn’t applied the science of ergonomics in some way or another, including the armchair you’re reading this post in.
*Offices with 5 or more people that use a screen are required to carry out Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessments on each member of staff, and this will dictate if their workstation is fit for purpose. This will also flag up any users that need a specialist workplace solution to help them cope with any musculoskeletal issues or disabilities. Our sister company Posture People are experts in specialist workplace solutions and workstation assessments, if you need further impartial advice you can contact them here.
When you are configuring a new office space, it is imperative that you carefully plan out your space effectively. This will help you figure out what space you need and how many employees you can comfortably (and legally) fit into the space. Simply downsizing each desk to 1200x800mm instead of your standard 1600×800 can mean that you could fit more staff into the same space or create space for a new private meeting area.
The traditional cubicle office is rare in today’s office landscape. Instead, open plan offices are favoured that have carefully considered zones to compliment different tasks. For example, if you need to take a phone call, you could step away from your bench desk and get the privacy you crave in a acoustically sound ‘phone booth’. If you want to call a meeting, refrain from disturbing others in a free standing meeting pod.
Thinking about how your team really wants to work will dictate the spaces you need and give you a map of all the furniture that you need to think about for your upcoming overhaul.
Noise pollution has become a huge issue in offices whether they are considered ‘open plan’ or not. Does your polished concrete floor look fantastic, yes! And does it reverberate every word you say….absolutely. Acoustic solutions can be costly to retrofit so it’s good to think about it during the furniture specification phase. Adding soft seating, lampshades and room dividers made from ‘acoustically absorbent’ materials can dramatically reduce the noise levels of the environment, therefore making it a more comfortable space to work and concentrate.
Many businesses are waking up to the positive effects that human centric or ‘circadian’ lighting can have on us mere mortals. If you’ve ever worked under artificial lights for a substantial amount of time you may have noticed the impact that lighting has on your mood and general wellbeing. Circadian lighting studies the science of the light spectrum and the effect that it has on our productivity. Human centric lighting design carefully considers and balances natural daylight with neccesary supplement of artificial light to create the right atmosphere for a productive workspace. Hospitals in particular have taken the lead in human-centric lighting to promote natural, healthier sleep patterns for the wellbeing of their doctors and patients.
Environments that people love to work in
The real question you need to ask yourself is “what considerations have I made to make this an exceptional workplace”. After your basic requirements like comfortable ambient temperatures, fresh air, lighting and suitable safe workstations, think about the ‘nice to haves’ such as office plants, unique meeting spaces and ,perhaps the most essential ergonomic factor, additional tea making spaces. If you’d like advice on creating a wonderful place to work then please contact us directly or download your free inspiration pack below.