At its crux, sustainability has always been about improvement and long-term survival. In an age where employees work long hours from home, there is a dire need to get workplace ergonomics right. Sustainable ergonomics ensure that employees are healthy, safe and productive, which in turn leads to a creative, high energy work environment.
There are five significant aspects of sustainable ergonomics that every employer and employee should bear in mind. This article provides an overview of all of these key steps, along with some tips and best practices to follow.
The first step to achieving sustainable ergonomics is to understand the concept of ergonomics, posture and ergonomic injuries. Ergonomics refers to the process of optimising your work environment for better health, comfort and productivity. An ergonomically sound workspace helps employees perform better by reducing musculoskeletal injuries, thereby decreasing absenteeism and increasing workplace productivity.
The most effective way to reducing health and safety risks while working from home is to take a workstation assessment. These assessments are a legal requirement and help identify and prevent postural problems and musculoskeletal disorders. Learn more about how your organisation can be compliant here.
Lighting has a massive effect on how productive we are at work. According to a 2018 study of 2000 office workers, 37% said they got headaches due to excessive screen time. With most of us working remotely at the moment, we’re constantly subjected to glare, blue light and in some cases, even bad lighting. Here are a few good practices to follow to ensure sustainable visual ergonomics
- Minimise glare by adjusting the lighting of your environment and increasing the contrast on your monitor. You can also opt for anti-glare screen filters to minimise reflections
- Place your monitor an arm’s length away from you, aligning the top line of text to eye level. If you work with dual monitors, position them slightly farther than arm’s length to increase your field of view.
- Stay hydrated, blink frequently and take regular eye breaks to look at an object far away for at least 20 seconds
According to a survey conducted by the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland, around 10,000 workers suffered from hearing problems due to loud noise at work. These statistics are even higher in factories and industrial areas. Sound is a complex phenomenon. It is not easy to block or tune out. Fortunately, it is not hard to incorporate good acoustics in the workplace. With acoustic solutions like ceiling insulation and furniture that absorbs sounds, noise pollution can be controlled in no time.
However, if you’re working from home, eliminating ambient noise can often be challenging. Here are few things you can do instead;
- Sit in a quiet area, preferably one that has a door that can be closed
- Invest in good quality noise-cancelling headphones to tune out distractions and concentrate better
- You can also introduce more sound absorbing furniture like pillows and couches to reduce reverberation from sounds. Well-placed plants do an excellent job in reducing sounds too.
Want to know more about the acoustic solutions we can offer you? Click here.
4️⃣ Equipment selection
With a wide variety of office chairs and desks available in the market, it can be tough to know which one is the right for you. Here is a cheat sheet that you can use while selecting various bits of office equipment for your home office.
Office chair: It is best to opt for an office desk with lumbar support, armrests and options to adjust the seat. If you need some guidance on office chairs, we also have a detailed FAQ guide and an article on our top 5 office chairs of the year!
Office desk: Ergonomic experts say that the ideal depth of a desk should be 80cm. If you’re shorter than 5’8″ or taller than 5’10”, you can also opt for a height-adjustable desk. These desks can go as low as 22 inches and as high as 49 inches, providing comfort to most users. The desk should also have ample space to facilitate your gadgets and office stationery.
Laptop and its accessories: If you use a laptop, be sure to use an external keyboard and mouse. Take regular breaks and mind your posture. Learn how.
It is estimated that more than 50% of remote Irish workers are sitting down for an average of 2 hours and 40 minutes longer per day at home than when they were working from the office. Sitting for extended periods can be detrimental to one’s health. Yes, a sit-stand desk is an excellent start to clocking up more steps and standing hours, but there are plenty of things you can do too.
- Schedule movement breaks from time to time. Get up, drink a glass of water, step outside for a couple of minutes. Doing this every hour not only relaxes the mind but also ensures you’re active.
- Mind your posture. We spend so much of our time in front of the screen that we may end up bending or hunching over our screens. A good tip is to place your desktop monitor in the centre and sit an arm’s length away. The top of your screen should be level with your eyes.
Are you looking to get remote workstation or DSE assessments for your company? Our partners, Spectrum Optimise, are Ireland’s leading ergonomics experts with a team of physiotherapists and experts that will assess your employees’ remote workspaces. They will examine your employees’ current workstation set-up, understand the type of work they do and be able to offer practical and specific advice to help maximise their workspace for long-lasting health benefits. Learn more here.