Christophe Clerc-Renaud - Senior Sales Director, EMEA, Ergotron, shares his insights on the effect of ergonomics on producitvity with Facilities Show.
Digital transformation has driven greater reliance on software and apps for daily work in office environments. For employees, this means more time spent working on devices, from workstations or laptops to tablets and mobiles. So, while workers are benefitting from streamlined workflows and faster processing power, could their physical wellbeing be taking a hit? And are businesses potentially missing out on the kind of enhanced productivity that increased mobility can offer?
With budgets largely focused on software and apps to drive smarter working, it’s not too surprising that the physical working environment is often overlooked. Technology has created a mobile revolution that gives us more ways to work than ever before, which seems at odds with the same seated desks and furniture that characterises many offices.
It’s no longer the ideal. At best, sitting for extended periods of time is eroding productivity and performance. At worst, it’s contributing to physical and mental ill health among employees.
Why healthy working matters
Too much sitting is unhealthy. Research shows that being sedentary for long periods of time increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic issues. In addition, sitting for six hours or longer during the workday puts people at a higher risk for anxiety and depression. On a more immediate level, being forced to sit to work can leave employees feeling restless and unable to concentrate – according to the Ergotron JustStand® Index Report, 16% of employees who feel restless waste time on social media, 23% surf the web, and 61% get up and move around. Those wasted minutes can quickly add up while productivity goes down.
Movement-friendly furniture enhances wellbeing and mental alertness
Businesses will never fully realise the value of their tech investment unless they address the human factor. And that means enabling employees to work in a healthy way – by giving them the option to stand and move more.
Using a sit-stand desk for example has been shown to increase productivity by up to 46%. The freedom to shift between sitting and standing can prevent restlessness, and the simple action of standing up boosts mental alertness and improves mood. Simultaneously, it mitigates long-term health issues associated with sitting, which can lead to absenteeism.
Ergonomically better for everyone
Unlike rolling out new software, incorporating sit-stand desk furniture is simple, thanks to desk converters that turn existing desks into sit-stand workstations. Space-saving converters clamp securely to the desk, positioning the monitor, keyboard and mouse in a comfortable way and enabling them to rise and fall easily. Another option is a table-top convertor that sits on top of an existing desk and lifts up quickly and silently. Get it out of the box and it’s ready to use. There are also options for corner desks, and some convertors offer a handy integrated mobile/tablet station, so all devices are to hand. Best of all, employees feel the benefits from day-one and return on investment starts immediately - how often can one say that about a tech investment?!
Forging a more natural connection
Just as apps create a better connection between employees and tasks, ergonomic furniture creates a better connection between people and their devices. Long hours of screen time are an inescapable reality, so it’s crucial that each employee’s screen can be positioned in a way that’s kind to their body. And that means the head is balanced on the neck in a neutral posture. The best way to achieve this is to turn fixed monitors into movable ones by attaching them to a fully-adjustable arm that’s secured to the desk.
Monitor arms come in all sorts of formats, making it simple to accommodate different screen sizes and orientations. But what they all share is the ability to put the monitor in a healthy, comfortable position, at the right angle and height for each employee.
Workspaces that move people
Let’s go back for a moment to that huge investment in software and cloud-based apps, technologies that have mobility at their core, enabling people to move between places and devices. They've also been designed to bring colleagues together for easier collaboration. It therefore makes sense to extend this ability into the physical workspace and reflect what's evolving digitally.
People work best when they're free to work where it suits them. And sometimes, there's no substitute for face-to-face group working, which can be facilitated through the provision of mobile sit-stand workstations for example. These are a fantastic option for businesses who regularly reassemble teams around projects or have open-plan workspaces and want flexibility about how desks are organised. Whether attending a walking meeting or gathering for a whole day of work, people simply wheel their desks to where they're needed. Mobile carts have on-board power options, so devices stay powered up. And options are also available that are suited to laptops and tablets, depending on an individual’s preference.
A change is as good as a break
Sometimes an employee might like to get away from their own desk in favour of a quiet spot to work, or a change of scene within the work environment to help them refocus. Wall-mounted, flip-down desks are ideal for supporting this. The working surface is height adjustable so one size fits all, irrespective of sitting or standing, and when not in use, they fold down neatly - a real space-saver and the ideal option for supporting a dynamic, mobile workspaces.
Aligning digital and physical workspaces
Looking after the comfort of employees during their working day enables them to focus more on the job at hand, and incorporating furniture that promotes movement is a realistic, efficient way to achieve this.
Encouraging mobility in this way enables new connections and ways of working, leading to better engagement and productivity. This is why investment in technology should go beyond apps and devices to include workspaces where people and the digital world come together. Movement-friendly furniture inspires people to work differently and move more - good for health, good for productivity.
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