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An ergonomically designed workstation does wonders with employee productivity and directly improves business outcome. Now the question to be asked: does the same workstation equipment or design fulfill the need of everyone at the office? Or is it okay to use the same equipment or workstation for graphic designers or for a data entry operator at the same office?Read more
Another vital area people tend to miss out, is that workstation designs need to be customized and are not implementing ready-made solutions ( whether they are ergonomic or not!). This applies to every task or job in an office where nature/type of jobs are quite different from one another. With the evolution of computers and technology, jobs today have completely changed the work scenario forcing the policy makers, scientists and designers to think differently with respect to job design and workstation designs. Effectively, the vast diversity in work patterns, although using the same computers, demands a different level of physical and mental human capacity. This justifies our initial point that a same workstation design solution does not hold good for everyone involved in different jobs at the same office.
For instance, let’s consider two different office scenarios: an architectural firm vis-a-vis a bank. In the first scenario, the combination of jobs is predominantly designing, drafting and other regular so-called office works like data entry and word processing. In the second scenario, the predominant job functions (e.g., data entry and word processing) are much simpler than the first scenario example. Regardless, in both the cases fundamental office design concepts remain the same. However, in the first scenario as the job characteristics is much complex and varied from one another the design solution cannot be as simple as the bank. If one doesn’t think ergonomically, the office designer can easily be carried away with design conceptualization and visualization while ignoring the need to consider the complexity of task demand and postural variations involved, particularly in the first scenario. The consequences of such designs are not only limited to physiological and biomechanical injuries, but can also lead to psychosocial problems at the workplace. Many studies have suggested that job-specific, ergonomic workstation design contributes to achieve higher “productivity” and elevated morale at the workplace by reducing man-hour lost, compensation cost and overall operation costs.
To conclude, job specific ergonomic office design is one key to productivity. The same office design does not cater to everyone’s need in the office. Ignorance of the job requirement and postural variations while designing any office or workplace is common due to the lack of ergonomic awareness. Managers, policymakers, consultants and designers should work together to bridge this gap. After all, no business can afford to lose money due to ignorance.
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It is told that good ergonomics is good economics. Is it really true or it is just like another advertisement gimmick!To go dipper into the debate we need to know little about ergonomics.Read more
The Ergonomics derived from the Greek word “ergon” (work) and “nomos” (laws) to denote the “science of work”. Ergonomics is a systems-oriented discipline, which is applied to all aspects of human activity. As per IEA, practicing ergonomists must have a broad understanding of the full scope of the discipline, taking into account the physical, cognitive, social, organizational, environmental and other relevant factors.
The main motto of Ergonomics is to improve the productivity by keeping human/user healthy and happy. If your employees are happy half the battle is won, your business will definitely flourish. The Bhutanese government has a unique practice; they consider gross national happiness (GNS not GDP) factors, as a key to growth of the nation. The logic is the happy people are more innovative and productive.
The computerization of work has completely changed the work scenario. The long hour of sitting mostly in static posture in front of the computers is taking its own toll to our body. It is important to hold yourself still in a static posture while performing computer work for considerable periods of time. Even to be in a fixed posture over long periods of time the body muscles need to work to generate a significant static holding force, which causes fatigue. The outcome is quite visible – work related musculo-skeletal disorders (MSD) or repetitive strain injuries; popularly called a RSI. These include back pain, shoulder pain, pain and or tingling, numbness in other body parts and joints. All these generally accompanied with visual discomfort, headache and so on. Work pressure, meeting deadline, office environments, hot summer month preventing employees to go out especially in Dubai, all add up to stress level of employees; be it physical or cognitive. These have ability to cause irreversible damage to our physical and mental health. We have a tendency to take these very lightly and try to adjust ourselves with the scenario without taking any precautions. When we realize; it is already too late!
In short, rather being happy the employees are becoming unhappy while working. Unhappy employees are never fully productive. It is a high time to think about the way we use the computers and workstation components. Proper work station design and choosing the right furniture according to the individual need is critical to deal with these kinds of problems.
Do you have any idea about the furniture in your office fit the majority of the staffs? Is it that individuals in your office require a different chair because of their height and weight? Does your employer allow short breaks in between the jobs? Being a manger do you ever bother to know about the most common workstation set up errors? How many people actually know how to set up an ergonomic workstation? Are employees aware of all the adjustments in the chair provided by the employer? Unlike west, it is even more critical for Dubai as it has a unique mix of world population to be accommodated in the same office.
Understanding the importance and trends associated with office ergonomics is very important for a successful business management. If you fail to address the core issues and trends there is a high chance that your business may fail. It is time to be aware and take action on ergonomics applications be it at home or at offices.
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Among various myths about Ergonomics the most popular one possibly is “Ergonomics is nothing but a chair”. People often assume getting an ergonomic chair for the office will solve all the workplace issues like (low) back pain, RSI (Repetitive strain injury), and any form of MSD (Musculo skeletal discomfort). In reality it is far from truth.Read more
I am not denying that ergonomically designed chairs are definitely useful and effective to provide support to the user. However, one has to understand when we have an incident like “back pain”, it is not a single problem but manifestation of multiple problems together. So it is quite obvious that a single such solution, (e.g. getting an ergonomic chair), cannot solve the multi-faceted problem.
To start with we have to focus and work on to identify the root cause behind such problems. Ergonomics and human factors specialists are the one who play a key role to find the clear picture and the root cause behind this.
It might be the case that after analyzing the workplace situations, interacting with the employees and managers, a detailed root cause analysis; employer need not to invest on the new equipment like ergonomic chair. It might turn out that nominal changes in the workstation and few cost effective solutions like training and bringing more awareness could solve the problem. At times some low cost ergonomic attachments with existing workstations might work perfectly.
In a nutshell not involving Ergonomics and human factors specialist from an early stage of office design /space design not only cost you more but the productivity also goes down, which in turn affects business outcome. So next time if you decide to buy chairs or equipment for your office or even thinking of designing a new office/retail space/shop floors/ any facility involve Ergonomist from an early stage to have a cost effective solution.
If you are looking for speakers for an event related to ergonomics, wellness at workplace, design or ergonomics as a strategy for any event or ergonomics expert to interview for publication or media please contact us.
2015 – 2016
2016, Workspace, Index, Dubai “Ergo-advantage: are we missing it?”, invited speaker
2016, Best Practice Club by EBM, Dubai, “Ergonomics and Human Factors as a Strategy to bringing in Innovation”, invited speaker
2015, Index, Dubai, ‘Enhancing building functionality by crafting intelligent interior environments’, Panelist
2015, Workspace, Index, Dubai, Ergonomics in Workplace-Design way, Invited speaker
2015, APID workshop, Dubai, Basic Principles of Ergonomics for Interior Design
2015, Ergonomics Awareness Event for Moveone, Dubai
2014, Workspace, Index, Dubai, Ergonomics and human factors in Interior Design, Invited speaker
2014, Ergonomics awareness event for Du Telecom, Dubai