“The goal of ergonomics is to fit the task to the individual not the individual to the task.”
Jeffrey E. Fernandez, PhD, PE, CPE & Michael Goodman, MD, MPH
No one will deny that workplace ergonomics is now one of the most discussed issues plaguing offices these days, but have you ever asked yourself why ergonomics are so important? Down below I will provide more concrete numbers and evidence but here is the long and short of it: studies show a clear correlation between an individual’s physical and mental health and how productive they are at work.
Still on the fence about whether it’s really worth investing some time and money into an ergonomic upgrade of your workspace? Let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of the scientific research. A study by the Norwegian State Institute found that, after the common cold, muscular soreness was the second most common cause of absenteeism at work. They also found that if improvements were made to workstation design and seating, back-related absenteeism was halved and rates of employees leaving the business or going on long-term leave plummeted. Separate studies conducted in the United States found that after ergonomic interventions at State Farm Insurance and Blue Cross-Blue Shield employee productivity increased by 15 percent and 4.4 percent respectively. For an SME with approximately 50 employees, that is an increase in productivity equivalent to hiring two to eight more full-time staff. Yet another study from researchers at the University of Miami found that the keystroke rate for data-entry tasks improved by 5 percent after workers were moved to an ergonomically correct workspace.
The Annals of Internal Medicine discovered in one of their studies that “prolonged sedentary time was independently associated with deleterious health outcomes regardless of physical activity.” Shockingly, their study actually concluded that even among people who regularly exercised, sitting for prolonged periods of time increased their risk of early death by as much as 10 percent and that merely one hour of sitting the production of many key enzymes, including those responsible for fat-burning, can decrease by as much as 90 percent.
Now, what should we make of all this? While on the surface these statistics can certainly seem intimidating what they truly represent is an opportunity. An opportunity to give your business a competitive edge by creating a more productive work environment for your team. When people sit well, they feel well. When people feel well, they work well.
If this topic has you interested and you want to learn more about why ergonomics are so crucial in the modern office or what ergonomic products are worth your time and money, check out our free Guide to the Ergonomic office!