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Overhead view of two men and a woman sitting at an office workspace

A workplace injury never happens when it’s convenient. By providing a well-designed work environment that supports employee wellness, organizations can protect both workers and productivity rates.

Even if you already provide an ergonomic workplace, here’s a refresher with some helpful tips to make sure you haven’t overlooked some essential practices.

A range of workplace factors, such as indoor air quality, lighting, noise, privacy and office furniture, can impact the productivity of your employees.

Indoor Air Quality and Lighting

Research has shown that air quality and lighting can have significant effects on productivity. Indoor air quality has both short- and long-term impacts on employee health, such as allergies, asthma and even mental health issues. Poor lighting can cause eye strain, headaches and fatigue contributing to stress, anxiety and depression.

The worst sources of indoor pollutants are construction materials, office equipment (printer, fax, computers) and the number of building occupants.

Some studies have found that employees in naturally ventilated offices have fewer sick building syndrome symptoms than those in air-conditioned offices. However, natural ventilation can also be harmful in cities with a high amount of outdoor air pollution.

One way to improve the indoor air quality is by increasing the ventilation rate to reduce air pollutants. Another method is reducing pollution outside the building to reduce the introduction of pollutants in the indoor air.

Lighting and visual comfort is also important for employee wellness. The therapeutic impact of natural views supports most employees’ preference for having a window near their workspace. Insufficient lighting conditions or glare reduces the ability to see objects and details clearly. Proper access to natural lighting is essential, as well as artificial lighting for areas where natural light is not available.

Noise Prevention and Privacy

While interactions can increase employees’ satisfaction, solitude is essential for creative thinking and innovation. That’s why it’s important to provide spaces for collaboration, along with private spaces for quiet reflection.

Acoustic problems in offices are divided into two major categories: annoyance from noise and lack of privacy. Noise from other people talking, telephones ringing, and other irregular sounds create more disturbance compared to continuous sounds.

Three strategies for noise prevention are:

  • Absorption of sound using ceiling tile
  • Blocking of sound using workstation panels and workspace layout
  • Covering up of sound using natural elements

Natural elements such as plants can help create buffers between employees. Larger windows opening out to nature, water features and open spaces can all create a healthier and calmer workplace environment.

Comfortable Office Furniture

Effective workplace ergonomics involves applying basic principles to help prevent a worker’s discomfort, chronic pain or injury. A large part of ergonomics involves workstation arrangement and equipment orientation. Proper placement of workstation equipment helps, but ergonomics starts with selecting office furniture that can be easily adjusted to meet the needs of employees.

Exercise balls and standing desks are just a few examples of new workplace trends being spotted in many modern offices. While examples like these are favored for their perceived health benefits, they also have the potential to cause discomfort or injuries.

If you are considering offering a standing desk in your office, make sure the desk accommodates your employee’s work height for both sitting and standing. Whether sitting or standing, the goal is to help your employee work at a neutral posture.

According to Bureau of Labor statistics, Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) account for 33 percent of all lost workday injuries—and they cost employers billions each year in workers’ compensation.

Some areas to consider in minimizing the risk of WMSDs include:

  • Good workstation chairs.
  • Proper keyboard and mouse placement.
  • Correct monitor/reference material positioning.

By proactively reducing the risk of injury, you can improve productivity, while also reducing employee absences.

The best offices are designed to create a balance between air quality, lighting, noise prevention and privacy. Our space planning experts have assessed and installed thousands of workstations and office layouts. If you need help, contact us to design a workplace that supports your employees’ health and wellness.

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