Hemingway and Jefferson were both "stand-up" fellows—literally and figuratively. These two famous writers preferred to work at stand-up desks because of the positive effects it had on their productivity. And though they were way ahead of their time, the benefits are clearer than ever before.
Long before the word ergonomics became a common term in the American vernacular, science has referenced the correlation between workplace design and human biomechanics and health. Derived from the Greek words ergo (work) and nomos (law), the word ergonomics has become a buzzword among health-conscious thinkers in recent years. Followers of this discipline focus on developing a workplace environment that is generally healthier for all employees.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2015, American workers missed 1,153,490 days due to work-related injuries. Ergonomic improvements have numerous workplace benefits and can be a useful healthcare strategy that can save employers money.
It's no wonder that once implemented businesses often see an increase in productivity, a noticeable change in attitudes, and a decrease in absenteeism. After all, when workers feel more comfortable and notice employers injecting healthy changes into their workday, both morale and productivity increases. This makes it a win-win scenario for everyone involved.
The Impact of Inactivity on Health
Even if your business statistically has a low level of work-related injuries, addressing healthy work practices can result in increased productivity and employee satisfaction. The Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) "Take-A-Stand" project was aimed at showing the correlation between increased mobility in the workplace and improvement in overall health. The results showed that reducing the time workers spent sitting by 66 minutes a day equated to a “54% reduction in upper neck and back pain".
Tom Rath, influential author and supporter of healthy work environments, stated that "sitting is the most underrated health threat of modern time." And experts agree. There is a correlation between prolonged periods of sitting and obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
The physiology of inactivity is not really that complicated. When seated, the electrical activity in the muscles decreases, our metabolism slows down, and the body stops using insulin efficiently. With slower metabolism there is also a reduction in the enzymes that keep our lipid and triglyceride levels in check.
Cost-Effective Ergonomic Solutions for the Office
The use of standing desks in the workplace is a cost-effective solution, resulting in increased energy levels, improved circulation, and a revved-up metabolism. Like motion is to creating emotion, standing promotes communication and engagement between co-workers.
While there is no muscle activity involved when sitting in a standard office chair, advancements in the design of ergonomic chairs, like the Locus seat, is the "perfect combination between sitting and standing." For about the same price as a quality executive office chair, you can keep your employees’ muscles engaged, their blood flowing, and their minds focused.
Be sure to consider other readily available and non cost-prohibitive office upgrades such as anti-fatigue floor mats, arm rests, and tilt screen monitors.
Making Employee Health a Priority
Introducing ergonomics in the workplace demonstrates a proactive stance (pun intended) on mitigating work-related ailments and promoting overall health and wellness. Why wait until situations become problematic to change your office design or introduce furnishings that may prevent injury? Considering the wide variety of ergonomic office furnishings and accessories available, offering solutions to improve comfort, safety, and employee satisfaction makes financial sense.
A redesign initiative may require a modest financial commitment, but when compared to the total cost of workplace injuries and absenteeism, doesn't it make sense to think of ergonomics as an investment rather than an expenditure?
Ultimately, the efficacy of active workstations is evidenced by:
- Reduction in the costs of ergonomic risk factors
- Increased productivity
- Improved quality of work
- Reduction in absenteeism
- Increase in employee satisfaction
- Overall improved health of the workforce
OSHA's "$afety Pays" worksheet allows employers to use statistical data to raise awareness about how the total cost of injuries and illness impacts their bottom line. This interactive site factors a company's profit margin with the average costs of specific illnesses or injuries. By utilizing an indirect cost multiplier, it projects the revenue needed to cover those costs. It can be quite an eye opener for employers in any industry.
Ergonomic initiatives showcase your company’s commitment to safety and health as a core value. For more strategies that show your employees that you consider them to be a valuable resource, contact us today!