The fact that, because of the Covid-19 virus, a majority of office work is being done in the home has been a reality for many months now. Subsequently, more and more people are complaining about bad ergonomics in their workplace, especially at home.
Poor ergonomics in the workplace or home office inevitably leads to health problems, with many workers complaining about the way they sit. So now, in these Covid times, the question is:
How important is an ergonomic desk chair really?
Imagine you are in the mountains and want to go on a long hike. Why do you put on hiking boots and not sandals? Quite simply, because you will quickly get into trouble with the wrong footwear, with several unpleasant consequences.
With an unsuitable desk chair, the negative effects are not always immediately noticeable, but the consequences are much more harmful in the long term!
It definitely pays to have the right tools for the right task. A workstation with an unergonomic office chair inevitably causes tensions in the body, which will surely make themselves felt and worsen with time. As a result, performance declines, concentration suffers and health complaints escalate.
What is bad ergonomics in the workplace?
The definition of “ergonomics” means the adaptation of working conditions to the person and not vice versa. The office chair, desk, monitor, etc. should be able to adapt to the person without the person having to bend or otherwise adapt to them. Requiring the person to adapt to the workplace objects is poor ergonomics.
Poor ergonomics doesn’t apply only to objects, but also to external influences such as temperature, incidence of light, noise and much more. The entire workplace environment must be coordinated so that one feels comfortable in it and is able to work effectively.
Poor ergonomics at the workplace can start with a desk chair that forces you into a crooked, banana like position, or impedes blood circulation after only a short time of sitting due to too-thin cushions or hard-edged spots.
Reflections on the screen, a result of light shining in from the wrong side, or neck problems, which often arise when the monitor is set too high are more instances of poor ergonomics.
What requirements should an ergonomic desk chair meet?
As a minimum requirement, an ergonomic office chair should be individually adjustable to your own body. Just as a shoe or suit has to fit your personal physique so it doesn’t feel too tight or too big, so should a chair adapt to your body.
Poor ergonomics in the workplace is often caused by an unnatural sitting posture position. Your desk chair should conform to the anatomical S-shape of the spine, ensuring a natural posture in the sitting position. It should also be possible to adjust the seat height so that the soles of your feet touch the floor and that your upper and lower legs form at least a 90° angle, if not a bit more.
However, this is where the first conflict between the workplace environment and good ergonomics can arise. For example, the seat height is set to the maximum height for a tall person, but the knees now come up against the edge of the table. A holistic ergonomic solution is therefore comprehensive and cannot be defined by an ergonomic desk chair alone.
Finally, an ergonomic office chair should promote movement, i.e. allow dynamic sitting. Dynamic sitting is continuous movement while sitting and is extremely beneficial.
To facilitate this, the backrest should generate enough counter-pressure to remain flexible when not locked, but firm enough so that one does not fall backwards. Conversely, the backrest should not push you forward too much. The spring force should be individually adjustable on the office chair. Do not lock the backrest, but let it move freely, to encourage more movement while sitting.
Is there a simple ergonomic solution for the workplace environment?
Because ergonomics consists of a variety of components, this question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
The workplace environment and ergonomic factors in an office or home office can be divided into several subcategories. One issue with a variety of influences is the working atmosphere itself, from plants to lighting conditions to room temperature, or via humidity to sufficient CO2.
The issues of seating comfort or productivity also play a major role when an ergonomic solution is sought.
It is absolutely possible to make a big impact with minor changes.
If you start with the ergonomics of your desk chair, ensuring that you can sit comfortably, an important first step has already been taken.
But you should go further and create an ergonomic solution for your entire workplace to ensure a more comfortable living and working environment.
Turn your workplace environment into a little paradise, with little effort. The only important thing is that you take the first step!
Take that step, view my guide from the book “Wellness in the Office”, as a free booklet with five tips here. You can also receive the entire book in individual emails with all 50+1 tips for free, with one tip every two weeks. If you wish, you can find the entire Kindle book of “Wellness in the Office” here.