If you haven't heard the term 'ergonomic' in the last year, then chances are you're probably living under a rock.
Ergonomics impact all of us, whether we realise it or not. But lets stop and take a step back. What is 'ergonomic' anyway? Is it just some fancy word that marketers use to sell chairs at a higher price? Well, no. There's much more too it than that, and understanding it can have massive implications for your wellbeing.
The word 'ergonomics' comes from the Greek word 'ergon' which means work and 'nomos' which means laws. It's essentially the laws or science of work. Good ergonomic design creates a far more optimal working environment and draws on many things to optimize the interaction between you and your work environment.
There are three broad domains of ergonomics
Physical is mostly to do with the human anatomical, physiological and biomechanical characteristics. This is the domain we most focues on when it comes to the workplace, and what this website is mostly about - good, quality ergonomic products for your home office. Workplace ergonomics is really about building a better working environment, which creates value on several fronts:
- Higher productivity
- Better comfort
- Improved focus
There are many more, but these are some of the most important values to highlight. It makes sense that you do your best work when you feel comfortable, have a greater ability to focus for longer and are ultimately more productive though doesn't it?
Poorly designed equipment can contribute to injuries, but with that being said, you're not doomed to a career in a neck brace just because you sit at a desk. If you maximise the comfort at your workstation there's lots your can do to prevent injury. This includes things such as choosing the correct chair with spinal support (and also so your feet can sit on the floor), or sitting at a desk that has enough clearance underneath for your knees, thighs and feet. You can choose a desk that can be easily adjusted (an Arise Deskalator can even sit on top of your desk top instead of buying a new desk for example) so that you don't spend too much time sitting or standing. The Worksafe NZ website has a good article about working and posture.
Cognitive ergonomics relates to mental processes, such as perception, memory, reasoning and motor responses. These relate more to things like your workload, the amount of human to computer interaction you have, along with factors like stress. This can affect things like your decision making, your temper and ultimately your overall functional performance.
And organizational ergonomics relate to the optimization of systems within an organization including structures, policies and processes. These relate more to things like communications, resource management, work design, teamwork and quality management to name a few.
The applications are everywhere - just Google it if you don't believe me yet! Just consider this (taken from the Ergo Plus website):
"The definition of work is an "activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a porpose or result."
That sounds like just about everything we do. All the time. Everywhere. When you consider that, it highlights how important ergonomics are when considering how to optimize your work environment (and other factors in our day to day lives).