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CORE’s Guide to Workplace Ergonomics

Creating a healthier office with the seating, desks, and more

By Angela D. Wagner

We hear the word ergonomics thrown around quite a bit when it comes to the workplace, but what does it really mean? Ergonomics is another word for human engineering, which is “an applied science that coordinates the design of devices, systems, and physical working conditions with the capacities and requirements of the worker,” according to Dictionary.com. Simply put, something designed ergonomically is meant to reduce human error, increase productivity, and enhance safety and comfort for the user.

Proper office ergonomics is imperative to keeping you and your staff healthy. Sitting behind a desk for extended periods of time without proper engineering in place can result in musculoskeletal problems such as chronic back and neck pain or joint issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. Ergonomic solutions may also relieve general fatigue and discomfort that can affect a worker’s day-to-day performance.

The Mayo Clinic published a list of five key areas of the workstation that can be ergonomically improved in order to reduce injury and increase productivity: chair, keyboard and mouse, footrest, desk, and monitor. Keep reading for information on how each of these areas can be upgraded in your workspace for better health, safety, and improved productivity.

Seating

An ergonomic chair is the first solution to workplace discomfort and improved ergonomics. Your chair should support your spine, be height adjustable so that your feet can rest flat while your thighs remain parallel to the floor, and include armrests that allow you to relax your shoulders.

CORE’s manufacturing partner, ergoCentric, has published a list of 10 essential features of an ergonomic chair on their website. Those essential features include backrest design, lumbar support, backrest angle, seat design, seat depth, seat angle, seat height, armrests, chair base, and casters. All of the office chairs available on ergoCentric’s website include these 10 essential features and can be completely customized to your staff’s individual body dimensions using their Online Chair Fitting application.

Just one of ergoCentric’s seating options for better ergonomics, comfort, and health.

SitOnIt Seating also has a virtual chair outfitter, known as ChairBuilder+. With ChairBuilder+ you can uniquely design ergonomic seating, tables, and accessories to best fit your needs and style. If you’re in the market for something preexisting, SitOnIt’s Novo task chair has won several awards for its designer-friendly features and superior ergonomics.

The Novo task chair by SitOnIt offers style, comfort, and support.

Another great ergonomic chair option is the AutoSit from Sitmatic, which claims to be the only auto-tension seat in the world. Sitmatic’s unique AutoTension control automatically senses the user’s weight to provide ideal support without adjustment. The mechanism allows the seat to recline as you do, promoting good lumbar support in any position.

This is just one version of the AutoSit chair from Sitmatic. It comes in a variety of styles and colors to match your needs.

OCI Sitwell has a number of basic chairs that are a perfect introduction to ergonomics. The Connect Series is their standard, everyday use chair series that will provide the musculoskeletal support you need when working in an office or working from home, but you won’t feel overwhelmed by tons of adjustable options or settings.

OCI Sitwell offers the Connect Series to provide better ergonomics while seated and improved productivity.

Keyboard and Mouse

The Mayo Clinic suggests placing your computer mouse within easy reach and on the same level surface as your keyboard. While typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body, and your hands at or slightly below your elbows in order to reduce inflammation.

The Ergonomic Adjustable Keyboard Kit from National Office Furniture is the ultimate option if you’re experiencing wrist or hand pain while you work. The kit includes an adjustable keyboard tray that swivels and features an arm tilt, plus a mouse tray with a tilt adjustment and fence to protect the mouse from falling. The entire kit fits neatly under any work surface and the mouse tray can support left- or right-handed users.

An adjustable keyboard can make typing easy and comfortable.

ErgoCentric’s RollerMouse PRO3 Ergonomic Mouse is an innovative solution to hand or wrist pain caused by computer work. This particular mouse sits in front of your keyboard, rather than to the left or right of it, which eliminates the physical stress that can come from reaching for your mouse. The cursor is controlled by the Rollerbar, which can be used ambidextrously, and the mouse has six programmable buttons that are compatible with both OSX and Windows.

The rollermouse goes beyond the ordinary and allows for each user to have better ergonomics.

Footrests

It’s important to maintain good posture while you work, and the Mayo Clinic suggests that your feet rest flat on the floor while you work. If your chair cannot be adjusted properly or if the height of your desk requires you to raise the height of your chair, you should look into using a footrest to maintain the correct sitting position.

ergoCentric has three different footrest options, depending on what exactly you need. The Foot Flexor, besides being a simple footrest, encourages small changes in the position of your hips, ankles, legs, and lower back muscles by pivoting gently. This slight movement throughout the workday can reduce static muscle loading and increase circulation. 

The Foot Flexor changes the position of your hips, ankles, legs, and lower back muscles by pivoting gently, improving circulation.

You can add a footring to many ergoCentric chairs, which is another footrest option. The footring attaches to the bottom of your chair and can be used to support your legs while you work. Footrings are standard for a lot of office chairs, not just ergonomic ones, so this option will likely be the most comfortable or familiar for newer users.

Make any seat more ergonomic with a footring by ergoCentric.

A Chrome Foot Bar from ergoCentric is a great option for people who stand for long periods of time throughout the day. It allows workers to vary their posture by resting one foot at a time on the bar, which reduces the amount of pressure on the lower back. Another good option for those on their feet most of the day are anti fatigue mats. This one from SitOnIt Seating claims to reduce fatigue by up to 50 percent and comes with a five-year warranty.

Footbars are great for people who like to stand more.

Desks

Your desk should allow clearance for your knees, thighs, and feet while you’re sitting at it. An adjustable-height desk is a wonderful way to increase your office’s ergonomics without sacrificing style or function.

The height-adjustable tables from Inscape are a cutting-edge option for your office. You can set your individual preferred sit and standing heights so the table can conform to your individual needs quickly and intuitively. Each table has Bluetooth capabilities, meaning you can adjust the height and set standing intervals from your smartphone.

Promote healthy workspaces by getting workers moving with height-adjustable tables. Intuitively designed, Inscape height-adjustable tables get you from sitting to standing with a natural lift of the controller paddle. Tables range from rectilinear shapes to angles ranging from 120° to 90° in an abundance of sizes and colors.

For something a little more basic, check out the Voyager from SitOnIt Seating. It’s a classic sit-to-stand height-adjustable desk that is available in a number of configurations and finishes to fit your office’s aesthetic. 

The Voyager by SitOnIt Seating comes in a variety of styles and configurations to match your needs.

Monitors

The last thing on the Mayo Clinic’s list of ergonomic changes to make to your office are computer monitors. Mayo Clinic suggests placing the monitor about arms-length away, with the top of the screen at or slightly-below eye level.

Monitor supports are easy to implement into your workspace and will make adjusting the height and distance of your computer screens incredibly easy. There are several options when it comes to monitor supports such as the Nano Monitor Arms from Inscape, upCentric Dual Monitor Arms from ergoCentric, or the King Cobra by SitOnIt Seating. All of these products will allow you to precisely adjust the height of your screens and keep your workspace clear.

The Nano by Inscape makes managing your monitor height simple.
The upCentric Dual Monitor Arms is ideal for those with more than one monitor who wish to improve their ergonomics in the workplace or home office.
The King Cobra by SitOnIt offers adjustable monitor height as well as power with better ergonomics.

Each of the office pieces mentioned above can improve the overall health and productivity of your employees. For more information about ergonomics and creating a healthier environment in your office or home workspace, contact CORE today at (520) 999-3470. The initial consultation is free and there is no obligation.

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Trends in Office Furniture and Décor to Watch for in 2020

As we enter 2020, we are not only moving forward into a new year but into many exciting developments in commercial office furnishings and interiors. With shifts in workplace trends such as hot-desking and multiuse spaces to décor changes and advancements in technology, there is a great deal for employees to look forward to. Here are a few trends to watch for, and aspire to, in the year ahead in the modern workplace.

Incorporating Technology

Technology is growing at an exponential rate and today’s workforce understands how to leverage it. That means employers need to not only incorporate its use to boost business but it can be wielded to bolster employee morale.

Falcon Products offers a variety of training tables that integrate power for mobile devices such as laptops along with cord management systems to avoid clutter. The Add-On Symetris, for example, comes in both standup and counter heights and are USB power capable. These desks can also be flipped and nested for ease of storage.

Add-On Symetris tables by Falcon Products with power access.

Imagine your employees walking into a cordless office space where they can get to work quickly and operate seamlessly throughout the day. With the advent of 5G communications, wireless is becoming better than ever before. It offers less latency, the ability to connect more devices, and there’s expanded coverage even in offices off the beaten path.

There are multiuse tables that can recharge mobile devices from cell phones to tablets without using a cord. You can simply just set your device down and it will charge. Additionally, there are furnishings that incorporate technological elements from screens to cameras and other tools that will make our everyday work life easier. These tools will allow us to hold virtual meetings.

The Convergence by DeskMakers is ideal creating extra storage in small spaces.

Colorful & Creative Office Spaces

The days of colorless black and white office spaces are gone. No more are employees stuck in drab office spaces, watching the clock for their next opportunity to escape. Today’s offices are trending to the use of vibrant colors in everything from the paint on the walls to the seating employees use to inspire them to do their best work, either alone or collaboratively.

Coriander Designs promises colorful, creative seating options for your lobby, waiting room, or shared spaces with its Kenzie Lounge Chairs. This modular seating collection produces a sweeping, curved, or rounded area for collaboration or independent seating. To add a sense of relaxation and comfort associated with the “resommercial” movement (bringing the feel of home into the workplace), there are six different ottoman choices for Kenzie as well. Flush power modules with two receptacles featuring dual USB ports are an additional option to make your common areas ever functional.

The Kenzie Lounge Chairs by Coriander Designs adds color and the comfort of home to office spaces with added durability.

Even glass boards are getting a color fix. For example, Fulbright Glass Boards offer not only a wide selection of standard and custom glass boards in a variety of sizes and finishes, but businesses can now select a glass board from a multitude of colors as well.  Fulbright Glass Boards offer at least 47 different colors to choose from to compliment any office color scheme. Whether you want to energize workers or your desire is to relax patients, you can create an environment that supports the accomplishment of your goals. You can even use your glass boards for marketing as custom-printed graphics such as logos are now available.

Fullbright Glass Boards add color, beauty, and functionality to the walls of your multifunctional spaces.

Wood Wins

While the incorporation of pops of color help to invigorate your employees, wood is still king when it comes to conference rooms and reception desks. Whether you want something with clean lines or curves that draw the eye, wood offers what you want.

Wood works well with a variety of color elements in any office. For example, light woods compliment décor with darker colors to brighten a workspace while darker woods work in lighter environments. Wood provides a sense of elegance, charm, and sophistication to any work environment. It’s also strong and durable so investing in wood furnishings means purchasing furniture that’s meant to last.

Take for example the wide variety of wooded reception furniture offered by Groupe Lacasse. The first thing someone sees when they enter your office space is typically the reception desk. We all know first impressions count so incorporating wood demonstrates a sense of professionalism and reliability.

Morpheo by Groupe Lacasse offers wood in many formats from traditional square desks to round forms to fit your reception areas and workspaces.

Not only does the use of wood make a statement of classic style, but it also can improve wellbeing, bolster job satisfaction, and drive productivity, according to the study Workplaces: Wellness + Wood = Productivity. The study shows that biophilic design elements such as natural light, wood, and plants can increase productivity in the office by eight percent and a sense of well-being by 13 percent. The same study shows employees in “work environments with exposed wood feel more connected to nature and have more positive associations with their workplace.” Furthermore, those working in environments featuring wood furniture have higher levels of wellbeing, take less leave, and demonstrate higher levels of concentration, improved mood, and personal productivity.

Morpheo comes in a variety of wood colors to match your office interiors with style.

Flexible, Multifunctional Spaces

No longer are office workspaces relegated to cubicles. Today’s modern office offers employees an open, cooperative workplace. This calls for more flexible, multifunctional workspaces, which are becoming increasingly popular. Not only is it good for existing employees, but many companies are finding this is a means of drawing top talent to their organization.

Some offices are turning smaller rooms into areas where employees can meet, brainstorm, or simply take in a coffee break. Larger spaces are being left open with a variety of seating options from shared seating and tables to individual desks to employees can float from one area to the next as needed. What’s great about these multiuse spaces is that they can be transformed and flex for the needs of your employees.

Nevins offers many options for crafting breakout spaces in larger rooms for more intimate or private work.

While the thought of noise can hamper the idea of incorporating such open spaces in the workplace, there are products to help with that as well. For example, Nevins offers acoustic hanging panels to create smaller spaces in larger areas while reducing noise pollution. Its Ariel panels, which are suspended from the ceiling, offer a modern way to divide workspace and come in a wide variety of patterns and colors to compliment your office décor.

Ariel Panels by Nevins offers a solution to noise while creating intimate multifunctional workspaces while adding a splash of color.

Additionally, fixed work areas are also becoming a thing of the past. This is especially true with so many people working remotely and spending less time formally working in the office. Companies are freeing up traditional work desks to create multipurpose spaces where workers can move according to what they are doing at that moment. Such breakout spaces have become a popular movement as it has increased communications between departments and improved idea sharing to benefit the company while boosting morale.

Bringing the Outside In

Biophilic designs have really taken off in the last few years and you can expect to see more of it incorporated in offices as we move ahead into the 2020s. Nature has begun to entrench itself in workplaces to create a more pleasing environment for the modern worker. The aforementioned Workplaces: Wellness + Wood = Productivity demonstrates that biophilic design elements including the integration of natural light, wood, and plants increase productivity and well-being, reducing employee sick days as well as turnover.

Whether you’re bringing in live plants or opening up natural light with huge windows, biophilic design is expanding. Peter Pepper offers Kona planters that have a subtle tapered steel body that sits on a rotationally molded base with low-profile swivel casters. These can be used indoors or out, are easy to clean, and are completely recyclable. In addition, they are resistant to UV, moisture, and changes in temperature making them a sustainable way to incorporate nature into your office space.

The Kona Planter by Peter Pepper allows you to bring biophilic design into the office with clean lines and steel appeal.

Healthier Workplaces

In addition to biophilic design, proper ergonomics in the workplace are also improving health for our modern workforce. Study after study has been done demonstrating the importance of proper ergonomics in the way we sit, stand, and work. Modern office furnishings from office chairs to height-adjustable desks are improving the health of employees.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33 percent of all injury and illness cases in American workplaces are related to musculoskeletal disorders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that $45 to $54 billion is lost in productivity, wages, and compensation costs annually due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. The best part is that all of this is preventable with proper ergonomics in the workplace.

The furniture manufacturer ergoCentric offers seating and height-adjustable desks to prevent such musculoskeletal disorders while reducing workplace injury claims. Proper ergonomics have been shown to increase productivity, efficiency, and the quality of work as well, according to ergoCentric. For example, the geoCentric chairs offered by ergoCentric provide versatile and adaptable seating solutions for all office requirements. Regardless of task or user, this chair is ideal for general office work and a multitude of other tasks and is adjustable enough to fit any user for proper ergonomics.

geoCentric chairs by ergoCentric will improve the ergonomics of any office.

Deskmakers offers a wide range of height-adjustable desks and tables for improved health in the workplace. Take, for example, the Hover collection of work surfaces. These desks and tabletops offer sit-stand solutions that allow employees to stand or sit as they work. An online article by U.S. News and World Report shows that standing at work offers many benefits including improved health. In addition, height-adjustable work surfaces allow anyone to adjust a table or desk to a height that is best for them.

Hover Height Adjustable Desks by DeskMakers offer sit-stand work solutions perfect for every employee’s needs.

If you are interested in learning more about office trends moving into 2020 or any of the products mentioned above, contact CORE (Corporate Office Resource Environments) at (520) 999-3470. You can also visit us online. Our commercial office specialists are here to answer all of your questions and assist you in building a modern, healthy work environment for your employees for years to come.