3 Ways Ergonomics and Workplace Design Create a Positive Employee Experience

December 27, 2018

Woman working at a desk, surrounded by plants
Incorporating plants into the work space can have multiple benefits.

Incorporating plants into the work space can have multiple benefits.

Ben Eubanks

The space you work in impacts your thinking, which is why ergonomics and workplace design are critically important for business leaders to consider. For instance, working in a neat, orderly space can create a different type of atmosphere from a cluttered or cramped one. One Princeton researcher believes that the more clutter that exists in the person's field of view, the more distracting and difficult it is to focus.

This is one simple example, but research shows a wide variety of impacts based on how workplaces are designed. Below are three options for keeping ergonomics and workplace design at the forefront of decisions, including ideas on how to use the science to your advantage.

3 Ways To Design an Ergonomically Correct Workplace

There is a plethora of ways to design workspaces to improve employee wellness, but to avoid being overwhelmed, start with some of the basics.

Furniture

When people select a bed for their home, they often spend weeks researching options before picking the right one. In the office, furniture decisions are often made purely on price and not on comfort or other measures. Choosing ergonomic furniture can be both price-conscious and beneficial to employers.

For instance, Texas A&M research shows call center employees are more productive when provided a standing desk. In the first month, the standing employees completed 23 percent more successful calls than their peers. However, instead of leveling off, the trend in performance improvement continued to increase over time. At the end of the six month experiment, standing workers had more than 50 percent higher rates of successful calls than their peers.

Choose furniture that allows workers flexibility and the option to get some measure of exercise — even something as simple as standing — because research shows a variety of benefits for both individuals and their employers.

Plants

Offices are often stark environments with little color or sense of nature, but plants are an easy way to add some color without having to repaint everything. Research shows that workers may feel more calm and less stressed when plants are present in the workplace. For instance, the 2015 Human Spaces report pointed out a host of benefits of indoor greenery, from higher creativity to better well-being scores. Some research in the report even pointed to greater productivity benefits from incorporating plants into the work environment.

A fun option to go along with this idea would be to allow workers to choose their own plant from a list of approved options, giving each individual a chance to educate others on why they made their choice and what makes that plant unique.

Clutter

A work space that is cluttered will create barriers to performance and focus. The remedies are fairly simple, but — as with any change — the behavior modification is the hard part.

  • It starts by limiting reliance on paper in the office. If you're printing a significant amount of documents or if you receive a lot of incoming paper, look for ways to go digital by scanning or avoiding printing for some projects. Less paper equals less mess.
  • Perhaps the most important change, though, is to make it a habit of cleaning and organizing your desk on a daily and/or weekly basis. This not only helps you to eliminate clutter but also to better prioritize your work tasks. For instance, taking 10 minutes at the end of each day to shred or recycle unneeded documents, sorting the next day's priorities and filing routine paperwork can go a long way towards creating a more organized work space.
  • Additionally, if you're using a standing desk, you may have less room for clutter, which is a natural way to force yourself to be more consistent with decluttering practices.

Prioritizing Ergonomics and Workplace Design

Each of these ideas is rooted in one central theme: we can simplify and prioritize how we create our work spaces. This isn't about letting the standard workplace options be our default choices. Instead, business leaders should be intentional with the decisions they make surrounding how offices are laid out, set up and designed. It's more than just creating a pleasing work space. It's also about creating an ergonomically correct workplace that is conducive to focus and high-quality work.

ergonomically correct workplace

ergonomically correct workplace

3 Ways Ergonomics and Workplace Design Create a Positive Employee Experience

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