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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Time For An Ergonomic Touch-Up

Written by Heidi Schwartz. Posted in Interiors, Safety, Web Exclusives

Tagged: , , , ,

Published on March 07, 2011 with 1 Comment

This Web Exclusive is a recap of results from a recent office ergonomics survey conducted by Staples Advantage.
Web Exclusive Safety

The pain in your neck at work may not actually be from your demanding to-do list or endless meetings. According to a recent survey from Staples Advantage, office furniture and technology may make or break how employees feel during the day. Results show that by providing support – in the form of ergonomic enhancements – companies can create happier, healthier, and more productive work environments.

Staples Advantage conducted an online survey, with responses from more than 150 office workers in companies of all sizes and across industries. The survey, conducted in December 2010, asked about ergonomic preferences and use of ergonomic furniture and equipment.

While 86% of office workers report some discomfort from their office furniture and equipment, 41% say it actually does cause a pain-in-the-neck; a little ergonomic fine tuning can go a long way. According to the survey results, with a more comfortable workspace:

  • More than one in three office workers say they would be a more pleasant person to work with;
  • Nearly one in two say they would be more productive; and
  • 35% say they would feel less stressed at work.


The first step companies can take to help create happier work environments and banish aches and pains is to start the ergonomic conversation. Results show that one in three respondents haven’t heard the topic of ergonomics discussed at work, and 70% say their workspace isn’t ergonomically adjusted for them.

“Ergonomics shouldn’t be overlooked until it gets to the point that employees are practically avoiding their own desks,” said Jay Mutschler, senior vice president, Staples Advantage. “Easy ergonomic fine tuning can have a positive effect in the workplace, not the least of which is keeping employees healthy and happy throughout the workday.”

Does Your Chair Make The Grade?
When it comes to ergonomics, office chairs were top of mind for survey respondents—nearly one in two employees give the comfort of their office chair a “C” grade or lower. In addition, 54% say if they could make one change to improve the comfort of their workspace, they would ask for a more ergonomic chair.

If they had their wish, chances are, these workers would be sitting pretty. Of the 82% of office workers who say they slouch at their desks, 66% assert their posture would improve if they had an ergonomic chair.

“A good office chair helps put employees in the driver’s seat and in control,” said John Michael, vice president and general manager for the furniture and design business of Staples Advantage. “With an ergonomic chair—one that alleviates back pressure and promotes good posture—employees feel more energetic and ready to tackle the day.”

Check out the following tips for selecting—and helping employees get settled into—the optimal office chair:

  • Choose the right chair for tasks. Specialized job functions may necessitate specific chair designs. Consider multi-function chairs for maximum versatility.
  • One size does not fit all. When selecting a chair, consider its ability to conform to various body types. In addition, look for multiple points of adjustability (seat depth, back height, arm height, chair height and tilt tension).
  • Correct posture is key. The best seated position is not an erect 90 degrees, but rather a reclined posture of 100 to 110 degrees. Craning of the neck, tense shoulders or slouching cause strain even with an ergonomic chair.
  • Adjust chairs appropriately. For example, seat height should be adjusted so feet are firmly on the floor, and tilt tension should be adjusted for differing weights.

The Tech Effect: Selecting Equipment That Maximizes Comfort
Typists, take note: according to the survey, 86% of office workers do not have an ergonomic keyboard. Of that group, 69% report experiencing wrist strain—symptoms that may be alleviated through keyboard selection and the use of keyboard trays.

Today’s office workers face a variety of other challenges, including the fact that one in three spends eight or more hours a day at their desk, in front of the computer—more time than the average adult spends sleeping in their bed each night.

“With many office workers spending more time in front of their computers than in their own beds, it’s especially important to shift positions and take active breaks,” said Ed Ludwigson, vice president and general manager for the technology products and services business of Staples Advantage. “Companies can provide a more comfortable experience for workers by supplying ergonomic equipment and education on the best way to use it.”

With an extensive selection of desktop technologies, as well as laptops, desktop computers, monitors, and more, Staples provides the following ergonomic tips:

  • Keyboards: Consider ergonomic keyboards, such as the “fixed split” or “adjustable split” designs that promote proper finger positioning.
  • The mouse: Keep it on the same level as the keyboard to avoid twisting or reaching. Consider mouse pads with cushions for maximum wrist support.
  • Monitors: Adjust brightness, contrast, and screen resolution, and consider non-glare screens so the display is easy on the eyes. Monitors should be at eye height and about an arm’s length away, positioned so eyes look forward and slightly downward. Look for monitor stands that tilt and swivel for optimal ergonomic positioning.

About Heidi Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM's parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities. Schwartz can be reached at schwartz@groupc.com.

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  1. I enjoy this post very much. I have definitely noticed how important a good, comfortable chair really is, especially when you are sitting for most of the day. Comfort definitely increases productivity.

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