4 Basic Ergonomic Design Tips

Create Harmony between People and Work

Good workplace design fosters well-being and employee engagement, ultimately leading to higher organizational performance. A key component of physical health is ergonomics, a complex science that focuses on optimizing well-being by studying jobs, tasks, products, environments, and systems to ensure they are designed for compatibility with people.

Applying these ergonomic principles to workstation layout will ensure users are physically supported for health and wellness while working. We offer some tips below to create comfortable spaces that allow people to work safely and effectively while feeling healthier.

1.  Design workstations to support a variety of postures and proximity to the worksurface.

  • Adjustable seating should allow users to sit upright, reclined, or in forward tilt positions. 
  • Height-adjustable tables offer opportunities to change positions and postures.
  • Clearance under the worksurface should allow for freedom of movement.

2.  Encourage users to sit or stand centered at their task or with their computer monitor close to the worksurface.

  • Place monitor about an arm’s length from the front of the body and at a height that keeps the head in an upright (neutral) posture.
  • Keep elbows and arms close to the body; upper arms should hang down straight along the torso with elbow angle between 70 – 120 degrees, and wrists straight while working.
  • Avoid leaning to one side or lifting the shoulders while working. 
  • Torso to thigh angle should be 90 degrees or greater when sitting.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest when sitting.

3. Support healthy postures with strategic placement of worksurface items.

  • Put frequently used items in the primary work zone: elbows close to the body, shoulders relaxed, little to no reach required.
  • Locate less frequently used items in the secondary work zone: more reaching required, with the arms stretched out from the body.
  • Adjust access if necessary when moving from sitting to standing.

4. Increase movement, steps, and posture changes throughout the workday.

  • Change postures while sitting and standing.
  • Begin standing in sessions that last 15 minutes or less and slowly increase standing time. 
  • Change postures to expend more energy while working.
  • Increase steps to help the body maintain proper metabolism.
  • Walk to a coworker’s desk rather than calling or emailing them.
  • Arrange walking meetings.
  • Organize a contest to see who completes the most steps or miles in a month.

Embracing these tips will help foster employee well-being by encouraging ergonomic practices. For a deeper dive into the importance of posture and combating the current issue of too much sitting, read “The Office Ouch Factor.”

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