Increasing Efficiency through Ergonomics
Ergonomics & Efficiency:
How Smarter Workspaces Lead to Better Work
By Christian Roemer
If you're looking to make your staff work better, start by making them feel better with an ergonomic workspace.
Companies are always looking for ways to improve and grow, and one of the major buzzwords they use all of the time is efficiency. They utilize programs like 5S and Six Sigma with the goal of making their businesses run more smoothly. The goal is to streamline processes in order to cut down on errors and waste. The problem with most efficiency programs is that they disregard the anthropocentric—that is, human based needs—and instead focus purely on the process itself with statistics and externalities.
If you feel like workers are left out, it's probably because they are. Most lean programs involve a dehumanizing mechanization of labor that's draining on employees and destroys their creative potency. If you believe in your staff and the power they have to positively impact your business, you should empower them, not view them as mere cogs in a process.
The best way you can do that is by making them healthy and comfortable.
Without a person to complete a task, nothing could get done. Rigid adherence to processes can be stifling and inhibit innovation. That's why investing in your employees' comfort and health can yield spectacular results without needing to pay for expensive improvement programs that ultimately produce mixed results.
If you believe in your staff and the power they have to positively impact your business, you should empower them, not view them as mere cogs in a process.
Let's focus on ways that non-ergonomic workspaces can negatively impact your business and decrease efficiency.
- Ergonomics reduce bodily stress on your employees, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs.
- MSDs can cause your employees to lose proficiency in certain tasks. For example: carpal tunnel syndrome can adversely affect employee typing proficiency.
- Back and leg pain from insufficient office chairs can be debilitating, adding to healthcare costs due to needed chiropractic care, massage therapy, or more serious medical intervention.
- Pain is debilitating, and can force employees to miss work days in an attempt to recover, putting more stress on other employees who have to pick up the slack.
- Being uncomfortable or in pain can cause psychological disorders like anxiety and depression.
To recap, poorly designed work spaces with bad tools can lead to an injured, unhappy, and absent workforce that can drain company finances and resources.
Before you inspect and tinker with your processes, take a look at how your employees feel. Ensure that they have the work tools that they need to keep their bodies properly aligned and functional. Doing so will ensure that they're able to put their best foot forward every day of the week. Unwanted distractions like wrist and back pain can wear on your team and force them to perform less than optimally.
Taking the time to support your work staff will demonstrate that you care about them on a personal level. Humanizing your workforce and valuing their overall well-being will positively impact intangible aspects of your business like office culture and employee morale. For example, Kelly from accounting may have to attend bi-weekly chiropractic adjustments due to desk height she has to stretch to reach. A simple keyboard tray could remedy that issue, and that one product could pay for itself in less than two weeks. Plus, Kelly will adore you for taking the time to ensure that she's comfortable and happy.
Humanizing your workforce and valuing their overall well-being will positively impact intangible aspects of your business like office culture and employee morale.
Improving your business's efficiency doesn't always have to start by examining what your employees do every minute of the day. Instead, focus on how they're able to do it and the impact that it has on their bodies and minds.
Making the office more ergonomic is one simple way to ensure that you're setting your staff and business up for success. Building a healthier and more ergonomic workspace will ensure that nothing impedes your team's ability to work and focus on the task at hand.
Before you solicit the services of an expensive consultant, invest in your employees' comfort instead. You may even be surprised at the results.