Ergonomic....What Does it Mean and How Do I Know What is Right for Me?
Did you know that October has been designated 'National Ergonomics Month' by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society and Global Ergonomics Month by the International Ergonomics Association? In light of October being just around the corner (where does time go!?), this blog is intended to kick off this awesome month!
If you are in the market for new office furniture or peripherals, you will likely start online, browsing products to find one that appeals to you. As you scroll through the numerous products, count how many you find with the word “ergonomic” in the title or description.
I guarantee you will come across at least a handful. Working in the field of ergonomics, I may be more aware of this term than the lay consumer who is just looking for a good product, but I find it very annoying that this term is used so loosely!
So What Does Ergonomic Mean?
I like the definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary; ‘an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely’. Another way of explaining it is that we design the space for the person, instead of the person trying to fit to the space. So by definition, to ensure that one single product or multiple products within a work station are arranged properly for a person, it must be highly adjustable, right!?
Why Does Adjustability Matter?
Well, every person is different. Different in our body shape, size, work flow, and our own definition of what is comfortable. So if the thought is that one product with minimal or no adjustability will be “ergonomic” and be the best product for one person, or every person in your office, you may be very disappointed.
In our modern world, if a product says it is ergonomic or looks like a spin off from the Jetson’s vehicle, consumers are drawn to it thinking it will be better for them. However, this is not always true. The science and research dedicated to the design of products shows innovative new designs attempting to support the human body in better postures while we sit in front of various forms of technology every day. Though for an individual consumer, it can be difficult and overwhelming to sift through these products to find the best match! Sure you can read reviews and watch YouTube videos on the product, but at the end of the day, what works for one person, will not necessarily work for the next. That is why the field of human factors and ergonomics exists. It is a science to help you make these decisions.
While there are many great products on the market in all aspects of office furniture, equipment and peripherals, there are also many that do not fit the bill and could cause you more discomfort. Make sure you research products and get a demo period of furniture whenever possible (especially if purchasing for several employees). And remember, if you are purchasing for an office, all of your employees are different. If in doubt, ask an ergonomic professional for advice on a product you may be considering.
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Ergonomic….What does it mean and How Do I Know What Is Right For Me?