Ergonomic Office Products – The MythMay 6, 2020
By strict definition you cannot manufacture or purchase an ergonomic product. What works for you may not necessarily work for the next person. Products can be designed to be ergonomic but until you apply the two most critical factors, the user and good ergonomic principles, it’s just a product.
Office workers from all professions are experiencing unprecedented levels of neck, back, shoulder and arm pain as an unintended consequence of the paperless office, according to new University of Sydney research and this is reflected in the increase in the number of products marketed under the “ergonomic” banner.
Buying these types of products is an unusual process because by definition, the fit must be intensely personal. Resolving pain issues isn’t as simple as plugging in a new mouse or keyboard and finding the time to get to a showroom can be difficult. If you do find the time to get to a showroom, the 5 minutes you have to trial the product in an unfamiliar environment gives no real indication of its effectiveness.
All too often, “ergonomic” products are implemented in isolation without any regard to the rest of the workstation. You buy that great new “ergonomic” keyboard to resolve wrist pain but it does nothing to resolve the pain in your neck or shoulder, two of the most common complaints according to the University of Sydney research. That great new “ergonomic” keyboard probably has a numeric keypad on the RHS which forces you to “over reach ” when using your mouse placing tremendous stress and strain on your neck and shoulder muscles.
Consider a simple ream of office paper. There’s nothing remotely ergonomic about it but when you place it under a computer monitor that’s too low for the user, by employing good ergonomic principles and considering the effect it will have on the user, it’s now magically ergonomic. I’ve seen 2 reams of paper placed under someones desk and used as a great split footrest.
I’m not suggesting that “ergonomic” products don’t assist in resolving pain issues, I’m saying that they need to be employed with good ergonomic principles as the foundation, discipline by the user and correctly fitted as an absolute minimum. If it’s ergonomically designed but used incorrectly or incorrectly fitted, it’s not ergonomic.
If your current supplier doesn’t offer a product trial or product fitment service, chances are, all you’re buying are “products”. There are more than enough companies out there for you to find a good one.