When it comes to ergonomic furniture, there is a lot out there to choose from.
In fact, it is getting overwhelming and very confusing, too.
Statistically speaking, back pain is the most common reason for sick-leave in the workplace. And did you know that the main cause for back pain in the workplace is the long hours of sitting in awkward positions?
It seems to be a general belief that ergonomic chairs can be the ‘magic pill’ to reduce or prevent back pain. And, with the best of intentions, businesses are spending a lot of money on them.
But are these making any real improvements to people’s back problems? Isn’t back pain, still, the most common ailment in offices?
What we are seeing is ever fancier ergonomic chairs coming out every day, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for ergonomic furniture but…
It is important to understand that ergonomic chairs do not address the source of the problem. Back pain will never be a thing of the past by investing in ergonomic furniture only.
Too much sitting is the source of the problem. So why do we think that by doing more sitting, albeit on a fancy chair, will solve the ‘too much’ sitting problem?
Here’s what the problem really is: The body isn’t designed to sit for the amount of time we are asking it to – the body craves movement. Fact!
If businesses are serious about helping their work-force and getting the work done more efficiently by addressing the aches & pains then a cultural change is needed.
Here are 8 simple ideas that will really make a difference in employees’ health:
People need to understand how the body is designed to work: to sit, stand and walk and learn the principles of good posture – this is a 2-hour workshop (that I offer to businesses).
Allow and encourage people to move to the office.
Offer movement classes daily, eg. yoga or Feldenkrais.
Create break-out areas with a couple of gym tools (e.g. cycling/cross-fit machines) – I’m not talking about having a gym in the office. This is a close-by area where staff can go for a 5-minute break (throughout the day) to release tension and energize by getting the blood flowing. Offices usually have this kind of areas but are with tables and chairs. It’s time to clear those out!
Hang up posters with simple stretches in places such as the kitchenette, printing rooms and even meeting rooms to encourage people to stretch.
Introduce a ‘no-sitting policy’ during short meetings.
Encourage/invite people to stand up every so often during long meetings.
THEN… provide ergonomic furniture such as standing desks (making sure people know how to stand, bullet point 1.)
And here are 5 ways for the employees to help themselves:
Sit down for no longer than 15 minutes.
Stand up and move your body
Refrain from taking the lift – use the stairs instead.
If you can, have a standing desk to switch from sitting to standing throughout the day (but be aware of how you are standing too) – it doesn’t need to be a fancy one. IKEA has them at reasonable prices.
When someone comes to see you in your office, don’t offer them a seat but instead stand up and discuss whatever you need to discuss standing up.