Have you ever thought of how easily a physically challenged individual can access their work without any assistance? Ever wondered why some workplaces have poor productivity, increased musculoskeletal (MSK) pain, and increased ergonomic risk factors?
Since you started your new job, you may have been experiencing fatigue, muscular pain and increased stress. This may not be because of any underlying health conditions.
It is either you and/or the administrators are not doing the right thing, or the workplace is not ergonomically fit.
Ergonomics is a human-system interaction that aims at optimizing human well-being and overall system performance.
This discipline is found everywhere there is human and system interaction; for example, homes, gym centers, hospitals, learning institutions, and workplaces have ergonomics.
Ergonomics has to do with a human’s daily routine, even when you are in motion or about to pick an object from the floor. Normally the best and safest way to pick an object from the floor is by squatting. This will help you prevent lower back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
There are so many benefits of having an ergonomically fit surrounding. These benefits include increased productivity, decreased MSK conditions, and reduced ergonomic risk factors.
For you to have an efficient workplace, there must be proper proactive ergonomic designs. Alternatively, for an already existing workplace with poor ergonomic design, there must be a readjustment in the office in order to have an efficient workforce.
It is quite hard to identify the products of ergonomics in an ergonomically fit workplace, but quite easy to identify a building or workplace with poor designs. This is attributed to the increased energy cost of work and MSK injury risk factors.
For the purposes of clarity and implementation, we classified the 6 things that make for an ergonomically fit workplace into intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
The intrinsic factors are the systemic structures which include proper structural designs, auditorium/muster point and recreation time
The extrinsic factors are human-related and include the right people for the right job, effective communication, and remuneration or incentive.
No employee would like to work in an unhealthy workplace, and at the same time, employers are looking for greater productivity. Therefore, it is important to have an ergonomically fit workplace for optimal function, and in this article, we will review ideas you can implement today.
1) Proper Structural Designs
The main aim of designing a workplace is for people to fit into the design and not to be forced into a bad structure. Working in a poorly designed space can be quite frustrating because it will undermine the health and safety of the individuals involved.
A workplace is considered fit not because of aesthetics, but because of its ergonomics. Before a building is erected, it is common practice to incorporate ergonomics in the mapping out of the structures. This is to ensure that they can stand out and offer optimal productivity.
Most of the time, people disregard the importance of ergonomics in erecting a workplace to fit into the needs of the employers, employees, visitors and so on.
Since employees spend most of their time in their workplaces, it is necessary to harness the office such that it will boost productivity and at the same time minimize job-related risks.
Workplace design has a great effect on the workers both physically and psychologically. Bad workplace designs breed inefficiency because of the increased occurrence of stress injuries and mental fatigue.
There must be a balance between people and their interaction with the office structures. A survey can be carried out among the workers to ascertain how well the offices can be modified for greater productivity.
The data gotten from the survey can be used to re-modify the workplace to suit the workers rather than allow the workers to strive in a bad working environment.
Some workplaces have a staircase, while others may have both stairs and lift. There should be provisions for a ramp for physically challenged individuals to easily access the workplace with little or no assistance.
Office tables and computers should be made to suit the individual using them to ensure maximum productivity. The computer should be made to maintain an eye-level with the user, with the chair at 90 degrees with the back and the lower extremities.
The common office chairs are the adjustable types with armrests. This will help minimize cost as you will not have to change chairs when you have new employees. There should be a footrest with the chairs to maintain a certain angle while preventing the legs to hang on the air.
There should be proper fitting of electrical appliances and connections at the workplace. They should be guarded against the reach of the workers. And there should be a proper choice of electrical appliances for the office setting.
The installation of solar panels is the common practice because of their energy conservation and cost-effectiveness. There are different types of solar panels that are designed for homes, offices, and workplaces. The choice of solar panels depends on the size of the workplace and their appliances.
Portable compressor refrigerators are good for the workplace because of their amazing sizes and energy efficiency. Workers can easily reach the refrigerator to grab a chill drink, food or fruits without stress.
In tropical regions, there should be provisions for air conditioners for both the workers and the employees. This will help create a conducive working environment for both human and system interactions.
Studies show that people concentrate most where there is little noise, compared to a bustling environment. This will help both the workers and administrators function optimally.
2) Having an Auditorium/Muster Point
Apart from the different administration offices and working arena, there should be a provision for an auditorium where meetings and other important issues can be discussed.
The auditorium should contain a stage with a podium, comfortable chairs, tables and electrical provisions for projectors that can be used by the administrators and employees.
The auditorium can be a place of lectures or seminar presentations, by both the administrators and employees. Here certain new directives or a recent style of production can be taught.
The auditorium can double as a place where the board of directors, investors, and stakeholders make their decisions on the matters bothering the organization.
A muster point is a point where you can meet to be addressed when the need arises. Some larger organizations may prefer to locate the muster point within the premises of the workplace.
Usually, when there is a situation like a gas explosion or fire outbreak, an alarm may be raised to call on everyone to gather at the muster point while the situation is being taken care of.
Putting this in place will ensure the safety of both the administrators and workers and hence maximize productivity.
This will ensure proper concentration in the workplace as you don’t have to panic even in emergency situations because you are always covered.
3) Recreation Time
That old cliché, ‘’all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’’ also applies here. It will be a boring and hectic experience working without cooling off.
In any place there are human activities, there should be a provision for a restaurant where people can come to select food and drinks to eat.
There should be a recreation time in-between work time, to allow the workers to ease off for a while and return. This will create fresh energy for maximal concentration.
This time can also be used for routine warm-up and stretching exercises. A 30 minutes dose of warm-up and stretching increases flexibility, reduce work stress and ensures for general wellbeing.
It is recommended that you always stand at an interval of every 1-2 hours to take a short walk, routine stretches of the upper and lower extremities together with the trunk.
You don’t have to go to a field to do this, you just need to do it at your corner in the workplace. This will help you manage work-related stress and at the same time increasing your optimal function.
4) Effective Communication
There should be effective communication between the administration and the workers. This will bring a sense of belonging and acceptance between the parties.
Administrators should always have a close communication gap with the employees. This will make sure that information regarding the workplace and/or organization can easily reach the right people.
There should be a proper work description prior to taking new employees. This can be written in a document format and offered to the workers so that it will stick better in their memory.
Employers should not block the necessary information from the workers. There should be a detailing of the institution’s terms and regular updates when there is a new modification.
It is best to state clearly to the employees, the basis for remuneration and incentives if any. It is not safe to have a projection of what the company cannot provide for. To avoid conflict of interest, the appropriate remuneration and when it will come should be stated.
For effective communication to stand, there should be a good communication channel between the speaker and the listener. When there is a balance between the two parties, there will be high productivity.
5) Choosing the Right People for the Right Job
Sometimes, selecting the right people for the job can be quite demanding. Apart from the qualifications, a quick written interview related to the job can be used to initially select prospective employees.
After passing the initial stage, those that were successful can proceed for a verbal interview and, if needed, carry out a hands-on approach in the related job.
The assessors should be trained to independently observe the prospective employees and be able to select the right individuals for the job.
It is hard to study an individual’s behavioral patterns usually within a short period, but over time the innate strengths and weaknesses of an individual can be detected.
Every individual has a specific behavior and skill pattern which can change at any time. Because of this, much attention is needed to successfully equate an employee to a specific job task.
As the employees proceed with their works, there appears to be an increase in skill acquisition. So those that started poorly are likely to improve over time.
No individual should be neglected, everyone learns. There are some exceptional folks that always do wonderfully well in any environment they find themselves. These individuals should be allowed to teach others and learn from one another too.
This way certain job tasks can be given to the specific person that can handle them. This will go a long way in reducing work-related stress and at the same time increasing productivity.
Recently, the aspect of artificial intelligence (AI) can be employed in identifying some specific traits and patterns in individuals. This AI has an in-built algorithm that is capable of detecting patterns, skills, and behaviors, and produce their results.
6) Proper Remuneration or Incentives
The running of any establishment is based on the employee’s satisfaction. The money received at the end of the day, week or month is the basic. There are other bonuses that can be added sometimes to appreciate outstanding performances.
There are so many ways employees can be motivated to work maximally. The basic take-home should not prevent a token of appreciation when the need arises.
It is common practice to make a subjective open appreciation towards any employee that has worked exceptionally on a job given to them. This will motivate others to do their best on their own.
Normally, when there is an issue of concern that demands urgent scolding, this can be settled privately to avoid creating unnecessary tension among the other workers.
There are quite a lot of benefits of ergonomics on both the administrators and employees. When there is good human-system interaction in any workplace, there will be a great level of efficiency and productivity. The importance of having an ergonomically fit workplace far outweighs the cost of having a poor design.