Ergonomics in the Office: What You Need to Know

An employee comfortable in a office

If you own or manage a business, creating a workplace that is both productive and comfortable for your employees is essential. One way to achieve this is by incorporating ergonomics into your office design.

Ergonomics is, in simple terms, a study of how people work inside a particular environment. It can be used to optimize work conditions and improve worker productivity. Here’s what you need to know about ergonomics in the office.

The Benefits of Ergonomic Office Design

There are many benefits to incorporating ergonomics into your office design. By making small changes to the way your office is laid out, you can improve employee comfort and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs are a type of injury that can be caused by repetitive motions, awkward positions, or prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Some common MSDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and back pain.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

One of the most common disorders from poor ergonomics is carpal tunnel syndrome. This is caused by pressure on the median nerve, which runs through the wrist and into the hand. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and wrist.

The main problem with this disorder is that it can lead to impaired hand function, making it difficult for employees to perform their job duties. It can also cost your company as CTS is often treated with surgery, physical therapy, and missed work days.


Another common MSD is tendonitis, inflammation or irritation of the tendons. This can happen in various body parts, including the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and neck. Symptoms include pain and limited range of motion in the affected area.

Back Pain

Many office workers also suffer from back pain due to poor posture and inadequate support for the spine. Most of the time, a good massage can deal with the problem. Massages can improve the circulatory system while also relaxing muscles and relieving tension in the back. However, chronic back pain can lead to missed work days and potentially require surgery or other costly medical treatments if left untreated.

Good ergonomic design can help reduce the chances of the MSDs above. However, in addition to reducing the risk of MSDs, ergonomic office design can also improve employee productivity. Workers can focus on their tasks and be more efficient when they are comfortable. Additionally, ergonomic offices have been shown to reduce absenteeism and turnover rates. One study found that every $1 spent on ergonomics programs yielded an $8 return in savings from reduced workers’ compensation claims, health care costs, and lost work days.

An employee feeling neck pain due to bad ergonomics

How to Implement Ergonomics in Your Office

There are many ways you can incorporate ergonomics into your office design. Here are five of those ways:

Office Furniture

First, take a look at your furniture. Make sure that all surfaces are comfortable for employees of different heights. For example, adjustable-height desks allow workers to choose a desk height that fits them best. You should also ensure that chairs provide adequate support and that employees can access footrests if necessary.

Standing desks are also known to improve posture and prevent the adverse effects of sitting for long periods.

Computer Set-Up

Next, consider how employees use their computers. The monitor should be at eye level, with the keyboard and mouse positioned comfortably within reach. Employees should also take breaks from computer use to avoid strain on their eyes and wrists.


Another important consideration is lighting; glare from windows or overhead lights can cause eye strain, so try to use task lighting whenever possible. There are various ways to improve light in your office. The first way is to add more natural light by installing windows or skylights. Another option is to use adjustable desk lamps for individual task lighting.

Workstation Layout

The layout of workstations can also have an impact on ergonomics. Employees should have enough space to move around and stretch their limbs when possible. Try to minimize clutter on desks to reduce strain on the shoulders and neck while reaching for objects.

Ergonomic Training

Finally, provide ergonomic training for your employees. Show them how to use and adjust their equipment correctly and do stretches and exercise during their workday to prevent strain and fatigue.

Ergonomics in the office is a win-win for employers and employees alike. By making small changes to the way your office is designed and laid out, you can improve worker comfort and productivity while reducing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Implementing ergonomic principles in your office is a wise investment that will pay off in the long run.

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