The correct setup of an office workstation may have a big impact on productivity and overall staff morale. Whilst it is essential for employers to ensure that all workspaces and office equipment comply with current Health and Safety regulations, there are other important non-compulsory aspects of the office that should be considered.
The 1992 Workplace Regulations stipulate that the minimum workspace required by law is 11 cubic meters for each employee. However, these regulations represent a bare minimum that should be avoided at all costs. It is important to ensure that all employees have a comfortable space to work from, rather than being forced to sit on top of one another. Furthermore, space allocation regulations have the potential to change at a moment's notice, impacted by external factors such as pandemics.
Most office staff spend almost 8 hours a day sitting at their desks. This means that an inadequate workstation setup could place a big strain on your employees, in both physical and psychological terms.
The incorrect placement of a keyboard could give rise to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome which, in severe cases, can result in disability. Ideally, employee elbows should be at a 90 to 110-degree angle with the keyboard. Additionally, the height of all keyboards should be adjusted so that there is no unnecessary strain on employee shoulders and to ensure that their wrists are in line. All keyboards should be kept clean and well maintained so that typing does not require hard presses of the keys.
Cervical problems and visual fatigue can arise as a result of incorrect screen placement. It is recommended that computer screens be placed 18 to 24 inches away from the user and be directly aligned with the user's eyes.
The space under a desk should not be considered storage space. Although it is very common to place CPUs, bins, and filing cabinets under a desk, this practice can further contribute to the over cluttering of a workspace therefore forcing staff into uncomfortable positions. Ideally, desks should have rounded edges and 20 to 28 inches of clear space between the top surface and the floor. It is also important to make sure that no cables interfere with the movements of staff throughout the office.
Although office staff spend most of their day sitting, their legs and feet still need support. Ergonomic chairs allow staff to adjust the height so that keyboards are perfectly in line with their wrists. Additionally, these types of chairs often have padded edges that help maintain an employee's knees at the ideal 90 to 110-degree angle, whilst also providing excellent lower back support and the option to change seating position throughout the day.
Other useful pieces of ergonomic office furniture include document holders that can be placed between a monitor and keyboard (not on the sides of the monitor, as this causes neck strain), and wireless headsets that afford flexibility of movement.
Thanks to extensive research, we know that the best form of lighting in an office should combine natural and artificial light sources. Keeping this principle in mind will help prevent problems such as: headaches, visual strain, oversight errors, fatigue, and diminished productivity.
It's important to ensure that no shadows or reflections interfere with an employee's visual field. This can be accomplished through the use a light diffuser to ensure no direct lighting over a workstation. When computers are involved, anti-glare screen protectors should be used. Monitors should be placed at a right angle with sources of light and windows. If that is not possible due to the office layout, invest in adjustable blinds that allow staff to control the amount of light that enters the room.