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Good Office Ergonomics: A working example

Office ergonomics is the discipline of providing a safe, comfortable and productive workspace that meets the needs of the person or people using it. We should all have a workspace that is suited to us and considers the various elements of office ergonomics. If we think about a really bad example of office ergonomics it may highlight why we need to consider this science.

Bad Office Ergonomics

Imagine you walk into an office or home office; it’s dark in the corners of the room and has a flickering light that shines painfully bright into the centre of the room. There’s a draft coming in through the leaky window and only a small radiator at the other end of the room, it’s cold and the air smells stale and stagnant. You would open the window but the noise of the building site next door only adds to the headache that’s been brought on by the eye strain you feel from the bad lighting conditions.

A computer sits on the desk and books and papers are strewn about, chaotically stacked like a bureaucratic game of Jenga. The printer has been shoved underneath the desk so you can’t put get your legs far enough underneath the desk and you have to sit slightly twisted. The telephone is the far side of all the books so when it rings you have to lean all the way over to reach it and then shove it under your ear with your neck tilted as you continue your discussion whilst looking at the computer screen. After finishing your conversation your neck feels locked in the position you’ve been in for the last 35 minutes during your call. You feel your back tweak every time you reach for the phone and put it down.

The computer screen is 50cm below your eye height and this forces you to peer down at it. Your chair has arm rests but they are fixed height and the arms bang into the desk so you can’t get close enough to the keyboard. The chair has little or no lumbar support, the seat foam has collapsed and the concave shape of the chair only adds to your already slumped posture. Can you imagine an office like that? How can you be comfortable, happy and productive in that working environment and is it sustainable? Clearly this is an extreme example but it highlights what we need to consider in the field of office ergonomics.

 Good Office Ergonomics

Now imagine a well lit room, small but tidy, the light intensity is comfortable and the desk faces out of the window. The sun beams into the room in the afternoon but there’s a blind in case it gets too bright. Your chair is comfortable and your favourite colour.

Ergonomic Office Chair Features

A backrest shape that supports the curves of your spine

Adjustable height backrest

Seat depth adjustment

Inflatable lumbar support

Inflatable seat pump

A reclining function for you to gently rock

A seat angle adjustment

Height and width adjustable arm rests to support your elbows and forearms

Desk and computer

The desk is at the correct height for you to comfortably slide your thighs underneath it. The computer is square on to your chair and the monitor is at eye height, arms length from your eyes. The phone sits just to the left of the keyboard, which suits you as a left handed person and you have a headset for longer calls or when noise outside is distracting. This allows you to stand up and walk around the room whilst on a call and in this room there’s no clutter on the floor to trip over.

When we think about these diametrically opposed scenarios your level of comfort, happiness, well being and productivity are likely to be poles apart. Yes, there is no denying one requires a bit more thought, planning and investment but if it helps keep you happy, healthy and productive it will be well worth it.


For more information on Office Ergonomics please see:

For information about injuries associated with bad office ergonomics: