Ergonomics done right.®
October 1st, 2012

Office Ergonomics: Adjustability for a 90-Degree World

by Ryan Cowart, AEP

Traditionally, employees work in offices or cubicles that are designed to house three primary aspects of the work environment; receiving data, entering data, and communication.  Receiving data occurs in varying forms such as reading a book, listening to a webinar, or reading from a computer screen.  Data entry includes typing up a document on the visual display screen. Of course, communication is displayed in many ways; talking face-to-face, by phone, through e-mails, text messages, blogging, tweeting, etc.  Whatever modes of work we consider, however, the fact is that people move through a series of circular motions while our environments are created based on 90-degree angles.

If you take a look at the elbow and knee, we see their range of motion is along a circular pathway and is not restricted to stop at any 90-degree angle. Although the knee is anatomically limited by the nature of the patella (knee cap), the overarching idea of a circular range of motion is evident. Humans are able to interact with many surface orientations that are not congruent to our own because we have angular adjustability across the x, y, and z planes in every limb of our body.  Walls, floors, chairs, desks, and even our pens are designed principally on 90-degree angles.  Bottom line, we don’t always fit with our work environment.

Office ergonomics is about fitting the job to the person.  Therefore, we need to re-consider our right-angled workstations in order to reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries.  When I say injuries, I am discussing musculoskeletal disorders such as Tendinitis, Epicondylitis, Ganglion Cysts, and the infamous Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, to name a few.  We reduce the risk of these disorders by implementing adjustability into the office workstation.  By providing adjustability, we are designing for the majority of the working population instead of designing for the average.  There are a multitude of adjustable office products that are on the market right now and employees, in any environment, can truly benefit from even the slightest alteration.  If an employee performs well at work, the company will perform well.  Adjustability is your friend, so start implementing today!