Ergonomics done right.®
March 23rd, 2015

What does Benjamin Franklin have to do with Office Ergonomics?

by Katie Grosteffon, AEP

Benjamin Franklin was a fan of ergonomics. How do I know? Rumor has it that he wrote at a standing-height desk. If he lived today, I think he would prefer a fully-adjustable sit-stand desk. Additionally, this powerful quote, attributed to Franklin, offers instruction on how to run an effective office ergonomics program.*

“Tell me and I forget.
Teach me and I remember.
Involve me and I learn.

How does this apply to office ergonomics?

  1. Tell me and I forget – If you conduct an office ergonomics assessment at someone’s desk, and simply adjust his chair and desk setup, he will be comfortable for a while. But eventually, some change will occur – he’ll move to a new desk, or someone will sit in his chair while he is on vacation and mess up all of the adjustments. He won’t know how to readjust to fit himself, his discomfort may return, and you will have to come back and make the same adjustments again.
  2. Teach me and I remember – If you teach someone why his desk needs to be adjusted a certain way, he will be more likely to remember. Office ergonomics training, through classes or e-Learning, can provide individuals with information about ideal desk heights, chair adjustments, and work station setups, and why all of these are important. If they pay attention, they are likely to remember some of the concepts. However, they may not know how to apply them to their own desk.
  3. Involve me and I learn – The goal of a strong office ergonomics program is to involve the end users in their own desk setup and have them take personal accountability for ensuring their workstation is setup and used correctly. The first way to accomplish this is through interactive online training. Choose a program that doesn’t just teach office ergonomics, but involves users by testing their knowledge and having them make adjustments to their own workstation setup throughout the training. The second way is to ask leading questions during in-person assessments, so that users come up with ergonomic solutions on their own. My favorite question during an assessment is, “Do you feel that any particular aspect of your desk or chair setup is contributing to your discomfort?”. Once they’ve identified a root cause, you can guide them to finding a solution. If an end user develops his own ergonomic solutions for his desk setup, he will be more likely to remember them and apply them at his next desk.

Can you think of any other ways to involve the end user in setting up their own workstation ergonomically? Let us know in the comments!

*Probably not his intention, but it definitely applies!