Wellbeing in the workplace has become a much more talked about topic in recent years. The increasing number of conversations taking place around wellbeing is no surprise considering the mental and physical challenges that have originated from working at home alone for months on end due to the pandemic. This has prompted more thought over how we can maximise workforce wellbeing from now on.
While office trends come and go, the wellbeing trend that focusses on the impact the office environment has on employee’s health and wellbeing remains constant. With British employees spending 34 hours of their week working, it is no surprise that the workplace has such an impact on mental health.
A great workplace design should never be underestimated as it can have a real impact on employee’s health and wellbeing. With that being said, in this article we explore how to improve health and wellbeing in the workplace with ergonomic office furniture.
- What is ergonomic office furniture?
- Switch to height-adjustable desks
- Choose ergonomic chairs for increased health benefits
- Include lots of natural light and biophilic elements
- Ensure the office has breakout spaces
What is ergonomic office furniture?
Let’s start off with exploring what ergonomic office furniture actually is and its impact on health and wellbeing. Ergonomic furniture is specifically designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment. They ensure that the user’s body is kept in a safe and in an upright position to reduce stress on the spine, neck, and hips. For example, ergonomic chairs are fully adjustable so that the user should sit with feet flat on the floor and knees at a 90-degree angle, parallel to their hips. The seat depth should also be of two to four inches from the back of the user’s knees. Most traditional office chairs cannot be adapted to this extent which can increase the risk of workplace injuries.
A recent report by Digby Brown Solicitors found that a large proportion of the 600,000 or so workplace injuries recorded every year in the UK, can be linked back to outdated and unsafe office furniture. This is why it’s crucial to look out for employees by ensuring that the furniture they use is safe and comfortable.
Read on to find out how different office furniture can be used to benefit health and wellbeing in the workplace.
1. Switch to height-adjustable desks
Did you know that sitting for a long duration can worsen stress and anxiety? A sedentary lifestyle can really affect our mood, being stuck in one position for six to ten hours can be mentally exhausting for anyone. It’s also known to be associated with physical health problems like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and more. This is why height-adjustable desks are perfect in the modern workspace. Working while standing not only has its health benefits but also improves employees’ moods by keeping them active and energised for work.
A study of 146 NHS staff published in the British Medical Journal supports this and showed that sit-stand desks had a positive effect on mental wellbeing at work. At the end of the one-year study, the participants who had been using a standing desk reported an improved quality of life, reduced fatigue as well as reduced anxiety! They also said they experienced better engagement with their work. This shows that height-adjustable desks are not only good for physical health and circulation, but also improve mental health.
We have explored the many benefits of height-adjustable desks in one of our previous articles, where we discovered that 47% of people with height-adjustable desks reported a significant reduction in upper back, shoulder, and neck discomfort. This shows how height-adjustable desks can make a difference in the workforce.
At Haiken, we recommend our new height-adjustable Flexure desk that is striking due to its organic circular shape and elegance. With its telescopic frame and the option to add casters, the versatile Flexure is futureproof for the ever-changing demands in a growing workforce.
Alternatively, our four-height adjustable Wolfe desk that also has a telescopic frame and inaudible motor operation ensuring zero disturbance to surrounding employees.
2. Choose ergonomic chairs for increased health benefits
The wellbeing of employees relies on business efficiency, productivity, and being comfortable throughout the long working day. A badly designed chair can lead to back injuries, and after long periods of use, a minor injury can even develop into something more serious that would potentially require substantial time off work.
Occurrences such as these can be avoided by choosing furniture that is fully adjustable to adapt to employee’s different needs so that they can sit comfortably. Having an ergonomic task chair is not only good for physical wellbeing but also has positive psychological effects as well. If employees are uncomfortable at their desks, they will feel more reluctant to spend long periods of time at them. This means they will be a lot less productive than they would be if they had an ergonomic, fully adjustable seat.
It's not all about ergonomics either, aesthetics can play a part in increasing staff morale too. For example, a chair that is brightly coloured can make the office environment look more appealing. Or alternatively, having a variety of different types of ergonomic seating can make a space feel more relaxing and less corporate.
Some ergonomic chairs we recommend at Haiken are:
- Webb: an all-time favourite, the Webb task chair is the perfect reliable all-rounder keeping the comfort of your workforce at the forefront. It features an ergonomic design that is both supportive and comfortable with a breathable mesh backrest and 3D armrests.
- Mishell Soft: a special version of the Mishell collection designed to provide even more user comfort thanks to its extremely soft quilted layer that gives the collection a more cosy character.
- Paxton: from the unique backrest designed to maintain the natural curvature of the spine, right through to the adjustable armrest angle and seat depth, the ergonomic Paxton chair provides optimum lumbar support so that the user can sit comfortably in the office throughout the day.
- Tulli Light: consists of a comfortable bucket seat made by applying technology of rotomoulding, and two stable cross bases. This soft seating is lightweight and exudes a friendly and homely vibe to make the office feel more relaxing for workers.
3. Include lots of natural light and biophilic elements
Natural light and the vitamin D that comes from it has a number of physical and mental health benefits. Natural sunlight can alleviate levels of anxiety, depression, as well as helping to regulate the body’s circadian rhythm.
Research conducted by the Swiss Federal Institution of Technology discovered that employees who worked in office environments with natural light had higher levels of energy and showed improvements in productivity.
Natural light can be brought into an office space through the installation of large windows, screen walls and skylights. Similarly, biophilic elements are also proven to come with many health benefits that we discussed in one of our latest articles all about the benefits of biophilic elements. To name a few, plants are said to improve air quality by up to 75%, and green certified offices lead to a 26% boost in cognition and 30% fewer sickness related absences. Not only that, but one study showed that the presence of plants lowered stress and anxiety levels by up to 37%, as well as decreasing tiredness by up to 38%.
To easily implement biophilic elements into the workspace, at Haiken we recommend our Zorla planter, a mobile floor screen with sound absorbing effects where the top of the wooden box can be filled with natural plants to make a decorative piece of furniture.
4. Ensure the office has breakout spaces
Expecting workers to remain motivated and focussed at the same desk throughout the day for five days a week is just not going to happen and can damage their wellbeing. In order to have a supportive working environment, a workspace must maximise wellbeing for everyone in the team by providing an office with a range of environments to suit varied needs of different people.
After all, more time spent at the desk does not necessarily mean more work is completed. By ensuring employees have a breakout space to retreat to can help to keep them feeling more at ease and so this can improve their productivity when they are at their desks.
A breakout space is great for collaboration purposes too and allows for improved communication between employees, which in turn will improve work produced as well. Breakout social spaces helps to build a sense of community, and at a time when people are under more pressure than ever, its crucial for them to have a space where they can switch off for a while and relax if they need to.
Furniture we recommend at Haiken to ensure a comfortable breakout space include:
- Hug Me: Our latest sofa module sofa is wrapped in ultimate comfort. Its functionality is combined with a warm, cosy feel that will help employees feel right at home.
- Sona: a modular furniture system that can be freely combined to match the purpose of the building. An ideal solution for creating quiet islands in large open space offices, the Sona can be used as separate work or rest zones.
- Tritos: offers high levels of user comfort and can be combined into a circular shape to provide better collaboration amongst employees.
- Scott Meeting Pod: this acoustic pod can house 2-4 people and is made from carefully selected sound absorbing materials. A practical solution to create a private space for collaboration in open plan offices… or even as a breakout space away from the desk.
Improving physical and mental health with Haiken
Investing in ergonomic office furniture shows commitment to members of the team and puts forward that the business cares about their health and wellbeing.
Improving health and wellbeing with ergonomic furniture and re-thinking the office space has benefits for business success too as productivity and quality of work will be improved. If needing help improving physical and mental health in your workspace, contact us today and our office furniture experts will be more than happy to help.