Survey shows the office environment is a key motivator for staff – so follow these top ergonomic tips to make sure you get it right

Published December 27th, 2009 - 12:54 GMT

A new survey carried out by The Office Exhibition has shown that almost 90 percent of office workers regard the design and layout of their office as affecting their level of motivation.  Despite this, around 50 percent said that they had never had any sort of workspace assessment.

The survey, which questioned over 1,000 office workers from across the GCC, showed that only 6 percent of respondents thought that the design and layout of their office had no impact at all on their working life.  

The areas which caused most discomfort at work were room temperature, back pain and damaged eyesight.  Arguments about air conditioning are commonplace in the office environment – with nearly 80% stating that the temperature in the office was a contentious issue.  Getting the right chair is essential, but 64 percent of respondents complained of experiencing some back pain as a result of an unsuitable chair.  In addition, 66 percent said that their computer screen caused them various levels of discomfort throughout the day.

Ergonomics is the science of fitting the job to the worker and adapting the work environment to the needs of humans.  An overall goal of ergonomics is to promote health and safety and to optimise productivity.  A significant proportion of the working day is spent at a desk, so computers and other office equipment are major areas where ergonomics is relevant, but they are not the only factors influencing the performance of the workplace - the entire working space is key to how well people can complete their work tasks.  Despite the importance of this, some 50 percent of respondents said that they had never had an assessment of their chair, computer/screen, desk position or temperature of the office. 

As a result of the research, The Office Exhibition has teamed up with CitySpace, a leading independent interior design company specialising in corporate workplace solutions, to compile an essential check list which will allow for an inspiring office environment that motivates staff.

Office Ergonomics Checklist
1. Lighting - Is there adequate light – both natural and artificial?  Are the lux levels appropriate for the task in hand? Is there variety in the type of lighting and its distribution? Is the lighting healthy (correct contrast, without flicker etc)? Are there blinds or sunshades, or UV glass windows installed?
2. Air Quality - Is the air set to an appropriate temperature? Can you control your personal/ shared workspace temperature? Are the thermostats easy to access/control? Do you have access to fresh air? Is the air quality acceptable (humidity control, recirculation, oxygen levels, odour-free etc)?
3. Acoustics - Are the noise levels around your workspace disruptive/do they affect your concentration? (eg office equipment, other people’s conversations, music). Does the furniture/décor help to baffle unwanted sound (eg carpet versus laminate floor)?  Is there a space for private/confidential conversations?
4. Furniture - Does the design of your desk/workstation/personal storage meet your work-task needs? Is it the right size/height etc? Do you have enough/easy access to files and storage? Is your workstation flexible/ easy to reconfigure?
5. Space Plan/layout - Is the proportion of private versus open space appropriate? Are there enough group/team/meeting spaces? Does the layout of furniture and storage create optimum access routes? Do you have easy access to shared facilities such as printers, kitchen etc?  Circulation Space: is the distance between you and your colleagues workstation enough? (Should be min. 1m).  Is the access corridor space to your workstation wide enough? (Should be min. 1.2m, but preferably 1.5m). Are the doors/windows the right size according to staff density/traffic? Is the signage and way-finding adequate and positioned correctly? Health and Safety: where is the nearest fire exit?
6. Aesthetics - Is your office interior design inspiring and motivating? Does your office interior design help support your work tasks? Are the colours and textures of walls, carpets, furniture etc appropriate? Does your office décor and furniture conform to HSE/environmental standards?
7. Work-style - Does your office design and furniture support your work-style? ie team work, private concentration, creative, mobile etc. Does your office design help optimise your productivity and workload management? Are there appropriate leisure/F&B facilities? Is your office layout/facilities conducive to taking regular breaks/stretching etc? Is your job/task designed to take into account human needs (rest, breaks, work hours etc)?

Speaking about the survey, Sinead Bridgett, Show Director, The Office Exhibition said, “The survey produced some extremely interesting results.  Whilst most office workers feel that their working environment has an impact on their motivation, not many employers within the GCC seem to be carrying out work station assessments to ensure they have got the ergonomics right. 

“The Office Exhibition will bring together the leading office supplies specialists from across the world who will be able to provide advice and offer the latest products which will ensure that every office can maximise the potential of their staff.  Anyone involved in office management, human resources and procurement should attend.”
Nick Burnett, Design Director, CitySpace added, “We have noticed an increased awareness and ergonomic design considerations across our client projects, but, as the survey clearly shows, there is still some way to go”. 

“As an independent interior design company we work closely with leading international furniture manufacturers who have collectively amassed years of research and knowledge in this field.  We proactively share this expertise with our clients in the Middle East, which certainly helps raise end-user awareness of the benefits of a healthy ergonomic office as well as set the ball rolling to establishing standards and guidelines for best practice space planning and office design in the region.”

Now in its 9th year, The Office Exhibition is a leading showcase for the high-end products, technology and services that combine to create outstanding working environments.  Set to take place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 9-11 February 2010, the show will feature over 350 companies, covering an area of approximately 25,000 m2. 

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