Office Worker 2040? We're scared!

Future office worker compliplusFast forward twenty odd years from now and meet Emma, office worker of the future. Hunched back, red eyes, swollen ankles, to name but a few ailments. Emma is the creation of Fellowes, a UK company that manufactures office supplies and workstation goods. In conjunction with a Behavioural Futurist and panel of experts in ergonomics, occupational health and wellbeing at work they produced a report detailing the future health effects from current working habits in the UK. Their research suggests that badly designed workstations exacerbating poor posture will lead to permanently bent backs from sitting hunched over a desk for long periods of time. Workers will also see varicose veins from poor blood flow due to sitting for long periods of time, red and dry eyes from staring at computer screens, swollen wrists from repetitive movement, hairy ears and nose from poor air quality, and irritated, sallow skin riddled with stress-related eczema.

The research, which analysed 3,003 people in France, Germany and Britain in June through an online survey, found that over a third of British office workers spend between seven and nine hours a day sitting at a desk. Notwithstanding their obvious interest in the findings it does pose the question of how our work environment impacts our health and wellbeing. Many office workers work in a sedentary position and numerous research findings have shown that this type of work can be bad for our health, particularly if working arrangements are not optimally arranged. Sedentary work is associated with health problems like repetitive strain injury, neck and shoulder tension, etc. Workstation ergonomics is the term we use to describe the fit between you, your workstation (chair, desk, screen, keyboard, mouse, etc.) and your environment (noise, heat, light, glare, etc.) and how this can be adapted to improve your comfort, wellbeing and performance.

When you are at work, you make choices in relation to how you interact with your work environment, i.e. desk, chair, screen, etc. These choices can either improve or decrease your performance, comfort and wellbeing. It is important to have your workstation set up correctly to suit you so that you can avoid unfavourable ergonomic conditions that could lead to both short- and long-term health problems. Conversely, good workstation ergonomics can improve employee’s performance, comfort and wellbeing.

William Higham, behavioural futurist and author of the report, said: "The Work Colleague of the Future report shows that employers and workers really need to act now and address the problem of poor workplace health. "Unless we make radical changes to our working lives, such as moving more, addressing our posture at our desks, taking regular walking breaks or considering improving our workstation set up, our offices are going to make us very sick."

So have a think about your office set up and how it works for you and your staff. Good ergonomics can improve your wellbeing and reduce the risk of injury in the workplace.

Our online Workstation Ergonomics Course can give you some practical advice on the subject and some practical ways to arrange your workstation optimally. We can also carry out work place assessments to advise you further. Please contact us if you have any other queries.

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