– the largest annual ergonomics event, which was held in Las Vegas last week– was the ideal mix of information and innovation. During the breakout sessions, we listened as a wide range of professionals discussed the latest happenings in ergonomics. During the exposition hours, we saw the most recent in ergonomic innovation: chairs and stools, desks and accessories, software and even body apparel.
Upon returning to the Pacific Northwest, we took a moment to reflect on what we learned in Sin City.
If there was an all-encompassing theme for this year’s Ergo Expo, it was that (#1) The Way We Work is Changing.
You’ve probably already experienced this change in some way at your office. Cube walls are being taken down; closed door offices are becoming anachronistic. More than ever, companies are focused on reducing “me” space and increasing “we” space. Open offices, designed to encourage collaboration and teamwork, are the new normal.
Moreover, thanks to the explosion of mobile devices, people can quite literally work from anywhere. People are increasingly working in unusual places– in bed, on the bus, on a couch, on the floor– instead of at traditional workspaces equipped with a desk and chair.
Needless to say, this shift to a “work anywhere, work everywhere” mindset presents new challenges to the field of ergonomics, which segues nicely into our next takeaway: (#2) Every Space Should Be an Ergonomic Space
We initially heard this astute observation at Alan Hedge and Shelby Cass’s breakout session “Ergonomics Everywhere,” and from what we gleaned, it is modern ergonomist’s primary challenge. As it becomes less common to have one workspace for every one person, and people become more mobile, every space needs to be an ergonomic space.
It’s certainly a tall order, but one that Hedge and Cass say is doable. First, invest in modular and adjustable furniture
, so different people can use the same workstation. Next, make sure to provide resources that are easy to use and easy to access from anywhere. For example, provide employees with a laptop stand when you issue them a laptop, so they’ll have that ergonomic tool with them wherever they go.
Perhaps our most interesting and eye-opening takeaway from Ergo Expo is that (#3) Ergonomics is Subjective.
During the breakout sessions, there were a notable number of controversial topics regarding good practices in ergonomics. One defended using the seatback of a chair, for example, while another disagreed and criticized its use.
In his excellent keynote, certified ergonomist and Ph.D. Andy Imada defined ergonomics as “optimizing human well-being and overall system performance.” Therefore, by definition, ergonomics is a subjective science; what optimizes one person’s well-being and performance may not do the same for another’s. So just do whatever makes you feel most comfortable and most productive during the day. That will always be good ergonomics.
Moving around during the day is another crucial aspect of maintaining good ergonomics. Check out 5 Easy Ways to MoveMore at Work to get inspired!