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Do your seating arrangements work for you?

JS Online, the UK’s leading supplier of office furniture and accessories advises on a regular health check of the office environment for enhanced productivity.

If productivity is running low in the workplace, then a workstation assessment plan could be the solution to help turn things around. Office furniture supplier, JS Online have noted an influx in the number of people buying office furniture as a result of workstation-related assessments.

As a result, the company has made a “health and safety executive” available on its website, which gives companies and individuals advice and guidance on what they should be looking out for. Productivity can be enhanced in a number of ways. Team working exercises and incentives may top the list of solutions for some, however, human resource specialists advise that the very first thing to consider is the health and safety of employees and the physical fit between the worker and his or her environment.

Once the assessment is made, changes can be identified and implemented to benefit all in the most positive way. Communication is the key and an essential component of the assessment should include a detailed one-to-one discussion. Here are a few key pointers to consider:

How old is the office furniture? Assessing the workstation also involves checking the condition of office furniture. Chairs generally need to be replaced every few years. Old furniture is not only unsafe but also unattractive - especially if it is falling apart. Condition of office furniture also plays a significant role in work-related ethics and can make the difference between an inspired and demoralised workforce. Here’s a checklist to consider:

Office chairs and ergonomic seating

: Are the chairs adjustable enough to help avoid back and neck injuries to those working at their stations for up to eight hours per day, five days per week?

Modern office chairs will give a super-boost to office morale just like that. Why? Because the office chair is every man and woman’s “best friend” during working hours. Is it time you freshened up yours?

Office seatingis it inspiring for workers to be seated in the way they are seated? Are they happy to be staring at each other in this way eight hours of the day? Would office partitioning help to create a sleeker working environment?

Office desks

: These need to be at the correct height. Is the desk height adjustable? Can the chair be adapted to the table at the correct height? How much space is there at the table? Does the worker have a filing tray, enough space for a computer, mountains of paperwork, a mug of tea and a sandwich perhaps?

Arrangement of the workstation

: The workstation can be re-positioned to ensure (a) the screen is not disturbed by a glare caused by daylight, and (b) there is plenty of space around it for the worker to breathe.

Environment

: This can often be an issue in offices with air conditioners. Where is the machine positioned? Perhaps it is causing a distraction or even physical distress to a worker sitting nearby?

Natural Light

: Is there plenty of natural light? Lack of natural light can cause a de-moralised work ethic as well as fatigue. If there is little natural light, then it might be a good idea to get creative with artificial light, bring a dash of greenery to the office with plants and put up some artwork.

Posture

: When sitting at office desks - is the worker keeping his or her back straight? Posture affects everything and if seated for up to eight hours per day, five days per week, it is important that legs are not crossed, that back is straight and elbows level with desk. The chair will also play an important role in posture and should support the back in the right places.

Sight

: Staring at a computer screen for more up to eight hours per day can affect the vision. It is essential workers take a break every two hours at least. A regular sight test should also take place, perhaps spectacles are required to prevent the eyes from straining all day long.

Location of switches and buttons

: Should not be in a place where they can be accidentally switched on or off.

The telephone

: Those spending most of the working day with a telephone may be affected with neck and shoulder problems from the strain of holding the receiver in the same position for hours on end each day. A hands-free headset can resolve this problem.

A safe and healthy working environment is the key to greater levels of productivity. Workstation assessments will help to ensure that workers have all that they need for a comfortable and productive work day.

Posted by Chris Johnson on 9 February 2010