How ergonomic office furniture improves physical health and mental wellbeing

office furniture improves physical health and mental wellbeing

Topics like mental wellbeing and health in the workplace have become more and more relevant in recent years. Especially during the pandemic, the physical and mental challenges of working from home day after day have brought attention to the question of how workforce wellbeing can be improved. 

And while office furniture trends come and go, the need for an office, that takes the employee’s mental and physical wellbeing into account, stays constant. After all, with most employees worldwide spending at least 35 hours of their week working, it is a fact that the workplace setup has a massive impact on every health aspect.

One of the ways to improve said health and wellbeing in the workplace is ergonomic furniture.

How does ergonomic office furniture work?

To understand the impact ergonomic furniture has on employee’s physical health, it its important to understand the concept behind innovations such as the standing desk or a kneeling chair. Ergonomic furniture is specifically designed to guarantee not only comfort, but also safety in a working environment. Most ergonomic furniture pieces focus especially on keeping the user’s body in an upright position to ensure that the stress on the neck, spine and hips is reduced. For example, most ergonomic chair models are designed in a way that allows users of any height to fully adjust backrest and seat in a way that ensures a healthy sitting position: knees parallel to the hips and bend at a 90-degree-angle, both feet flat on the floor. Most traditional office chairs can only be adapted to a certain extent, especially when it comes to different body types and health requirements. 

The lack of adaptability of traditional office furniture can verifiably increase the risk of workplace injuries. According to a recent report by Digby Brown Solicitors, a majority of the approximately 600,000 injuries recorded every year in the UK, can be linked back to unsafe and outdated office furniture. Reason enough for employers to start looking out for their employees by ensuring that the provided office furniture is both comfortable and safe. But what options for ergonomic office furniture are currently available?

Height-adjustable and standing desks

Did you know that mental strains like stress and anxiety can worsen if you have to sit down for long durations? Being stuck in on position for multiple hours a day is not only physically, but also mentally exhausting and can really affect our mood in the long run. That doesn’t mean that one should not also consider the physical disadvantages excessive sitting is associated with. Multiple diseases and health issues have already been linked to a sedentary lifestyle, such as:

  • obesity, 
  • high blood sugar,
  • type 2 diabetes,
  • heart disease,
  • back pain,

and more. 

This is why resolutions that allow the user to work standing up – at least for a certain amount of time – have been celebrated in the past for not only improving employees’ mood, but also keeping them energized, active and healthier at work. 

For example, a study published in the British Medical Journal showed that height-adjustable sit-stand desks had a positive effect on mental and physical wellbeing at work. After one-year, the majority of the 126 participants who had been using a height-adjustable desk at work reported reduced fatigue, as well as reduced anxiety and an improved quality of life! They also reported that they felt more engaged while working standing up and showed improved blood circulation. 

Ergonomic chairs

Most of us take office chairs somewhat for granted. They are just a part of our everyday work life, mostly unnoticed until they break. But the quality of the chair most of us spend their whole workday in actually plays a big part when it comes to productivity and health. 

Ergonomic office chairs are specifically designed to provide enough support to encourage a neutral posture, even after working long hours in the office. While they usually are a bit more expensive than regular office chairs, they pay of in the long run, since they are optimized specifically to prevent health concerns such as:

  • poor posture,
  • back pain, 
  • restricted blood circulation,
  • and cervical spondylosis.

Most ergonomic office chairs are equipped with features like:

  • a padded seat and back
  • lumbar support
  • adjustable seat height, armrests and headrest
  • adjustable tilt tension and lock
  • easy swiveling
  • a stable base
  • a sliding seat pan

Drafting Office Chair

Jobs in architecture or art usually require employees to stand while working. And just like sitting all day can negatively impact your health, standing for hours can come with health consequences. This is where another form of the ergonomic office chair, the drafting office chair, comes in: created specifically to go with standing desks or drafting tables, a drafting chair allows people who have to stand a lot during work to sit down and rest without interrupting their workflow. Since they are higher than usual office chairs, they make it easy to transition from a standing position to a sitting position while also supporting your back, body weight and upper and lower limbs. Most of the time, the height of this type of office chair can be adjusted to be used with a conventional deck. Drafting chairs are also lightweight, easy to move and can come with or without back support.

Kneeling Chairs

After sitting and standing, there is only one posture left to discuss: kneeling. Kneeling chairs have an angled knee rest that allows you to kneel in a way that divides your body weight between your bottom and your shins, ensuring that you do not overtax either of those body parts. By kneeling and leaning forward as you sit, you decrease the stress in your back while also keeping your core engaged.

However, kneeling chairs are not meant to be used as a permanent replacement for an ergonomic office chair, since kneeling for a long period of time can cause discomfort. Therefore, it is best to alternate between a kneeling chair and a sitting chair to avoid staying in one position for too long.


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