Everybody who is interested in workplace ergonomics knows one golden rule: "Everything within reach." However, it is now high time for it to be broken! Our bodies, especially our spines need movement. Going to the gym or jogging in the evenings is definitely not enough. They need more movement during long office work hours. A well-designed office is the solution.
The process of designing modern offices has to focus on creating different solutions rather than standard fixed workplaces. It has to give employees an opportunity to frequently change work arrangements to ensure, at the same time, more movement within an office. The key to success is not only a chair, but also a great deal of small changes that create a space encouraging employees to move more.
– Why is the movement in the office so important? Because we spend there at least 8 hours a day – it’s a long time. If we sit most of the time, we can’t expect that any type of physical activity outside office will make up for it – says Aleksandra Zachara, a physiotherapist.
According to James Levine, Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester (Minnesota), we should move or stand for min 10 minutes during every sitting work hour. Is that possible at all? Yes of course, but our office must allow us to do this. Good spatial arrangement is the key to success.
First of all, the space arrangement has to provide an opportunity for employees to change the way they work. Within an office, there should be special areas for meetings: the best idea is to hold them in a standing position, since it ensures the necessary amount of movement, improves the effectiveness of a discussion and shortens the meeting time. High tables with hockers or balance support stools are the best furniture items there. A walk to a printer situated at the back of an office or a telephone box where a quiet conversation can be held creates another great opportunity to move more. Chairs with a high backrest and two armrests perfectly function as telephone boxes. Rooms designed for working in the quiet not only enable employees to be more effective and creative, but also encourage them to change their working position and move.
Both individual and teamwork spaces have to be designed in a way that encourages their users to move more. This can be achieved by fitting an office with high cabinets attached to desks. They will improve the acoustic comfort, whereas the necessity to reach their high shelves will promote users’ physical activity. Another idea is to place a telephone far from a desk, which will force an employee to rise from a chair to answer it – this is of course not a good idea for those who use a telephone most of the time.
We should remember, however, that the most important element of every healthy workplace is a chair that ensures biodynamical sitting. The S-MOVE mechanism, for instance, allows the body to move in three dimensions and it smoothly adjusts to natural moves of the human body. The activity prompted by this mechanism stimulates involuntary function of our muscular system activating muscle groups responsible for upright body posture.
The importance of such solutions is stressed by Ewa Górska, President of the Polish Ergonomics Society Board and European Ergonomist certified by CREE (Center for Registration of European Ergonomists): “The activity prompted by such mechanisms ensures the proper sitting position. Thanks to them, the static position that is the main cause of musculoskeletal system diseases changes into more stabilised one stimulating our locomotor system all the time. It is widely known that a long-lasting static position causes pathological changes that later on may become completely irreversible. Therefore, even the slightest sitting balance has a highly positive effect not only on our musculoskeletal system, but also on nervous, blood circulation, digestive and respiratory systems”.
The GLIDE-TEC patented mechanism functions in a bit different way. It allows ergonomically sensible changing high and round backs when seated. It also enables the user to move freely and at the same time keep in contact with a keyboard or desk surface. The GLIDE-TEC mechanism supports the user’s back in any position. Research carried out by Prof. Dr Wilke and later by Dr Rohlmann proved that sitting in a reclining position with round back significantly reduces the pressure on the spinal column.
Modern office chairs equipped with patented mechanisms ensure dynamic sitting position, whereas additional solutions e.g. split or flexible backrests stimulate involuntary moves of the human body. Duo-Back backrests developed by experts, support the muscles around the spine without putting any pressure on discs and intervertebral discs. They adjust to natural moves of the human back, hence the user’s muscles around the spine, shoulder muscles as well as hip muscles are relaxed.
Unfortunately, nobody has invented a chair that can exercise for us yet. Even though some chairs almost do this, we should bear in mind that even the most modern technology cannot replace the physical activity. Let’s move more then!