The IT industry’s market situation has made employers fight for employees showing a human face, and we are not talking about Fruit Thursdays or Beer Fridays. They consciously care about health and safety values because they understand that they have no chance of attracting valuable people without creating the right conditions.
- How to build a fully ergonomic and comfortable workplace for an IT specialist who spends many hours a day sitting in front of a computer monitor, usually sharing a room with a lot of other people (including open space)?
- How to make your IT employees even subconsciously know that you care about them?
A little repetition, or what is ergonomics?
Before we go to the merits, let’s recall what ergonomics, i. e. , the work environment’s science, does. It concentrates on adjusting the workplace and all surrounding elements so that the employee’s work is the most effective and he has the highest possible sense of comfort. It is also worth adding that ergonomics is an interdisciplinary science that combines work psychology, work sociology, work physiology, hygiene, occupational medicine, work organization, anthropometry, and technical sciences.
How to create an ergonomic workplace in IT?
When creating an ergonomic workplace in IT, always consider your employees’ individual possibilities and needs and focus on quality. Both determine the efficiency and comfort of work. Below you will find some essential tips on taking care of IT employees’ health and safety and makingthem feel cared for by the employer.
There is no office without a desk! It must be large and stable for IT workers to accommodate all equipment and allow your elbows to rest freely using the keyboard and mouse. Desks with electric height adjustment (60-82 cm) are the best, especially sit-standing desks (60-125 cm), which allow you to work in a sitting and standing position. Fortunately, they are easily accessible! For example, Ikea stores have them in stock at a reasonably affordable price. Keep in mind that the tops of your IT professionals’ desks should be at elbow height or slightly below, which will correctly improve their work’s comfort.
This workplace equipment element must meet the standards: NEN-EN 1335-1 (minimum requirements) or NPR 1813: 2003, which define the criteria for the seat, backrest, and armrests.
Currently, adjustable chairs are already a standard in office equipment, but it is not enough to ensure working in IT. Let us recommend watching the video https: //www. youtube. com/watch? reload=9&v=ebNvWlg-hb4&t=57s to see a real ergonomic chair with a perfectly contoured lumbar spine. It also gives the possibility of dynamic adjustment of all elements (backrest, seat, armrests), which correctly reduces the sitting position load. You can also consider buying high-class ergonomic Kinnarps armchairs, which are available in a post-lease version, with replaced upholstery, for around EUR 155. In contrast, a new armchair cost around EUR 890.
Take care of the most critical features of the monitor, i. e. , contrast (above 1000: 1), brightness (min. 250 cd / m2), energy consumption (below 25 W), and always choose bright computer cases that will not reflect light. Ensure that your IT workers’ monitors are straight ahead and tilted slightly backward (5 ° to 10 °), while their tops are somewhat below the line of sight. The screen center should be at an angle of 15 ° – 20 ° below the eye plane and 40-75 cm from the eyes. Monitors increase eyes tire. That is why buy only those with a reduced level of blue light emission and the so-called Flicker Free, i. e. , flicker reduction. From our practice, we can suggest that 27- inch ones with QHD resolution (2560 x 1440 pixels) with a curved LCD matrix are the best.
Ensure that the optimal distance between the keys on your employees’ keyboards is at least 19 mm, and users always clearly hear and feel they press the keys. Consider using compact keyboards instead of traditional ones, as research shows that they reduce the distance the user must cover to reach the mouse (Research: Cook, 1998). We recommend the personally proven and tested Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard (LXM-00001).
Please ensure the mice used in your business are large enough to put your whole hand on them, and your fingers are resting freely. It is also important that the button mechanism is not too sensitive and the mouse itself is close to the user’s body. That is to prevent shoulder abduction and wrist twisting. There are ergonomic vertical mice on the market today that break the wrists without causing a degeneration called carpal tunnel syndrome. Here, we encourage you to test different Logitech vertical mice as individual preferences are usually quite different.
The table, chair, monitor, keyboard, and mouse are not full IT workplace equipment. A footrest, laptop or paper stands, and much more would be worth discussing, but let’s leave some space for future articles.
The workplace environment also matters!
An ergonomic workplace is essential, but an employee’s comfort depends on the entire environment and room conditions. Lighting and air quality have a particular impact.
Daylight works best for our bodies. The sun’s rays are not only eye-friendly but also activate us to work. In the afternoon and evening, however, we are forced to use artificial light. The standard provides a minimum light intensity of 500 lux in an office room where employees work continuously. Ensure the main lighting is enhanced with the spot one, i. e. , a desk lamp. Help your employees understand that this lamp’s side positioning is vital because the light reflected from the monitor, desk surface, or other equipment will not offend them. Hanging Milagro Astro lamps with diffused LED light and eyefriendly Philips LED bulbs from the EyeComfort series should be perfect for your office.
2. Air quality
Remember that an elevated level of CO2 in low concentrations reduces mental performance and worsen the breathing process. If the concentration is elevated, it causes headaches, fatigue, allergies, lowers immunity, and deteriorates health in many other areas. That is why air quality is crucial. We seriously recommend using air conditioning and regular ventilation of the rooms, e. g. , by installing Brookvent’s NovaAir antismog filters, which are compatible with most window ventilators. What is more, you can teach your IT employees to ventilate regularly and consider buying an air parameter monitoring device yourself (organic compounds HCHO, TVOC, PM2.5, PM10).
Is an ergonomic workplace in IT a standard or not?
When we think about ergonomics in IT work, we immediately have several associations – comfort, better creativity and greater efficiency.
Is it important?
We cannot imagine the success of the latest project without the right working conditions.
Our client, a large production company, struggled with inefficiency in a purchasing department. We were supposed to implement an innovative platform for price negotiations, analysis, and intelligent visualization of all the information needed to make price decisions for a specific product.
Due to the scale of the project, it was necessary to conduct workshops and training to define roles and responsibilities clearly. By engaging the client’s team, we developed a Value Stream Map, which allowed us to understand how the procurement processes run at each business level. But that was just the beginning. Then we remodelled the actual process and started programming. The high complexity of the project determined two stages of work (MVP and then proper implementation).
As a result, we delivered to the client a solution that:
- compares product prices from various sources in real-time,
- shortens the time of making price decisions from 1 month to 1 week,
- eliminates reports in Excel format and turns them into real-time reporting.
All this led to a 30% reduction in the procurement process costs.
The client was delighted, but the most important thing for our team was the comfort of work. Despite the advanced design and tight schedule, their minds were free from scattering thoughts.
And that’s what ergonomics is all about – creating work comfort that the tools do not distract the conceptual and creative work.
Ergonomics is an area for innovation and development! A comfortable armchair and a spacious desk, a large monitor, an advanced keyboard, and a mouse are not enough, but they will entirely improve work comfort. At Mazaj, we invest resources in IT employees’ health and safety, creating ergonomic working conditions. We know from practice that it promotes productivity, improves creativity, affects general well-being, and builds a festive atmosphere. That is why we have a win-win situation where employees appreciate the employer’s efforts, expressing it with motivati