Workplace Ergonomics- An Essential Ingredient for Employee Comfort and Health

In an interview with BW, Alastair Stubbs spoke on how Humanscale has today become the ergonomics leader in India with a reputation for designing intuitive products which improve the comfort and health of office workers.

Today’s modern workplace is dominated by an increasing presence of technology. Employees spend much of their time answering emails, writing reports, and participating in web conferences—all of which require prolonged periods of computer use. For the average worker, this has led to an increase in musculoskeletal complaints such as eyestrain, lower back pain and wrist discomfort. More and more organizations are beginning to see the link between worker discomfort, lost productive time and cost. Proactively addressing discomfort levels therefore becomes an important business strategy.

Bangalore based Alastair Stubbs, Country Manager India of Humanscale, the premier designer and manufacturer of ergonomic products that improve health and comfort at work, has a passion and dedication to office ergonomics and well being and comfort of employees at work who spend long hours before a computer. He and his team are on a mission to build an ergonomic India.

In an interview with BW, Alastair Stubbs spoke on how Humanscale has today become the ergonomics leader in India with a reputation for designing intuitive products which improve the comfort and health of office workers.

Q. Please throw light on the latest ergonomic products by Humanscale. How exactly have these products been designed keeping office comfort in mind?

A. As an ergonomics company, we only take up R&D into a new product design when there is a need for that particular innovation. Humanscale is in the business of improving the user experience through the design of products that are intuitive (easy to use), promote healthy postures and encourage freedom of movement which is important for overall health and well-being.

Our latest products integrate technology for a cleaner, healthier workspace. M/Connect 2 is a unique Type-C USB docking station that is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 laptops. It’s a split dock! The USB dock is integrated into the base of the Humanscale monitor arm, with the hub on the surface, where it is accessible to the user. The dock is below the work surface to move all the peripheral and device cables from the desktop to under the desk, which eliminates cable clutter and saves space.

Another new product is the Humanscale QuickStand Eco. It’s a sleek, easy to use, portable sit/stand product. QuickStand Eco is practical for home and corporate offices. This work surface is available in laptop, single or dual monitor configurations.

When we alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, we can boost our productivity and mood levels, reducing the negative effects of sedentary behaviour. QuickStand Eco’s ease of operation allows the user to quickly sit or stand, whenever they choose – transforming ordinary desks into healthy, active workspaces.

Q. Currently, how are companies in India using ergonomic products to enhance employee comfort and health? How is Humanscale looking to further encourage employers to make use of ergonomic products?

A. As a general rule in India, ergonomic products are provided once an employee has a health concern. Of course there are exceptions, but the general mindset needs to change. Ergonomics needs to be embraced and viewed as an essential ingredient to any work environment. The data is out there, proving that by providing employees with products that are easy to use, promote healthy neutral postures and encourage movement, it significantly improves user satisfaction, health and of course productivity.

One of the problems the furniture industry suffers from is that almost every product out there is labelled “ergonomic” and this confuses buyers. For a product to be ergonomic, it needs to be easy to use and it needs to move. If you purchase an “ergonomic” office chair and you lock the mechanism, so that the backrest no longer moves, then it’s no longer an ergonomic work tool, but a static piece of furniture that will cause various musculoskeletal disorders.

To encourage a shift in mindset, Humanscale has an Ergo Consulting division that provides knowledge sharing lectures, certified training courses and workplace assessments, among other services. These programmes are tailor-made for the needs of the organization for a true return on investment. These research-based training and assessment programmes improve worker comfort while lowering injury risks and associated costs.

Q. Going ahead, what are the new innovative products that Humanscale will offer employers?

A. I’d rather not give too much away here, but what I can share is that we are now working on Apps to support health and wellness in the workplace. We will also continue to improve the human experience with innovative, high performance work tools that are both simple and beautiful.

Q. Given the fact that virtual working and work-from-home is gaining in popularity, how is Humanscale planning to provide products that address these working options? How can companies help employees who work remotely install ergonomic products at their home/remote locations?

A. Portability is an important factor when working remotely. It can be difficult for a home-worker to allocate a space full-time for work. Humanscale’s QuickStand Eco, which I mentioned earlier, addresses this issue very efficiently. The compact design makes it simple to set up and move from one workspace to another. It’s minimal aesthetic blends into any environment and it’s built with sustainable, non-toxic materials (no red-list), so it won’t pollute your home. There are no knobs or levers to adjust, so no training is required.

It’s the same with our high-performance, ergonomic task chairs. There’s no need to keep making adjustments – almost everything happens automatically without the need for user intervention. This again means that a staff member can take a chair home for working on and no training will be needed. The employer can rest assured in the knowledge that their remote employees have been provided with easy to use, high performance, ergonomic work tools that will be used safely, will provide optimum support and encourage freedom of movement – keeping their remote employees healthier in their home work environment.

Just to make doubly sure, Humanscale is designing software that can be utilized remotely, so that the health and well-being of remote employees can be encouraged and monitored, if need be.

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