Since approximately 40% of the Australian workers expect flexibility and have a say in their working hours, reshaping is occurring in the traditional office space to give employees complete digital connectivity and the freedom to work in either relaxed or formal settings. Despite this being a positive thing, it is also having a great impact on their health.
Improved productivity, rising rental costs and the lower operating costs are enabling corporate institutions take on new dimensions in flexible office fitouts. The presence of multiple connectivity points now allows employees to work not just from the office, but from anywhere now. Today they can work from their desks, tomorrow on a table at the cafeteria or even work from a casual setting the day after that. Each place they work from will have different seating, air quality and lighting. Thus, although this might sound great in theoretical terms, the mental and physical impact it will have is something that is very crucial.
From research that has been conducted in recent times, the following five un-assigned work stations could be potentially dangerous to your employees.
If these are not adjusted accordingly to suit your employees’ needs, they can lead to risks in postural strains which can have great long-term consequences such as back and neck problems.
Since there are bound to be workers who have particular needs such as those with tall or petite statures, or those with pre-existing problems or conditions that require certain ergonomic equipments, they are bound to be at a disadvantage as these spaces do not usually cater to provide the specialized equipments they need.
Since this requires employees to use mobile equipment such as tablets and laptops, these usually pose a danger when used for prolonged working periods as they cannot be easily adjusted.
These will include glare, reflection and noise which tend to be different depending on which section of the office the employee is in. Thus, as the employer, you should take these things into account during the office fitout to manage your employees’ needs appropriately. This is because there are bound to be some workstations which will be very uncomfortable for some of the workers.
In some instances, some workers will feel that they have lost their identity due to the loss of their private assigned desk space. The emotional distress for these workers will arise from the fact that their sense of familiarity and bonds of camaraderie will have been cut short from the colleagues they have always been around. Thus, un-assigned desk spaces can cause strains to these bonds making it hard for some workers to develop good relationships with their co-workers.
To minimize these issues, you can do the following:
• Ensure that all the workers receive adequate training on the principle and importance of safe ergonomic set-ups.
• Avail to the workers self-help strategies to reduce possibilities of injuries such as regular breaks and stretching.
• Make investments in different types of chairs for your employees which can be adjusted to suit the needs of your workforce.
Once you factor in these considerations during your office fitouts, you will be able to create a good working environment for your workers.