Ergonomics literally means: “designed for humans”. Well, technically, it’s “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment”, but let’s not split hairs: it’s all about making working environments suitable for human habitation.
This all might seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how often people aren’t really considered in the workplace design and construction. We see you, non-adjustable desk – get out of our sight.
The truth is a lot of people just don’t think about it when they’re setting up a workplace: a few workstations, some stools, tools – that’ll do. But just like a laptop that you use once and never recharge, there’s no point in putting perfectly useful Homo sapiens in a work environment that drains them from the moment they step through the door.
This is where workplace ergonomics come to the fore. If you think of your workers first, you’ll reap the rewards, so a proper ergonomically informed setup is key to any successful business. Here are just some of the ways that building your space around your humans can help your business’ productivity.
1. It makes your employees healthier
One of the most obvious impacts of bad workplace design is on the physical health of your employees. Ergonomically designed workplaces can help reduce stress and decrease repetition, which – if you’ve been keeping up-to-date with our blog – you’ll know can cause back pain and other issues that lead to sickness and reduced productivity. Bad workplace design might mean that employees have to bend, twist, or lift heavy objects. Healthy employees are (more likely to be) happy employees, which also means…
2. It can help you keep your best staff
Keeping your top players not only means retaining their expertise and, ahem, ‘know-how’; it means that you don’t end up in a vicious cycle whereby you spend time – the precious working hours of your trained employees – and money training new staff to get them up to the standards of your other employees, only for them to leave in under a year. The implications for your productivity are obvious: new staff are often less productive until they’re trained, meaning that your other employees have to take on some of the load, which also reduces their capacity to do their own jobs.
3. It inspires creativity
Creativity is important to your business, no matter what you do. It really just means ‘new ideas’ and new ideas can help across your business – from improving a particular manufacturing method, to new product development, new ways to work with your customers and more. If you don’t have creativity in your business then you’re like a speedboat without an engine; you can bob around where you’re are, but you’re not going anywhere new.
Good workplace design can reduce the strain on employees, freeing up their brains to do their thing, whilst properly designed spaces can enable collaboration, aiding the creative process. If you think this doesn’t seem apply to factory design, think about your communal spaces.
4. It can make people feel more comfortable at work
Properly designed collaborative spaces can enhance creativity and productivity, but that’s not to say every space should be out in the open. Studies have shown that people work better if they have a sense of privacy in their own space. Mental health is as important as physical health to employee wellbeing and productivity; good workplace design takes account of all human factors.
5. It shortens processes
Or reduces “cycle time”, per this little ditty from the International Journal of Engineering and Technology (IJET). And shorter processes throughout the chain means a faster overall process, which in turn means that manufacturing volume can increase.
6. It increases quality
By making processes easier to carry out, and more repeatable, people are less likely to make errors. This leads to less rework (i.e. putting right what once went wrong) and increases the number of widgets that get sent to customers, thereby increasing your bottom line. So, with proper ergonomic processes in place, Dr. Sam need never have stepped into the Quantum Leap Accelerator.
7. It keeps you up to date
A properly designed workplace can evolve and embrace new technology to improve. This might be through the machine technology or it might be the latest industrial furniture – being at the cutting edge means that you’re always pushing the top line of productivity, ready to improve.
Want to know more?
Find out how we help DeSoutter increase their productivity, then give us a call on 01273 704520 to chat about your needs.