Five Reasons to Take Ergonomics Seriously… Whether or Not Your Company Does

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“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” — Jim Rohn, American motivational speaker.

You’ve probably read and heard a lot about ergonomics during your career. But are you taking the topic seriously?

When you Google the benefits of ergonomics, you’ll find scores of articles about why companies should institute good ergonomic design, in everything from factories to the open-plan office. The upshot is, it always saves the business money, because it results in less wear and tear on the most important resource of all—the human one. However, one thing most articles seem to have in common is that they’re aimed at upper management and those tasked with improving company-wide productivity. What about those of us doing the producing?

Even if the company hasn’t bothered, there’s nothing stopping you from making your workspace more ergonomic. Why should you bother? Consider these five good, thoroughly interrelated reasons:

1. Ergonomics makes your job easier. The whole point here is to increase your productivity. When you ensure you can easily access everything you need, you’re not constantly running to the printer and back, and your back doesn’t hurt because your chair provides the right kind of support, you’ll accomplish meaningful work faster than ever.

2. Your quality of work improves. This reason goes hand-in-glove with the first. If you feel poorly, you’re more likely to give your work a “lick and a promise” or rush through it. When you turn in meaningful work—rather than just tossing something off as “good enough for government,” as my father the USAF Colonel used to say—you will inevitably kick your work quality up a notch.

3. You don’t have to force yourself to fit the workspace. Yes, you can work at an elderly desktop computer at a low table while sitting on a folding chair, running back and forth to the printer down the hall while listening to the jackhammer outside your window… if absolutely necessary. But before long your wrists start aching, your fingers feel like claws, your head aches, and your lower back starts complaining. Instead of cramming yourself into the workspace, make the workplace fit you—and keep experimenting until you’ve achieve maximum benefit. Adopting a decent chair that encourages good posture, bringing your keyboard to the proper level, finding a way to dampen ambient sounds, and only having to reach a foot or two to get your printouts saves time, encourages productivity, and improves your work quality.

4. Setting good habits now saves you worse pain later. Do you really want to have carpal tunnel surgery in five years, or have to wear a back brace every day and take analgesics just to get through the afternoon? Put the ergonomics into action ASAP and take care of yourself in all other ways, too, to make sure you get the kinks out… and keep them out.

5. You may feel more engaged in your job. How many people enjoy work that makes them feel miserable? Pain and poor health can completely override perks like general job satisfaction, wonderful benefits, and great pay, especially if the work itself hurts you. Take away the pain, and it becomes easier to engage with your work and own your job—one ingredient in the recipe of super-competence.

It boils down to this principle: when you feel good, you do better work. When you do better work, you feel good. It’s a wonderfully positive feedback loop that, while not infinitely expandable, will surely boost your performance. You already know your productivity increases when you meet your sleep, dietary, hydration, energy, and spiritual needs. It makes sense, then, that you’ll accomplish more when your back and arms don’t hurt, and your eyelids aren’t twitching.

Take a look at where you work, and redesign it to be more efficient—so you make fewer repetitive motions, everything sits at the right height, you can get to everything in a jiffy, your schedule makes sense, and nothing hurts. If you can get the organization to pay for it, do so. If not, consider it part of your efforts to maximize your Personal Return on Investment (PROI).

Don’t wait for your organization to enact ergonomic policies. Get ahead of the game and put personal ergonomics in play now!

© 2016 Laura Stack. Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on employee and team productivity. She is the president of The Productivity Pro, Inc., a company dedicated to helping leaders increase workplace performance in high-stress environments. Stack has authored seven books, including Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (January 18, 2016). She is a past president of the National Speakers Association, and in 2015 was inducted into its exclusive Speaker Hall of Fame (with fewer than 175 members worldwide). Stack’s clients include Cisco Systems, Wal-Mart, and Bank of America, and she has been featured on the CBS Early Show and CNN, and in the New York Times. To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401 or visit her website.

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