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The adoption of workplace ergonomics in 2021

11 January 2022

As workplaces overhaul their systems, it is also time to look at existing working conditions to foster employee health. The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to adopt work from home, which gave rise to a slew of health issues pertaining to poor working conditions. Many employees complained of neck and back pain, poor posture, and circulation. As the WFH trend caught on, people began opting for ergonomic furniture to ease their discomfort at home.

Following this adoption, workers have also pushed for these changes to be applied to their workplaces. Offices are now trading their traditional-style desks and chairs for ergonomic setups that foster productivity and health.

Ergonomic solutions and employee support

Reducing work-related injuries is paramount, and employers need to embrace the turning tide of ergonomic solutions. Despite having been around for many years, ergonomic solutions have remained largely unexplored and underutilized in modern workplaces. Now, these setups have become crucial to reducing fatigue and stress while improving the quality of life for employees.

As everyone looks ahead, employers seeking better ways to support their employees, 2021 has proved to be a year where the adoption of ergonomic solutions has taken root. In 2021, companies that have had a proactive ergonomic strategy had provided solutions in the form of furniture support to their employees. This has helped reduce absenteeism and boost productivity.

New tools for ergonomic support have been developed as part of inventive solutions to bridge the uncertainty following the pandemic. These tools are revolutionizing workplace safety and helping workers make healthier decisions. Ergonomic designs are now focused on achieving the highest possible safety plans. This is through incorporating data tools and new technologies.

It is clear from 2021 that the advanced ergonomics wave is much-needed support for modern-day workers. This will protect employees and reduce healthcare costs for companies.

Ergonomics in 2021

Ergonomics in 2021

Many businesses are working round the clock to make up for lost time and recover from the hard blows dealt by the pandemic. Ergonomics remains a huge part of bridging this gap since employees need sustainable setups to deliver optimal performance.

Studies showed that the mortality rate from sedentarism is higher than that of HIV infections. Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) and other related injuries are the leading causes of increased healthcare costs for businesses, with claims around these injuries amounting to four times more each year. The causes of MSDs are well documented, and the link between these injuries and ergonomics is clear. Businesses need to address these issues by solving the root cause of the problem instead of applying band-aids to growing wounds. To do this, employers need to scale their ergonomic programs.

In 2021, we saw this happen. At Flexispot, leading manufacturers of ergonomic furniture, they reported a rise in businesses purchasing ergonomic equipment for their employees in 2021. It is also clear that companies are keeping ergonomics top of mind, based on the inquiries and search results online.

While companies put efforts to reprogram their workplaces, it also became a personal responsibility that many people have taken up. The year 2021 has seen many people conduct research into the benefits of standing while working, the best ergonomic workstations for them, and so much more. Many at-home workers have purchased and set up their home workstations with ergonomic solutions to aid their work.

A study by Verdantix in 2020 revealed that a third of workers want improved ergonomic standards in their workplaces. With an increase in safety budgets by companies, they can easily level up their ergonomic plans and provide safe working conditions for workers. It was estimated at the start of 2021 that ergonomic solutions would play a huge part in the new normal, and this has proved true. Employers are intent on recovery, and part of this is ensuring that their safety programming is in line with their growth strategies.

Ergonomic strategies implemented in 2021

Ergonomic strategies implemented in 2021

Even as the world struggles to keep up with ongoing changes, 2021 has paved the way for many people to discover ergonomic solutions and the extent of these plans for healthy and safe workplaces. Besides the obvious, beating the sedentary lifestyle that so many people have been stuck in for many years, people also applied ergonomic strategies in other ways.

2021 has given rise to many new trends, and in the ergonomics space, the following has taken place:

The development of ergonomic software

Until now, ergonomics have been regarded as another workstation set up for workers and companies to benefit from. Nowadays, technology is an essential component of it all, and implementing software for training is vital for employees. The next phase of technological advancements in artificial intelligence. This is expected to lead to great leaps in workplace safety programs and assist in reinforcing best practices.

To ease the skeptics, especially managers who need data-proven solutions, this will offer a data-driven perspective into workplace ergonomics solutions and will also identify risk factors that the human eye could easily miss. It is important to create detailed workplace safety reports for reference, training and to provide a clear picture of what is needed.

Wearable ergonomics

The basic understanding for most people is that ergonomics span standing desks and chairs. However, bio-ergonomic technology is now available and has proved essential for high-risk employees. Following its use in 2021, this technology is expected to become a must-have in the coming years. The workplace safety industry has embraced this technology as a great way to help employees track risk factors for MSDs and other injuries in real-time. The device also allows workers to find solutions and alternatives to these issues.

Site ergonomic assessments

Strong safety culture is supported by a willingness by all parties involved to implement solutions. Even with AI and technology facilitating these solutions, human analysis is still needed. This is why many companies are now adopting on-site ergonomic support for their employees. With regular assessments to identify possible pitfalls in the workplace. These assessments span from the overall setup of the office to individual workstations. For these assessments, many companies have enlisted the help of qualified ergonomists who have identified areas that need improvement.

This has also been carried forward to at-home workstations. Virtual and sometimes physical assessments of home office spaces with professional ergonomic specialists have helped many people avoid common mistakes. Using available communication tools, home-based employees can have a specialist look at their workstations and determine possible safety issues that need to be remedied. These ergonomists provide guidance on desk and seat height, monitor position and height, stretches, exercises, and other great tips to help workers alleviate discomfort and boost performance.

The next step – Beyond 2021

The next step – Beyond 2021

In 2021, ergonomic adjustments began to take shape, and as the world prepares for 2022 and beyond, it is time for:

Increased training – Despite the widespread knowledge that workplace safety is crucial to fighting MSDs, workers still need a lot of training and conditioning to adjust to these new programs.
Workstation and tooling upgrade – knowing that the workstation setup you have is a safety risk, it is important to make adjustments. This is where you need to conduct research or get recommendations from specialists on the right standing desks, desk converters, desk bikes, and chairs to use.
Emphasis on self-care – Most employees with regular day jobs are at high risk of MSDs due to the nature of their jobs (sitting or standing too long). Therefore, self-care routines need to be promoted, like deep-tissue therapy, to reduce pain and manage the risk factors for workers.
Reminders – Flexispot has created cutting-edge standing desks that have memory presets; the desk can save your preferred height settings. They also have desks that will prompt you to change from sitting to standing and vice versa through a reminder. Employees need these constant reminders so that they get into a healthy rhythm.
Mechanics training – Employees can significantly benefit from mechanics training, even at the basic level, to help them understand the workings of their ergonomic workstations and tools. Ergonomic manufacturers like Flexispot do this by providing educational videos and manuals on their products. This allows people to identify any issues with their setup easily.

To wrap up

As the world continues to settle into the new normal, workplace safety continues to be a foundational element of modern workplaces. Ergonomics has helped alleviate some of the problems. MSDs and other injuries have cost many employees their lives, livelihood, and health care costs. With healthcare and discomfort costs totaling more than $600 billion every year, effective changes must be put in place to protect employees. Thanks to innovative solutions in ergonomics, it is possible for companies and employees to avoid these common injuries.

Companies like Flexispot have also committed to designing and creating ergonomic workstations that benefit all workers. Proven results from these equipment setups stress the importance of all companies and workers adopting workplace ergonomics beyond 2021.