How Can Ergonomic Office Furniture Benefit Those Living with a Disability?
Beyond traditional factors like salary and health benefits, people with disabilities give the workplace culture great importance in deciding their place of employment. And what’s the first thing they look for? Inclusivity.
This includes inclusivity regarding comfort, mobility, and accessibility — the workplace should feel like a second home where people, regardless of their circumstances, have equal opportunities to participate and excel.
So here are some ways ergonomic office furniture can make your workplace more inclusive for those living with a disability.
What is Ergonomic Furniture?
For some of us, the term ergonomic may be daunting. It may lead us to think that an office inclusive of people with disabilities requires cutting-edge technology and copious amounts of money.
In reality, ergonomic furniture merely describes any equipment designed to enhance functionality and minimise the risk of injury to individuals (check out ArchiPro for examples).
So, the truth is that all that is needed is compassion, planning, and a little effort to make your office inclusive for all.
The Benefits Of Ergonomic Furniture
Here are five ways ergonomic office furniture benefits those with a disability.
Reduces Physical Strain
Ergonomic furniture can distribute weight more evenly, decrease the effort required for daily tasks, and improve posture. These features help lessen physical strain for employees with disabilities, ultimately boosting their productivity levels.
Research published in the South African Journal of Physiotherapy revealed that ergonomic interventions effectively reduce the intensity and frequency of pain and muscle spasms in people with disabilities.
If your job requires you to sit for long periods of time, you may face discomfort and pain. This is especially true for individuals with disabilities who may find it even more challenging to remain in an unchanging upright position. This is where ergonomic furniture can help, as it provides a high level of comfort.
Not only is comfort important for an employee’s well-being, but science proves it is also beneficial for your business. A recent study by Dr. Alan Hedge from Cornell University confirmed a correlation between comfort and workplace performance. Happy workers do indeed make a successful organisation.
Having the right furniture can facilitate independent living for people with disabilities in the office context and in the long run. While some employees with disabilities may still require or prefer additional assistance, others thrive on the independence they attain from ergonomic office furniture.
It allows them to do their job without requiring help from others and, in turn, enables them to develop confidence in their skills and talent.
Good posture and decreased physical strain due to ergonomic furniture have the added benefit of reducing the risk of injury in people with disabilities.
Not only is this important for the employee’s physical well-being, but reduced absenteeism due to injury and illness improves morale and boosts productivity for the organisation as a whole.
Accessibility in the workplace means that employees have equal access to all needed to complete their jobs. Unfortunately, for people with disabilities, this is seldom the case. But ergonomic furniture can go a long way in ensuring that people with disabilities are equally able to access the materials and locations needed for their role.
For instance, lowering the height of a reception desk to enable a wheelchair user to make eye contact with the receptionist is a small change that can make your workplace more accessible. Thus, even the slightest change in furniture design can make the lives of people with disabilities monumentally easier.
Ergonomic Furniture For Those With A Disability
Now that we have established the purpose and need for ergonomic office furniture for people with disabilities, it is time to look at what these entail. Here are some of the most common examples of ergonomic furniture in the workplace.
Ergonomic Office Chairs
Back support is critical for anyone who works long hours sitting at a desk. But it is indispensable for individuals with disabilities like spinal cord dysfunction, arthritis, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis.
Ergonomic office chairs feature adjustable height options, armrests, adequate lumber support, and breathable fabric – all of which help reduce pain and discomfort for people with disabilities. Here are more tools to provide your employees with the ultimate back support.
Footrests attached to or built in comfortable office chairs can help alleviate pressure on the feet and improve blood circulation. This is especially beneficial for employees who have diabetes and peripheral arterial disease (PAD), diseases which result in a poorly functioning circulatory system.
Unlike conventional ones, ergonomic keyboards are often angled or split, which allows users to position them more naturally, reducing wrist strain and pressure.
Some ergonomic keyboards also include palm rests that provide support to the wrists. Others often permit users to adjust keyboard height and angle according to their needs.
Employees with joint pain, in wheelchairs, or with ailments such as cerebral palsy may benefit from the specialised functions of an ergonomic keyboard.
It is crucial to keep in mind that not all disabilities are physically apparent. A large number of the workforce includes individuals with visual impairments. For these individuals, inadequate lighting can subject them to eye strain and decreased visibility. So both literally and figuratively, a brighter workplace is a happier workplace.
An inclusive workplace is necessary to ensure diverse individuals are given equal opportunities to excel in their professions. And you don’t need large sums of money to ensure accessibility, independence, and comfort. Small considerations – like adequate lighting and ergonomic footrests – can go a long way in keeping employees happy and your organisation successful.