Monday, December 2, 2013

Your Best Position is Your Next Position

Images courtesy of SYTYCD
The field of ergonomics, or “human factors”, is multi-disciplinary, incorporating all sorts of scientific measurements. The term anthropometry really appeals to me.  It just sounds good.  Basically it’s about fitting equipment and environment to the human body that uses it.  To do that, you have to incorporate all sorts of measurements.

Recently, the world of furniture has been taking a new look at ergonomics.  For most of the past 20 years, “ergonomic adjustment” meant setting the chair, keyboard and monitor at heights that were optimal for the individual user.  Raising or lowering the chair seat, supporting the lumbar, placing wrists at the optimal angle, locating the monitor so you are 16-24 inches away looking straight ahead or down at a 30 degree angle.  In other words, it was setting up the environment or equipment to support a particular posture or motion.  Nowadays, the benefits of movement are taking the place of optimal adjustment.  In fact, the notion of setting everything up for a single user in a single space for eternity was always a bit of a false start.  How many people actually remembered how to set all those dials, tags and levers?

Much better to change positions throughout the day! And with new height adjustable products, the range of work postures can change even more.  Smart and mobile devices are allowing us to work in the lounge or cafeteria as well as at the table. Free address means I have to work in different postures (or adjust the setting to my favored posture each day so at least I remember how to operate the furniture).  

In 2010, The City of New York with the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) published the NYC Active Design Guidelines.  This document encourages movement, through the city, through the building, and at the individual setting, in addition to non-toxic materials and lots of daylight. Take a look and the next time you are wondering “Why does it hurt when I do this?”, don’t do it.  Move.

About the Author:
Bryant Rice, Vice President of Strategic Accounts, is our Workplace Warrior. He deals out strategy, perspective, and opinions. Bryant brings over 30 years of experience to SideMark as an architect, planner, workplace strategist, facilities manager and furniture manufacturer. Bryant holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology as well as a MArch and MBA in Architecture and Business Administration from the University of Illinois. To contact Bryant, email him at

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