The presence of women in the workforce is at an all-time high. However, traditional office furniture has failed to keep up with this ever-growing trend. Since its creation, office furniture and equipment have been specifically designed with the average 5’11″ male in mind. So where does that leave everyone else? Women have had to adapt to a workstation that is not well equipped for their bodies, compromising their ergonomic set-up.
Research shows that women have a higher rate of injuries in the traditional office setting compared to men – why? One reason could be that women reportedly take on more repetitive tasks when compared to men. However, a poor ergonomic workstation set-up may also be contributing to these injuries. Learning how to adjust your workstation can help prevent fatigue and injury.
Ergonomically Adjusting Your Workstation
Desk height is often the primary piece of office furniture, and it’s difficult to adjust. Almost every office desk is either 29” or 30” – perfect for an individual who is 5”11″. To make up for this, many workers need to raise their chair height. Although this fixes one issue, it leads to another problem: lower body positioning is placed outside of a neutral 90° posture at hips and knees. An adjustable footrest is a great option for those who find themselves in this predicament. When adjusting your chair, it’s also important to keep your footwear in mind. If you are wearing high heels, your chair will need to be raised accordingly to accommodate for the increased lower leg and knee height.
Another common and infrequently addressed workstation tool that was designed for the average size male is the computer mouse. The standard mouse is typically too large for a more petite hand, which can cause the hand and wrist to fatigue faster while maintaining a wider grip and reaching further for buttons. It is also important to note that it is possible for the mouse to be too small, which may result in a clawing posture of the fingers and a larger grip force. A well-fitting mouse should fit comfortably in the palm of the hand while maintaining a relaxed, neutral position at the wrist and fingers.
In recent years, office ergonomics has become a hot topic for employers seeking to improve comfortability and productivity at work. Additionally, new and improved ergonomic products are hitting the shelves like never before! This is a great sign for the female worker and others who need more variety in options, but there is still exceptional room for growth. In the meantime, following and adopting the recommendations suggested in this blog can help women ergonomically adjust their workstations to meet their needs.