Alternatives to a Traditional Workspace
Whether you’re looking for a more ergonomic workspace or are just sick and tired of the ages-old chair and desk combo, there are alternatives out there. You’re not limited to sitting in an office chair and using a standard desk. What’s more, there’s evidence that going a nontraditional route can actually help prevent you from many common musculoskeletal injuries sustained during long-term desk and office chair use, as pointed out by UCLA. Here’s what you should know about your options.
If you think a desk must be sat at to be used, you haven’t looked at the marketplace much in the last couple of years. More and more, standing desks are coming into vogue. That’s not just because of the “cool design” factor, either. It’s because standing at work can offer some serious health benefits. A number of studies have pointed out the correlation between standing at work and weight loss, as well as the ability to prevent many musculoskeletal problems that stem from sitting for long periods with poor posture.
Standing desks are exactly what they sound like. They’re designed to allow the user to do pretty much anything they could at a sit-down desk, but in a standing position. You’ll also find desks that can adjust to both standing and sitting positions, which is important. It’s impossible to do certain tasks in a standing position – typing for more than five minutes is better when seated, for instance. Any task that requires fine control or stable hands should be done when seated as well.
Office chairs are both a comfort and bane to workers. A good office chair can keep you happy and comfortable through a long day as a desk jockey, but a bad chair (or bad posture in a good chair) can cause serious back, shoulder, neck and arm problems. Ergonomic chairs can help, but many offices are now turning to alternative seating arrangements.
A good example of this type of seating is the ball chair. You can find these in two varieties – plain balls that require significant effort to balance and ball chairs mounted on a wheeled frame (like a regular office chair, but without the seat, arms or back).
What benefits will you find with these types of seating? For one thing, the lack of arms and back forces you to sit properly, which alleviates back pain and muscle strain. They can also help improve balance and force you to work your abdominal muscles to stay upright. Some office workers switch between ball chairs and standard office chairs depending on the task at hand. Transitioning to this type of seating does require some time and effort, and it should be done incrementally to avoid problems.
A nontraditional office space can offer significant benefits. Standing desks and ball chairs can help improve posture, alleviate the discomfort of musculoskeletal disorders and can even improve productivity in some instances. However, they’re not for everyone, so match your office furniture to your needs and your tasks.