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Ergonomics Explained

For most of us, ergonomics sounds ‘fancy’ and ‘high tech’ looking expensive office chairs. It also sounds like some outer space phenomenon. Well, it’s all that too, and a whole lot of other things. If you are also one of us to whom ergonomics sound like some UFO, read on, this article is for you too.

Let’s begin with the chair. Say you have this humble, no frills, straight, old school chair at work on which you have spent a lifetime. Sitting long hours on one of them in office is a pain in your – you know where – your back, neck, west, and it will slowly get to your head. So, you get up and walk around for a while. So, to cure that, they came up with this fancy, straight-from-the-outer-space like of a chair, which makes it easy for you to sit on for a longer time without pain in any part of your body. That’s when ergonomics slipped in.

Then think about your computer keyboard and computer table combination. If the table is higher or lower than required, it will tire your wrist faster. You may have also felt sometimes that you would have achieved better results at something if it were done a little different. How about the television remote control? Why is it the most frustrating thing to use? I’m sure none of us have used all the functions of a TV remote control. Why does a car journey tire you? You are just sitting. The answer to all these lie in a big word – ergonomics. That’s right, as fancy a name as your office chair.

Ergonomics is a rather boring subject, the study of which is very important in bringing out the most interesting result in your work – better performance, which will lead to better money, hopefully. Ergonomics, they say is an art and science of designing equipment and furniture in the offices. The experts on the subject, the ergonomicists design the furniture in such a way so that to make you last longer on that chair. See? Better performance. It also involves designing the office equipment you use, like that fancy keyboard Microsoft came up with a few hundred years ago.

The field of study also looks at the ways you behave in your environment at work. It studies how you react to certain work process, the internal working structure of your office. It basically seems to involve everything about you and work – the furniture, equipment, office layout, rules of the office etc. It’s a weird mix of all sciences – biology, physics, psychology, engineering and design. With all these, ergonomics works not just in increasing your performance, but also to give you greater comfort and safety at work.

Ergonomics is said to be first ‘discovered’ by the wise guys from the Greece long long time back, that’s why the word sounds so Greek. Later, management legend Frederik Winslow Taylor came up with ‘Scientific Management’ in 19th century. He was searching for ways to make workers at a factory produce more working same hours. That’s neat! Then came Gilberth in 1900s, who worked on Taylor’s theory and build on it to come up with his own ‘Time and Motion Studies’. They basically found out that if you did things little differently, it will give a different result – better result most of the time.

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