Office ergonomics is something all conscious business owners should be aware of. It should feature in the initial planning of every office environment and should influence the office furniture you buy. The range of office furniture UK businesses have to choose from is vast, but you need to ensure it is set up in the best possible way too. But ergonomics isn’t always a staid and boring topic, and occasionally it gets downright quirky – all in the name of design partnering with good health practices. Take, for example, Swiss balls.
In recent years, a visitor to any trendy design company wouldn’t be surprised to see the employees sitting (okay, balancing precariously) at their desks on Swiss balls. These over-sized beach balls have been used in gyms for years for developing core strength, balance and fitness, but do they really have a place as office furniture?
There’s now gathering opinion that is starting to challenge the concept and suggests that perhaps we should all be returning to ergonomically designed chairs instead.
A laudable idea – just not a good one
According to Jeanie Croasmun, writing in The Ergonomics Report: “The intent of the ball chair developers was laudable: to take an item that seems to be beneficial in an area of health care (rehabilitation and strengthening/wellness) and apply the same principle to the office.” But while the idea may be laudable, the application, she believes, is flawed: “The exercise ball might be great for strengthening and toning in the gym or at home, but it can’t compete with a truly ergonomic chair for long-term sitting in an office environment.”
Focusing in on what’s important
Jeanie isn’t alone, and a host of other experts have started coming out against the over-use of what is effectively a piece of gym equipment in a completely alien environment.
You’ve also got to ask yourself – are they really that comfortable to sit on all day long? Strengthening your core muscles may give you a six-pack, but does focusing on not falling off your seat all day mean that you’re not focused on your work? Swiss balls as a piece of ergonomic furniture may be ‘trendy’, but it seems that, like all trends, the backlash has started and that 2014 may well see a move back towards well-designed ergonomic office furniture online and in stores across the UK.