The aim of active ergonomics is to help people work better in the modern workplace; an environment that is strongly influenced by technology and health research.
Ergonomics in the workplace is evolving in response to the demands and availability of a variety of technological tools, as well as the data and understanding of health and safety needs for people working within a built environment. Interior designers, architects, human resource managers, and office furniture companies work to fit out office spaces to accommodate both technology and the individual with the goal to reduce the risk of injuries and help people work more efficiently.
People are more active at work because they should, they want to, and because they can.
Research shows that it is unhealthy for people to sit all day at work. They are encouraged to get up and move! Office ergonomics in the past was focused primarily on designing a workstation and office chair that best fits a person while sitting for extended periods of time. Now people are more active at the office, and the ergonomic workspace looks considerably different.
When employees come to the office, they want places to perform many different types of tasks. Employees come to the office to collaborate on a project, for a training session, while at work they may need to make a private phone conversation, they may also or need a private area to have a meeting with a client. When they come to the office, it is important to have ergonomic chairs that can be moved out of the way because having a chance to change from a sitting to a standing position is an important option. They want to view the outside and have a lunch or break time areas where they can socialize.
Active Ergonomics considers how technology affects the way people work.
Benefits of technology are that it allows people to work anywhere. Collaborative, social, flexibility, choices, open, options, and comfortable are some of the words that best describe the modern office design. Companies are looking to make their employees enjoy coming to the office by designing their office and providing the technology tools and furniture that they need to do their work efficiently and effectively.
The need for a variety of spaces used by a variety of people at different times means the design layout and furniture needs to be flexible for the user and the task. Ensuring there are outlets and chord management systems available promotes safety, and the ability to place technology in ideal locations to promote a healthy and safe work position.
- When using height adjustable desks, make sure that cords are long enough to accommodate the various heights.
- Meeting room screens – To mitigate the risk of eye strain make sure to reduce glare and ensure that the information can be viewed comfortably by everyone in the room.
- Access to power – Having enough outlets and recharging stations allows for people to stay powered up and ready to work. Having enough outlets near desks, meeting tables, and break out office furniture ensures that long extension chords are not needed. Long cords can be a safety hazard. If someone needs to lean over or move towards an outlet to add power to a working device, such as a laptop, it may put them in a less than ideal position.
The office workspace is evolving from a heads-down environment to one that highlights a collaborative, social context for work—and offers choice and flexibility. – Gensler, 2012
Can you navigate safely and easily throughout your workspace?
The days of employee names on private office doors are a thing not typical in the modern office environment. An open office means that anyone can sit anywhere, and there are a variety of places to work. Some companies are offering unique work areas, such as climbing walls, slides that go between floors, meditation rooms, and more.
Legibility of design is important, especially for new employees and visitors. Make sure each space is easy to navigate & easy to understand the purpose of each space. 
- To promote active ergonomics, consider posting health & posture tips in each area to ensure a safe, healthy, respectful, and efficient use of the space.
- Is there a directory in the reception area? Posting a layout plan of the various spaces when people first arrive at the office, can help people navigate to where they need to go. Using a digital monitor is a way to present a floor plan and keep it updated easily.
- Define the space using window graphics – Natural light in the workplace promotes wellness. Using interior glass walls allows for natural light and a sense of space. Adding window film graphics to interior glass walls helps prevent people from walking into the glass. Add window graphics with direction arrows, words, or images as a guide to explain space usage. An example of this is at the Central Public Library in Hamilton, Ontario. http://www.evolutionwindowfilms.com/gallery/central-public-library-hamilton-ontario/
As technology and health research evolve, so will ergonomics. Applying health research and innovative technology to ergonomic guidelines will help create a WELL environment; a healthy, comfortable and efficient workspace.