X-ray of three ergonomic chairs


Six ergonomic innovations coming to a workspace near you

Reading time:  3 Minutes

Are you sitting comfortably? Workspace ergonomics can improve employee productivity by as much as 11 per cent, according to the US Department of Labor. Here, Wired journalist Eleanor Peake examines the latest tools used by offices across the globe


1. Stand up to work

According to Public Health England, workers should spend at least two hours a day standing up in order to avoid the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Evodesk, Jarvis and VertDesk all specialise in mechanical desks that can be elevated to a height of your choice. With hundreds of positions, the desks are versatile enough to move between heights throughout the day. If you already have a fixed desk, Evodesk’s XE design lets you create a standing desk regardless. Place the XE frame onto your existing desk and press a button. The mechanical frame will rise to your height using soft-start and soft-stop technology, so your computer won’t jolt. evodesk.com

2. Reduce screen strain

Workday productivity can be reduced by more than just an uncomfortable desk. Over time, staring at the bright light of a computer screen could strain your eyes and make it hard to concentrate. F.lux is a free software download that automatically adjusts the lighting display of your computer to suit the time of day. At night, the blue glare of the screen can trick your body into thinking it’s earlier than it is – disrupting your sleep cycle and potentially causing Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), a condition that blurs your vision and causes headaches and neck pain. F.lux tries to fix this by making your screen display a warm yellow at night and more of a natural sunlight throughout the day. justgetflux.com

3. Improve your posture

While it’s hard not to slouch when you sit at a desk all day, slumping for long periods of time can result in neck and back strain, making mundane online tasks uncomfortable and frustrating. Wearable gadgets such as Upright can help. By sticking the small, plastic device on to your back, underneath your clothing, the gadget tracks your back movements and silently vibrates to let you know when you slouch. Worn over time, the gadget trains you to think about and adjust your posture, ultimately reducing back pain and making working at a desk more comfortable. uprightpose.com

A man using a stand-up desk

Using a standing desk can help avoid the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle


4. Protect yourself from illness

The potential threat of illness lingers over most communal spaces, especially in colder months. This can be one of the biggest barriers to an energised office space and a productive workday. If you’re prone to catching a cold, the desk-friendly solution is to make your space more humid. A 2013 study from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that increasing humidity levels to 43 per cent or more dramatically reduced the infectivity of airborne viruses such as the flu. The Walkas Mini Cool Mist Humidifier is small enough to subtly perch on your desk and humidify the immediate area for up to four hours. It even has a USB charger, so you can plug it into your computer or take it with you on the go. amazon.com

5. Turn your phone into a desktop screen

While smartphones are invaluable for remote workers, sending emails or reading important documents is generally more comfortable with a keyboard and a wide screen. Stations such as the Samsung DeX let you use your Android mobile as a computer. Just plug the device into the screen of a desktop, and place your mobile into the dock. The desktop will then light up with a large version of your phone screen. So wherever you are, you can have a personalised computer screen with all your inboxes and your documents, helping you hot-desk more productively and travel more efficiently. At the moment, the technology is only compatible with the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and Note 8, but an alternative is the newly launched Miraxess Mirabook, which works with the Windows 10 smartphone. samsung.com

6. Get fit at your desk

Unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, OfficeIQ is the latest product from HumanScale, an award-winning ergonomic designer and manufacturer. This unobtrusive, lightweight box sits on or under your desk to track your daily movement, like a Fitbit. Based on research by ergonomists, who recommend standing for 15 minutes every hour to invigorate mind and body, Office IQ gamifies the experience, providing individuals with activity scores and alerts for smart sit/stand reminders. Companies can set up teams to create friendly competition between departments, as well as track occupancy and utilisation rates of desks and meeting rooms. humanscale.com