It’s not surprising that a comfortable workplace is a productive one. But, what specific changes can a law firm administrator implement to increase the productivity of the office?
First, air temperature in the office has been shown to alter employee performance. In a study by Alan Hedge, Ph.D., CPE, and Cornell University, computer workers’ productivity was found to fluctuate with the room temperature.
The study found that when office temperatures dropped from a comfortable 77 degrees to a chillier 68 degrees, typing mistakes increased by 74 percent and typing output decreased by 46 percent (via Ergonomics Today).
Therefore, to ensure law firm professionals obey proper grammar rules, placing an “i” after “e” except after “c”, speak to your building manager about year-round climatization and temperature regulation.
Second, a different study—also focusing on the impact of employee comfort—found that 80 percent of participants preferred working at adjustable workstations that permitted them to alternate between sitting and standing positions throughout the day. In addition, these workers scored higher on productivity measures (via Ergonomics Today).
“We found that the computer workers who had access to the adjustable work surfaces also reported significantly less musculoskeletal upper-body discomfort, lower afternoon discomfort scores and significantly more productivity,” explained Hedge, director of Cornell’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory, in a press statement reported by Ergonomics Today.
However, desk height is not only factor to consider. Ergonomic chairs are another great way to improve employee comfort and productivity, simultaneously.
When purchasing office seating, consider the following factors (excerpt via Spine Health):
“Seat height. Office chair seat height should be easily adjustable. A pneumatic adjustment lever is the easiest way to do this. A seat height that ranges from about 16 to 21 inches off the floor should work for most people. This allows the user to have his or her feet flat on the floor, with thighs horizontal and arms even with the height of the desk.
Seat width and depth. The seat should have enough width and depth to support any user comfortably. Usually 17-20 inches wide is the standard. The depth (from front to back of the seat) needs to be enough so that the user can sit with his or her back against the backrest of the ergonomic office chair while leaving approximately 2 to 4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. The forward or backward tilt of the seat should be adjustable.
Lumbar support. Lower back support in an ergonomic chair is very important. The lumbar spine has an inward curve, and sitting for long periods without support for this curve tends to lead to slouching (which flattens the natural curve) and strains the structures in the lower spine. An ergonomic chair should have a lumbar adjustment (both height and depth) so each user can get the proper fit to support the inward curve of the lower back.
Backrest. The backrest of an ergonomic office chair should be 12 to 19 inches wide. If the backrest is separate from the seat, it should be adjustable in height and angle. It should be able to support the natural curve of the spine, again with special attention paid to proper support of the lumbar region. If the office chair has the seat and backrest together as one piece, the backrest should be adjustable in forward and back angles, with a locking mechanism to secure it from going too far backward once the user has determined the appropriate angle.
Seat material. The material on the office chair seat and back should have enough padding to be comfortable to sit on for extended periods of time. Having a cloth fabric that breathes is preferable to a harder surface.”
In fact, studies confirm that work posture has a direct impact on worker productivity.
So, whether you’re opening new law offices or redecorating your current ones, brainstorm with your interior design architect about adjustable seating and reliable air ducting.
Although certain ergonomic furniture may be more costly in the short-term, your law firm will see benefits two-fold in increased productivity in the long run.
Ask yourself—what did you do to make the office more comfortable today?