Have you ever felt as though you are juggling multiple items with your Ergonomics Program and there just never seems to be enough time to get done what you really need to do? This post is all about how I used an Ergonomic Showroom to save me time. I used to work for a large corporate organization where I managed the entire ergonomics program. We're talking pretty big numbers here- about 7,000 office workers in total. To be effective in ergonomics I needed to be efficient. I've been able to write about some of the processes that I found worked really well, one of my favourites being Discomfort Surveys. Another valuable time-sharing hack that I frequently used was an Ergonomic Showroom. This is where I showcased useful and popular ergonomic equipment for any staff member to try out either in the Showroom or for extended periods of time in their workspace. Ergonomic Showrooms are an incredibly simple yet valuable solution to ergonomic challenges that every company should incorporate. It doesn't need to be the whole shebang, but some aspects would be very valuable. Have I peaked your interest? Well, scroll down to see how an Ergonomic Showroom could work for your company. You can take a look at my complete list of products that I used in the Showroom below, too!
There always seems to be new and exciting ergonomic products that are unleashed on the market daily. Some are expensive and others can just look odd. These two factors can prevent many from getting something that may actually address their ergonomic concerns. Putting into place an Ergonomic Showroom is a big value add from this perspective. Often I would see that employees would be unsure about making the commitment to purchase a new piece of ergonomic equipment. This is especially true if it’s new product on the market or if it’s an alternative type of design (something drastically different to what they are used to). You can think about it this way: if they find that a particular product doesn’t meet their need then they will have to go through the process of returning it either to the store or mailing it back to the e-commerce store. This can take a lot of time and can get quite annoying especially if it takes multiple times to get just the right piece of keyboard or mouse. There are so many options available on the market today.
Jumping onto my first point is that there are many similar products available in the market today. Products may differ in many or just slight aspects and this makes it difficult to find a product that would truly be able to address the root cause of their ergonomic challenges. Let’s take an alternative mouse design for instance. There are various types of vertical and angled mice that would fit the description of an ‘alternative’ mouse design. Each of these have their individual pros and cons but based on what I’ve seen it comes down to personal preferences when sorting out if a particular vertical or angled mouse feels better. It can be quite hard to figure out the feel of the mouse just by looking at product pictures and reviews. In many cases a lengthy test drive would be required and this is the obvious value that an Ergonomic Showroom can provide!
The big value proposition with an Ergonomic Showroom is that it can help you (the ergonomic assessor) sort out the underlying issues to find the one solution that will help your client. I’ll use an example to illustrate this. Say you are doing an ergonomic assessment and someone is complaining of right shoulder discomfort. There are a number of solutions that are all based on the specifics of the case. These are a few that might work: asking your client to try left handed mousing, using a compact keyboard, or a roller mouse. Note: only a thorough ergonomics assessment can actually address the root cause of discomfort. The Ergonomics Showroom would add value in situations like these because they allow the person to try out each of these suggestions (with the guidance of the ergonomics assessor) until they find the one that is just right for them because personal preferences can drive this process. This can save you a lot of frustration and make your process a whole lot more streamlined and efficient because your client simply just returns and then signs out another ergonomic device for a trial period.
The majority of use for my Ergonomic Showroom was dealing with employee concerns and discomfort to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. Overtime I saw that there was an opportunity to assist with my organization's return to work program. I'll describe some scenarios that the Ergonomic Showroom was incredibly useful. In one case, a staff member was able to borrow a roller mouse and this helped them to return to work much faster after they fractured their elbow. I was able to help another person who ‘threw out their back’ on the weekend by allowing them to borrow my portable sit-stand desk (in this case the Ergotron) to use until they felt better. On top of this, the Ergonomic Showroom was useful to lend ergonomic products to staff for them to borrow until their new keyboard or mouse arrived.
Returning someone back to work safely and effectively can really be a big value-add for an organization. This is especially true if the injury happened to occur at work as this would save the company worker's compensation fees by providing that worker accommodated work! Leveraging the products from an Ergonomics Showroom to help return an employee back to work faster will save your company a lot in worker's compensation fees.
As you can see, I stocked my showroom with mostly keyboards and mice as that was where most of the interest was from staff. Whenever possible I bought the left and right handed versions and when there were multiple sizes I only bought the average size for convenience. To keep prices low I usually bought the 'wired' versions.
I also had many different shapes and densities of lumbar supports on hand for people to sign out. This was for specific types of lumbar (aka lower back) discomfort that some people's chairs just didn't address or for some particular circumstances of extending the life of a chair. Some people found that this was useful and others found value in using the lumbar supports for other purposes such as a forearm rest for a cast - another return-to-work success story!
To save money, I developed relationships with local vendors to borrow their equipment (mostly chairs). As you can see from this post, it can sometimes take a while to figure out if a chair really works for someone so it can be very useful to include them in your Showroom.
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