how-to Jun 24, 2020

Have you ever noticed that most professions have their "secret sauces"?

Heck, McDonald's literally has the secret sauce... and I do realize that the term "profession" is a bit of a stretch when talking about McDonalds. 

Whether it's something that's as straight forward as that or something a little more nuanced, there's something truly unique that every profession does that contributes to their expertise and the client experience.  

Think "doing it yourself" versus having a professional do it. There's going to be elements that a newbie will simply miss because of their inexperience in the field. 

Well, the same is true for ergonomics.

There's a process that ergonomists follow that allows us to "see the unseen" and provide the best quality solutions to our clients.

This is also what allows us to charge the big bucks and be recognized as the go-to consultants in our cities and communities to help with ergonomics challenges.

I'm going to show you something today that will work for either in-person or virtual ergonomic assessments. The secret comes down to training your "ergonomic eye" and following these steps for every assessment no matter if it's considered simple or complex.

How To Add More "Secret Sauce" To Your Process 

Have you ever done an assessment but then realized that something is a little "off" and you can't figure out why? Maybe one of these sound familiar to you: 

  • You make an adjustment to bring things into optimal posture, but your client says that it doesn't really make them feel better.
  • You focus on how they sit in their chair or stretches.
  • You try to make one workstation adjustment, but it "throws off" all the adjustments that you made leading you to feel very frustrated. 

The whole purpose behind the process that I'm going to show you today is figuring out what's really going on in your client's workstation and discomfort so you can provide BETTER solutions. 

Finding the one cause (*sometimes more) to your client's discomfort is kind of like finding the needle in the haystack. You want to find the one concern/risk factor that leads to a disproportional amount of discomfort or risk. 

This is all about bringing BIG-TIME value no matter if you are doing an ergonomic assessment in person or virtually/remote. It's the same process for each. 

The Secret Sauce

Cue the anticipation! Drum-roll please!

The secret-sauce boils down to a really simple process that I like to call "The 5-Whys". This is a type of root-cause analysis.

Keep in mind that just because it's a simple process that I'm going to show you today does NOT mean that it's easy to do or ineffective. 

Quite the opposite.

When executed correctly this will revolutionize the way that you do office ergonomic assessments. In fact, it's so important that I use this for Every. Single. Assessment.

 How To Use "The 5-Whys"

The process that I'm going to show you allows you to strip away all the details in the assessment to find the ONE factor that contributed to the causation of your client's symptoms. Doing this, allows you to provide a lot of value when you're doing an ergonomics assessment (then charging those sought after prices of course).

Now, this can be a bit tricky at first, but practice does help. Just like the graphic shows below, there is can be a lot of interrelated, movings parts in an ergonomic assessment.

So, you see, if your client is complaining of headaches, it could very well be a result of any of these factors:

  • The work surface is too high,
  • The monitor height is too high or too low; or 
  • Workstation glare. 

Using my secret-sauce process strips the multiple layers of the onion off so you can identify and mediate the one (sometimes more than one) factor that contributed to the majority of the client's concerns... 

... and then fixing that ONE factor.

Putting it ALL TOGETHER

I have a fun example for you to put this all in perspective for you. 

Your client is observed to lean forward in their chair to complete computer work. It would be false to assume that their posture must be ‘corrected’ without evaluating their fit with the other elements in their workstation. The root cause is that the workstation height is too high and this can result in the user leaning forward to have a more comfortable hand-working height. Essentially the user is sacrificing their back comfort in order to have a good hand working height to type with and to view the monitor with.

See? If you relied on ensuring that the user's posture is within "recommended guidelines" you may only recommend to fix their habit of leaning forward. This wouldn't fix the cause of the ergonomic concern and likely the discomfort would still be an issue and maybe even escalate in the future.

In actuality the cause of the concern is that the workstation is higher than the neutral hand working height and is considered the root cause of this situation. 

Here is the EXACT PROCESS of how you would find the Root Cause of this example:

  1. Identify the ergonomic risk factors by body part for each task of concern
  2. Cross-reference between the user interview, body discomfort survey, and ergonomic assessment to further decipher the ergonomic risk. If any of the measurements do not match the ergonomic criteria (for example, typical viewing distance) then this is usually a good place to start.
  3. For each risk factor, ask why 5 times, also known as the ‘5-Whys’, until a dead-end is reached and you cannot ask ‘why’ any more.
  4. Develop strategies to address the root cause(s) and choose solutions that will substantially reduce the ergonomic risk factors and be within an affordable cost guideline for the organization.

Next Steps...

There you have it, the process to provide BETTER solutions when you're doing both virtual AND in-person ergonomic solutions. Now, it will take a bit of practice to perfect this process and it's really about finding that one source or concern that should be addressed during the ergonomic assessment. 

I perform a root cause analysis for EVERY ergonomics assessment that I do- no kidding. It saves me time in the long-run to ensure that I did the process correctly. It also ensures that I'm identifying and mediating every ergonomic risk.  

  • Have you always wanted to get into office ergonomic assessments?
  • Do you already have clients that have requested you help with their office setup, but you simply don't have the time?
  • Have you observed that the clients that you see in the office ACTUALLY would benefit from an office ergonomic assessment to ensure that all the work you did IN clinic doesn't evaporate into thin air as soon as treatment stops? 

Well I have a first step for you.

You can discover how Healthcare and Rehab Professionals are increasing their revenue streams, avoiding burnout, and adding another level of service excellence by watching this brand new training that I have here

Can't wait for you to start this training. There is SO MUCH actionable take-aways that you can apply to what you're doing right now (even if you've never done an ergonomic assessment before!). 

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