Office hierarchy determines ergonomic quality of workplace

Office hierarchy determines quality of workplace ergonomics on offer

When you consider health and safety dangers at work, there is really no contest between the risks blue collar workers face – falls from height, heavy lifting and breathing in asbestos dust – compared to the relatively minor mishaps of the average office worker. But it seems there is no such thing as an ‘average’ office worker either and where you fit in the pecking order could have a direct impact on the level and quality of the ergonomic tools you’re offered. According to a worldwide survey published by Jabra and YouGov there is a great demographic divide when it comes to the ergonomic equipment provided within the office – and your level of education and department play a significant role in how well you are seated and whether you are offered a headset or handset.

For instance, you are more likely to have an ergonomic mouse if you’re working in management or the IT department, while engineers have more adjustable tables than any other work group. Finance departments have the lowest ergonomic ‘score’ of all within the office space: A mere 16 per cent have an adjustable table compared to 32 per cent in the IT & support department, which is the place where you’ll find the majority of ergonomic office benefits.

The survey also reveals a significant link between your level of education and getting the right equipment to suit your ergonomic needs. When holding a research degree, such as a Ph.D., you are twice as likely to have an ergonomic mouse as someone with a more general education, i.e.; up to secondary school level, a fact which is characteristic for all ergonomic benefits on offer within the office.

There is even a direct link between education and the use of headsets: 70 per cent of the higher educated are offered a headset compared to just 50 per cent without a degree or with a more general education. The higher the degree you have, the higher your chances of getting a wireless headset.

The ergonomic equipment divide is not only evident when looking at the departments and level of education, but it’s also country related. For instance, if you’re working within an office in the UK there is a 20 per cent chance of you having an ergonomic keyboard or adjustable chair (48 per cent) compared to Japan where only 7 per cent have an ergonomic keyboard.

Looking at all the departments in the twelve surveyed countries the most popular ergonomic device is the adjustable chair. Unfortunately, 10 per cent of UK office workers don’t have any ergonomic equipment at all.

The survey was carried out in November 2012, by Jabra, a world leader in audio communication solutions and the international research agency YouGov amongst 11,906 office and mobile workers between the ages of 18-69 to chart the real and perceptual differences and attitudes towards headset use and ergonomic focus in the office.