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Adapting an Office Workstation for Multiple Users

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
By Anne Kramer

Shared workstations have long been a necessity in 24-hour industries like manufacturing. While shared workstations in office environments used to be comparatively uncommon, the rise of telecommuting has changed the office workspace dynamic. As more employees work remotely, fewer need designated workspaces in the office. Thus many companies have begun setting up shared workstations, geared toward telecommuters who come into the office with limited frequency.

Creating a Basic yet Versatile Shared Workstation

Generally these employees need only a place to plug in their own laptops and access basic office supplies. Thus, the workstation needs only limited supplies, a laptop docking station, and the ability to adjust the alignment of the monitor and input devices. That adjustability is important, not only because it protects employees from repetitive stress injuries, but also because it improves productivity. With the right ergonomic equipment, it is easy to create a safe and functional shared office workstation:

  • Place a monitor on an adjustable arm, so that it can be placed at the correct viewing height for any user. This set-up is preferable to simply using the laptop screen, whose height cannot be sufficiently adjusted to ensure proper viewing height. Using a monitor arm helps employees to maintain proper posture, preventing pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
  • Install an adjustable work surface. Keyboard trays with adjustable heights are available. However, if the workstation will also frequently be used for non-computer based tasks like writing, an adjustable work surface is preferable. To accommodate the widest range of heights, pair an adjustable chair with an adjustable work surface.
  • Provide ergonomic seating. Ideally, every component of the chair, including the height, armrests, and lumbar cushion, should be adjustable. An ergonomic chair supports proper sitting and typing posture, in addition to removing stress from the lower back.
  • Add a footrest for shorter employees. Many models are designed to accommodate a variety of heights. Footrests elevate the feet, alleviating the pressure on nerves and muscles caused by contact with the chair seat. Employees who use footrests also tend to sit directly facing the computer, so they are less likely to twist their bodies during computer-based tasks.
  • Install anti-fatigue mats and risers at standing workstations. Even employees who temporarily stand can develop fatigue and soreness in the legs. Anti-fatigue mats reduce the physical impact of sustained or repeated periods of standing. Meanwhile, risers elevate shorter employees to proper viewing and working height. Look for risers that are finished with anti-fatigue materials.

Shared workstations in the office offer exceptional value for employers, because they reduce necessary workspace and equipment expenditures. Ergonomic interventions ensure employees’ comfort and productivity at shared workstations.

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