Workers Like Adjustable Computer Workstations

Study: Employees Enjoy Standing at Computer Workstation for Part of Day

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 20, 2004 -- Four out of five workers who spend a lot of time at the computer prefer to work at adjustable computer workstations that allow them to stand at their computers part of the day, according to a new study.

Researchers found workers who had the electrically adjustable computer workstations were more productive and ended up working at the computer while standing about 20% of the day.

"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," says Alan Hedge, professor of design and environmental analysis at Cornell University and director of Cornell's Human Factors and Ergonomics Laboratory, in a news release.

Hedge presented the results of the study recently at the 48th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Adjustable Computer Workstations Reduce Pain

Researchers studied 33 workers who were intensive computer users at two different companies, a high-technology company on the West Coast and an insurance company in the Midwest. Half of the participants at each company received an electric, height-adjustable work surface (EHAW) for a month, and the other half worked at standard, fixed computer workstations.

All of the participants were surveyed before and after the study about their work patterns and any musculoskeletal pain or discomfort while working.

"More than 80 percent of the participants preferred the EHAW," says Hedge, "and the average musculoskeletal discomfort index score was 20 percent lower for the EHAW than the fixed-height stations."

Researchers say the adjustable computer workstations were particularly popular among workers with neck and shoulder problems. Computer users who had the adjustable workstations also reported greater comfort in use of the keyboard, mouse, chair, and workstation.

"An EHAW can be helpful to anyone with a back injury who needs to stand for back relief for part of the day and also for anyone who wishes to work in sitting or standing arrangements," says Hedge says.

The study also showed that nearly three times as many workers with the adjustable computer workstations said the computer table improved their productivity at work.

Hedge says electric height-adjustable computer workstations are commonly used throughout Europe and in Australia. They cost from $800 to $2,000 and include a separate, adjustable, negative-tilt keyboard tray.

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SOURCES: 48th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Sept. 20-24, 2004. News release, Cornell University.
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