Three things you need to know when shopping for an ergonomic workspace

The word “ergonomic” has become part of our regular vocabulary today. We see it sprinkled generously in newspaper ads and furniture showrooms, promoting bags and shoes, desks and chairs, computer keyboards and even pillows! The problem is that, while many brands and manufacturers may claim to be ergonomic, their prices can vary quite a lot. How’s a parent to make a discerning choice when it comes to picking out the best option?

Thanks to the world wide web, the answer is not so hard to find, if we would be willing to take the time to look. 🙂 My motivation? I wanted to find a workspace solution that works for my older boy, who spends a significant amount of time at his table these days – be it on school work, Berries homework or his own art. Due to his small size, he has this (bad) habit of kneeling on his chair in order to get a good view of his work. Or sometimes he slouches on the table and writes with his head leaning on the table, because he is tired of kneeling. We know that such a posture is bad for his still-developing body and certainly poses a strain on his eyes, and we want to stave off the possibility of wearing spectacles for as long as possible.

Of course we’re tried nagging at him to “sit properly”, but it hasn’t worked very well thus far. We’d also been feeling that maybe a better chair with a back rest might be more comfortable for him than his previous and current backless stools.

So I decided to read up on some possible workspace solutions for his posture, and along the way discovered some misconceptions that many (including us) may have about how ergonomic products work. Here are three things you should know:

#1 It’s not just about an adjustable height

Too many brands claim to be ergonomic simply because the height of the table or chair can be adjusted. Sad to say, that’s just dishonest marketing. A truly ergonomic product can be adjusted to fit the individual’s current and future needs. It takes into account the unique frame and proportions of the user, as well as the activities they would potentially use the product for.

For instance, virtually all school bags have adjustable shoulder straps, however being able to lengthen or shorten the straps alone does not make for an ergonomic fit. David’s IMPACT ergonomic school bag, which we reviewed last year, has a patented backcare system that ensures a good fit with the curvature of his spine, especially at the lower back area. This allows the bag to sit comfortably on his shoulders/back, whether it is empty or full.

And while we are talking about desks, an ergonomic study desk should allow the user to adjust both the height and the tilt of the desk. I did not realise how important desktop angle was until I took the time to observe my son trying to get a good angle for doing his work. Let me try to paint a picture for you –

If we gave him a lower chair, he could read and write comfortably if his work was close to him at the edge of the table. But if he had to read or write something at the top of the page, he would kneel on the seat in order to get a better look. If we gave him a higher chair, he wouldn’t have to kneel to see his work. However as he came to the bottom of each page, he would either need to move the paper upwards or move his chair backwards to have space to write.

I came to the conclusion that having a desktop whose angle you can adjust is definitely a necessary feature of any ergonomic study desk. You might be wondering – won’t the papers on the table slide off? No worries there –  the table really shouldn’t be tilted that much!

The ERGOSTARS ES-8501 study desk, which we will be getting soon, allows for a tilt angle of 0-25 degrees, on top of its adjustable table height. It’s designed for kids from 4yo to adulthood, so it should stand David in good stead for many years to come.

#2 It supports your body’s natural posture

What is considered healthy work posture? Here’s a helpful description I gleaned from a CNET article:

“Scoot your chair away from your desk and sit down comfortably. For many people, it would look a lot like sitting in a car. Your feet are on the floor in front of you; your hands are in your lap; and your shoulders relax as you lean back just a bit. Your behind…is behind you.

It’s comfy, right? This is called your “natural posture.” In it, your vertebrae are stacked, your entire back moves as you breathe, and your pelvis is positioned so that your spine is stacked properly.

With this in mind, you can start building an ergonomic workstation that supports this posture.”

So, no, it’s not about having your back ramrod straight (which I had previously assumed), or shoulders back. And feet on the floor – that never crossed my mind before, but I went to try it out for myself and realised it does make a huge difference!

A good ergonomic product will therefore adjust to fit and support the individual’s natural body posture so that he or she can work in comfort.

Certainly not good posture…

To encourage a healthy posture, using an ergonomic desk or chair alone is not the solution – you do need both to create the overall right environment for good posture to be maintained. Ergoworks also carries a range of ergonomic chairs to meet your needs, and David is looking forward to getting the DUOREST DR-289SR (Junior Collection Ergonomic Chair), which will provide his back with the support it needs. 🙂

#3 A good product still requires an informed user 

When we first got the IMPACT school bag for David, we were introduced to its special backcare system, and how it would benefit his posture. Thanks to Kingsley, the salesperson who met us at the Marina Square Ergoworks Showroom, we were given a clear picture of how to “reap the benefits” of this great product. For example, he taught us how to adjust the shoulder straps to the optimum length for David – with the top of the bag aligned to his shoulders and the the base of the back resting on his hips. From that session, we were impressed by the friendliness and knowledgeability of the staff, as he was able to recommend products to us that would uniquely fit our small-sized boy.

Such customer service is rare these days, and is very much a draw in our heading back to Ergoworks for a solution to David’s workspace. Even though there is the option to purchase ergonomic products online, I would highly recommend that you always make a trip down to the store to check the products out for yourself. Only then would the staff be able to recommend the best fit for your physique, and give you a detailed explanation of your product’s functions and features.

Lastly, any ergonomic product should be certified by medical professionals or health experts. As the user, you should find out if the product has valid certification. Ergoworks is certainly not the only reputable brand in the market with such certification, but it’s worth mentioning that they are endorsed and recommended by The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) and Singapore Physiotherapy Association. Their extensive range of products have won numerous accolades and achieved international ergonomic standards.

*

As you have probably guessed by now, our research led us back to Ergoworks, since it’s a brand we trust and have personally experienced for ourselves. I’m happy to share that David is looking forward to a new workspace in September, thanks to Ergoworks –  just in time for his seventh birthday! 🙂

Psst!! Do check out the ongoing Ergoworks SG52 Promotion – the ERGOSTARS ES-8501 Desk & Chair Set going for a special price of $699 (usual price $1998)!!

*

This is part 1 of 3 in our sponsored review for Ergoworks. No monetary compensation was received, and all photos used and opinions expressed are ours.

 

One thought on “Three things you need to know when shopping for an ergonomic workspace

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *