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The Importance of Full Range Movement

A quick glance over the course of human history evidences one great fact about the human body: it was built to move. In the early days of our evolution, the survival of our species was dependent upon our ability to move, we hunted and gathered food on foot, escaped predators and migrated with the seasons. In fact, neurologist and scientist John Medina cites research suggesting that our typical early ancestor walked an average of twelve miles a day.

Today, most of us spend those twelve hours sitting.

And while the lack of movement no longer puts us at risk of being eaten by predators, it does present an equally imminent risk to our health in the form of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety; all of which lead to a premature death. 

So, the question becomes, “how do we intentionally include more movement during our working day?”

Understanding the Problem

Before we can effectively answer this question, however, we must spend some time analyzing the problem. We know that sitting all day is hard on our bodies. Forcing our physical selves into an unnatural position for an extended period of time can result in sore muscles, joints and limbs.

In fact, sitting extensively actually changes the way that our body processes energy, slowing our metabolism and causing us to gain unhealthy weight. Recent research also suggests that sitting extensively causes healthy cholesterol levels to plummet. Bloomberg Businessweek explains:

“If you’re standing around and puttering, you recruit specialized muscles designed for postural support that never tire. They’re unique in that the nervous system recruits them for low-intensity activity and they’re very rich in enzymes. One enzyme, lipoprotein lipase, grabs fat and cholesterol from the blood, burning the fat into energy while shifting the cholesterol from LDL (the bad kind) to HDL (the healthy kind).”

However, Bloomberg goes on to state that this entire process is halted when you remain seated as opposed to standing:

“When you sit the muscles are relaxed, and enzyme activity drops by 90% to 95%, leaving fat to camp out in the bloodstream. Within a couple hours sitting, healthy cholesterol plummets by 20%.”

Finding Solutions

If the crux of the problem many US workers face is that we sit too much and do not stand enough, the solution is clear: we must find a way to incorporate more stand-sit movement throughout the work period.

Of course, while movement is crucial, we still want to honor good ergonomic principles of efficiency and task orientation. What we seek, is a way to incorporate movement without interrupting work.

At VersaTables, we recognize the value in providing office furniture that fosters movement. Shifting positions in a purposeful and productive way is an important part of ergonomic living and working. For this reason, many of our products, such as adjustable computer carts and monitor mounts promote sit-stand workflow. Our office chairs and stools also promote natural movements between sitting and standing. Using such products is one way to incorporate more movement into your work routine.

A second solution can be presented by managerial staff in the workplace. By strategically placing shared equipment, such as printers, copy machines and fax machines in common areas you encourage workers to move between these products as they accomplish their various office tasks. By creating a workspace layout that is designed to co-foster full range movement along with efficiency and productivity, you can help your employees avoid muscle fatigue and strain. As an added bonus, placing common equipment in this manner also encourages more interaction among staff members, leading to further collaborative development and team-building.

If your workspace does not allow for effective full range movement, and you do not have to walk from location to location throughout the day to use equipment or attend meetings, it is still important that you incorporate restorative rest periods into your work routine. You should stand up at least once an hour and walk around for five minutes. During this time you can also implement some strategic stretches, designed to relieve your muscle tension and promote healthy circulation throughout your body.

Investing In Solutions

In working to change the way that we, as a culture and a people, work, the first step is in creating a stronger awareness about sitting and standing in the workplace. Even if every employee in your space, or every student and patient in your care, is provided with ergonomic furniture, research suggests that they will not effectively use it or change their work habits unless they are trained in how to use ergonomic products and reminded regularly to use them. Simply providing a worker with adjustment features on furniture that facilitate a sit stand workflow is not enough, they must actually be educated about the importance of this work style and reminded to incorporate more movement into their routine.  VersaTables Workspace Planner Tool, and numerous other resources, can be used to facilitate proper sit-stand setup and training.

Organizations who first invest in such products, and then invest in training their employees about the proper ways to use these products experience large dividends in return. Research suggests that employees who are trained and reminded about sit-stand procedures will soon incorporate standing as a regular part of their work day.

Such movement not only serves the individual bodies of employees, but serves the collective body of their organization. When incorporating more full range movement into a work setting, corporations can expect to see an increase in employee productivity and satisfaction and a decrease in work-related injuries.

The Human-Machine Interface

The field of ergonomics and human factors is diverse and multidisciplinary. One area of focus that deserves particular attention before implementing any kind of ergonomics program in your institution or home is to gain an understanding of the Human-Machine Interface.

Information Flow in the Human-Machine Interface

The human-machine interface refers to the interaction, often called the dialogue, between a worker and the products that they work with. This interaction flows in two different directions:

  • Machine –> Human
  • Human –> Machine

When information and interactions flow effectively in either of these manners, a higher sense of efficiency and productivity can be achieved. These interactions can include stimuli and information that is communicated by touch, sight, sound, heat transference or any other physical or cognitive function.

How to Identify The Human-Machine Interface

It is important to identify all the different ways that you interface with products while working in order to better facilitate your comfort and efficiency, as well as processes like Task Analysis and Rule of Three.

To identify the areas that you commonly connect with a machine during your workflow, simply perform your typical tasks while paying heightened attention to each time you naturally interact with a piece of office furniture or equipment.

For example, a typical computer work station will have four human-machine interfaces:

  • The Keyboard –> The Hand
  • The Mouse –> The Hand
  • The Monitor –> The Eyes
  • The Speakers –> The Ears

Designing an Ergonomic Human-Machine Interface

While the analysis and design of an ergonomic human-machine interface can quickly become quite complex, a general understanding of this principle can serve workers and users at home, in the education sector, the medical field and the private business sector quite well.

An ergonomic human-machine interface design essentially has two goals: finding ways to make the machine interactions and workplace more 1) comfortable, and 2) efficient.


A primary area of concern for effective human-machine interfacing is comfort. The more comfortable a human-machine interaction is, the more it will be utilized and made productive. Additionally, increased comfort measures relieve stress and minimize the likelihood of suffering a work-related injury.


In addition to being comfortable, the human-machine interface must also be efficient. Efficiency involves reducing the amount of strength needed to operate or interact with any given machine, reducing the number of steps in a task, reducing the number of moving parts in a machine and making a machine more user-friendly.

One of the key variables that impact the human-machine interfacings present in most computing workstations is simply the layout and organization of a workspace. VersaTables Workspace Planner Tool can help users identify their individual comfort and efficiency needs when interfacing with a typical computing station.

Adjustability and Interfacing

One of the greatest strategies that enable effective human-machine interfacing between a user and any kind of computing work is to utilize adjustable products. Because, according to experts, one of the basic principles of human-interface design is to make sure that the smallest person in a working area can reach and see the working area without being forced into an undesirable posture, while the largest person can fit into the working space with adequate clearance, adjustable office and computing furniture is a wise choice for organizations. Consider the following examples:

  • The use of adjustable task chairs, such as VersaTables’ Resolve Basic Task Chair, in business, educational or medical settings ensures that users can easily achieve their optimal human-machine interfacing by simply adjusting the height of the chair.
  • The use of a computer cart, particularly in medical settings, provides for adjustable keyboard and monitor height for all users. VersaTable’s Deluxe Fusion Computer Cart is extremely popular for this purpose.
  • Sit to Stand computing stations also allow for the greatest range in user adjustability, allowing each individual to tailor their own working routine with their machine interfacing. VersaTables offers superior sit and stand computer furniture in which each desk component adjusts to provide maximum comfort and ergonomic support for multiple users.

Additional adjustable products can be found by visiting our online catalogue.

The Ergonomics of Poly-Foam Seats

While it is true that ergonomic attention must be given to how we interact with our work desk and computing station, perhaps no part of our ergonomic office focus is as important as our office chair. After all, for many of us this is the one of the main furniture products our body will connect with on a nearly consistent basis. Understanding how to effectively select a chair that best suits your work needs and supports your body ensures that you are able to work as comfortably, safely and efficiently as possible.

High quality office chairs should be topographically neutral, meaning that they can conform equally well to all body shapes, sizes and contours without negatively impacting spinal support or body circulation. While some organizations might allow individuals to choose their own work chair, far more simply select and order one chair type en masse. When doing so, only chairs neutral in nature are effective for universal ergonomic adoption.

What then are the features of a neutral, universally useful chair? One main component allows these chairs to successfully evenly distribute the weight and pressure of each individual who might sit on the chair:  poly-foam.

What is Polyurethane Foam

The Polyurethane Foam Association describes poly-foam as:

  • “one of the most versatile manufacturing materials today, with proven reliability and flexibility.”
  • “The most common cushioning material used in upholstered furniture.”
  • “A simple product that is actually very complex.”

We are surrounded by polyurethane foam. It is used in our carpet, in our vehicle seating, in our bedding, in our packaging and in our home and office furniture. Regardless of its overall purpose, the ability of this material to promote product support, comfort and durability make it one of the best manufacturing materials today—and is chief among the reasons that VersaTables uses high-quality poly-foam in the creation of our office chairs and stools.   Combining this product with our expert knowledge of how individuals sit and distribute their weight across a surface, enables us to create ergonomic, sustainable and practical office chairs certain to provide every worker with the best support and comfort.

How We Sit

While the human body sits in generally the same manner, and while most individuals distribute weight across their chairs in similar patterns, pressure intensity across various areas of the body vary from individual to individual.

Accounting for these individual pressure distributions is the goal of any organization that creates true ergonomic furniture. Even small interferences in pressure distribution can have large health and comfort impacts. Understanding why such small variances are important can be illustrated by the following example from the SpielMD organization:

“Although unnoticeable at first, sitting with a wallet in your back pocket will raise your pelvis, offset the balance of your spine, add unnecessary tension and friction within your intervertebral discs and cause pain over time. Also, it is not uncommon for the sciative nerve to run through the piriformis muscle that would normally rest on the wallet. Prolonged exposure to the wallet’s pressure can strangle the sciatic nerve and result in Piriformis syndrome, otherwise known as ‘wallet sciatica’ which will send shooting pain from the lower back down the leg that’s been subjected to the wallet’s pressure.”

Sitting on your wallet is a terrible idea because it interrupts the even distribution of pressure across your body.

We know that for truly comfortable sitting, an office chair must support the pressure distributions of a wide range of users when they sit in an upright posture, as well as when they relax in a reclining posture.

The Ergonomics of Poly-Foam

To this end, VersaTables utilizes a deluxe cushioned poly-foam material in the seating and backing of each of our office chairs. The density of the foam used in our products provides for better spinal support, particularly across the lumbar region of the back.

And because durability and resilience are important considerations when choosing office furniture, our products all meet or exceed industry standards concerning the use of poly-foam. And they do so over the course of their entire product lifespan. When considering the use of poly-foam within the average lifespan of a product, The Molded Polyurethane Foam Industry Panel finds that:

“the long term performance of flexible polyurethane foam has been proven via accelerated laboratory testing and long term use observations. The properties of a quality flexible polyurethane cushioning foam remain essentially unchanged during its lifetime.”

When investing in a quality office chair, you can plan to us to for years to come, without fearing a breakdown in support.

Poly-foam is also a material that regulates temperature, ensuring that your office chair will not trap and retain your body heat, which would make sitting warm and uncomfortable. It is also a material that is moisture and mildew resistant, guarding you from developing allergies and reactions to molds and fungi that can occur in lesser products as a result of moisture build up.

Because poly-foam promotes comfort, support and health it is truly an ergonomic product. And it is one we are proud to use in the design and creation of our Resolve Basic task chair, Innovation Task Chair, Harmony Task Chair, Mobile Medical Task Stool, Stature Drafting Stool and Deluxe Mesh-Back Drafting stool.

Poly-Foam and the Environment

Additionally, an added benefit of utilizing poly-foam in our products is that this material promotes environmental awareness and is proactive on sustainable manufacturing practices.

As a green-conscious company, VersaTables places the utmost importance on the protection of our planet. Other manufacturers might use non-renewable materials in their product creation and design, but we are dedicated to promoting sustainability and green business.  The type of poly-foam we use in the creation of our high quality office chairs is recyclable. We have high expectations of ourselves and our business partners when it comes to creating products that promote environmental sustainability.

Ever since the 1980’s, polyurethane foam developers have worked closely and responsibly with regulatory agencies and environmental groups to promote public and planet health and safety.

The eight principles of sustainability adopted and honored by the Polyurethane Foam Association closely mirror our own corporation’s dedication to acting as responsible stewardships of the environment:

  1. Reduce solid waste
  2. Host technical sessions to share scientific research about environmentally friendly materials and renewable feedstocks.
  3. Support energy saving technologies.
  4. Support efforts to improve product safety.
  5. Encourage sustainability through product performance.
  6. Educate to support sustainability.
  7. Evaluate environmental and sustainability benefits in relation to human rights issues.
  8. Maintain continuous dialogue with leaders in sustainability.

It is our position that using such eco-aware materials and manufacturing practices serves our organization well in terms of profit and professional responsibility. Adopting office products into your organization that honor these principles will also greatly benefit your company.

Synergy and Ergonomics

In adopting a more ergonomically focused approach in your organization, one of your goals is to increase the synergy experienced in your workplace between your employees, management and office products, machines and equipment.

Understanding the concept of synergy and how it relates to the field of ergonomics can help you to consider ways to foster this important element in your institution.

Defining Synergy

At its Greek root, the word synergy finds its origin in the term “synergia,” meaning joint work and cooperative action.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “synergy” as:

“a mutually advantages conjunction or compatibility of distinct business participants or elements (as resources or efforts).”

In a more complete discussion and description, we can consider “synergy” to refer to the result that is achieved through the sum of all parts. Synergy is truly created with individual elements work in concert together to create an outcome that is more valuable that the total of what the individual input is.

To help understand this concept, consider an example from physics: Two horses can pull about 9,000 pounds. How many pounds can four horses pull? The mathematical answer is 18,000 pounds. However, four horses are actually capable of pulling over 30,000 pounds—this is how synergy makes a difference in productivity and output.

Another example, more relevant to the business world, comes from the legendary former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welsh. Welsh sought to create an actively integrated culture of diversity in his organization. To accomplish this he not only hired and promoted extremely diverse groups of people, but shared project ideas across distinct departments and business labels within his company. He described the synergistic outcome of this approach:

“Integrated diversity means the drawing together of our thirteen different businesses by sharing ideas, by finding multiple applications for technological advancements, and by moving people across businesses to provide fresh perspective and to develop broad-based experience. Integrated diversity gives us a company that is considerably greater than the sum of its parts.”

Achieving Synergy with Ergonomics

Ergonomically enhanced products and procedures allow for increased efficiency, productivity and creativity among employees. When physical and mental energies are not devoted to combating muscle fatigue and stress, those energies can be devoted to innovation and design instead.

Organizations that actively focus on implementing an ergonomic culture into their workplace report great productivity gains.

Saving Time With Ergonomics

Of the many benefits you can find from beginning to live a more ergonomic lifestyle and implementing more ergonomic practices into your work routine, one of the greatest advantages will come in the amount of time you save.

Nearly everyone agrees that we never seem to have enough time to complete all the things we must do, and would like to do, in one day. Whether it is at work, at home or at school it is not unusual to feel pressed for time.

So why not take measures to make your time go just a bit further? Some simple solutions, based on ergonomic principles, can help.

Understand and Slim Down the Task

Our work process is laden with cumbersome tasks that are convoluted and unnecessarily complicated. Yet, one of the prime principles of ergonomics is to work faster and more efficiently. In order to do so, you must identify elements of your workflow that are repetitious or unneeded. To accomplish this, you can use an effective task analysis procedure. This helps you to identify the variables and steps involved in any given task so you can best determine how to most effectively and quickly perform the task.

After completing your task analysis, step back and consider each step with the following five principles in mind:

  • Repetition – identify any steps that are repeated and consider if the repetition is necessary.
  • Order—consider if reordering the task steps could somehow further optimize the effort.
  • Synergy—are there any steps or elements that can be combined in order to accomplish more at once?
  • Value Added—when examining every step of a task, make sure it adds value to the outcome of the task. If it does not, eliminate it.
  • Necessity—when considering tasks that require a certain number of actions, make sure the quantity of the step is really necessary. Can it be reduced?

Simplify the Task

Eliminating extra steps is not the only way to simplify a task. You can also save time by simply making a task easier to perform. Consider this when training new employees. The simpler the task at hand, the more quickly and efficiently you, or any other worker, will be able to perform it.

Use Ergonomic Products and Tools

One of the reasons that Cascades 2-in-1 Action Packs struck it big in the dishwashing industry is simply because they provide the perfect example of ergonomic tools at work. These dishwashing packs eliminated the need to fill an automatic dishwasher with soap in two separate areas, thereby cutting the time required to load soap into a dishwasher by nearly 80%.

Good products can make all the difference when it comes to enhancing your workflow and saving time. They accomplish this for three primary reasons. First, good tools can help trim back unneeded steps in a task, and secondly they can help simplify the task. Both of these concepts are discussed above, but there is also a third way that the proper ergonomic products and tools can help you to save time in your work.

Good ergonomic tools and products increase your body mechanics. This means that these products act as an extension of your body, enhancing your ability to do your work.  For example, using a high quality office chair enables you to sit with more support, helping you to do your work more quickly.

Productivity Gained Via Office Ergonomics

Great amounts of research discuss the cost savings that organizations can experience from implementing a stronger ergonomics approach into their company culture. However, equally important and deserving of recognition are the productivity gains that companies stand to garner from enhancing their ergonomic focus.

Ergonomics = Efficiency + Comfort = Increased Productivity

Because the goal of any ergonomic invention or procedure is to increase efficiency and comfort, ergonomic products and policies must be viewed in light of their effect on productivity. The best ergonomic solutions will improve productivity. For example, a keyboard tray that enables a user’s keyboard to sit at an optimal positioning level is more efficient and comfortable to type on. With less worry for wrist fatigue and injury, a user can type more quickly and accurately in this position. A higher rate of accurate keystrokes means an increase in productivity.

Simply put, an ergonomic task analysis that reduces or eliminates unnecessary and awkward postures and exertions almost always reduces the time it takes to complete a task, which always improves worker productivity.

The biomechanics of body movement, visibility, workload and other relevant ergonomic elements also impact the quality of work that any individual performs in any industry. When a task is accurately designed and matched with its human component, workers will make fewer errors, suffer fewer injuries and produce less waste. Each of these benefits impact corporation and employee productivity as well.

Consider These Examples

The following table examines real-world case studies from various industries that suggest the productivity gains experienced by different organizations after implementing more ergonomically sound practices in their company culture:




Applied Materials (Supplier to the silicon chip industry) Properly designed and tested casters for manually moving 7,000 lb. clean room manufacturing equipment 400% increase in productivity, in terms of man hours, reduced potential for work injury claims
Applied Materials (supplier to the silicon chip industry) Researched and selected a better torque hand driver tool 50% increase in product output
Telecommunications Plant Ergonomic redesign of four workstations Increased production, reduced data entry error rates and improved job satisfaction
Fast Food Provider Redesign of Workstation A 20% increase in productivity
Steel Company Ergonomic redesign of an observation pit Saved over $150, 000 in one year through reduced waste and higher productivity
Toy Manufacturing Plant Product Design Change A savings of $0.11 per part


General research even suggests that, on average, organizations will receive $3 or more for every $1 they spend on improving their office ergonomics and workplace safety and comfort.

Understanding the Biomechanics of Movement

It goes without saying that the way our bodies moves impacts the way we perform every activity we are involved in, from work to play. At VersaTables, we have become experts in the field of biomechanics, spending countless hours understanding the motion and forces of the body. This knowledge has enabled us to better recognize the ergonomic implications of our office furniture products.


As defined by The Journal of Biomechanics, “Biomechanics is about movement.” This field applies the terminology and understanding of traditional engineering mechanics to the body systems, considering them in terms of working parts.  It can be best understood by thinking of movement in terms of two categories.

Exercise Physiology

Movement caused by a contraction of the skeletal muscle.

Motor Control

Mechanics used by the nervous system to control and coordinate movements.


Ergonomics is discussed and defined extensively throughout our electronic learning center. In simple description, ergonomics refers to the science of work and is concerned with ways to make any work we do more comfortable, safe and efficient.

Biomechanics Ergonomics

Biomechanics Ergonomics, then, is an area of study dedicated to the lessons of the human body from a mechanical viewpoint that is further based on the overall knowledge of occupational medicine, physiology, anthropometry and anthropology. The main objective of biomechanics ergonomics is to study the body in order to obtain maximum performance in work.  It is this perspective that enables tasks and activities to be designed so that people can perform them without injury.

Applying Biomechanics Ergonomics to Office Furniture

This field of ergonomics is especially used to identify areas of manual movement that are at risk of repetitive micro-trauma. Repetitive stress injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, account for more than 50% of all work related injuries that occur each year in The united States, thereby costing corporations and the US economy greatly in lost productivity, medical costs and lost workdays.

Understanding how to properly integrate office furniture design into the ways our body naturally moves enables organizations to minimize the number of repetitive stress injuries its employees are subject to.

Our office furniture is designed with your body’s biomechanics in mind. This means that you can trust our products to be ergonomically sound, enabling you to work more effectively, safely and comfortably.

The Office Chair: An Applicable Example

For example, our high quality office chairs are designed to mirror the natural movements our bodies make when sitting. The more closely a chair can mimic the body’s natural movements, the more likely a user can move safely and comfortably in the chair. No biomechanical detail is overlooked in the creation and design of each of our chairs. Consider the following:

  • A chair with a knee pivot has a seat that can be turned and pivoted from a point behind the user’s knees. Having a pivot located in this area allows a user’s feet to remain on the floor, which honors the neutral ergonomic positioning of the body.
  • A chair with an ankle tilt pivot is controlled from a point near the user’s ankle. Like a knee pivot, this enables the feet to remain on the floor in neutral positioning, but also allows for greater control over the chair’s recline.
  • A chair complete with a pivot point at the hip allows the chair’s seat to rotate at a point in line with the user’s hips. This helps the user to maintain full contact with the chair’s seat at all times, providing for proper back support.

Each of the pivot points in our office chairs reflect the body’s natural biomechanical movements, allowing for the most comfortable and safe sitting experience.

Becoming Educated About Biomechanics Ergonomics

Of course, while it is important to understand the history and purpose of this field of study, it is even more imperative to know how to apply its principles in your industry and workplace. To this end, we have worked to provide numerous resources to facilitate ergonomic training for you, your colleagues, your employees and your students.

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