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Analysis

Healthy, Productive Workplaces Through Wellness

By Miriam Bello | Wed, 12/09/2020 - 18:18

Modern office environments increasingly prioritize wellness through comfortable workspaces and policies that address employees’ needs to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing discomfort. In Mexico, NOM-036 regulates occupational safety to prevent ergonomic risks in workspaces regardless of the job type, as proper ergonomic adjustments and tools can minimize or eliminate physical stressors that lead to musculoskeletal disorders caused by repetition, vibration, contact stress and force.

During a webinar organized by MBN and sponsored by Ergotron, leaders of the industry discussed the role of ergonomics in workspaces and how a focus on wellness can increase productivity and protect employees’ health.

“The importance of having healthy work spaces goes beyond COVID-19. To generate these spaces, prevention is key,” said Patrick Devlyn, President of the Health Commission at CCE, during his intervention. Devlyn stressed the importance of the preventive healthcare approach, from diet and exercise to even COVID-19 contagion prevention. He exposed six main components of work safety: safety first (in relation to the pandemic), protection within a building, regulation compliance, hazard identification collaborators’ health and insurance. According to Devlyn, ethical values for businessmen and business women is key to make sure that the environment where workers spend most of their time allows them to function in a healthy and safe way. “We have to make sure we provide the right resources for our collaborators. These go beyond material things and focus more on training and sharing information to create new and healthier practices that can be taken to their home environment.” Devlyn also highlight that this is a practice that has to stay even when the pandemic is gone, as there are predictions that indicate that pandemics and epidemics will be more frequent. Having established healthy environments is the way to prevent negative outcomes for collaborators and companies. “Companies that care integrally for the physical and mental health of their collaborators will succeed. Healthy collaborators equal healthy and productive work spaces.”

“Within each company, the most valuable tool are collaborators,” said Enrique Méndez, Territory Account Manager Mexico at Ergotron. During his intervention, Méndez introduced Ergotron’s patented ergonomic solutions for offices, education centers, health facilities and industry. Ergotron can customize its products to comply with clients’ ergonomic needs. “Through innovation and understanding, we have developed 200 patented solutions,” said Méndez. Some or its flagship products include medical charts with an integrated EMR, mobile desks and convertible desks. Méndez explained how physiology, organizational ergonomics and physical ergonomics play a key role in creating products that respond to each environment where a person will develop their activities.

According to Méndez, the most frequent activities during a daily routine include driving to work, sitting in an office, driving back home and resting at home. Sitting takes up to 13 hours of our day, which leaves most people with three to two hours to move. “Sedentarism drives people to drop their heart rate during the day, which decreases calorie burn and therefore increases the risk of overweight and obesity.”

How can companies design work spaces that increase health and productivity for their collaborators? “Ergotron has developed desks and chains that allow more physical activity by fomenting movement and allowing people to work while standing up,” Méndez explained. He also exposed that these desks were studied by the University of Washington during a study carried at a call center. Results indicated that productivity increased through the use of ergonomic solutions. Moreover, humor was positively impacted and feet were less swollen from having some activity during regular working hours. According to Méndez, having a good body posture heavily affects people’s productivity.

The negative outcomes derived from incorrect ergonomic spaces have been recognized on NOM-036. Paúl Ortíz, Director General of the Ministry of Labor and Promotion of Employment, explained how this recent norm seeks to prevent as much health ailments on collaborators as possible by making sure companies are providing the right working spaces. “The NOM is watching over the quality of life of collaborators by creating spaces that adapt to them, instead of the other way around,” said Ortiz during the webinar. He explained that the NOM was created to benefit both parties: the employee, as they will face fewer health risks due to their work environment, and the employer, as productivity is expected to increase with ergonomic spaces. By law and international agreements, ergonomic spaces are compulsory to make sure the employer is protecting their collaborators.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst