Today, there are as many ways of working as there are job titles. Some of us share a desk with colleagues, and some use the local coffee shop or the kitchen table at home as headquarters. No matter where or how you work, or what time of day (or night) you do it, it helps to have a flexible workspace. With furniture that adapts to your needs and not the other way around.
It’s important to create the most comfortable working environment to suit you. Working for longer periods of time while sitting or standing in a bad or uncomfortable position can cause neck and back injuries as well as other serious health problems. Find out what you can do to create an ergonomic workspace, and learn about the different quality tests we carry out and the materials we use.
What’s an ergonomic workspace?
Ergonomics is about designing products or environments to make them safe and comfortable for people to use. An ergonomic workspace is one that is customised to your personal needs, allowing you to work in a comfortable and safe way.
We want to help you achieve an ergonomic working environment that suits you and promotes good health. This means adjusting the workspace to your needs, adopting an ergonomic position and keeping as mobile as possible. The human body is made to move, so ideally, your workspace should give you the choice of sitting, standing and leaning, allowing you to change positions often. And if you feel good at work, you will work better.
Choosing the right chair, desk, monitor or lamp can help create a comfortable working environment, but it cannot correct a bad posture. Make sure you adopt a good posture when sitting or standing for longer periods to avoid injury. Here are some tips on how to create a comfortable workspace.
You should be able to stretch your legs under the table and turn 90° to the left and right for freedom of flexibility. The hips and knees should be at an angle of approx 95-100° with your feet flat on the floor.
Choose a height-adjustable chair. When standing, the highest point of the seat should be just below your knee cap. You should aim for an even distribution of weight. Raise your chair if you feel pressure near the back of your seat, but if you feel pressure near the front of your seat, you should lower your chair. This will improve the circulation of blood and reduce the risk of swelling.
Use the seat tilt to lock a position and to improve your comfort. It will affect the distribution of weight and can provide better stability and support when you need it. A tilt of 5° is recommended.
A chair with lumbar support will relieve the small of your back from tension caused by tiredness. The tilt of the back support should allow you to sit with your upper body slightly reclined (recommended 110°).
Armrests can provide support for the upper part of your forearms, and reduce the stress on your shoulders and back. Make sure that the armrests do not prevent the chair from being drawn close to the desk, nor restrict natural movements. Also keep in mind that soft armrests will be more comfortable for your elbows.
A height-adjustable desk is ideal as it will allow you to change position often.
Alternating between sitting and standing will reduce the risk of injury and increase circulation, as well as productivity. The top of your work surface should be elbow height and your elbows should be at a 90° angle when sitting or standing at your desk.
A standing support enables a position between sitting and standing, and is ideal when you have a height adjustable desk. It has the following advantages:
Provides freedom of movement for your upper and lower body. Activates and strengthens the core muscles of your body. Gives you an open posture which improves your circulation and metabolic rate.
Make sure your monitor is not placed too close to you. With your chair pulled in and arms stretched in front of you, you should not be able to touch the screen. The monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top just below eye level. Placing the monitor too high can cause neck problems. For longer periods at your monitor, make sure your arms and wrists are supported. The keyboard and mouse should be placed around 10-15 cm from the edge of the desk, so that the wrists are supported, but not too far that your neck and shoulders lean forwards. The monitor should be tilted at 20°-30°, which is an optimal angle for the eyes as well as the neck and shoulders.
To provide ideal lighting you should consider a combination of general lighting, mood lighting and task lighting. A desk lamp is a type of task light that provides a concentrated beam of light over a limited area. This is useful when for example focusing on paperwork. General lighting provides a uniform light through the whole room. Mood lighting provides a cosy feeling and softens the contrasts between general and task lighting. Place the lamp on your left side if you are right handed to reduce shadows. Computers near a window should be roughly placed at a 90° angle to the window in order to avoid glare
We test our products for quality, safety and durability to meet international testing standards. We have very tight restrictions on chemicals, and even though certain products meet international standards they might not meet our own higher standards. In that case we will not manufacture those products. Your safety is always our top priority.
We test that our products are in line with international standards according to or set by EN and ANSI/BIFMA. In addition, IKEA has its own chemical and quality testing.
EN stands for European Norm. These standards are recognised throughout Europe and they assure strength, durability and stability.
ANSI is the American National Standards Institute, which creates and oversees norms and standards, and accredits organisations like BIFMA to formulate tests for different sectors. BIFMA, the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, creates standards for business furniture with the highest safety standards. The professional office furniture from IKEA is tested according to BIFMA’s safety and resistance requirements.
Tests are carried out in our test labs in Sweden and China in the product development phase. The test methods are the same for home and professional use, but for professional use the products are tested with heavier loads and more cycles.
Desk and office chairs
Desk chairs that are intended for home use are tested to assure they are comfortable, stable, safe and durable. The series of tests we put our office chairs through are more rigorous to meet the strict requirements on stability, strength and durability. For instance, the chairs are subjected to heavy loads up to about 300 000 times.
Desks for home use are subjected to various tests including stability, strength and durability tests. The kinds of tests that are carried out depend upon the design of the desk, and which areas of the desk that are expected to be most exposed to wear and tear. Tests carried out on desks for professional use are stricter than those for home use. Desks that meet those standards will adhere to the following standards: EN 527, ANSI/BIFMA X5, which means we test their stability, durability and safety. For example, we might test the strength of a product by subjecting it to a vertical force of 100 kg for 10 seconds × 10 times.
Quality tests are carried out on storage furniture for safety and durability. Different parts including doors, drawers, surfaces and wheels are subjected to different tests. Storage furniture that has been tested for office use meets the following standards: EN 14073 and ANSI/BIFMA × 5.9
We care about what goes into our products and always aim to use resources in the most efficient way possible. We choose our materials carefully while keeping prices low. Some materials work better for certain furniture depending on its use and design. For example Melamine is often used in table tops because it has high surface resistance against scratches and marks.
Melamine – a paper film with an impregnated print or pattern, which is applied under pressure to a board. The result is a hardwearing, heat-resistant and water-repellent surface which is easy to keep clean.
Veneer – thin layers of wood glued on to a board. All IKEA veneer is lacquered which makes it easy to clean, hard wearing and protects it from moisture and scratches.
Board on frame – A wooden board or fibre board with a honeycomb filling structure made of recycled paper. It is lightweight yet sturdy, and uses significantly less raw material.
Bamboo – stronger and more flexible than most wood. Sustainable fast growing grass that produces twice as much oxygen than tree species.
Solid wood – a renewable, natural material that is hardwearing and every piece is unique with its varying grain. IKEA sources all wood from closely inspected logging and carefully chosen forests.
GLOSE leather – a soft yet durable dyed-through grain leather, treated with a protective coating. Easy to look after. Treat with ABSORB leather care set.
Plastics - A synthetic or semi-synthetic material that can be moulded and is made from oil or natural gas but also from plants. There are two categories of plastics: thermosplastics that can be heated, moulded and melted, and thermoset plastics that cannot be remelted. The most commonly used in IKEA are thermoplastis such as polycarbonate and polypropylene.
Wood plastic composite WPC – A mixture of wood and fibre that is moulded into a form, combining the advantages of the two materials. It is strong and lighter than other plastics, making transportation costs lower and reducing environmental impact.
Paint & lacquer
Powder coating is a process where dry powder paint is applied to a surface, often metal. It is an efficient and environmentally sustainable technique, since there’s little waste of powder and no solvents are used.
Good ideas thrive where the unusual is business as usual. So surprise your body with movement now and then – even if you’re super-concentrated on something for a long time. When you shift position, your blood circulation increases. It makes it easier to relax your back, neck and shoulders. With a height-adjustable desk, it’s easy to vary your work position. It can do wonders for your creativity and focus, and even be a good substitute for that extra cup of coffee.
Sometimes we need to work on our own – sometimes we want to work together. Or just socialize. When we collaborate, we can share ideas, become inspired and create an environment where both businesses and people can flourish. To meet our changing needs, we need furniture that are as adaptable as we are. That makes it possible to create the workday we need and want.
Storage with castors is easy to get out of the way when you want to turn the workplace into something else. Perhaps shift focus from one task to another, make room for cleaning or less serious stuff? Office supplies fit perfectly in storage with castors. It makes them easy to bring to the desk, the sofa – or wherever it is you prefer to work.
Even if you have all your meetings online or out of the office, it can be a good idea to have an extra seat for colleagues or family members that want to stop by. When you’re on your own, you can use it for relaxation after a session by the screen – perhaps by doing a different type of work-task for a while. If you have little space, there are storage units approved to be used as seating as well.
Storage units developed for standing work are handy if you don’t have a need or the space for a big desk. They can be used as presentation-desks, and if you add castors to them, you can easily move them around and rearrange the room in seconds.
Lack of storage seems to be a universal issue – no matter how disciplined you are or what you do for a living. Large storage units are convenient when you’re sharing storage with someone else. They can also be used as room dividers to create individual workspaces without walls or doors.
If you go for closed storage, it will always look nice and tidy no matter what is hidden inside the cabinets. With glass doors, you get an overview of what’s in the cabinets and can protect your stuff from dust. They also give an opportunity to show visitors things you are extra proud of.
When you feel like working sitting down, choose a chair that adapts to you, not the other way around. Make sure it gives back support, is adjustable and can swivel – allowing for that all-important movement. You want to be able to sit upright and have your monitor at eye height, and your arms and elbows at a 90-degree angle with your hands just above your keyboard. If you need extra support for your lower back, choose a chair that has lumbar support.
A chair without armrests provides freedom for natural movement, but a chair with armrests will support the upper part of your forearms, thereby reducing stress on shoulders and back. Make sure the armrests don’t prevent you from drawing the chair close to the desk.
If you want a chair that can roll around and is easy to move, make sure it has safety castors. The safety castors make the chair stay in place when you get up from it.
Do yourself a favour, change position now and then instead of sitting or standing all day. A sit/stand support doesn’t have any back-support or armrests. It allows for a flexible work position at both desks and high tables. You get a more open posture – good for your circulation and core muscles, and awesome for both body and mind.
Cables. We need them, but we don’t want to see them. They’re easy to trip on, and it can be hard to know which one goes where. A cable management solution helps you to organise and hide the cables. It also makes your workstation look less cluttered and cleaning a whole lot easier. There are a several different cable management systems to choose from, see which one that suits you best.
There are a number of technological aids that can make your working life easier. With NFC (Near Field Communication) you can lock away your things with a card key instead of a regular key. There are also apps that you can use to control some desks. The apps can remind you to move around now and then, so you get a healthier workday. Or automatically set your favourite height if you share a height-adjustable desk with someone else.
Your ears should feel just as comfortable at work as your back, neck and shoulders. What someone thinks is calming background sound, can be noise to someone else. With soft-closing doors and drawers you can reduce noise pollution. You can also use fabrics, cushions and rugs to dampen sounds, soften echoes and give the office a homier feeling.
Apart from having flexible furniture, there are other things you can do to make magic happen at work. Decorate with plants that improve the air quality. Let daylight in – without causing glare. Make sure there’s access to hot drinks and cold water. But above all, challenge truths, try new things and ask for help if you need it. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable at work.