Moving Office or Having a Refit?? How Your Management of the Ergonomics can Boost or Bomb Morale

A move or refit presents both equal opportunity for a morale boost or a morale bomb. It’s amazing walking into a place after a move and seeing a workforce openly criticising management for providing terrible chairs and equipment, only to walk into another place where the staff are singing the praises of management for what they’ve provided…..and it’s exactly the same equipment in both places!!

As Occupational Therapists providing ergo services, we see both “morale boosts” and “morale bombs” with office refits and moves. Today’s newsletter present two real cases of office refits, that demonstrate some of the factors that seem to be key to getting the ergonomics right.

Case Study One – Morale Bomb

  • Staff had no role or communication in the planning for any of the new workstation equipment, and it annoyed them. How did we know? Because we heard about it from every second staff member we did an ergo assessment with….for months!
  • Staff were given no information or education about how to set-up their chair or workstation. They landed at a desk, chair and monitors that had been placed with all the love and care that Commercial Movers bring to the job, and it was entirely on them and Dr Google to get things sorted. Not only did staff feel neglected, but plenty of them were genuinely uncomfortable at their workstations, and a number of them subsequently put in Workers Comp claims identifying their workstations as a major cause of their symptoms.
  • A couple of Safety and Health Representatives walked the floors in the day’s following the refit offering to assist people to get their chair and workstations set-up. Unfortunately, these OSH Reps found the chair adjustments hard to do, and they ended up openly criticising the chairs as “too complicated”…….effectively acting as agents of negative vibes across the office.
  • Staff who raised concerns were frequently told to stop whingeing and appreciate the new equipment. They wanted to….but they were pre-occupied with sitting on their $500 chair that felt like a budget kitchen stool, because they couldn’t get the backrest right.


Case Study Two – Morale Boost

  • Staff were presented with three different chairs to try months before the move, and asked to rate their preferences. The overall findings were communicated back to all staff, and the chair rated highest by staff was the one the organisation went with.
  • Each person landed at a desk that had instructions for setting up the chair and the workstation. Some people made paper planes with the instructions, but some (the same ones who knew how to record shows on their Smart TV) used them.
  • The organisation ran education sessions about setting up the new workstation equipment. The people who ran the education sessions understood that any equipment (old, new, expensive or cheap) could be set-up poorly OR really well….and this had a significant bearing on how comfortable it would ultimately be.