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Working at an office can be a pain in the neck — literally.

“Almost 100 percent of people who sit for six hours or more every day are going to have some kind of discomfort or injury in their back, neck or upper extremities,” said Dr. Scott Bautch, president of the American Chiropractic Association’s Council on Occupational Health.

Sedentary and uncomfortable employees, said Dr. Mark Vettraino of Task Group International, are largely the result of poor office design. Floor plans don’t encourage movement, and inadequate workstations lead to awkward sitting postures.

Put your back into it

“We know for a fact that all soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal injuries begin in discomfort,” he said.

Aches and pains are as bad for employers as they are for workers. According to the ACA, back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. Discomfort at the desk, Vettraino said, leads to fidgeting, which accounts for countless hours of wasted time.

It doesn’t have to be that way, said Charles F. Lawrence, president of Workrite Ergonomics, which designs, manufactures and distributes innovative ergonomic products for the workplace.

Put your staff into it

With the right workstations and office plans, Lawrence said, employees can enjoy a movement-rich environment that improves productivity and health. Adjustable keyboard platforms and monitor arms, sit-stand desks and other tools, he said, can adapt to a diverse staff’s wide range of tasks.

“Having offices and office equipment that can accommodate a wide variety of people at the office is what we think about when creating tools to make employees more comfortable, safer and healthier,” said Lawrence.

New, flexible workstations are a departure from the one-size-fits-all approach of decades past, Lawrence said, but more companies are starting to realize the cost-saving benefits of dynamic design.

“We’ve been promoting this for 25 years and now the corporate world is starting to embrace it,” Lawrence said.

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