Dr. Lauren Gant, PhD, CPE, WELL AP
Education: University of Iowa
Dr. Lauren Gant heads the Ergonomics Group at HNI. Lauren’s background in biomedical engineering allows her to apply human factors and ergonomics principles to office furniture design. Lauren has taught university engineering and ergonomics courses and has conducted extensive ergonomics research. She is a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and is an Associate Ergonomics Professional, granted by the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics.
Q. How has movement in the workplace improved ergonomics?
A. Moving around makes people healthier and happier in their environment. For many office workers, there are few physical demands on them, and the majority of work can be done from the comfort of an office chair. This prolonged sitting isn’t good for the body, so mixing in lounge seating and standing height work surfaces is a healthier approach. We like to say that the next posture is the best posture.
Q. Do you have tips for companies exploring a workplace wellness strategy?
A. The first step is always to make sure you’re adhering to safety compliance regulations. From there, you want to evaluate the culture from the ground up to discover opportunities for enhancing wellness. This could be as simple as removing the barriers to exercise, by allowing employees to work out on site or creating flexible schedules that allow people to work out when it’s most convenient. From a mental health standpoint, companies should have initiatives in place to support mental health. This means everything from being able to make a phone call in private to seeking professional therapy.
Q. What office furniture advancements have positively affected workplace well-being?
A. Height-adjustable work surfaces are a great step, but they aren’t a solution that works for everyone. The wide variety of personal wellness goals can only be satisfied by a variety of products. I think creating a work environment in which people can roam around and find their own comfortable spot is critical. Lounge collections go a long way toward establishing a workplace setting that supports a users freedom of choice over where and how they work.
Q. What would you recommend each user do to improve their workplace well-being?
A. A lot of people don’t take ownership of their work environment or the products they use. Everyone should take time to learn how to adjust their chair, raise and lower their work surface, and understand proper postures that will support a healthier work style. Workers should also be their own advocates when considering wellness initiatives and work with their employers to come up with a solution.