Designing an ergonomic workplace

As people spend more time on their computers at the office and at home, our desk accessories and work surroundings have become more important to us for comfort and productivity.

Studies have shown that our evolving workplace can cause substantial injuries over time based on how we move and function throughout the day. As a result, there’s a greater focus on developing a more ergonomic office environment – everything from the keyboard and mouse, to the chair and desk.

Ergonomics help optimise the well-being of humans and their overall performance, while taking into account individual preferences and physical makeup. A proper ergonomic design evaluates the interaction between a person and their technology, considering the demands of each in order to lessen muscle fatigue and strain, as well as reduce the number and severity of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. In doing so, productivity goes up and there’s a stronger relationship built between us and our technology.

We believe this type of thinking should extend to our mobile devices as well. Phones and tablets are quickly replacing our desktops and the need to be confined to an office. A 2014 study by Flurry, a digital analytics firm, stated that the average American consumer spends approximately 2 hours and 57 minutes on their phone per day. Working remotely has become more common and people will continue using their smartphones for leisure social activities. With all these factors, we, as smartphone designers, need to prioritise and balance comfort, functionality and aesthetic appeal in order to create an ergonomically user-friendly system design.

Although few phones focus on ergonomics, some designs have features that allow people to hold the phone comfortably. For example, those phones have an arched back cover that fits perfectly into the palm of a user’s hand, including a curved surface with solid pressure and weight to make the phone less likely to be dropped. Even the perfect texture of a screen can prevent a phone from slipping out of your hand. This feature would also help with preventing phone damage such as cracked screens.

In addition, another ergonomic feature consumers should expect from their smartphones is the Force Touch - a revolutionary pressure control experience for the user. For example, while viewing photos, the user can quickly preview and enlarge the pictures by pressing the screen with one finger, streamlining the operations of a traditional phone. This allows the user to increase productivity and lessen muscle strain from added motions. If the user doesn’t want to keep a certain picture, they can press down with more pressure and the phone will delete the picture automatically. Other benefits of pressure-sensitive technology include the function of answering a phone call or switching to hands free mode through a long press with your finger. All of these features allow the person to use only one hand on their phone, freeing the other and streamlining operational steps on their device.

In order to increase productivity for their customers, smartphone manufacturers need to focus on ergonomic design to increase functionality and user-friendliness. Some phones have an advanced chip level security and one-key unlock technology, which improves the user recognition speed by 100 per cent, with more accurate self-learning functions. Also known as a fingerprint feature, this technology can be used to control the notification bar, double-click to erase unread notifications, and slide to preview pictures.

All of these options maximise the use of a one-hand operation on a smartphone and with all the time we spend on our devices, it’s important to continue building ergonomic features on smartphones to provide interactive comfort and usability.

In order to continue improving performance and optimising on our well-being, we, as smartphone makers, need to make this a priority.

Clement Wong, VP, Global Product Marketing at Huawei Device Co. Ltd

Image source: Shutterstock/Jeanette Dietl