Utilising a team of fully-trained and experienced physiotherapists, ErgoLogic provides logical, cost-effective ergonomic solutions for the workplace, ensuring every team member is equipped with an ergonomic set-up that suits the demands of their work.
Melbourne-based physiotherapist and Director of ErgoLogic, Robert De Nardis, has over 30 years’ experience assessing and treating musculoskeletal injury within his role as Director of Sandringham Sports Physio. Combining a detailed knowledge of the human body, injury, and sound ergonomic practice, ErgoLogic was born out of a passion to educate workers and prevent workplace injury. Mr De Nardis talks to us about how poor ergonomics are affecting business profitability, the solutions and products ErgoLogic provides to reduce these issues, and how the future of the workplace is changing due to the rise of working from home.
A staff of physiotherapists
“We’re a Melbourne-based company,” Mr De Nardis begins. “We’ve been around for just over five years, so we’re still learning and growing as we go. I’m a physiotherapist, and all our staff are physiotherapists, which is a real point of difference for us.”
The company specialises in providing logical, cost-effective ergonomic advice and solutions for the workplace, whether that be at home or in the office. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, lost productivity and underperformance in the workplace should be a huge concern for businesses.
“In Australia, nearly 600,000 workers suffer from work-related injuries per annum, and 60% of those require time off work. The average compensation claim exceeds $10,000 and requires around 6 weeks off work. It’s not uncommon for a workplace injury to exceed six figures in compensation. The estimated annual cost of work-related injuries, according to the Bureau, exceeds $60bn per annum.”
The physiotherapists that make up the ErgoLogic team continue to actively treat patients in private practice, giving the company a first-hand look at the number and extent of these issues happening around the country.
“We can confirm that since March 2020, when Covid-19 changed the way so many of us work, we’ve been seeing large numbers of workers who are now reporting neck, back, shoulder and arm problems related to poor ergonomic setups at home, or even as they return to the office, because their offices have now changed.”
With office equipment such as chairs, desks and computer monitors removed to facilitate home working, for many now returning to the office, the movement of these items back to the workplace has been less than seamless. This has created extra strain on workers’ bodies.
“For the most part,” Mr De Nardis says, “their symptoms improve or resolve when we correct their ergonomic adjustments, and give them strategies to help reduce the strain that’s been put on their bodies.”
Educational and empowering presentations
ErgoLogic’s most popular product is its interactive seminar, which can be run onsite for up to 50 staff. With the change in conditions due to the pandemic, adjustments have been made so that the seminar can now be run remotely for any number of staff.
“As we run it over Zoom, or whatever medium works for you, we can deliver this now internationally, and we’ve had over 1,000 people on the end of our Zoom. I run the seminars and I love running them – they’re fun to deliver. We aim to educate and empower our teams towards a cultural change in the workplace.”
For example, the seminar educates workers on the ‘High Five’ key points that every workstation should have, as well as providing a list of the features that every good chair should have, which many people are unaware of.
“When we run these onsite, we actually go back to each worker’s workstation and ask them to make the adjustments based on the education we’ve just given. They [usually] only know that there’s one lever that makes the chair go up and down – whereas a great chair actually has 4 or 5 adjustments to give you the ideal posturing.”
Other important topics that are addressed are monitor heights and the effective use of two screens. One key point of focus is the proper way to use sit/stand desks, which Mr De Nardis explains using a simple formula.
“10% of the population get sore backs if they use a sit/stand desk. You [should] sit for 20 minutes, stand for 8, and walk for 2 in any 30 minute period. If you can get that ratio right by the end of the day or the end of the week, I guarantee you your back will appreciate it.”
ErgoLogic encourages owners and managers to attend these workshops, to whom they provide more vital equations to get the message across that if you can change your posture, you will change your energy, and as a result improve productivity.
“As part of this cultural change, we provide everyone with a list of exercises that they can do in their offices, whether it be at home or in the workplace, that will help change their posture, which achieves the mutual goals of improving work morale, improving productivity and reducing the risk of injury in the workplace.”
In addition to its popular seminar delivery, the company offers numerous other ergonomic services. A key selling point is ErgoLogic’s ability to tailor packages to suit any business and any budget.
“We have remote and onsite workstation assessments. We do this for injured workers, to help them get out of pain, and we do this for non-injured workers. Many people get us in just to assess their workplaces – people who’ve got no problems, but they care enough about their staff to want to prevent future issues.”
The company also offers assessments of homes and cars, to cater for those with mobile offices. ErgoLogic’s expertise comes in understanding that not every car, home or body is the same, making tailored assessments from professional physiotherapists essential.
“We have some of the best chairs on the market. Our top end chair is the Humanscale Smart Ocean chair, which retails for around $1000. No-one should have to spend more than this on a top quality chair. This chair is made from recycled fishing nets, by a company that is cleaning out our oceans. I didn’t realise the amount of fishing nets that were being dumped in the ocean and causing havoc with our wildlife.”
The company sells other chairs in a more affordable price range, with the lowest being around $350-$550. With bulk orders, the company is able provide these chairs at a price lower than $300 per unit.
“Our sit/stand desks are also very popular. They’re lightweight, easy to adjust, and are both ergonomically and aesthetically spot on. We have pretty much every office accessory, from footrests to keypads to an upright mouse. If we don’t have it, we’ve got the resources and the staff to source for you the best value-for-money products we can find.”
Is sitting the new smoking?
A few years back the media jumped on this line trying to suggest that sitting was as dangerous as smoking.
“It is actually true, believe it or not, that prolonged or excessive sitting can lead to health issues that are similar to those that are experienced by smokers. But I believe a far better and more accurate phrase is: a sedentary lifestyle can lead to health risks similar to smoking.”
The health of the joints and muscles in our bodies is dependent on oxygenated blood, which is produced by movement. If the body is stagnate for too long, blood flow to these structures and vital organs is reduced, which can lead to all sorts of health issues.
“[These issues include] wear and tear, especially to our spines, cardiovascular issues, decreased lung function, with potential for diabetes and cholesterol issues. So yes, health risks are linked to a sedentary lifestyle. And as we know, sitting is sedentary. We recommend to avoid sitting for more than 8-10 hours a day.”
This means it would be prudent for workers not to use up their day’s sitting quota during the work day. Mr De Nardis also suggests not sitting for more than 30-60 minutes without taking a postural mini-break.
“In our seminar, we outline the Quit the Sit campaign. We give you sensible options that you can employ in the home or in the office, such as standing up for all phone calls. Put your phone out of your inner reach, so that every time it rings you’ve got to stand up, take a couple of steps, and stand up while you’re talking on the phone.”
Other suggested techniques include setting an alarm on your phone for hourly micro-breaks, with additional exercise options; there is the walk-and-talk option, with suggested lunchtime exercises. These are all aimed at reducing the impact of sitting, and have become all the more important in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Like everybody else, we had to adapt [to the pandemic] quickly,” Mr De Nardis explains, “and it’s guided us down more of a preventative and a remote pathway, which really fits in with our model as physiotherapists. We’ve modified our products to be flexible, so we can deliver them and reach out to larger audiences.”
The massive push from organisations for employees to work from home has made this modification necessary. So many team members around the country were ill-equipped to deal with full-time home working, many people were caught out by the sudden shift.
“Many people got sent home with a laptop. A laptop is for temporary use only, and it’s very difficult to set a laptop up properly. We’ve had to help a lot of people working from home on some simple guidance with things like laptops.”
Now that it’s clear home working will become the new normal, workers will be required to adapt to hybrid working conditions. As staff are being divided into teams and office work is being more carefully managed, offices are taking new forms to accommodate this change.
“I think hot desks will be far more of a focus. That means different staff will have access to [a desk], and be required to share a desk on the same day or different days. This just heightens the fact that we need to educate the workforce on how to set up their own workstations. It’s an individual thing, and that’s what people need to understand.”
This highly personal factor means that workers must set up their desk to their own specific requirements, applying this each time they come into the office, and readjusting again each time they go home, where conditions will be different once more.
“I’d imagine also that offices will have less desk space available to team members, requiring them to share space when team members do arrive in the office. When they are asked to come into the office, it’ll be for more collaborative, face-to-face assignment work. As a result, the spaces will be more conducive to collaborative working areas, and this is what’s going to feature in offices in the future.”
One important thing to remember is that under Australian law, employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that a worker’s environment is appropriately set up, no matter what environment they are asked to work in.
“Whether it be in the office or at home, “Mr De Nardis concludes, “employers must take steps to reduce work, health and safety risks, with the available and suitable ergonomic – or should I say ErgoLogic – solutions.”
With a commitment to educating businesses and their workers on how to prevent injury and revenue loss due to poor ergonomic conditions, ErgoLogic is well-placed to help people adapt to changes in working conditions created by the pandemic. Find out more about ErgoLogic by visiting www.ergologic.com.au.