Fact Sheet: Ergonomics in Open Workplaces
What do our members say about ergonomics in open workplaces?
- 39% of respondents to the September 2018 PIPSC Survey on Open Workspaces reported that ergonomic personalization of space was worse in the open office environment. 
- 28% of respondents to PIPSC Survey on Open Workspaces reported that their ergonomic needs have not been met in a new office set up. 
- 13% of respondents said that Ergonomic personalization of workspace would be a good solution. 
What does the research say about ergonomics in open workplaces?
- People in noisy environments made fewer ergonomic adjustments than they would in private, resulting in increased physical strain. 
- “Care needs to be exercised to ensure that working away from a desk does not compromise safe working. Ergonomic as well as health and safety considerations make permanent or extensive use of laptop computers or similar technologies in such conditions undesirable.” 
What does your employer say about ergonomics?
- The GC Workplace Design Guide section on ergonomics that in an unassigned workplace “all furnishings should accommodate a range of ergonomic needs, thereby reducing the need for common ergonomic adjustments of the past;”This contradicts the ergonomic practice of developing work stations that accommodate the needs of a specific worker. It is not clear that all accommodation needs can be met through standard furnishings.
- The GC Workplace Design Guide states that “assigning employees to workstations for ergonomic requirements should be avoided where possible, as it limits the functionality of the workplace for those individuals. Instead, ergonomic needs should be captured during the need analysis phase and integrated into the design solution holistically.” Ergonomic needs should be captured during the needs analysis, but the ability of an entire work space to meet the specific ergonomic needs of each employee has not been demonstrated and justifies the need for worker specific work stations.
- Design Specifications
- The GC Workplace approach to Ergonomics is worrisome. While workers may benefit from more ergonomic furniture, the assumption that ergonomic needs will be met without individual assessments and workstations is of concern.
- Ergonomic considerations should be addressed in the initial assessment phases of any move to GC Workplace.
Sample Questions for Consultation Teams and Stewards:
- Will ergonomic needs assessment be included in the design phase of GC Workplace?
- For workers with special ergonomic requirements that are not accommodated by standard furniture in a GC Workplace design, what consideration must be given to assigning them specific work stations?
- What process will be in place to assess ergonomic needs of new employees entering a GC Workplace area?
- Our workplace has already transitioned to Workplace 2.0, when will an ergonomic needs survey take place to ensure all needs are met?
 PIPSC, Workplace 2.0 Survey Analysis: Question 8 (2018) [unpublished, archived at PIPSC Research Section].
 PISPC, Workplace 2.o Survey Analysis: Question 10, (2018) [unpublished, archived at PIPSC Research Section].
 PIPSC, Workplace 2.0 Survey Analysis: Question 11, (2018) [unpublished, archived at PIPSC Research Section].
 Evans GW & Johnson D., “Stress and open-office noise” Journal of Applied Psychology, (2000) 85(5) Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(5):779-83.
 Matthew David et al., “The Physical Environment of the Office: Contemporary and Emerging Issues” (2011) 26 International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 204.
 Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), GC Workplace Design Guide, (Ottawa: 2018) at 25.
 PSPC, GC Workplace Design Guide, (Ottawa: 2018) at 25.