With the rise in size in the United States, our society is trying to accommodate our plus-sized citizens. This is important, as the average American is an estimated 23% larger than is considered to be normal (by branding, marketing and Western medicine). Office spaces, especially, are starting to make amends for the tolls of their promotion of sedentary lifestyles. Along with trying to promote healthy lifestyles, offices also need to understand that some of their employees are naturally larger and taller than others, and there are certain things that need to be considered when thinking of those employees.
Size and Shape of Chairs
One of the great things about trying to improve office life is improving the style of the office chair. While the traditional office chair caused backaches and bad posture, there are now a variety of office chairs that allow the worker more freedom. However, chairs with lumbar support that are molded in a specific way or chairs that bend back far to accommodate stretching do not take into account those who are over “average” size. When thinking about big and tall office chairs, remember that chairs should be able to stand over 300 pounds, should not be molded in a way that will make it hard for a larger person to sit in, and should not lean back so far that a person who weighs more will fall backwards when trying to stretch.
Height of Desk and Doors
Often, these things are not thought about in terms of a safe, open, and comfortable office environment. However, for someone who is over six feet tall or for someone who weighs more than “average”, this can provide for an extremely uncomfortable work space. Trying to squeeze through a small hall doorway or get something from a small closet can not only be physically uncomfortable, but emotionally exhausting. Equally, having to sit at a desk that is too small for an employee can not only cause knee pain, but having to contort the body in a way that it is not meant to be is going to cause the employee more harm than the non-Big and Tall employee. Ultimately, it well end up costing both the employee and the company more money to have to deal with medical expenses due to improper working conditions than it would be to have a desk fit to the employee.
Changing Worker Mindsets
Work, unfortunately, can be like school or camp. People can get made fun of for sticking out from the “normal”, and that creates a hostile environment. Ultimately, one of the biggest changes that office professional environments can make is to accommodate for those who do not fit into the body norm, thereby saying that everyone is equal and deserves the right to a comfortable, safe workplace.