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A brief history of the development of ergonomic office furniture in New Zealand

Updated: Mar 18

New Zealand has essentially followed world trends in ergonomic office design but some trends we have been quicker to adopt than others.



In this post, we try to map out some of the milestones and legislation that have shaped the development of ergonomic office furniture in New Zealand over the past 20 years.


This development has been influenced by a combination of factors including advancements in technology, changing work environments, increasing awareness of occupational health and safety, and evolving government regulations. Here's an overview of the key milestones and trends in the adoption of ergonomic furniture within New Zealand:



Early 2000s:

  • The concept of ergonomics starts gaining traction in New Zealand workplaces, primarily driven by the increasing use of computers and office technology.

  • Some forward-thinking businesses begin investing in ergonomic office chairs and adjustable desks to address issues such as back pain and repetitive strain injuries (RSI's).

  • Meanwhile in Europe (and in particular Scandinavia) they were in full-on adoption mode of ergonomic seating and standing desks. They were also responsible for much of the initial research into effectiveness.

2008:

  • The New Zealand government introduces the Health and Safety in Employment Act, which places a stronger emphasis on the importance of providing safe and healthy work environments for employees.

  • This legislation prompts many businesses to reassess their office setups and start to research possible ways to adapt their office workspaces to fully comply with the new legislation.


2010s:

  • The adoption of standing desks and other ergonomic furniture options becomes more widespread as research highlights the health benefits of alternating between sitting and standing during the workday. Much of this research originated in the US where obesity rates and the impact of sitting on obesity was gaining a considerable amount of media attention.

  • Large corporations and government agencies start implementing workplace wellness programs that include ergonomic assessments and the provision of ergonomic furniture to employees.



2015:

  • The New Zealand government releases updated guidelines on workplace ergonomics, providing recommendations for employers on how to design workspaces that promote employee health and productivity.

  • This leads to a surge in demand for ergonomic furniture, as businesses strive to create ergonomic work environments in line with the new guidelines.


2017:

  • The popularity of ergonomic furniture continues to grow, with more businesses investing in height adjustable desks, ergonomic chairs, monitor stands, and other ergonomic accessories.

  • Some companies begin offering flexible working arrangements, allowing employees to work from home part-time and providing them with ergonomic furniture for their home offices.


2020:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the adoption of ergonomic furniture in New Zealand as many employees transition to remote work.

  • Businesses quickly realize the importance of providing ergonomic support to remote workers to prevent musculoskeletal issues caused by poor home office setups.


2022:

  • The government introduces additional workplace safety regulations specifically addressing remote work environments, further driving the demand for ergonomic furniture among businesses and individuals.

  • New Zealand-based furniture manufacturers start innovating and producing a wider range of ergonomic furniture options to meet the growing demand in the market.


Throughout this period, both government initiatives and the proactive actions of businesses have played crucial roles in driving the adoption of ergonomic furniture in New Zealand. As awareness of the importance of ergonomics continues to grow, it's expected that the trend towards ergonomic workspaces will continue well into the future.


FAQ

Who buys ergonomic office furniture in New Zealand ?

There is no doubt that the trend towards ergonomic office furniture has been driven by health and safety legislation and inevitably it is the public sector that takes this up first because they have to. However, the last 5-6 years have seen corportate and small to medium business also pick up on the trend.

What is ergonomic office furniture ?

How do I know what ergonomic furniture works for me ?

Should we get an occupational health and safety person to advise us on ergonomic furniture ?


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