Monday, January 22, 2007

Office Ergonomics - Part II

In my previous post I shared with you guys some suggestions on how to improve your work environment. In this post I'm going to talk about why you and your boss want to make your work environment better.

Let's talk about why you want to make your work environment better. I guess you must have saw/heard of some survey that asks you to rank the priorities of several important aspects of one's life, such as:
  • Love
  • Family
  • Career
  • Friends
However, people often omit one very important aspect of one's life: health. If you're in the ages of early twenties (or younger), you probably take good health for granted. When I was still going to ELAC (the community college that I went to), I could played four games of DDR nonstop, all of the songs with a difficulty of at least 9 feet (the most difficult songs have a difficult of 10 feet). I always hanged out at the arcade until 1 or 2 am and went to some Hong Kong cafe for midnight snack with my friend. When I got home, it was usually 3 am something already.

Ask me to do it again now? No way. Although I still play DDR everyday, I realize that I probably can never play that many games in a row anymore (well, maybe unless I practice it as a full-time job, which I won't). When I see people going to night clubs at Friday nights, I really wonder why they've the strength to do that after a whole week's work. I'd rather go home and get some quality sleep.

Basically, I realized that I can't take good health as granted anymore. To have a healthy life, one needs to put some effort on it everyday and is determined to control his/her desires.

Love, family, career and friends are all essential to one's life, but they're not as important when you compare them with health. If you're sick and have to lie on the bed all day long, there aren't many things you can do. Besides, your loved ones will also be miserable because they've to look after you and watch your suffer (For that reason, I do think that hurting oneself is a selfish act, unless s/he doesn't have a family or friends or is hated by the whole world) That's exactly why you should have the best work environment you can possibly have, which affects a great part of your health.

Why would a boss give his/her employees the best working environment then? Yeah, all those ergonomics keyboard trays and chairs cost a LOT. The chair that the ergonomics office of UCLA recommended to me costs around $400, which is much more expensive than the ones you get from Staples or Office Depot. A good keyboard tray with an adjustable arm costs over $200 also, which is not cheap either. If I tell my previous bosses to buy all those stuff, they probably will think that I'm crazy and kick me out of the office.

As a long-time Google fan, I strongly believe that one of the keys of their success is providing the best environment they can afford to their employees. How many companies provide free food to their employees? Except those in the dining industry, I really can't think of any. The thing is, investing in a good work environment results in at least four advantages:
  1. Employees are happier
  2. Employees are healthier
  3. Because they're happy, the turnover rate is low
  4. Because they're healthy, they work more effectively
The problem of most bosses (especially Chinese bosses, sigh) is that they're very short-sighted and shallow. They see the immediate and obvious revenue generated by a sales guy when he closes a deal with a big customer, but they don't see the money he loses in training when people leave the company. They see how fast the new Pentium Core 2 Duo workstations run compared to the old ones, but they don't see that John becomes much more effective after he gets his ideal chair. If your boss would rather spend money on buying a brand new BMW M5 for himself instead of replacing your tortoise-like Pentium 3 machine (which costs a damn lot less), you can probably tell how smart he is.

One friend wondered why my supervisor would spend so much money on getting a good chair for me as I only worked there for four months. Wrong wrong wrong!!

You deserve the best work environment just because you're hired and you perform your job.

If only your old fat ass coworkers (who've worked in your company for over 20 years) got a good work environment, LEAVE. You don't have 20 years to waste :P

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