Why is there a Growing Need for Ergonomic Office Accessories?
In a pandemic-infested world ergonomic office accessories and furniture are witnessing a spike in demand which does not seem to be slowing down in a hurry. In November 2020, online retailers like Pepperfry and Flipkart witnessed an all-time high demand for ergonomic furniture and office accessories, increasing by over 250% in comparison to pre-COVID sales. Work environments are transforming. As commercial office spaces get replaced by more flexible work-from-home (WFH) setups, the office equipment industry has had to adapt to the post-pandemic world in ways hitherto undreamt of. The pandemic set in motion many emerging trends:
COVID-19 and the Era of WFH
While the COVID-induced WFH boasted of a lot of benefits, it also came with its own set of disadvantages. For one, a large number of employees found themselves ill-equipped when it came to having a productive workplace. In contrast to large monitors and ergonomically designed equipment available in most offices, the work setup at home was practically non-existent, with beds, living room recliners and dining tables acting as poor replacements.
With companies like Amazon and Google offering reimbursements and financial support for procuring WFH infrastructure, the industry has seen a major shift from traditional company-to-company (CTC) sales to direct-to-customer (DTC) sales.
Judging from the explosion of ergonomic furniture demand, WFH is here to stay and so is the focus on ergonomic equipment. In compliance with the results of a recent IBM study of 25,000 office workers which found that more than 54% of desk workers 'want' to work from home full time, many major players like Facebook and Microsoft have already started offering adapted packages with a permanent WFH option.
Increased Customer Awareness & Higher Focus on Physical and Mental Well-Being
Like the quintessential coin with two sides, the pandemic also had its own pros and cons. While it proved to be a major blow to the economic conditions and supply chains across countries, the mental health and wellness industry saw an explosion of opportunity and growth. As changed lifestyles and increased mortality rates forced people to reconsider their day-to-day life choices and people struggled with striking a balance between managing daily household chores and professional workload, a large percentage of the population began paying greater attention to their physical health and wellness.
An increasingly large number of social media posts on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter emphasising the benefits of ergonomic equipment catapulted customer awareness. As per a research conducted in July 2020, one in every five full-time employed professionals was familiar with terms like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, etc., some of the most commonly occurring work MSDs.
With growing cases of back injuries and muscular fatigue, people have become more self-aware about their physical health and its impact on their overall mental state and well-being, which alone called for a greater demand for better designed (read ergonomic) infrastructure.
Changing Business Environment and Priorities
Workspace stress can cost an employer billions and there's tons of research to support this. Though many of the changes afoot have been a result of the pandemic, increased awareness about the importance of ergonomically designed office equipment and a healthy work environment was being practised by companies around the globe earlier as well. The concept of 'work culture' and 'workspace design' were being increasingly explored since the early 2000s. There is no dearth of examples put forth by leading software companies providing a positive correlation between such factors and an employee's overall performance and productivity.
Today, employers are cognizant of the fact that employees cannot be left alone to battle WFH productivity issues caused by lousy non-ergonomic desk setups. With the advent of WFH, companies are facing a democratisation in office equipment acquisition. Earlier, where most companies assigned an entire team and capital for acquiring appropriate work furniture, today companies 'reimburse' the same amount spent by an individual employee in purchasing the same.
What is an Ergonomic Keyboard?
Do you find yourself constantly massaging those aching wrists? Or pulling on those fingers to ease that throbbing pain? These may be just a few of the many ways your body is signalling you to change that lousy keyboard. In times like these, an ergonomic keyboard might be your best bet.
An ergonomic keyboard is a keyboard, designed to fit you and everything about you. Yes, you read that right! And everything includes everything, right from your typing style, predominant sitting posture to how and where you position the keyboard.
Designed and tested to fit a small group of body types, each ergonomic keyboard type facilitates a different kind of user. Listed here are a few most commonly available types:
A split keyboard clusters keys into multiple sections. You can have fixed, completely adjustable or just an angle adjustable one. Depending on which type you choose, the distance between the sections and their angles can be adjusted as per your comfort. Best suited for broad chested people, the keyboard ensures that the elbows are not too close while typing. The angle split category even sports a slight elevation to keep your index fingers a level above your little finger.
A contoured keyboard features a wave like shape and its most distinguishing feature is this sidewalk like shape, with a slight peak in the middle. In this particular arrangement, the main letter keys are set inside two depressions spaced roughly at shoulder width, with the function keys in between to be operated with thumbs. Contoured keyboards can be your thing if you prefer minimum movement of your arms and wrists while typing.
Handheld ergonomic keyboards are designed to be held like game controllers, rather than laid flat on a desk. If you are the fidgety sort, and find yourself constantly changing your position in your chair, these types of keyboards may be the best for you, as they allow maximum freedom of movement. With these, you are free to move around as much as you like, even walk around the room as you type. Some variations also feature a trackball mouse.
Benefits of an Ergonomic Keyboard
Ergonomic keyboards can transform your life, literally! Here are a few of the most important benefits of using an ergonomic keyboard:
Your comfort plays a major role in determining how well you can meet your deadlines and your overall productivity. Contrary to popular belief, comfort is multidimensional, with each aspect directly linked to the other. Your overall comfort may comprise comfort at a physical, mental, psychological and physiological level. Needless to say, if your keyboard causes a lot of physical distress, your mental and psychological health will also be jeopardised which directly hampers your repeated attempts at increasing productivity.
Ergonomic keyboards can help you achieve a better comfort level. A recent research by the University of Washington proves how the design of ergonomic keyboards naturally helps the body relax and adopt a more natural posture.
Typing Injury Prevention (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome)
One of the most common typing injuries reported by the majority of professionals is carpal tunnel syndrome, which happens because of the pinching of a nerve in your wrist. The condition can be extremely uncomfortable and may cause numbness in your fingers or the whole hand. Ergonomic keyboards can help you prevent that and much more. How, you may ask? Read on.
A good typing position comprises of 3 main elements, viz. wrist support, a healthy distance between the elbows and a good posture. Ergonomic keyboards are designed with a curvature which matches the natural triangle (formed by the left and right hands), which directly improves wrist support. Keyboards like the split-type help maintain a healthy posture by ensuring a distance between your elbows. Medical practitioners and physiotherapists will often advise you to use ergonomic keyboards precisely for the reason that they are ideally suited for the human anatomy, prevent injuries, put less strain on your muscles and keep your productivity high.
Needless to say, with a good typing posture and lesser discomfort at any level, your body will be more cooperative. With a good ergonomic keyboard that promotes better finger positioning, you can increase your typing speed to almost two times and achieve higher amounts of work in the same period of time. Using an ergonomic keyboard also saves a lot of money and time spent in healing injuries and addressing typing fatigue.
Top 10 Latest/Popular Ergonomic Keyboards in the Market Right Now
1. Kinesis Freestyle 2 Wireless
Featuring an award winning split design which allows you to rotate and separate the key modules up to 9", Kinesis Freestyle 2 Wireless keyboard can be the solution to your recurring elbow and wrist discomfort. While the design can help you position the keyboard sections as per your comfort, the custom membrane key switch features a low activation force and increased tactile feedback. Typing with less force can reduce recurring cases of finger fatigue and strain, while also increasing your overall typing speed. Priced at ₹ 9,381.00, you can check it out on Ubuy.
2. Microsoft Sculpt
Microsoft Sculpt is another one of the most innovative yet best tested products in the market right now. Its partially split design and negative slope attachment help position your wrists in a more ideal typing position. Despite being non-adjustable, it is a great keyboard to test the ergonomic waters before you fully dive in and invest. The Sculpt can be connected using a 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle, which does away with those unsightly wires. This versatile ergonomic keyboard is available on Amazon for ₹ 17,999.00.
3. Logitech Ergo K860
For those of you who work their fingers 'to the bone', this keyboard is designed to give your arms and wrists the care you may be looking for. While the arc-shaped split button layout improves the typing posture maintaining a healthy distance between the elbows, the inclined shape effectively reduces muscle fatigue in your wrists and forearms. What makes this Logitech product different from the rest, is its versatility of options. The keyboard comes with tilting legs which can be adjusted to heights of 0°, -4° and -7° to offer a customisable palm support. Priced at ₹ 12,504.99, you can check it out on Zasttra.
4. Perixx Periboard-512
One of the best-selling models in the Perixx ergonomic family, the Periboard-512 features an ergonomically designed split key and a three dimensional design, which confirms to your natural arm and hand positions. The integrated palm rest design supports your wrists and enables a more comfortable positions while typing. One of their most heavily tested products, the Periboard-512 also features a tactile keystroke, which is designed to reduce pressure while typing and solve finger aches. You can get this ergonomic keyboard for ₹ 12,999.00 on Amazon.
5. Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard
Microsoft's ergonomic keyboard is a true pearl amongst other keyboards that exist in the market. One of its major sale points is its highly customisable nature which allows you to reassign favourite keys, media keys and emoji keys. The keyboard comes in-built with shortcuts, function keys specially dedicated to Office-365 and easy access to a wide range of media controls. The keyboard also features a palm rest covered in breathable polycot fabric, which ensures maximum comfort and a neutral wrist posture. This ergonomic keyboard from Microsoft is available for ₹ 8,645.00 on Tanotis.
6. Kinesis Advantage2 (KB600)
With Kinesis Advantage2, you can have a package of all the best features of a split ergonomic keyboard. From its patented design to its Cherry MX keys, it is everything you could ever want in the name of comfort. The keyboard features two concave shaped split key wells with an orthogonal layout and 20° of tenting. Apart from integrated cushioned palm pads to support your palms, Kinesis's Advantage is also completely programmable with its in-built Smart Set Engine. One of its best features is undoubtedly its genuine cherry mechanical switches, which have a low activation force, linear force and are tested for durability of 50 million key releases. This keyboard is priced at ₹ 31,187.00 and is available on Ubuy.
7. Fellowes Microban Split Design (98915)
If you are someone who has to deal with allergies or are very particular about keeping your office equipment dust-free, this keyboard is your perfect match. Fellowes's Microban Split Keyboard has an antimicrobial protection finish, requiring almost half as much cleaning as a regular keyboard. This finish also prevents any microbial growth, offering respite to those relentless allergies. By doing this, it also prevents staining, regular deterioration of your keyboard, thereby increasing its durability. Of course, its split design is also one of its kind, confirming to a wide range of natural arm and hand positions. The keyboard features a unique 16 character buffer for fast typists. This ergonomic keyboard is available for ₹ 8,418.00 on Amazon.
8. Microsoft Natural Ergo Keyboard 4000
Amongst Microsoft's long line of ergonomic keyboards, the Natural Ergo Keyboard has been a relentless success since its launch. Featuring an improved split design, the keyboard has an innovative curved key layout, making it easier to reach all the main keys. Along with a Zoom Slider which lets you zoom in for close-ups of web pages and images, it also offers 5 customisable favourite keys, giving you instant access to a number of folders or files. Available for ₹ 12,999.00 you can check it out on Amazon.
9. Adesso Tru Form 150 3-Color Illuminated (AKB-150EB)
Adesso's Tru Form 150 features a 3-colour RGB eye-soothing back-lit illumination, which will enable you to use this product in dimly lit rooms as well. With a gently curved three dimensional split design, the keyboard offers an entire package of comfort, ease and productive typing experience. While the split key groups are ergonomically sectioned, the gentle curvature and an in-built palm support encourages a natural portioning of your wrists, forearms and fingers. The keyboard also features membrane key switches, which are quieter, more durable and have a faster response. Priced at ₹ 9,700.00 it is available on Cart2india.
10. Tygot Mini Handheld Keyboard
If you are the fidgety kind and find yourself changing positions as you type, then a handheld gaming keyboard might work for you. And at present, the Tygot Mini Handheld Keyboard at a buck low cost is selling like hot cakes on Amazon. The keyboard's innovative design resembles gaming controls, with a built-in touch pad and RGB back lights that enable you to use the keyboard even in pitch darkness. Energy efficient and lightweight, it comes with Li-ion rechargeable batteries and can connect to a number of devices like your notebook, desktop, Smart TV and even your tablet. Priced at ₹ 1,999.00 you can check it out on Amazon.
Ergonomic Keyboards: A Great Way to Prevent Stress and Injuries and Boost Your Productivity
Professionals regardless of whether they are working from office or home should be mindful of the problems that non-ergonomic accessories can create for them. Even though ergonomic keyboards may appear expensive in the first instance, however their long term benefits both in preventing injuries and boosting your productivity far outweigh the initial cost. Share your experiences of using an ergonomic keyboard and stay connected with us.