The Shape of Human-Based Design: Using Anthropometric Data to Create Better Workspace

The Shape of Human-Based Design: Using Anthropometric Data to Create Better Workspace on

Can measuring the length of your leg enhance the productivity in your office?

By using scientific approaches to workspace design, manufacturers and designers are hoping to decrease fatigue, increase comfort, and enhance productivity. Intentional design also aims to reduce repetitive motion injuries. But this approach to design requires information. By using what’s called “anthropometric data,” designers can create superior office furniture that helps keep workers happy, healthy, and (hopefully) more productive.

What is anthropometric data?

Anthropometry is the measurement of human body sizes. As we all know, people come in different sizes and shapes, but anthropometric data is an attempt to thoroughly understand the ranges, averages, and typical changes in people’s size and shape. Anthropometric data can include any number of measurements, including height, waist circumference, hip width, arm length, shoulder width, and foot size. Basically, if it is a part of the human body that can be measured, it can be included in anthropometric data.

Where does all the data come from?

There are numerous measurements, but where does a designer or manufacture actually find these numbers? Traditionally, measurements on body sizes stemmed from military data collected throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, more comprehensive databases have arisen in recent years, including the Civilian American and European Surface Anthropometry Resource, commonly known as “CAESAR.” While some organizations still use the military data, more groups are turning to CAESAR as a resource.

How is data implemented

Anthropometric data can be used in numerous sciences and product developments. For example, designers of football equipment can research head sizes and shapes to create more effective helmets. Car engineers can use anthropometric data to create vehicles with the right amount of headspace for the largest portion of the population.

In office settings, anthropometric data is used to develop office and work equipment for settings ranging from bustling factories to creative offices.

In the workplace, there are four common postures: sitting, standing, moving, and reaching. To explain anthropometric data and comfort, we will focus on sitting, as this is a common concern for 21st-century American businesses.

When creating office furniture, especially desk chairs where employees will spend much of their time, there are many different measurements that must be considered. These include total sitting height, sitting eye height, knee-to-back distance, knee height, and “popliteal height,” which is the distance from the bottom of the heel to the back of the knee.

As designers create a chair, they will consider spine and lumbar support and use measurements to create a seating position that is the most comfortable. In most cases, the goal is to create one that maintains the same posture for the back that someone would have while standing. The final product should keep the ideal s-shape curve that is present when we stand, and the measurements are used to achieve this goal.

It’s hoped that by designing seating to enhance posture and increase comfort, employees will have fewer back issues, miss fewer days, and increase their productivity. This is just one example (and, to be fair, a simplified example) of how anthropometric data is used to enhance comfort and output in the workplace.

The workspace you need can become a reality!

Let Compass Office Solutions help create the perfect workspace, with a range of products based on anthropometric data. If you’re interested in redesigning your office to make it more efficient and comfortable for your employees, call us at 954.430.4590 or fill out our online form to get started. We are a full-service workspace design solution, from concept to delivery and implementation, and every aspect of your project can be completed online.