When you think about how your office could account for diversity and inclusion, your thoughts probably don’t extend as far as accommodating larger-bodied users of your office.
However, this seems a mistake, given that 30% of the world is deemed overweight or obese, according to a CDC figure shared by Fast Company. You can’t expect your staff to be able to work effectively if they struggle to fit behind their desks; so, what exactly can you do to change this?
Choose chairs that are more ergonomic
To see how you can do this, you can look to the example of Eloquii, a retailer stocking women’s clothes of sizes 14 to 28. When surveying its employees, Eloquii found that more ergonomic chairs were on the list of their requests, leading the brand to investigate various seating options.
Particularly sought-after here were chairs with wider widths and adjustable armrests. Reportedly, employee responses to the retailer’s strategy were overwhelmingly positive.
Solicit feedback from your larger-bodied staff
It sounds like a simple thing to do, but you might remain unsure how you’re supposed to broach the subject in a suitably sensitive way. One thing you could do is, whenever any new employee starts work at your business, ask them whether they have particular needs concerning seating and spacing.
That way, asking for feedback just comes across as a routine part of the onboarding process, rather than something singling out – and, thus, potentially humiliating – your larger-bodied recruits.
Provide a variety of spaces
This is a recommended way of ensuring that users of various body shapes and sizes can work comfortably and productively. This is especially true if you have the kind of workplace where staff are often on the move and, therefore, not tethered to a single workstation right throughout the day.
If your firm is US-based, you already need to heed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which legally compels employers to make various workplace areas accessible to wheelchairs.
Source attractive furniture built to fit all bodies
You might have considered bariatric furniture, which has its genesis in healthcare, where furniture has needed to accommodate bodies weighing over 300 pounds. However, perhaps for this very reason, bariatric furniture is often disconcertingly clinical in design.
Therefore, rather than focus on the narrow category of such furniture, you should simply look for beautiful furniture capable of fitting all bodies. The workplace design experts at Maris Interiors can curate, advocate and tailor furniture solutions meeting specific workspace requirements.
Turn down the temperature – if only slightly
You might not have realized that a person’s weight can affect how easily they feel warm – or, indeed, cold. Here, “weight” refers to body mass index (BMI) – and, the higher it is, the sooner the person in question will feel warm, ThoughtCo. warns.
Therefore, you could consider adjusting the office thermostat to prevent such workers from feeling distractingly sweaty. Still, as people with lower-than-average BMI tend to feel cold more easily, you should be careful to keep that tweak subtle.