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How furniture engineered for the worker pays off

Here's how ergonomist Robert W. Bailey calculates the productivity payoff of an investment in ergonomic furniture: Assume that a fully adjustable chair, with pneumatic seat and arms, and a fully adjustable table cost $625 more than their nonadjustable counterparts - $1 ,361 as against $736.

Assume that a worker costing his employer $28,000 a year uses a computer 80 percent of the time - thus $22,400 of his salary, benefits and so on, goes to computer time. Assume that the extra $625 splurge on adjustable furniture creates a 10 percent gain in productivity (and labor cost saving) at the computer: $2,240 annually, or $186 a month. This $186, divided into $625, is 3.4 months. So the new furniture pays for itself in labor cost savings in less than four months.

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