Choosing the right mat matters. A chair mat or an anti-fatigue mat is more than a surface on which you stand or your chair sits. It can actually make a big difference in your level of comfort and overall productivity throughout your workday. So, how do you choose the right mat for you?
First, take a look at your workspace set-up and examine your work style. It’s important to distinguish whether you need an anti-fatigue mat or a chair mat, as they serve different purposes. If you are sitting in a chair most of the day, especially one with casters, a chair mat is going to be the most practical for you. Chair mats not only make it easier to roll, making your workspace more accessible, they also act as a safeguard for flooring.
On the other hand, if you frequently alternate between sitting and standing, or find yourself standing for extended periods of time, an anti-fatigue mat is going to be the better option and provide you with the most benefits. These mats help minimize strain and stress on the body, lowering the chance of pain or a work-related injury. They also simply provide a cushioned platform for your feet, making standing more enjoyable.
Once you’ve decided which type of mat is best for you, consider the size and structure of your office arrangement. Be sure to choose a mat that is large enough to cover necessary portions of your workspace, making it functional, but no so large that it extends underneath other furniture or equipment. Selecting the proper shape relative to your office layout can also help ensure the perfect fit for your particular workspace. Mats are available in many shapes and sizes, tailored to U-workstations, L-workstations and corner workstations.
Be mindful of the flooring in your workspace. The right type of mat and the ideal thickness is determined by the type of flooring. And, for carpets, the level of pile also matters. Additionally, some mats have small spikes on the back designed for better grip to help secure it in place. This is great for carpeted flooring; however, it can be damaging to flooring with hard surfaces.
Whether you’re choosing between a chair mat or an anti-fatigue mat, it’s helpful to know a little about material and structure. While there are many similarities between mats, there are also some key differences to consider before buying. Chair mats have a solid and even surface that makes it easy for casters to roll. They tend to be constructed from solid PVC or vinyl, giving them a transparent, durable quality. The level of clarity depends on the material used. Mats that are non-phthalate and non-cadmium tend to be clearer. Chair mats are available with both smooth and cleated backs, and straight, beveled or crystal edges.
Anti-fatigue mats are commonly made with any combination of rubber, foam PVC, solid PVC, vinyl foam or polypropylene. These mats are durable, yet flexible, creating the ideal cushioned surface for standing by supporting the back of the legs and the feet. They’re also available with various textures and edges. A ribbed surface or a sloped edge can help reduce the likelihood of a slip or fall. This is especially helpful for food service-related workspaces where spills are common.
Something as simple as a mat can often get overlooked, however, adding the right mat to your workspace can play an important role both in regards to your productivity as well as your overall workplace well-being. After all, when it comes to creating an ergonomic workspace, it’s the small details that produce noticeable differences.