Webster's New World Dictionary (College Edition) defines ergonomics as "The Study of the problems of people in adjusting to their environment; especially the science that seeks to adapt work or working conditions to suit the worker.

Judging from all the advertising and available professional advice, that is exactly what is supposed to happen.

Classic ergonomics is of course mainly concerned with the manual worker on the factory floor and not to any great extent with the office worker, who with their air-conditioned environment upholstered furniture and electronic equipment should be the most comfortable and most efficient.

But what is the real story? Are office employees really that uncomfortable? If so, what are the actual benefits of adjustable office furniture? Does workstation adaptability apply only to computer terminal operators, or to all office employees?

In North America, where ergonomic considerations are only just beginning to receive full attention, these factors are little known. Certainly the most limiting factor is employees' acceptance of their own working discomfort.