Has the UK sit-stand market finally grown up?

September 9, 2016

er60nomIt is nearly twenty years since we sold our first sit-stand desk but the real growth in interest amongst UK employers has arisen since early in 2014.

Initially driven by publicity about the potential health impacts of sedentary behaviour, employers were bombarded with news, statistics, research and plenty of online ‘noise’ predicting dire consequences if there was not a rapid and immediate transition from traditional office environments to workplaces populated with ‘standing desks’.

Even using the term ‘standing desk’ is misleading to the uninitiated because it implies that simply replacing seated activity with standing activity is the answer. Furthermore, some of the (apparently well-researched and highly reputable) research recommended that we should all aim to stand at our desk for up to four hours per day. The problem, however, has never been about too much sitting: it has been about not enough movement. Standing undoubtedly helps but it is only part of the solution.


Hedge’s 3S’s Ideal Work Pattern

The ‘stand for four hours’ rationale has now been widely dismissed and many who really understand the issues will recommend a 30 minute cycle of sitting, standing and movement such as ‘Hedge’s 3S’ cycle proposed by Professor Alan Hedge .

With clearer guidance, employers can make better judgements and the sales enquiries we now receive seem to come more from a ‘good thing to do’ perspective rather than ‘do we really have to do this?’.

What is also significant is that most large employers are opting for 10 – 20% sit-stand, often putting a pair of sit-stand desks at the end of a bank of standard workstations. By contrast, more and more of our ‘mini project’ orders (typically, 10 – 40 desks) are for smaller organisations equipping all of their personnel with a sit-stand option. It seems that these smaller organisations recognise that they are doing much more than changing the furniture: they are introducing a culture change. As a result, they want to embrace that change, recognising the value of the training we provide and appreciating the importance of proper education to ensure users benefit fully from the new furniture and the behaviour opportunities it creates.sitstandtips

It may simply be that the sort of organisations who come to us do so because of our commitment to training and the added value we offer beyond the desks themselves. Or it could be that sit-stand furniture buyers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding a  more comprehensive package.

Whatever the explanation I like to think that, after nearly 20 years, the sit-stand market is finally growing up!

WDM Newsletter – August/September 2016

August 19, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 18/08/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

Enhancing performance with training and equipment


After an amazing London 2012, I thought the Rio Olympics would be disappointing. On the contrary, many events – and especially the cycling – have held me spellbound. Whilst it may take several more four-year-periods before I finally understand the rules of the Omnium, the various cycling events have illustrated the importance of co-ordinated planning, preparation, training and equipment. The big contrast between the Olympics and the workplace is that employers try to optimise the performance of their people on a constant and ongoing basis, rather than for a few minutes every four years. Plus this optimisation must be achieved without access to millions of pounds of lottery funding! We know more about the workplace and its people than ever before but, in a constantly changing landscape, integrating the knowledge and maximising the contribution of different disciplines can be difficult. If you’re planning a move or refit or starting an Agile Working programme, we would be delighted to discuss the issues you are facing. Even if we don’t know all the answers, we will know someone who does!

Defining your criteria

Osmond_Ergonomics_WDM_AUG_2016_image_2Recent refresher training at Camira Fabrics reminded me how many different ways there are to choose fabrics. Whilst most of us probably start with colour, pattern and texture, others will be in roles demanding a more pragmatic approach that considers durability or flame resistance. For many employers, sustainability is essential so the use of recycled materials or bast (plant) fibre will be a priority (although wool is, of course, the ultimate renewable). Add to the mix the business of farming government-licensed hemp or addressing the idiosyncrasies of buying jute bags from multi-national coffee companies and the back story to the fabric is almost as fascinating as its impact on space in which it is deployed!

When the way it looks is not enough


For over twenty years, much of my business has been about finding specific chairs for individuals with musculo-skeletal problems, where comfort and support are crucial. As the workplace changes, we are being asked to provide all manner of seating for a variety of applications and modes of use. We score all our products in the ergonomics sector and we are now looking at a parallel system for other seating, considering the type of use and for how long. Whilst seating for a reception area may only be used for a few minutes, what about the canteen chairs where people use their tablet for a couple of hours at a time or the soft seating where people use their laptop all morning? Is this a concern for you or is appearance more important? Please let me know what you think.

Is this the next big tech change in the workplace?

Osmond_Ergonomics_WDM_AUG_2016_image_4Virtual and augmented reality tools are already used in envisaging design and simulating environments as well as in gaming. As Pokemon Go takes the gaming world by storm, our good friends at Bakker Elkhuizen have been thinking about whether these technologies could actually become part of our daily working lives. Would you be happy to wear a VR Headset at home, for example, and meet your work colleagues in a ‘virtual office’? Whilst the idea may be abhorrent to some, there will be others who regard it as ‘the next best thing to being there’. After all, many of us now willingly attend webinars rather than events in person. Please contact me if you want to explore this further.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin August 2016

August 11, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 13/07/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.


image1 - OE EB AUG 2016

We have been discussing this topic with clients, specifically around the question ‘must they be medically qualified?’. In recent years, particularly in the public sector, there has been a tendency to include DSE (Display Screen Equipment) workstation assessments in an occupational health (OH) contract because it is believed that an OH background qualifies an assessor to understand the medical requirements and therefore, on this basis alone, to provide the best advice. I disagree! For my thinking and further observations – and to join in the discussion, please click here.


image2 OE EB AUG 2016Our Motus sit-stand desk continues to grow in popularity, offering outstanding quality and functionality at a very keen price. Our ‘standard’ frame colour is now RAL9006 silver to match the metalwork of many other fixed desk manufacturers. We also have three-leg frame configurations available from our warehouse for those needing corner or cockpit desk shapes. In addition to standard items available from stock, we can also supply white frames and face-to-face sit-stand benching systems. With the growing demand for sit-stand to be used alongside traditional sitting desks, we are now offering a furniture matching service by supplying Motus with the same worktops used on your fixed height furniture. On a lighter note, did you see our spoof videos announcing the latest delivery?


image3 OE EB AUG 2016

Our online catalogue at ergonomics.co.uk now accepts product reviews. We have been thinking about how to offer this facility for some time and are delighted that it is finally in place. We have been frantically adding the option to each product page and most, if not all, pages will be enabled by the time you receive this eBulletin. If you have recently made a purchase or have a particular product you would like to comment on, please go to the relevant product page. Alternatively, here are a few direct links to best-selling products:
FlexDesk 630 Adapt 600 Chair Series FlexTop Laptop Stand  |  Motus Sit-Stand Desk


image4 OE EB AUG 2016As you might expect, we are currently reviewing product pricing as a result of the ongoing state of the Pound against the Euro and Dollar. We have consulted widely with our supply partners within the industry and everyone is monitoring the situation closely! Changes will vary but expect 10% increases on some products with the first increases from September 1st, 2016. It is worth remembering that many of our products have had no price increase for more than five years. As always, we shall do everything possible to accommodate existing enquiries and potential projects so please discuss your forward plans with us as soon as possible. Remember also, as mentioned last month, that we can usually help with a leasing plan that releases cash and often has tax benefits.


image5 OE EB AUG 2016Watching world-class athletes in action at the Rio Olympics brings to mind the RH brand message: ‘Designed for Human Performance’. For me, the men’s and women’s cycling road races demonstrate the importance of the correct equipment and the crucial link between humans and the tools they work with. Recent research at Chalmers University of Technology demonstrated how the RH Logic 400 improved working conditions and reduced tension and pain. Contact us for a copy of the infographic summarising the research findings. You can experience the value of a dynamic chair yourself by taking advantage of the RH trial offer. You can find more information here.

What Makes a Good DSE Assessor?

August 8, 2016

Health & SafetyI have been discussing this topic with clients, specifically around the question ‘must they be medically qualified?’. In recent years, particularly in the public sector, there has been a tendency to include DSE (Display Screen Equipment) workstation assessments in an occupational health (OH) contract because it is believed that an OH background qualifies an assessor to understand the medical requirements and, therefore, to provide the best advice.

I disagree!

Closeup portrait of a happy senior man working on a computer

Whilst the medical background is almost certainly an asset, an understanding of available products is essential. This is not just about knowing that X is a good chair or Y is a good mouse but knowing how to specify a particular variant of an appropriate product and ’what works with what’. As OH contract fees are squeezed and training is neglected, an OH qualification is simply not enough. The steady stream of orders we receive for wrongly specified chairs, incompatible mice or unviable product combinations is proof of this.

Talking to friends and competitors in the industry, all ergo product suppliers have the same experience. By contrast, some of my own staff (and those of my competitors) have no medical background but an enormous range of assessment experience, training and product knowledge.

In a bid to address this ongoing issue, we regularly offer free product advice and training to OH companies and individuals but not enough take it up.

Do you agree? Are you an OH professional who doesn’t need training? Or an OH professional  who would dearly love your employer to provide more product knowledge? Or an experienced assessor with no formal medical background? Please continue the discussion by adding your comments below.

WDM Newsletter July/August 2016

July 22, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 21/07/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.


WDM Newsletter July 2016 main blog

Much has been written about these two social groups but the reality is that we are all ageing and each of us has our own preferred ways of working and communicating. Employers need to celebrate the chronological, social, physical, philosophical and racial diversity of their people and find flexible and pragmatic ways to accommodate and involve everyone. Following many discussions and two public presentations, I have now distilled a number of my thoughts and suggestions into a free 45 minute webinar entitled One Workforce: Four Generations. Check here for date(s) and time(s).


image1With some sit-stand desks now available at less than half their cost 15 years ago and some adaptors costing more than desks, we have been asked many times why anyone chooses an adaptor. The three most common reasons are: 1) Organisations who are contemplating the sit-stand concept want something less permanent to try initially; 2) Employers providing for individuals with back problems want equipment that can be redeployed when the condition improves; and 3) Employers using bench desking systems often find it is too much trouble (or simply impossible) to replace one or two workstations. There are other reasons, and then there are the choices of desk or adaptor format to consider as well. Many of the design factors are not obvious and may not be explained (or even understood!) by mainstream furniture suppliers. Contact us for expert guidance.



As the range of communication technologies continues to grow, the scope for digital management of our buildings, people and resources expands exponentially. Building access systems, meeting room management and occupancy sensing are amongst the techniques that are now well established. However, in recent weeks, we have been looking at how this technology can all be integrated with other resources such as dynamically-allocated lockers, height-adjustable workstations, desk lamps and HVAC settings. Some of these individual technologies have been around for years but IoT-thinking is finally bringing them all together. As a ‘gadget geek’, I love it – and I can see the enormous potential. For more information or just a geek chat, please contact me.



image3This is a question that crops up from time to time and it is one that employers should ask whenever they are thinking about replacing chairs or buying more. Obviously, there is no simple answer but addressing the issue will prompt managers to think about wider topics such as warranty periods, repair and recycling. Warranties of 10+ years are now well established on premium products and cradle-to-cradle designs allow for much more cost-effective disposal or reworking. Whether or not a purchase is imminent, considering these factors will inform a better procurement process. Read more in this 2013 blog.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin July 2016

July 20, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 13/07/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.



One of our frequent conversation topics with Health & Safety and Occupational Health professionals is the fascinating (and frustrating) issue of why people do not bother to adjust their work chair. For some reason, these individuals prefer to be uncomfortable! To focus users on this issue, we compare the work chair situation to adjusting your car seat for driving, an idea we have recently share


1w4gMy recent talk at IIRSM drew together a range of topics and provided ideas for integrated and consistent management approaches to millennials, the ageing workforce and the changing work environment. We have now added the presentation to our webinar portfolio and I shall be offering it as a free session over the next couple of months. For booking details and more information about the content, please visit our events page.



We now have confirmed dates for our next courses in conjunction with Human Applications. The popular two-day Advanced DSE Assessors course will be on September 7-8, 2016 and, for a good general ergonomics grounding, the three-day Ergonomics in Practice course will be on October 18-20, 2016. Venues are currently being finalised but both will be at locations in Clerkenwell, London. For further information, please follow the links or contact the Customer Service team.


iso27500I have mentioned this new standard previously. It provides a top-down approach for executive board members to integrate ergonomics and human factors into the everyday business of an enterprise by celebrating and capitalising on individual differences and making health, safety and wellbeing organisational priorities. The new standard will be launched at a free half-day conference on September 1, 2016 at BSI in Chiswick, London. Details here.


brexitWhatever your view of the referendum, the one current certainty is that there is quite a lot of uncertainty around! Whilst many of our customers are taking the ‘business as usual’ approach, some organisations will be more affected. If you are currently reviewing any project funding, keep in mind that we can offer competitive leasing which is specifically geared to the office furniture industry. As well as easing cashflow, it can also provide tax benefits. Please contact us for further information.

Adjust your chair – it’s a no brainer!

July 1, 2016

terrible_posture_laptopThis will be quite a short blog and there is a good reason for that! It is about a subject that needs a short, sharp message.

One of our frequent topics of conversation with Health & Safety and Occupational Health professionals is the fascinating (and frustrating) issue of why people don’t bother to adjust their work chair.

For some reason, these individuals prefer to be uncomfortable!

In search of a simple message that most adults would understand, I created this:


Adjust your office chair – it’s a no-brainer!

Do you have a driving licence? Would you drive off in a vehicle without making sure you can reach the accelerator and brake?

Then apply the same ‘safety’ thinking to your office chair! Take a minute to set it up.

Why sit on a chair hour after hour (or day after day) if it’s uncomfortable? When you know what to do, setting your office chair is as quick as adjusting your car seat.

Less than a minute provides a day of comfort. 

goodpostureWhy wouldn’t you do that? It’s a no-brainer!

Not sure how to do it? Speak to your Health & Safety Manager or check your intranet.

Getting no help? Look here.

This will be our next One Minute Video and will appear here when it has been created.

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