WDM Newsletter – March 2017

March 20, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 16/03/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

DO YOU HAVE HOME WORKERS?
Of course you do!

WDMheader2017-03A few years ago (in a time before Agile Working was a hot topic), a Facilities Manager told me everyone in his company had a dedicated workplace, there was no hot desking and they had no home workers. I had only question: does anyone have a laptop? His affirmative reply meant that the organisation obviously had personnel working at home (although not necessarily authorised). Today, nobody would make such a bold statement in the first place. With laptop sales significantly exceeding desktop models and a proliferation of smartphones and tablets, not to mention Bring Your Own Devices practices (again, not necessarily authorised) and widespread Agile Working programmes, employees are being positively encouraged to work away from the office. The home is just one such workplace but, for the purposes of this newsletter, we are focussing on a few of the specific issues of employees working at their own residence.

HEALTH, WELLBEING, PRODUCTIVITY & DUTY OF CARE
Understanding individual needs and responses

health-wellbeing-productivityFor those based in open plan offices, working at home can be an ideal way to address two of the ‘4Cs’ (contemplation and concentration, rather than collaboration, communication). However, many miss the interaction with colleagues and a key negative factor can be lack of direction and goals from their line manager. Many employers overlook the importance of the culture change and different (pull, rather than push) management style required. To ensure maximum buy-in from those working at home, managers need to be trained to understand the issues and the correct way to modify their behaviour and relationships with colleagues. It is also essential to provide instant access to central support for everything from internet and login issues to mental health and wellbeing.

ASSESSMENT AND EQUIPMENT
Getting it right

assessment-equipmentMany people lack sufficient space for an office at home and the potential issues are compounded by the almost inevitable ‘out of sight is out of mind’ circumstances. Home workers need to be properly assessed and this can be done online or with a site visit. Site visits address issues that are far less common in the office (light levels, overall space, fire extinguishers) and can incorporate other essential services such as PAT testing. Many employers create a brief catalogue (with suitable control mechanisms) for homeworkers to identify and order key equipment such as laptop stands or separate monitors. It is generally accepted that nothing will be handed back if an employee resigns so it is important for employers to get good advice to ensure resources are optimised. Items such as our Capsule Collection chairs are the best possible balance of budget and ergonomics.

MUKAVA
A multifunctional platform well suited to the home office

mukavaAppearance is an important factor when employees choose work products for use at home. What works in a minimalist warehouse loft is unlikely to work in a Tudor cottage! Mukava is at home in a multiple hot-desking environment but its clean lines, modern look and multifunctional nature make it a good candidate as a multi-purpose tool in a space-constrained home office. Combining laptop platform, document holder, white board, tablet and smartphone stand with built-in device charger, USB socket and magnetic grips, this small unit truly ‘does it all’! It can be mounted on any VESA monitor arm. Download the brochure for further details.

HANDHELD DEVICES
Averting problems from extended use

HandheldDevicesSmartphones and tablets are used almost everywhere, not just in the home. Management of the technology, what the products are used for and how they are used presents many challenges to responsible employers and the pace of technology makes it hard for organisations to keep up, let alone get ahead. Personnel  benefit from education to understand the issues and ensure they act responsibly. There are many adaptors and accessories to aid comfort when using handheld devices but the technology is all, fundamentally, badly designed for prolonged use! A key part of our handheld devices strategy is therefore to help users understand the postures to limit (or avoid).


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin March 2017

March 10, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 08/03/2017. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

LIES, DAMNED LIES & STATISTICS:

HeaderImage03-2017The expression popularised by Mark Twain (and found elsewhere in publications dating back to the late nineteenth century) is as relevant today as it ever was. Since the start of the year, I have learned that ‘post-truth’ was the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016, the ‘10,000 steps a day’ mantra has little or no research basis (and may actually be harmful for some people), diesel cars are an environmental disaster and *X% of #Twitter/Facebook users treat social media as their primary news source. I shall completely avoid any references to ‘fake news’ and the use of Twitter in politics! Focussing just on the world of ergonomics and human factors, it has been troubling me for some time that it is very hard to be ‘an informed individual’ in a world of sound bites, unsubstantiated ‘facts’, misrepresented or inadequate research and marketing gloss. The whole sit-stand debate is a classic example of this. Does this confusion bother you too? Have you found a way to filter the nonsense? Should I just get a life and move on? I shall be blogging about this in the near future and welcome any thoughts or observations.
* insert any number between 28% and 62% – # insert social media channel of your choice

PHYSIO FIRST ANNUAL CONFERENCE:

physio_firstAs we return to this event for the first time in a few years, we have been thinking about what services we can offer private practice physiotherapists, especially those who are unfamiliar with the Occupational Health demands of the workplace. We are therefore working on a series of workshops to provide a more contextual understanding of workplace musculo-skeletal issues and ways to support and improve the working conditions of those who suffer. If you are attending the conference, please come and talk to us on Stands 36 and 37.

A PLETHORA OF SIT-STAND ADAPTORS:

sit-stand-plethoraAt least once a week, I receive notification from yet another Chinese manufacturer that they have introduced a new sit-stand adaptor. This usually prompts me to play ‘spot the clone’ in marketing literature and web sites! Amongst this array of (quite similar) choices, we still believe the Ergotron Workfit-T is the most elegant and stable option in most cases but products from the Far East are improving all the time and we now offer the Motus 1000 as a budget alternative. If a full sit-stand desk is not practical (due, perhaps, to bench furniture), these are certainly worth considering.

REFLECTIONS FROM STOCKHOLM:

stockholmIf you have not already seen it, you can read my full report from the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair here. In a country where human factors are an integral contributor to product development, it is fascinating to observe how design and ergonomics merge. If you just want to look at the pictures, you can do that here. Frustratingly, the most exciting product I saw during my visit was a computer mouse that was not on display and I am unable to tell you about (yet)! Watch this space for full details in a few months’ time.

POSTURE GUIDANCE – OLDEST IN USE?

PostureGuidanceWhen we announced the 20th Anniversary of our Posture Guidance in the January eBulletin, we invited existing users to send samples of old editions. There have been many incarnations of this document and I am delighted to report that Amanda Jones of Lothian Occupational Health and Safety Services sent me a copy of the 2004 version! In those days, we were still using representations of CRT monitors and there were no mini-keyboards, laptops stands or sit-stand desk images. However, the underlying guidance remains unchanged after all this time.


WDM Newsletter – February/March 2017

February 20, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 16/02/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

STOCKHOLM FURNITURE & LIGHT FAIR
Design and innovation for commercial, hospitality and domestic markets

wdmheader2017-02One of the joys of this event is the diversity of products available in one location. Whether you are looking for domestic, workplace or hospitality applications, the variety is enormous and most of it comes with that extra ingredient of ‘Scandi Design’ flair. Starting amongst the numerous lighting exhibitors, I was reminded of the dramatic progress in the development of low energy lamps, LEDs and their associated applications in recent years. The selection of lighting products for both domestic and commercial use was a delight.  I was particularly impressed by the many designs merging traditional materials with the new technology. However, I was there to look at workplace furniture and, although it would be easy to spend my time creating a wish list of products for my own home, there was work to be done! [Read more]

IS THIS THE FUTURE OF WORKPLACE SEATING?
Free London seminar about seating and the sit-stand conundrum

future-of-seatingBack in October, I reported on the launch of the Axia Smart Active chair which links to a smartphone app to educate users about sitting and posture habits. On February 23rd, we are providing a free early-evening seminar in Clerkenwell to demonstrate how this technology can be used and also provide the latest thinking about sitting, standing and movement in the workplace. Stephen Bowden BSc (Hons) C.ErgHF MIEHF EurErg of Morgan Maxwell will provide an impartial overview of the latest research. Click here for the full programme, location and online booking form.

SOFI MESH
Stylish addition to a proven product

sofi_mesh2Launched at Orgatec and showcased at the Stockholm Furniture Fair, the HÅG SoFi Mesh is already establishing itself as the elegant new addition to the SoFi range. Designed in collaboration with the award-winning Frost Produkt and Powerdesign agencies, SoFi Mesh provides ease of movement without having to think about it. In the words of designer Aleksander Borgenhov, [we set out to create] ‘a beautiful object from something that is in fact a highly advanced machine’. As a result, all the features and mechanisms are compact and hidden away whilst the long-established HÅG in Balance® technology provides an energising platform for greater efficiency at work. For further information or to arrange a trial, please call us on 0345 345 0898.

ALTERNATIVE FACTS
Something to think about in a post-truth society

post-truthI have just read that ‘post-truth’ was the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016. Although this and terms like ‘alternative facts’ have been gaining currency comparatively recently, they encapsulate something I have been pondering since long before the Brexit referendum and the Trump presidential campaign. In a society where growing numbers of people get their news from social media, how much can we ensure that the information we have is reliable? How can we be certain our business choices are evidence-based? It is probably fair to say we have always treated sales literature and marketing claims with at least a small ‘pinch of salt’ but, with the blurring of fact, exaggeration and downright lies, how can we be sure our commercial decisions are well founded? I shall be blogging about this soon but would love to hear from you if you have any strong views or particular experience of unreliable information.

 


Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair 2017

February 16, 2017

See all my photographs from this year’s exhibition on our Pinterest page.

lampshade

The 2m lampshade

One of the joys of this event is the diversity of products available in one location. Whether you are looking for domestic, workplace or hospitality applications, the variety is enormous and most of it comes with that extra ingredient of ‘Scandi Design’ flair.

Starting amongst the numerous lighting exhibitors, I was reminded of the dramatic progress in the development of low energy lamps, LEDs and their associated applications in recent years. The selection of lighting products for both domestic and commercial use was a delight. I was particularly impressed by the many designs merging traditional materials with the new technology. However, I was there to look at workplace furniture and, although it would be easy to spend my time creating a wishlist of products for my own home, there was work to be done!

nordic_deskInevitably, sit-stand desks are a mainstay of the workplace part of this event. The conspicuous difference from the UK is that they are no longer a novelty. This concept is over twenty years old in Scandinavia and, in Denmark, it is now mandatory to offer sit-stand desks to employees. In a mature market, every manufacturer’s portfolio includes sit-stand and differentiating themselves from competitors can be difficult. The current focus is therefore on aesthetics and many companies are hiding most of the essential steel components by encasing them in wood. I thought it was significant that I saw no evidence of the gimmicks such as illuminated desktops and hands-free height adjustment that are gaining ground in the USA. There is also no discussion about whether or not people use adjustable desks (a preoccupation in the UK): sit-stand is part of the regional culture.

Amongst the furniture manufacturers were several balance/wobble board variations to encourage exercise and movement whilst standing at the desk. These included everything from the most basic plastic device to an elaborate mini-surfboard. In the age of crowd-funding, even the most bizarre and unviable designs can at least get to pre-production stage if they have a funky health message and a clever video!

sofi_mesh2Scandinavia has been in the vanguard of workplace seating design for many years and the key regional manufacturers were all represented. Task chairs continue to evolve, offering greater comfort, more intuitive adjustment and improved aesthetics. A strong sustainability story is no longer topical since that too is now ‘business as usual’. As Aleksander Borgenhov, one of the designers, summed up the development process, the objective is to create ‘a beautiful object from something that is, in fact, a highly advanced machine’.

Beyond the task chairs, there was, as you would expect, lots of soft seating and other breakout furniture. These days, I believe the ranges available in the UK from our domestic manufacturers are as innovative, elegant and functional as any in the world. Some of the British manufacturers were also exhibiting and they certainly ‘hold their own’ in an international market. The line between workplace and hospitality products is now blurred to the point of extinction and it is easy to imagine products for offices in hotel lobbies or seating for canteens in bars and cafes.

sequesterAcoustics is one discipline where the design of decor and furniture merge. ‘Sound ergonomics’, as I like to think of it, is a fascinating topic. Many high back sofas, huddles and pods for varying work areas incorporate acoustic benefits into the design and its importance is now widely recognised as we grow to understand more about the links between wellbeing and productivity. One of my favourite furniture products addressing these issues is the cocoon-like Sequester (as it is known in the UK) which was being displayed by its Swedish designers.

Many acoustics specialists were also exhibiting. Acoustic panels and components continue to appear in a variety of shapes and sizes and using them as a design feature rather than burying them in partitions and behind images can be highly effective, especially since so many of them are very tactile.

In previous years, I have also spent time exploring the bathroom fittings and accessories, as well as other non-core activities, but there was no time this year and, in any case, such matters are probably of little interest to my audience!

In conclusion, it was an excellent event with lots to see. In terms of new products, I would say the theme was one of evolution rather than revolution. For me, such occasions are also a fabulous opportunity to catch up with old friends from around the world.

rebel_wallsMy favourite product? Actually my second favourite product (see below) but, completely randomly, I spotted the Rebel Walls stand when I stopped for sushi at lunch time. Their 3D trompe l’oeil wallpaper is stunning and the scope for bespoke designs is very clever. I shall be visiting their UK website when we move house later this year!

My one regret? The most exciting product I saw was not on show but in an exhibitor’s hotel room. It is still at the prototype stage and I am unable to tell you about it until later in the year! If you want to be one of the first to hear about it, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter!

See all my photographs from this year’s exhibition on our Pinterest page


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin February 2017

February 10, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 08/02/2017. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

SEATING INNOVATION: ADDRESSING THE SIT-STAND CONUNDRUM:

headerimage02-2017Our free evening seminar in London on February 23rd provides an opportunity to see the new app-enabled Axia Smart Active chair and hear the latest thinking about sitting, standing and movement. Confused about mixed messages and bewildering reports in the press and social media? Here is your opportunity to hear an impartial overview of the latest research from Stephen Bowden of Morgan Maxwell. You can find the full programme, invitation and online booking facilities here.

CLAIM YOUR FREE GIFT AT HEALTH & WELLBEING:

healthandwellbeing2017If you are attending the Health & Wellbeing Exhibition & Conference at the NEC, Birmingham next month, be sure to come and visit us on Stand 113 (just inside the main entrance). New products have been arriving since the start of the year so you can be sure to find solutions you have not seen before. Sit-stand devices on display will include our Motus 1000, 2000 & 3000 ranges and we shall also have new accessories and seating. Whether you are coming with specific issues to address or just want to update your knowledge, let us know you are coming and we shall have your free gift ready when you arrive!

REALISING THE VISION AT PHYSIO FIRST:

physio-firstIt is a while since we last exhibited at the annual Physio First conference. Since that time, there have been dramatic changes in the drive and vision of its executive and members. In conversations over the last few years, it has become clear to me that the ‘business’ of private practice physiotherapy in the UK is changing rapidly and Physio First is leading that change through the 9 Goals of its five year business plan. We want to support the development and growth of the organisation and its members and we shall therefore be back as exhibitors and participants this year!

AN ABUNDANCE OF INPUT DEVICES:

input_devices_latestWe are constantly being approached by manufacturers offering us new products. We reject some of these just by viewing their web site, others are reviewed in our monthly WoW Factor process, most are rejected and a small selection survives to join our portfolio. Whilst some of our competitors keep adding new products, regardless of ergonomics merit, we prefer to restrict our selection so that customers can be confident that what we offer has been pre-qualified before introduction. This month we have already rejected a handful of Chinese sit-stand adaptors but we are delighted to see new input devices from Contour and Bakker Elkhuizen. Expect to see them on our web site soon!

LANDING PAGE FOR OUR ONLINE RESOURCES:

osergresourcesAs you probably know, we regularly update and add to our range of downloadable pdfs and online information. There are many ways to access this but we have recently created a single point of reference. Whether you are looking for our social media pages, Posture Guidance, handheld devices advice, training information or links to lots more valuable information, bit.ly/OsErgResources takes you straight to it.


WDM Newsletter – January/February 2017

January 23, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 19/01/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

LINKING WELLBEING AND ENGAGEMENT
(with a side order of Stealth Ergonomics)

wdmheader2017-01We work with many businesses where engagement levels are high and many clients where this is certainly not the case. As a result, our involvement impacts these organisations in different ways. Many factors affect personnel motivation and we find that health, safety and wellbeing can contribute significantly to corporate culture.

One of our current projects is with an employer where engagement levels are high and there is comprehensive strategic risk management but individual postural awareness is poor. Our project is exploring ways to improve productivity further by impacting this low awareness without shouting about ‘health & safety’ or ‘ergonomics’ (which are considered as boring and irrelevant by many on the trading floor!). We therefore plan to introduce a training programme, linked to the organisation’s Vision & Values, which introduces key issues about workplace postures and behaviours. Using a mix of formats, we plan to deliver Stealth Ergonomics (key training and information without making it obvious!), reducing musculoskeletal issues, enhancing performance and raising engagement levels even more. If this sounds interesting, we would be pleased to discuss how we can bring innovative thinking and a real impact into your own organisation.

SEQUESTER
Bluetooth seating pod

sequesterDesigned by Carsten Buhl for Elite, Sequester provides an enclosed environment where individuals can cocoon themselves in comfort with their own choice of enveloping sound. Built-in Bluetooth stereo enables the occupier to stream music from their laptop or handheld device directly to its concealed loudspeakers and the integral touch panel provides instant remote control of the dimmable LED lighting, volume and track selection. Of course, there is also a USB charger socket! The secure acoustics and elegant curves make this the ideal solo-pod for receptions, atriums and breakout zones. This is a statement piece offering functionality with panache. For premises with restricted access, it can even be delivered in modular form for assembly on site.

‘WOW FACTORS’ FOR SOFT SEATING
It may look fabulous but is it comfortable?

wow_factorsFor several years, we have operated a highly effective ‘WoW Factor’ review process to rate the ergonomics of task chairs. But what about other types of seating? In Issue 9, I mentioned that we were working on a comparable technique to rate everything else and this is now operational. We have reviewed almost 100 products from Elite, Nomique, Orangebox and Pledge. It is a subjective system but surprisingly effective. For example, the aesthetics of reception seating are crucial but long term comfort is probably not such a high priority. By contrast, good support is obviously essential for training room chairs. Horses for courses! Click here to find out more.

SEATINGEXPERTS.UK
Now fully functional

seatingexperts2Also in Issue 9, I referred to the work we have been doing on seatingexperts.uk, the web site for all the products referred to above. This is now complete as well. Divided into 14 categories, it showcases over 100 products for today’s agile workplace, including images and downloadable brochures for each one. Whether your next priority is the boardroom, the canteen, the labs or the training rooms, there is an abundance of products and information to explore. Alternatively, save yourself time and energy and invite us to survey your premises: with our WoW Factor insights, we offer a unique approach to your requirements.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin January 2017

January 13, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 11/01/2017. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

HUMAN FACTORS & ERGONOMICS IN PRACTICE:

headerimage01-2017Back in October, I highlighted the expected arrival of this comprehensive assembly of articles and insights from some of Europe’s most knowledgeable and highly respected ergonomists (oh yes, and me!). It is now available. Edited by Steve Shorrock and Claire Williams, it contains about 30 chapters covering offices, healthcare, aviation, construction, agriculture, military, nuclear operations and much more. The editors have achieved their declared objective to create a wide-ranging publication about human factors and ergonomics as actually applied by practitioners in the real world. What I did not fully expect was the diversity of topics it covers and how much you can learn from these. Even if you have been involved in HF/E for many years (more than 20 in my case), there are many other areas of activity that you probably know little about and these are brought to life by specialists. These chapters provide real insights into the profession, its practitioners and the enormous contribution that HF/E can make to our everyday lives. It is also an excellent book if you are thinking about HF/E for a career and want to explore what fields of activity are most likely to appeal to you. For more insights, visit the book’s web site.

POSTURE GUIDANCE – 20TH ANNIVERSARY:

postureguidanceNow in its umpteenth iteration, our Posture Guidance has been available since 1997 and the latest update is now available. Countless thousands of copies have been handed out as printed documents or downloaded as pdfs over the years and updated versions have introduced mini keyboards, flat screens, laptop stands and, of course, sit-stand desks. Do you have the oldest copy still in use? Just send me a photo and let us see what we find! Every participant will receive a small gift. Please respond by January 31, 2017.

HEALTH & WELLBEING AT WORK – FREE ENTRY:

healthandwellbeing2017We shall be exhibiting in the same location at this year’s event on March 7-8, 2017: Stand 113 just inside the hall entrance. As always, we shall have a range of new products and services to discuss and we look forward to seeing old and new friends. As in previous years, we also have a small number of FREE conference delegate passes to give away in advance. To take part in the draw for one of these, simply email us your contact details by January 31, 2017. For more information about the event, see the web site.

STOCKHOLM FURNITURE FAIR:

stockholmfurniturefairSweden kicks off the international exhibition season with an event that is primarily about aesthetics but, being Scandinavian, includes plenty of ergonomics as well. Stockholm Furniture Fair on February 7-11, 2017 is part of Stockholm Design Week and the home exhibition for many of the ergonomics brands we know in the UK. I look forward to witnessing the new launches. I shall be providing live information from the event through our various Social Media channels and will blog my observations in mid-February.


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