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.


WDM Newsletter – December 2016

December 16, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 15/12/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

OUR FIRST YEAR OF NEWSLETTERS
A volatile period for politics, business and the economy

wdmheader2016-12As the end of the year approaches, we can reflect on some dramatic events, welcome the festive season and celebrate the first twelve WDM issues. We thank you for valuing our commitment to customer service and quality products and, in a highly competitive market, we really appreciate your business. We also know that many of our regular newsletter readers are not customers themselves but do specify and recommend us to clients and colleagues. These are valuable introductions and we always welcome suggestions for new resources that you would like us to provide. Whether this time of year is important to you for religious or family reasons – or just the chance to eat and drink too much and fall asleep in front of the TV! – we wish you a very happy time and look forward to speaking to you in 2017.

MY FAVOURITE APPS OF 2016
A handful of handy tools to make your life a little easier

apps_2016This is a little off-piste compared to my usual items but I use a wide variety of tablet/smartphone apps (more than 150 at the last count) and I thought it might be of interest to share those I use most often or find most useful. This is not intended to be one of those ‘ten things that changed my life’ lists. If that is what you are looking for, try GQ’s 100 Best Things in the World Right Now. By contrast, I hope my short list contains at least one or two that you do not already know about that might potentially save you time or money or make your life a little easier. [more]

PEPI MESH
Simple, stylish design at a competitive price

pepi_meshPepi Mesh
has been designed to maximise user comfort and convenience. Its breathable, height-adjustable mesh back and synchronised balance mechanism (with auto weight adjustment) make Pepi ideal for today’s flexible work environments. Like the solid back version, it offers lumbar support and seat slide as standard, as well as optional height- and width-adjustable armrests. You can find the full technical specification here. For other project seating choices, please visit seatingexperts.co.uk.


CHRISTMAS DONATION

Helping save lives

air_ambulanceOur 2016 Christmas donation goes to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, selected by our team as a very worthy local cause. The average cost of each mission is £2,500 and most involve life-or-death situations. This excellent work receives no government funding and relies entirely on charitable donations from the general public. We are proud to help with our own small contribution.

PRICE REVIEWS
Currency impacts take their toll

price-reviewsI have mentioned before that recent £/$/€ fluctuations have impacted everyone. It is common for manufacturers to propose price rises at this time of year and we expect increases from all our suppliers. At up to 10%, some increases are significant (although all look trivial compared to Microsoft and Apple!). To minimise the impact, most manufacturers are looking at product-by-product reviews rather than a blanket percentage increase for their entire range. We shall be publishing all price updates once we have consolidated all the information but I would strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible if your are planning or budgeting for significant purchases in 2017. The sooner we know, the more we can do to help.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin December 2016

December 16, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 14/12/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

SEVEN YEARS OF EBULLETINS:

headerimage12-2016As the end of the year approaches, we welcome the festive season and celebrate 7 years of uninterrupted monthly eBulletins. If you are a customer, it is the time for us to thank you once again for your continued support. In a highly competitive market, we thank you for valuing our commitment to customer service and quality products. We really appreciate your business. We also know that many of our regular readers are not customers but do specify and recommend us to clients and others. This is another valued source of business and, if you are not doing so already, we invite you to explore other ways to keep in touch such as social media or our many webinars and training events. Whether this time of year is important to you for religious or family reasons – or just the chance to eat and drink too much and fall asleep in front of the TV! – we wish you a very happy time and look forward to speaking to you in 2017.

AXIA SMART ACTIVE CHAIR:

axia_smart_activeIs this the future of seated wellbeing? BMA have addressed the ‘sit less, move more’ conundrum with the latest version of their Smart Chair technology. We believe the Axia Smart Active chair is unique worldwide in delivering Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone app, creating a personal, multi-functional posture coach. Sensors in the chair seatpan enable the app to track movement, sitting time and posture changes (or lack of them) and it prompts to encourage dynamic chair use. It also gives personalised tips and practical advice according to the individual’s behaviour. For further information, view the video or contact us.

CHRISTMAS DONATION:

dorsetairambulanceIt is many years since we last sent Christmas cards but we still associate this seasonal donation loosely with giving up the practice and spending the money more effectively. Our personnel are invited to nominate their chosen charity and then we all vote to decide on the recipient. For 2016, our Christmas donation goes to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. With an average cost of £2,500 per mission and no funding except charitable donations, we all believe this is a very worthy cause.

MY FAVOURITE APPS OF 2016:

appsThis is a little off-piste compared to my usual items but I use a wide variety of tablet/smartphone apps (more than 150 at the last count) and I thought it might be of interest to share those I use most often or find most useful. This is not intended to be one of those ‘ten things that changed my life’ lists. If that is what you are looking for, try GQ’s 100 Best Things in the World Right Now. By contrast, I hope my short list contains at least one or two that you do not already know about that might potentially save you time or money or make your life a little easier.  [more]

PRICE REVIEWS:

price_risesIt is common for manufacturers to propose price rises at this time of year. You will be aware (and I have mentioned before) that Sterling/Dollar and Sterling/Euro fluctuations have impacted everyone and we expect price rises from all our suppliers. Some increases are significant (although all look trivial compared to Microsoft and Apple!). To minimise increases, most manufacturers are looking at product-by-product reviews rather than a systemic increase. Price updates will be published once we have consolidated the information we have, but I would strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible if you are planning or budgeting for significant purchases in 2017. The sooner we know, the more we can do to help.


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