November 12, 2012
Orgatec, the European workplace furniture show, has matured from an enormous market of products to a biennial event using these products to explore themes and concepts. As well as specific display areas covering subjects such as acoustics and lighting, many of the larger exhibitors demonstrated their own approaches to collaboration, productivity and connectivity. (Ironically, as exhibitors recognised the need for the “always on” office, the event organisers charged visitors €25 per day for Wi-Fi access!)
The ancient question of “how much space do you have and how many people do you want to put in it” has transformed into a complex and multi-disciplinary discussion. Furniture design is a key element in that discussion but psychology plays an ever-increasing role. As employers seek to improve the wellbeing of their personnel, office designers must now consider the psycho-social impacts of where, when and how people work. Lighting and colour become crucial factors in the design process and the provision of flexible areas for individual and collaborative work raises issues of confidentiality and acoustic comfort.
Acoustic pods have come of age with designs for offices-within-offices or individual “telephone boxes” as well as a plethora of high-back soft furnishing to create an impression of confidentiality.
There are inevitable limitations to the simple business of providing office workers with a flat surface suspended above the floor but furniture designers and manufacturers continue, quite literally, to think inside and outside the box!
November 12, 2012
Here are the answers to the survey distributed through our October 2012 eBulletin.
Click on any chart to enlarge it.
There are some very positive indicators in the data provided above. However, many respondents showed strong signs of frustration and stress in their own roles when asked the question, “What is the one challenge that makes the biggest demands on your time and energy?”
Here is a cross-section of responses:
- Providing a diverse group of people with information that will support their independent progression through different tasks. Then making sure the information is clearly understood and accessible at all levels of ability.
- Not enough hours/resources, which leads to dropping proactive and just being reactive.
- Ensuring statutory compliance against a history of poor management and decreasing budgets
- Responding to procurement-driven Requests for Proposals from potential customers who are not familiar with the products/services they are purchasing.
- Not having the money for equipment
- Supporting people with mental health difficulties.
- Communication with management who expect black and white answers in complex areas, who don’t appreciate the contribution Health and Safety can make to overall corporate objectives, who don’t want to listen and therefore isolate and bully those with messages they do not want to hear.
- Encouraging active responsibility for one’s own health. i.e. the importance of micro-pauses into the daily routine and avoiding short cuts in moving and handling.
- Covering duties of absentees / unfilled vacancies
- Increase in workload from various sources within the business due to lack of competent specialists within the business therefore H&S department are taking on new tasks which would typically be associated with other specialisms. Therefore increasing stress levels and pressure from management to work longer hours and weekends.
- Managing expectations – I have only been at this Company for six months and the level of expectation regarding my support to assist them to manage their risks grows by the day! In terms of topics, driving at work, working at height, estate management (especially maintenance) and wearing PPE are the main ones.
- Compliance with UK and Corporate Company requirements with very few resources
- Return to work programmes
- Providing training as required
- Keeping up with appointment after appointment.
- Dealing with emails
- Budgets and red tape
- Convincing managers that it’s worth spending budget on Health, Safety, Wellbeing and Ergonomics
- Endless amounts of Email
- Display Screen Equipment health and well-being – supporting concerns, DSE Assessors, reviewing needs of furniture and ergonomic accessories, promoting DSE, seated posture best practice and importance of back care.
- Getting clients back to work
- Trying to follow-up, chase people to get projects completed.
- Advice and support to managers and employees about pain, discomfort and access to suitable equipment
- Being able to provide accurate data and relevant information to six functional directorates at one time
- Developing the real understanding of ergonomics as something that benefits employees, management and the users of the products
- Occupational health referrals, DSE and ergonomic assessments, stress assessments, reacting to incidents and accidents, building projects, asbestos management, fire safety
- Externally imposed changes
- VDU Risk Assessments
- Communication of the problem and re-writing policies to pass another test!
- Low morale, sickness, stress
- Juggling multiple demands, increased workload, insufficient time or resource to accommodate all requests for assistance.