Workplace Design & Management March / April 2016

March 18, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 17/03/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.



Almost weekly, we hear about a Smart/Agile Working programme that is failing to meet expectations. There is obvious corporate appeal in reducing estates and the associated overheads but many organisations fail to address all the associated issues such as manager training and the sense of detachment that may arise from home working. Our January newsletter pointed to some useful free resources or you can contact us for a more hands-on approach. Either directly or through partners, we can offer support for all elements of your programme.


SpiraPlus250pxThe Spira Plus chair offers great ergonomics at a manageable price. Its range of adjustments exceed many models at significantly higher prices, ensuring excellent comfort and support in a stylish, modern design. It meets the brief, whether you need a highly flexible project solution, a specialist occupational health provision or a default preventative chair. Features include adjustable pelvic and lumbar support with independent back-angle adjustment. Options include 4d armrests and extra quilt wrap seat for even greater comfort. For petite users, a shallower seat pan is also available.



Are open plan offices the most effective way to create a dynamic, collaborative environment or the easiest way to ensure impaired productivity? As the debate continues, pods provide a flexible way to break up open spaces with dedicated concentration, contemplation, private or meeting rooms. Rather than ‘what should it look like?’, it is always better to start with ‘what are we going to use it for?’ – not always such an easy question. From telephone box to meeting room, contact us for assistance.


sit-stand-no-training250pxAlmost every office furniture supplier now offers sit-stand desks in their portfolio. Most of them have no understanding of the potential culture change that they bring and many provide no proper training in their use. If you have started a sit-stand programme and failed to see the benefits or installed sit-stand options but nobody is using them, we provide training and education to put that right. Contact us to find out how we can help.  If you would like an overview of how we see the UK market, view my recent blog here.


WearableTechAt the Wearable Technology Show, I was stunned by the pace of recent development. We know a few employers are already running health and wellbeing projects with watch-style monitors. I believe that the workplace revolution will come when other technologies, such as smart textiles, are combined with elite sport methodologies to produce demonstrable business benefits. As yet, I am not really sure what format this may take but I am observing with interest! If you know more about this, want to know more about this or have already run project(s), I would love to hear from you.

How Much Should I Stand at Work

March 10, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 09/03/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.



This is a question we are asked frequently. The debate about sitting and standing continues to rage and, thanks to the wonder that is the ‘interweb’, the volume of information – impartial research, marketing blurb pretending to be research, informed opinion, ill-informed opinion and downright nonsense – continues to grow and intertwine. Prompted by recent conversations with a number of professional colleagues and friends, I have been reading ‘Sitting Kills, Moving Heals’ by Dr Joan Vernikos, former NASA Director of Life Sciences. [more]


HealthAtWork2016As I finalise this eBulletin, we have just finished the first of two days at the NEC. Inevitably, there is plenty of interest in the sit-stand debate but the widespread use of smartphones and tablets is also raising concerns, with increasing evidence of musculo-skeletal issues. Our newly-published Handheld Devices Posture Guide has been well-received. Many delegates were also surprised to learn that our recent survey showed that three-quarters of those doing work on tablets are using their own device, not one issued by their employer.



You probably know us for our specialist seating skills. For over twenty years, we have provided a portfolio of products and services to address musculo-skeletal symptoms in the workplace. You may not be so aware of our broad range of seating products for every type of workplace application including home workers, reception, canteen, training, breakout, laboratory and industrial. Ergonomics may be less critical in some of these situations but we apply a similar approach to ensure the best possible outcome for your needs. For a better idea of the size and scope of our portfolio, visit our landing page at, download our general seating brochure here or contact us to arrange a London showroom tour.


unusual_trainingYou may know that we have company training days every two months. As well as keeping everyone fully conversant with the latest products and industry trends, it also gives us an opportunity to cover broader background topics. The Logistics Department has been exceptionally busy recently so we thought some extra driver training would be well received in February. Our picture shows the Ferrari California and Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder that each member of the team drove for an hour. For some reason, they preferred this to reviewing the DSE Regulations!


erica_babyMany of you have spoken to Erica Hobson in the Customer Service team or communicated with her by email about quotations and tenders. She is currently on maternity leave and Aiden Charles Edward was born on February 8th, weighing 8lbs 9ozs. Erica and her partner, Marc, tell us that all is going well, not least because Aiden mainly eats and sleeps at the moment!

How much should I stand at work?

March 7, 2016

newspaper_headlines_600As the debate about too much sitting rages on, there are many misunderstandings. ‘How much should I stand at work?’ is a question we are asked frequently but, like ‘What is the best office chair?’, it is one of those ‘not really the right question’ questions. Thanks to the reach and diversity of the ‘net, the volume of information on the topic – impartial research, marketing blurb pretending to be research, informed opinion, ill-informed opinion and downright nonsense – continues to grow and, for many, the newspaper headlines and conflicting messages are bewildering.

When people ask me about the ‘right’ amount of time to sit and stand, I jokingly ask them to give me a figure that suits their needs and I will find them some research to support that figure! As a non-academic, it seems to me that researchers always say that more research is needed (possibly because they are actively seeking funding to extend their research?) but they are not always good at looking objectively at existing research, especially if it may contradict theirs (possibly because they are actively seeking funding to extend their research?).

Sometimes, history is completely ignored. Reports as far back as the nineteenth century and significant research from the 1980s onwards identify musculo-skeletal symptoms associated with long periods of standing amongst retail workers and others. Yet, the Consensus Statement published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) in 2015 concludes that those whose jobs are predominantly desk-based should “progress towards accumulating 2 hours per day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 hours per day”.

I have already stated that I am not an academic and I must also make it clear that I have no medical training either but, as one who has spent over twenty years working in the field of workplace ergonomics, it seems to me that the research basis for the BJSM paper makes cardiovascular issues its focus and ignores or trivialises the musculo-skeletal considerations. I know many people who could not possibly stand for as much as four hours a day, yet a document with the Public Health England logo in its header advises them to do so.

No wonder there is so much confusion!

what-can-we-learn-from-spacePrompted by the disparity in advice and encouraged by recent conversations with professional colleagues and friends, I have been looking for research-based recommendations that we may be more confident about. As a result, I have been reading ‘Sitting Kills, Moving Heals’ by Dr Joan Vernikos, former NASA Director of Life Sciences.

At first glance, the cover has the look of one of those slightly dubious self-published, self-help books but the content is based on thirty years of NASA research and experience. It was published in 2011 (more work that was apparently ignored or overlooked in the BJSM conclusions) but is particularly topical at the moment since British astronaut Tim Peake has been carrying out cardiovascular research on the International Space Station.

In simple terms, Dr Vernikos’ primary recommendation to reduce the cardiovascular risks of prolonged sitting is to stand up often. Her work concludes that the length of time standing is not relevant but the number of times you stand up is what matters. In other words, standing up ten times for two minutes is ten times more effective than standing up once for twenty minutes. The answer to the question ‘How much should I stand at work?’ is therefore little and often. A couple of minutes a few times an hour should suffice. Remember, though, that this must be throughout your waking hours, not just at work. Obviously, other elements of a healthy lifestyle will also help and we continue to recommend all our other sit-stand tips.

Of course, the 150-page book contains much more than one simple recommendation and the history, background, medical and scientific explanation makes an easy, enjoyable read. It is likely I shall blog further about this in due course.

In the meantime, I look forward to being challenged about this article! What do you think?

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