Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin April 2020

April 8, 2020

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 8/04/2020. You can register here to receive them monthly.



Government guidance (or insistence) to work from home if possible makes this a significant topic across the globe. As you already know, there is endless information available through social media and, as always, the quality is variable. As a consumer, separating the valuable insights from the regurgitated press releases can be a time-consuming activity in itself. Equally, as an author, I try to offer useful content and get it heard above the noise. For this month’s newsletter, therefore, I have just written about what we know, what we are finding, what we have experienced and what we anticipate. Reporting is of little value without drawing conclusions or offering  suggestions so follow the links below to find out more.



The universal implications of COVID-19 are hard for any of us to grasp fully. In the workplace, we observe a domino effect with new demands appearing week by week. We are seeing employers sending people home to work in very large numbers. This is an inevitable response to government instructions but the needs and productivity of each homeworker are proving very variable.

Obviously, home working is not new and many employers have been developing home working capability as part of a broader Agile Working plan for some time. The differences currently are the pace, the scale and, most significantly, the lack of comprehensive preparation.

[read more on our blog page]

[read more on LinkedIn]



Unusually, I have similar experience to the current lockdown.

I was staying with my brother in Houston, Texas when Hurricane Harvey landed in 2017. By the time I arrived, shops and restaurants had already closed and, by the following morning, only very large stores were open.

Within hours, supermarket shelves were bare and we were on an island about 3 miles in diameter. Flood water blocked roads in all directions. Thousands of people were stranded upstairs in their homes. The overwhelming power of water was in evidence everywhere and it was frustrating to feel so helpless.

[read more on our blog page]

[read more on LinkedIn]


adult education: Diverse mature students working in their college library

As mentioned in one of the blogs above, Champion Health is now a collaboration partner.

I shall be posting more about them in due course but I wanted to draw your specific attention to their Online Mental Health Training which is now available completely free during the COVID-19 pandemic. In less than an hour, participants can learn about self-care and healthy working at home; boosting resilience; understanding stress, anxiety and depression and supporting others.

For the longer term, their unique digital survey tool reviews physical, mental and lifestyle health and provides anonymised data that enables employers to focus resources on the areas that really need attention, ensuring maximum benefit for staff and maximum ROI for the organisation.



I seem to have received more webinar invitations in the last week than in the last three months. Interestingly, only one invitation offered a choice of times. Maybe this is just my interpretation, but there seems to be a widespread assumption that we are all sitting at home staring out of the window and waiting for something to do!

We have decided to take a different approach so our ‘Tips for Homeworkers’ has been recorded by Stuart Entwistle, our Training Manager.

It is available here to view whenever it suits you.



Workplace Evolutionaries, a cross-disciplinary global community, is using this unique opportunity to carry out worldwide research about the work-from-home (WFH) experience.

The research objectives include finding out what is and isn’t working, the potential impact of WFH on employers, employees and the environment and the likely impact of COVID-19 on future workplace designs and practices.

You can find out more about the survey and participation, either as an individual or as an organisation, from this download or go straight to the questions here.


April 7, 2020

This article is a spoof! It was created as an April Fools’ Day joke on April 1st, 2020


We have been working with organisations deploying Agile Working programmes for several years. Obviously, in the current pandemic, thousands of employers have become more or less agile almost overnight. One of the key issues addressing communications with, and between, home workers is the need to maintain communications and minimise isolation (ironic in a national state of self-isolation).

The need for more use of video instead of email and phone calls is widely recommended and this is easily done with Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Google Hangouts all readily available. In particular, Zoom meetings have appeared as a leading, easy-to-deploy technology that even the Cabinet have mastered!

As a partial home worker for many years, I have always wondered whether more might be done to enhance the sense of community and connection when working remotely. A chance encounter with application developer, Nevjerojatna Priča, a while ago led to some exciting developments which are still only at beta stage but I felt now would be a suitable time to sense check our work so far.

My discussions with Nev started around what attributes we associate with those we know. Clearly, if we have shared workspace with them in the past, we know what they look like and how they sound but is there anything else that you specifically associate with them? This led us to thinking about smell. Do they use a particular cologne or perfume? Do they bring in home baked cakes? Do they smoke? Do you work with them in a particular location or maybe go for a regular coffee in your favourite coffee shop? Do you go to the pub with them? If you stop to think about it, there may be a location-related aroma you associate with them.

So how do your colleagues think you smell? What scent or aroma encapsulates you (or would you like to be associated with)?

After intense development work, none of which I understand, Nev has developed the Olfactory App, or OlfApp, which enables you to capture your particular smell/aroma/scent. This then creates a piece of code – an olfactory avatar – which you can embed in certain applications. Beta tests only work in WhatsApp at the moment but we hope to have more soon.

If you would like to be part of Nev’s beta test team, these tips will improve effectiveness: For perfumes and colognes, choose citrus rather than musk tones. If you use Brut, you may erase all your contacts. If you choose newly-baked bread, it should not be sliced. Coffee should be beans or ground, not instant. If you want to use a particular pub or coffee shop, you will obviously have to wait.

You can get the app here.




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Osmond Ergonomics special eBulletin March 2020

April 7, 2020

This article was originally emailed as an extra interim eBulletin at 11:30 on 25/03/2020. You can register here to receive them monthly.



We have never seen a crisis like the current pandemic so, hopefully, you will find my collected thoughts about moving to home working – and doing so at short notice – beneficial. Hopefully, frequent home workers will have already discovered many of the tips here and incorporated them into their daily work routine. For those who are new to the experience (and those who need reminding), here are lots of ideas to keep you healthy (physically and mentally). [more]


SMEwellbeingRunning an SME is a demanding job. Fulfilling some or all of the roles of CEO, Finance, Quality, Estates, Facilities, Occupational Health, Health & Safety, Fire Officer, First Aider, Transport Manager and Housekeeper fills a long day! However, as the business starts to grow, it is possible to delegate some (and, eventually, most) of this responsibility. Even so, it might be forgiven if staff wellbeing slips down the daily agenda. Fortunately, the culture of most SMEs supports many elements of wellbeing by default (and probably by accident in the first instance). [more]


ciehf2020This year, the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors conference also incorporates the international ODAM (Organisational Design & Management) symposium. As with many similar events, it will no longer happen face-to-face. Instead, it will be curated online. There are moves afoot to encourage more workplace-related ergonomics at annual conferences and I am due to be one of the participants for an Agile Working ODAM session. This was to have been a panel discussion but, at the time of writing, the revised format is in the process of finalisation.


WorkplaceTrendsThe WT programme covers a rolling series of topical issues in workplace design. Last month, I attended the Climate Change and the Workplace seminar. This was primarily about the urgent issues for builders, developers, owners and occupiers in addressing the national and regional Net Zero Carbon commitments. The target for the UK as a whole is 2050 but some local authorities have set more urgent objectives. Whilst the really major challenges come in the building construction, the targets are so demanding that every element needs thorough consideration. Careful thought about the operational energy footprint of the furniture, fixtures and fittings should therefore be a priority as well.


healthandwellbeingBy the time you read this, we shall either be in the process of exhibiting at, or will have already attended this event. Although the exhibition & conference name has not changed since inception, last year saw a significant increase in both exhibitors and visitors who wanted to place a specific focus on Wellbeing. We expect that to continue. With that in mind, this is the ideal event for us to explore our first conversations with smaller employers about that focus. We are also bringing a greater emphasis on sustainability as climate change becomes a central theme once again.

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