WDM Newsletter – September/October 2017

September 25, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 21/09/2017. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

HÅG TRIBUTE CHAIR
Style, Elegance & Comfort

WDMheader2017-09HÅG Tribute is the ideal chair to make a serious statement in your boardroom and formal meeting spaces. Norwegian Svein Asbjørnsen of sapDesign® worked with HÅG once again to develop the Tribute with the declared intention to create ‘the world’s most uncompromisingly comfortable executive chair’. Incorporating the signature HÅG in Balance® technology, integral lumbar support, optional headrest and TiltDownTM  armrests, it is visually sleek yet offers outstanding comfort and support. As with all HÅG products, it is also highly sustainable and precision made. Please contact us for a brochure and further information.

PLEASE RESUBSCRIBE!
New data protection rules make this essential

resubscribeTo ensure we comply with the imminent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, we are asking ALL subscribers to reregister to ensure you continue to receive this monthly newsletter. Since its introduction, we have accumulated a substantial database. To meet the more stringent 2018 requirements, we need to be certain we have proof of opting in from all our readers so we shall be closing down this database before the year end. To ensure uninterrupted delivery, please take a couple of minutes to register for the new database hereThe reregistration submission will send you a confirmation email to complete the process. Please check your spam/junk directories if you do not receive it. Many thanks for your continued interest and support.

MUCH MORE THAN FURNITURE
Training & events to reflect our broader portfolio

biggreeneventAs our key clients sharpen their focus on employee wellbeing, our furniture offering is now complemented by a broader range of activities. These include training, events and services to address health, wellbeing and engagement issues. Our involvement in two upcoming events reflects this trend. The Big Green Event in Southampton and Citywork in London will enable us to meet organisations who share our values and appreciate our products. At The Big Green Event, I shall also be presenting a LearnZone workshop about sit-stand furniture as part of an agile working programme.

ERGOEXPO 2017 REVIEW
Paris, but not as we know it!

ergoexpo2017I have been attending the ErgoExpo in Las Vegas since 2005 but, in exhibition terms, this was the Year of the Sit-Stand Desk!  There were two other significant changes: the venue has moved from Caesar’s Palace to the Paris Hotel and the date changed from the autumn to August. As far as hotel concepts are concerned, I prefer the Paris to Caesar’s (which, in my view, was a contrived brand 50 years ago and has not redeemed itself in the intervening years). However, as with ‘all things Vegas’, the Paris hotel concept is, to European sensibilities, very much a caricature of the French capital rather than a realistic representation of any part of it. If you could translate English into French simply by preceding every English or American noun with ‘le’ or ‘la’, my conversational French would be much better than it is! [more]


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin September 2017

September 15, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 13/09/2017. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

ERGOEXPO 2017 REVIEW

ebulletinheader2017-09I have been attending the ErgoExpo in Las Vegas since 2005 but this year saw two significant changes: the venue has moved from Caesar’s Palace to the Paris Hotel and the date changed from the autumn to August. As far as hotel concepts are concerned, I prefer the Paris to Caesar’s (which, in my view, was a contrived brand 50 years ago and has not redeemed itself in the intervening years). However, as with ‘all things Vegas’, the Paris hotel concept is, to European sensibilities, very much a caricature of the French capital rather than a realistic representation of any part of it. If you could translate English into French simply by preceding every English or American noun with ‘le’ or ‘la’, my conversational French would be much better than it is! [more]

CONTOUR UNIMOUSE – SOMETHING SPECIAL

unimouseAt least every couple of months for about the last 10 years, we have been notified of a new ‘ergonomic’ mouse. These new devices are always either a cheap rip-off of an established product or a ‘revolutionary’, research-backed design that addresses key issues in a way that no previous mouse manufacturer has been able to do. In every case, the vendor is positively evangelical in their product advocacy! After nearly 25 years in the industry I hope, therefore, that you will forgive me for being somewhat jaded about such launches.
Then along comes the Unimouse! I have been aware of its backroom development in various iterations for several years and now have a beta-version of the final product which I collected at ErgoExpo. In my view, it has been worth the wait. My whole team are excited about the adjustability, functionality and quality of our sample. I genuinely believe this is the most comprehensive and viable embodiment to date of the power-grip vertical mouse philosophy. The official UK launch is still a few months away so contact us now to make sure you are kept informed of opportunities to see and test the new design.

PLEASE RESUBSCRIBE!

resubscribeTo ensure we comply with the imminent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, we are asking ALL subscribers to reregister to ensure you continue to receive this monthly newsletter. Over nearly eight years since its introduction, we have accumulated a substantial database. To meet the more stringent 2018 requirements, we need to be certain we have proof of opting in from all our readers so we shall be closing down this database before the year end. To ensure uninterrupted delivery, please take a couple of minutes to register for the new database here. Many thanks for your continued interest and support.

SUMMER IS OVER – CONFERENCES ARE COMING

seminarsAs Autumn approaches, the conference and exhibition cycle restarts. This year we have stepped away from our previous experience and tried some very different events. We have been very pleased with the results. This trend continues in October and November  with The Big Green Event in Southampton and Citywork in London. As wellbeing and engagement become central themes for best-practice employers and our own range of services evolves to meet these needs, it becomes increasingly important to us to work with organisations who share our values as well as like our products! These events help us to identify those employers.


ErgoExpo 2017

September 12, 2017

ergoexpo_entranceI have been attending the ErgoExpo in Las Vegas since 2005 but this year saw two significant changes: the venue has moved from Caesar’s Palace to the Paris Hotel and the date changed from the autumn to August. As far as hotel concepts are concerned, I prefer the Paris to Caesar’s (which, in my view, was a contrived brand 50 years ago and has not redeemed itself in the intervening years). However, as with ‘all things Vegas’, the Paris hotel is, to European sensibilities, very much a caricature of the French capital rather than a realistic representation of any part of it. la_pizzaIf you could translate English into French simply by preceding every English or American noun with ‘le’ or ‘la’, my conversational French would be much better than it is!

In describing the event itself, it is probably desirable to think of it in three elements: expo, conference and networking.

Dealing with networking first, it is undoubtedly a useful event for me in business terms and I have made valuable contacts over the years. Some business opportunities materialise almost instantly and others have taken over five years to take shape. Beyond the pure business opportunities, I have made many very good friends since 2005 and, as with all good friends, each conference is an opportunity to pick up where we left off, ignoring the fact that it is a year (or more) since we last met up.

Workfit-TLEThe expo has grown since I last attended but this expansion was largely due to the inevitable influx of (mainly Chinese) manufacturers of sit-stand desks and adaptors. There were also new models from established vendors but the selection was largely me-too products and a handful of minor innovations.

Pricing was the hot topic. In the US, many large employers are progressively replacing all office desks with sit-stand so the volumes are exponentially larger than the UK (where 10-20% sit-stand is the common ratio for new installations). As a result, the volumes are now enticing manufacturers with fully automated robotic operations, creating significant economies of scale. Time will tell if or when these financial benefits will impact Europe.

unimouseOn the accessories front, there were three innovations that caught my attention.

Kinesis previewed the Freestyle Pro keyboard, which adds the on-board memory and programmable macro functions of their Advantage keyboard to the Freestyle form factor. (This was also a Delegates’ Choice award winner).

Contour Design previewed their Unimouse (an old name but a new product). This power-grip ‘ergo’ mouse introduces a previously-unknown level of adjustability and functionality and, in my view, has the potential to replace the Evoluent as the current best-selling vertical mouse.g_hold

G-Hold is a remarkably simple but highly effective answer to the issues arising from prolonged tablet use, significantly reducing the risk of musculo-skeletal problems.

Since the global seating manufacturers have representation in Europe and the indigenous American manufacturers do not generally export to Europe, I never spend much time looking at chairs.

The conference keynote presentations were interesting, entertaining and useful. The body of the conference contained a more variable mix of high- and lowlights. It was

  • simultaneously reassuring and frustrating to see that ergonomists in the USA, as in the UK, get called in too late on new jobs and are then asked to retrofix design errors that could have been avoided so easily if they had been involved from the start
  • surprising to be told ‘people don’t need training for sit-stand desks – they will figure it out for themselves’!
  • unsurprising to hear the question ‘how long should people stand for’ (several times in different sessions) and hear presenters address the ‘it depends’ answer with different levels of success
  • shocking to be told that the sit-stand ratio should be 1:1 and standing for not more than two hours at a time was acceptable

In conference terms, my highlight this year was to hear and then meet Dr Joan Vernikos, author of ‘Sitting Kills, Movement Heals’ and ex-NASA scientist, whose work over 30 years provides some of the most valuable and reliable insights into ‘the sit-stand question’.

Finally, I mentioned at the outset that the event had moved to August from autumn. Before attending, I was concerned about uncomfortably high outside temperatures in August. As it turned out, this was not an issue. However, leaving Vegas for Houston to visit family when Hurricane Harvey had decided to join us certainly was an issue. But my Houston Adventure is a story for another time!


WDM Newsletter – August 2017

August 21, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 17/08/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

THE BEST WORK ENVIRONMENT
Will only happen with training!

WDMheader2017-08Our workplace environment impacts our wellbeing and productivity. Lots of research tells us this and there are endless articles about the design of space, light, temperature, acoustics, furniture and buildings themselves. The more holistic articles (and enlightened employers) embrace diet and exercise too. Perhaps I am reading the wrong articles but there seems to be comparatively little about training. Some of the key issues (light, temperature and acoustics, for example) will directly affect individuals without any proactive participation. Other key factors will require Behaviour Change to make a significant difference or even, in some cases, make any difference at all. Engagement specialists understand this and Behaviour Change experts help employers make this happen but it often seems to be forgotten that we are creatures of habit. Unless encouraged, aided or cajoled, we default to acting as we always have, whatever the changes to our environment. Let us hear more about the essential education and support necessary to optimise the use of our work environments. If you are a specialist in these disciplines – or know where to find the articles I am missing, please let me know!

CANTEEN AND CAFÉ FURNITURE
How will it be used?

canteen_and_cafeDoes your organisation use the staff restaurant just for eating or as an ad hoc meeting place? Are your catering facilities simply a refuelling station for your own people or a hospitality area for visitors? Do you prefer circular tables or will long rectangular benches increase the likelihood of serendipitous meetings? Will you need power sources for laptops and handheld devices? Ready access to healthy food is a crucial element of today’s wellbeing focus and properly planned catering facilities provide a multi-functional space which can enhance staff engagement and improve communications. The furnishing of any hospitality area needs to consider the scope of use as well as the corporate brand and ethos. This link provides a handful of examples and we can suggest many more depending on the answers to these and other questions.

SIT-STAND-PERCH
Exploring the ‘third way’

sit-stand-perchIt is ironical that perching, the ‘third way’ in the sit-stand conversation, first became topical a few decades ago during discussions about standing too much! Historically, there have been many logical applications for perching in manufacturing environments as a way to reduce the standing time for machine operators and process personnel without the productivity loss which can arise from frequent changes between sitting and standing. You will also see perching stools in galleries and museums so that attendants do not have to stand for their entire shift. [read more]

CYBER SECURITY
The responsibility of everyone

cyber_securityWe are currently reviewing our cyber security procedures and data protection systems. Two key factors stand out: you are only as strong as your weakest link and the list of devices, apps, processes and systems to be part of the review seems endless. Reflecting on the former, it comes as no real surprise that the WannaCry attack on the NHS and other organisations was so effective. It only needs one individual to unknowingly open an unsafe item on apparatus that has not been fully maintained to expose a weakness. Keeping your systems updated and ensuring all your personnel take personal responsibility for their own devices is a full-time challenge!


Sit-Stand-Perch – Exploring the Third Option

August 9, 2017

WDMheader2016-04It is ironical that perching, the ‘third way’ in the sit-stand conversation, first became topical a few decades ago during discussions about standing too much!

Historically, there have been many logical applications for perching in manufacturing environments as a way to reduce the standing time for machine operators and process personnel without the productivity loss which can arise from frequent changes between sitting and standing. You will also see perching stools in galleries and museums so that attendants do not have to stand for their entire shift. The principal benefits of perching in such situations are an open pelvic angle for better spinal posture; reduced risk of slouching thereby encouraging better breathing; quicker and easier transition to standing height which can impact productivity and, in customer-facing applications, better eye-contact with others who are standing.

There are several ways of achieving a perching posture in an office application and chair designers and manufacturers have created many innovative approaches to the topic – with varying degrees of success! This article will not be an analysis of these different approaches but I will use three office-focused designs to illustrate the diversity available and help you to make your own decisions or, at least, ask the right questions. It is quite possible that other chair promoters and manufacturers will respond with ‘why mine is best’ comments below! As always, my advice is to beware of advertising disguised as advice.

muvmanFor a modern approach to the traditional ‘bus stop’ perch, the Muvman provides a simple, comfortable seat with a spring in the height-adjustable stem and a patented movable joint in the base. This allows a dynamic sitting posture with natural movement which most people find ‘surprisingly comfortable’. The only adjustment is for gas-stem height and, for stability, the base has no castors and is quite heavy.

 

twizzy_saddle_seatThe saddle stool concept is widely available in a range of shapes and sizes. This sort of seating is popular with dentists, podiatrists and in some manufacturing environments but less common in offices. The saddle posture allows the user to sit at, typically, 50-70% of standing height but it is important to specify a gas stem that will go high enough (this may not be the default option). For anatomical reasons, an adjustable forward tilt will usually be desirable for male users. It is also important to note that it is not easy to judge what shape saddle any individual will prefer. Over the years, we have experimented on the basis or male/female pelvis shape, buttock width and thigh girth – without arriving at any reliable conclusions! If you are purchasing for an individual, be sure to carry out a trial first and if you are buying for multiple users, choose a mixture of models. Be aware, also, that some users simply cannot live with the saddle concept.

HAG Capisco back-to-backThe Capisco has been established for many years and takes a very different approach. With a suitably high gas stem, this chair offers traditional sitting, saddle-style sitting and reverse sitting (with the chair back supporting the sternum).  Some employers also use these with fixed-height high desks, adding a foot ring to allow a traditional sitting posture at height. For employers who want dynamic sitting and a stylish, unique look, Capisco can be used as a single solution to the sit-perch-stand approach.

Other models, each with their own story, can be viewed on our web site here.

It is also worth considering how such models can be deployed. Many may require both a traditional chair and a perching stool/chair. Do you have enough space? Alternatively, can you provide sit-stand (or stand only) desks without a traditional chair and just the sit-perch option?

As always, it is essential to ensure that, whatever configuration you decide on is fully supported by quality training.


WDM Newsletter – July/August 2017

July 24, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 20/07/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

AN INTERNATIONAL WORKFORCE
Impacting engagement across multiple cultures

WDMheader2017-07This month I have been looking at health and safety legislation in multiple territories. This conversation then extended into looking at other roles with multinational responsibility and thinking about how different organisations approach cultural diversity. It is hard enough to address all the issues affecting engagement in a single country, so overlaying cultural conflicts adds an order of magnitude to the challenge. This is especially so when the parent company has a very different national culture and assumes it can simply be overlaid on every other territory worldwide! Are you and your organisation especially good at both recognising and integrating cultural diversity – or is this a problem you are currently facing? I want to explore this further and welcome any contributions, questions or ideas. In the first instance, please email me to join the conversation.

RENDEZVOUS
Design: Jason Lansdale

rendezvousAs offices start to look like hotel lounges and hotel lounges become work hubs, specific themes and approaches emerge. New product concepts appear and, within weeks, every manufacturer has its own interpretation of the same idea! Once that has happened, it becomes a personal choice for style, quality and function.Rendezvous is my favourite product in its niche, offering a choice of high sitting or standing in a variety of configurations. For co-working and ABW – or just somewhere for a quiet cup of coffee – it is available to accommodate 4-12 people with a choice of screen heights and finishes. If you are thinking about extending your range of standing height work areas, especially in an agile office environment, this could be the ideal alternative, or complement, to sit-stand desks (see below).

SIT-STAND SEMINARS & SESSIONS
Separating fact from fiction

sit-stand-multiIn May, I mentioned the current interest in my ‘Is it true what they say about Millennials?’ presentation and, since then, there have been several enquiries about my newly updated ‘Putting things in perspective’ sit-stand presentation. It is clear that many organisations, including some who are well advanced with a sit-stand implementation programme, are unsure about the use of sit-stand desks and the messages surrounding them. As Mark Eltringham says in his recent Workplace Matters interview (see below), we all need to be aware of a ‘fallacious and distorted narrative’. I agree! If you are looking for a one-hour session (as a seminar or webinar) that puts this narrative into perspective, please contact me.

WORKPLACE MATTERS
Information on the move

workplace_mattersI am a podcast enthusiast: I find they are a valuable source of both entertainment and education. My latest discovery is Workplace Matters by Ian Ellison of 3edges. Addressing an enormous variety of subjects in workplace design, culture and engagement, Ian interviews thought leaders from a variety of backgrounds. The discussions are wide ranging and stimulating with lots of valuable ideas and references. A word of warning though! As I discovered when I was driving, you will probably need to listen a second time to take notes (and that is no bad thing). Find it on iTunes or Acast.


Workplace Ergonomics – a Paris Perspective

July 11, 2017

Preventica2017My recent visit to Paris for the Preventica exhibition was an exhilarating experience but this was not because of the products on display. In the ergonomics section, I had seen them all before, either in the UK or at other international exhibitions.

The exhilaration came from the freshness and youth of the industry. I spent some time talking to one exhibitor who believes that France is 10 years behind the UK in terms of attitudes to, and understanding of, the benefits of ergonomics in the workplace. Despite this immaturity, some of the companies are already well-established: another exhibitor reminded me of a conversation we had 8 years ago when he had just set up his organisation.

I also found it entertaining to (privately) compare the exhibitors I saw with equivalent UK companies! Some come from a medical background, others are really focussed on customer service whilst others look to rapid growth and national coverage as fast as possible. This is an interesting challenge in France, which has a very similar population to the UK but more than 2.5 times the area. Others are looking to disrupt the existing occupational health workstation assessment model since this is currently very expensive for French employers.

This exhilaration reminded me that, in some areas of UK ergonomics, I think our level of development now complicates matters unnecessarily. Computer mice are a good example of this: I am quite envious of those markets where you can offer just a small selection of computer mice (which, between them, cover nearly all issues), instead of having to carry a wide portfolio of input devices to address every customer demand, belief, prejudice and expectation.

shutterstock_121706023_MAZEAt the same time, I know it is hard work to establish credibility and reputation in a new market. I am probably too long in the tooth to start that again! In a developing market, I would offer end users just one tip – beware of advertising disguised as advice!


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