WDM Newsletter – March 2018

March 19, 2018

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 15/03/2018. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

An updated approach reflecting disruptive times

WDMheader2018-03Within a week of writing this month’s newsletter, I shall have attended the Agile Working Event 2018 and the HSE Musculo-Skeletal Disorders Summit. Whilst these two London events may sound very different, they both address issues facing organisations and individuals in today’s rapidly changing workplace. What are the trends and challenges faced by support professionals to maintain an effective workforce and how can they be addressed?  We see a common thread that requires a three-pronged approach to mental and physical wellbeing. We call it Healthy People – Healthy Thinking – Healthy Workplace. To reflect this updated approach, a lot will happen between now and our next newsletter

  • We shall be launching a new (and dramatically different) web site
  • We shall be launching a brand extension to reflect these three strands
  • We shall also be updating our general web presence and literature
  • We shall be merging our two monthly newsletters
  • We shall be revising our newsletter design to colour-code the different features

Watch this space!

Sit-stand desks are not the panacea promised by many

sit_stand_no_panaceaRecent statements in the press quote new research from Curtin University in Perth, Australia. This research outlines short-term cognitive and musculoskeletal deterioration from ‘prolonged’ use of standing desks. In our sound-bite society (which coined the phrase ‘Sitting is the new smoking’), few readers look beyond the headlines to discover there was only a small sample (20 people) and a single session. We have never advocated two hours of uninterrupted standing and have always stressed the importance of movement. By coincidence, my blog with all the key points to avoid this deterioration preceded the research!

Extremely adjustable seat depth suits most users

impulse_nprWith multi-national, multi-cultural offices so widespread, the demand for ‘tall person chairs’ continues to grow. Every week, we are introduced to workers of 6’6” (2m) and taller who are unable to get comfortable in the standard office chair provided for them. The NPR is designed to meet the demanding Dutch NPR1813 dimensional standard and, uniquely, also fits much shorter people. This makes it a viable option for hot desking and multi-user environments. With a 10cm seat slide, larger base, wider ranging seat slide and 4D+ armrests, the Impulse NPR accommodates a surprisingly large proportion of the working population. For more details, please contact the Customer Service team.

Another accreditation and more services

training_servicesThe first of our brochures to be updated with the new brand extension is the one showing our full training portfolio. As well as gaining accreditations from both the International Institute of Risk & Safety Management and the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors, we have strengthened our portfolio with a number of expert partners. In addition to our published list of open course topics, we have a broader selection of mental and physical wellbeing tools and sessions so we shall be delighted to explore your in-house needs.

WDM Newsletter – February 2018

February 20, 2018

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 15/02/2018. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

A panoptic approach

WDMheader2018-02I have mentioned  Ian Ellison of 3edges previously in this newsletter. As you may already be aware, he has been working with his colleague James Pinder, and Neil Usher of Workessence on A Workplace Leadership Manifesto. It was first published piecemeal through social media from the beginning of 2018 and is now available as a single document. This is a classic example of the ‘less is more’ principle, condensing some deep and wide-ranging thought into a handful of thought-provoking statements and explanations. The more we understand the nature of work, workplace and performance, the more we can achieve. This document provides a foundation for that thinking.

Throwing down the gauntlet

facing_the_challengeHot on the heels of the Leadership Manifesto publication comes an article from Mark Eltringham entitled Luther, Marx, Engels and a nailed-on manifesto for workplace change. I have also mentioned Mark before and I enjoy his writing. He frequently challenges the status quo and often points to where we should be looking. This article references the Leadership Manifesto and, in my simplistic terms, says ‘Come on FM industry (and others), what are you going to do about it?’. As always, there are threats and opportunities. Those who embrace this challenge have an outstanding opportunity. Be assured, however: this is absolutely not a time to sit back and see what happens!

Truth or sales pitch?

Businessman drawing Myths or Facts on blackboardOn a rather more mundane note, we continue to be asked all sorts of questions about sit-stand desks in particular and the ‘less sitting’ issue in general. Many people find the information available to be rather bewildering and the majority of the office furniture industry does not seem to be particularly well informed. We are concerned that there is still very little training being provided for users and, as a result, some of those who choose to stand more are starting to manifest other health issues. There is also the comparatively common matter of sit-stand desks being purchased but hardly used. As usual, this sort of widespread confusion prompts me to start writing and you can find my response –a sort of combined history lesson and ‘how to’ guide – in this blog.

Multi-purpose high table

alto_benchHigh tables and benches of all sorts are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. One of the reasons is their obvious versatility. They can be used as individual desks, work benches, collaboration tables, canteen surfaces and general touchdown areas in many environments. Users can also stand or sit on a high seat or bar stool. Alto addresses all these applications and incorporates a modern look with multiple finish options. The standard depth and height are 1200mm and 1050mm respectively with widths from 2200 to 2800mm. Complementary smaller benches are available with surface areas from 1400mm x 900mm upwards. For further information, please contact the Customer Service team.


subscribeI expect, like me, you are tired of hearing about GDPR. My apologies for raising it yet again but we still have lots of people who have not resubscribed. I know we shall lose some recipients but I hope you will not be one of them! It will only take a couple of minutes to register here and, as an extra inducement, we shall be holding a prize draw for all registrants on April 30th with a 128Gb iPad 9.7 as the prize. There will also be a monthly prize of a Contour Unimouse. (Last month’s Unimouse winner was Vicky Henderson of Grimsby). Don’t worry if you have already resubscribed: you will still be in the draws! The reregistration submission will send you a confirmation email to complete the process. Please check your spam/junk directories if you do not receive it.

Sit-Stand Desks – Truth or Sales Pitch?

February 13, 2018

Businessman drawing Myths or Facts on blackboardMuch has been said and written about sit-stand desks. And quite a lot of it has been (and still is) nonsense!

Sit-stand desks have been available in various forms (primarily crank-adjustment, counter-balanced or electric and, more recently, desktop adaptors) for over twenty years. However, it is only within the last few years that they have received so much attention.

Before I continue I should state that I have been selling sit-stand desks for nearly twenty years and wholeheartedly recommend their use. I strongly support their implementation as part of a wider health and productivity regime with proper training and clearly defined purpose. What I question is the way in which many people in the workplace furniture industry have misappropriated the sit-stand desk as some sort of panacea to avoid a range of health conditions and avert early death! In the next few hundred words I hope to explode a few myths and clarify some misunderstandings.

It appears that the recent fuss all started in 2014 when one or two aspiring desk salesmen latched onto the 2012 systematic review and meta-analysis concerning prolonged seating by Wilmot, Edwardson, Achana et al. This looked at 18 studies with, collectively, nearly 800,000 participants. Fifteen of these studies were deemed moderate to high quality. As a result of their analysis, the researchers concluded that ‘Sedentary time is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular and all-cause mortality; the strength of the association is most consistent for diabetes’.

business woman working in the officeSoon after the research was published, someone recognised that the possible outcomes of prolonged sitting are comparable with those associated with smoking and the expression ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ was born. In the age of social media, 24 hour news and tabloid newspapers, this was, of course, Soundbite Heaven. The expression soon began to appear frequently, often quoted by people who had no idea of the origin, context or the true meaning.

With scare stories appearing in the media, the time was ripe for the publication in 2015 of a Consensus Statement (not a research paper) entitled ‘The sedentary office: a growing case for change towards better health and productivity’. This appeared under the banner of Public Health England and was published on the web site of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. With such apparent credibility, this statement recommended (amongst other outcomes) ‘standing and light activity’ for between two and four hours per day and that ‘seated-based work should be regularly broken up with standing-based work, the use of sit–stand desks, or the taking of short active standing breaks’.

At the time of publication, there was some controversy about an undeclared conflict of interest because one of the authors also owns a sit-stand desk company. However, nearly 80 news outlets picked up the story and the conflict of interest was lost in the media flurry that followed.

Spawned by these media reports, there have been countless articles, blogs and stories of varying quality and value. Many are sales pitches thinly disguised as advice and many fail to make the fundamental observation that the whole issue is about sitting less, not about standing more.

Busy partnersPeople like a simple message. It could be tempting to approach the issue as a binary choice between sitting and standing and then try to find a way to quantify that. At a recent conference in the United States, I witnessed several delegates (in various seminars) ask the question ‘how long should we stand for?’ and, of course, the right answer is the classic ergonomist’s response: ‘It depends’. Individuals have very different comfort thresholds for standing. In addition, individual health, fitness, posture, footwear and numerous other factors need to be considered. More important still is the simple fact that sitting and standing do not make the whole equation. Movement is also an essential constituent.

During her many years at NASA, Dr Joan Vernikos concluded that a key element to health is to ensure we trigger our ‘gravity muscles’ frequently. We do this by standing up and doing everyday activities that counter gravity, such as putting things on shelves, using steps and stairs, dancing, carrying the shopping, even gardening. Her research demonstrated that the number of times you counter gravity is more important than how long you do it for. It is therefore important to ensure that you do not sit for too long and you make frequent changes of posture. Getting up every 20-30 minutes is optimal but do not simply swap sitting for standing. Move about and change posture frequently.

To put all this information into context, here are some ideas for individuals and employers to improve the health of individuals and minimise the health risks of sitting at work:

Ideas for individuals to sit less and be more healthy

  • Whether you are sitting or standing, ensure your posture is good.
  • Do not sit or stand for too long. Mix it up.
  • Drink lots of water. It is good for you and creates natural comfort breaks.
  • Have some meetings standing.
  • Try walking meetings.
  • Think about your tasks. Some are better suited to standing.
  • Stand for telephone conversations, especially if you need to be assertive. Or walk and talk.
  • Stand to sort papers and files.
  • Sending an internal email? Go and speak to the person instead.
  • Park as far away from the building as possible. Do the same when you go shopping.
  • Use the stairs, not the lift.
  • Wear a fitness tracker and track your steps. Compete with yourself to improve your average.
  • Do stretching exercises at your desk and/or on the move.
  • Enrol in health programmes.
  • If you have a sit-stand desk, raise it up too high at the end of the day. It makes life easier for cleaners and forces you to reposition it in the morning.
  • You can also raise the desk when colleagues approach to talk to you and have your conversation standing up.

Motus_ConsoleUseCloseUpFor those organisations who provide sit-stand furniture, it is essential to realise that the transition involves a culture change. Training, education and user support are essential.



Ideas for employers to optimise performance through sit-stand furniture & alternatives to sitting

  • Train users to understand how to use their sit-stand desk, when to make posture changes and what good posture feels like (sitting and standing).
  • Install “poseur tables” for short standing meetings and touch down use.
  • Consider replacing some meeting tables with standing versions.
  • Check if it is possible to slow down the lift(s) to encourage stair use.
  • In established Hot Desking areas, install a pair of sit-stand desks at the end of each set of standard desks. This will work very well provided good policies and procedures are in place (and the Hot Desking facilities are properly implemented and managed).
  • Use schemes like Global Corporate Challenge which both encourage movement and foster team building.
  • Create walking routes around your premises.
  • Label routes and staircases with calories burned using schemes like StepJockey.
  • Incorporate posture and ergonomics into your health and wellbeing programmes.
  • Gamify your workplace to encourage movement.

In summary, therefore:

  • Sit-stand desks are wonderful but not the sole solution.
  • Make sure people are trained how to adopt good sitting and standing postures. Experience tells us that this is not as obvious as it sounds!
  • Make frequent changes of posture whilst sitting and get up at least every 20-30 minutes.
  • If you do not like standing, make sure you still stand up and sit down at least every 20 minutes.
  • Do not just swap sitting for standing.
  • Create opportunities to walk and move about during your working day.
  • Be critical of what you hear! Is it true or is it just a sales pitch?

This article first appeared in the Winter/Spring 2018 edition of Connect magazine from Cardinus Risk Management.

WDM Newsletter January/February 2018

January 22, 2018

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 18/01/2018. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

Should we be scared?

WDMheader2018-01Without even mentioning Brexit, these are uncertain times. Commentators and futurologists opine about the accelerating impact of technology on our daily lives. Depending on your disposition, this is either exciting or terrifying! Pessimists threaten job losses and changes on a scale not seen since the Industrial Revolution. Yet, simultaneously, governments and regions are creating Smart Cities, architects and designers are launching Smart Buildings and public and private travel planners promote driverless cars and automated mass transit systems. Surely, these developments will make our lives easier – and better? Whatever your view, these are all extra factors to consider in a workplace context which is already seeing a quickening pace of change as a result of agile working, technology and changing attitudes. My plan for 2018 is to explore some of these concepts, their interaction and impact. Happy New Year!

Think (beyond) FM – adapt or disappear

think_beyond_fmIn the context outlined above, this year’s BIFM conference explores the dramatic changes in the workplace and how Facilities Managers can shape and respond to those changes. As FMs and HR managers discuss what experience and qualifications a Chief Workplace Officer might need, there are exciting opportunities for those with the drive and vision to absorb the latest thinking, harness the technology and help invent the future.

Single & double units with multiple options

retreat_boothOpen plan offices need space away from the desk for individual concentration or for collaboration without distracting others. There are many approaches to these requirements and enclosed booths are a popular solution.

For an effective individual breakout booth or a more complex room-within-a-room, the Retreat range offers modules accommodating one to four people with everything they need close at hand. To complement the stylish and relaxed design, buyers can specify LED lighting, power sockets, USB charging, smart TVs and a central table to create well-equipped individual or collaboration spaces. Everything necessary to encourage productivity is immediately accessible and ready for use. Please call us for further information.

You could win an iPad!

resubscribe_4Despite my previous entreaties, many recipients have still not reregistered to continue receiving this newsletter. We have to ask this to comply with the imminent new data protection regulations. I know we shall lose many subscribers but I am hoping to retain a few more! I really do appreciate your continued interest. It will only take a couple of minutes and, as an extra inducement, we shall be holding a prize draw for all registrants on April 30th with a 128Gb iPad 9.7 as the prize. There will also be a monthly prize of a Contour Unimouse between January and March. Don’t worry if you have already resubscribed: you will still be in the draws!

WDM Newsletter – December 2018

December 22, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 21/12/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

Take time to appreciate your colleagues, friends & family

WDMheader2017-12As we complete two years of WDM newsletters (and 55 years in business), it is time to thank you once again for your continued support and wish you a fabulous Christmas and exciting New Year. The last quarter of 2017 has been our busiest ever, even with the inevitable December slowdown. Life is hectic on all fronts and it is gratifying to see how willingly organisations are investing in workplaces, despite the Brexit instability, resultant weakness of Sterling and general sense of uncertainty on so many fronts. Of course, whether business is easy or tough, looking after your talent continues to be the most important consideration and we are delighted to assist.

New article in FMUK

fmukThe New Year edition of FMUK magazine highlights ergonomics in both the workplace and the education sector in their ‘Get Moving at Work’ feature. This includes content about the importance of movement to avoid prolonged sitting (see my observations last month). Inevitably, Sit-Stand is part of this conversation so, to coincide with our new A4 advertisement artwork, we have created a new brochure that clearly states our position in the muddled world of sit-stand sound bites! You can download the pdf here.

New topics, new thinking, new processes

year_aheadIt is a truism that the workplace is changing faster than ever before. Our two most popular presentation topics in 2017 were about Millennials and Sit-Stand. The latter is really very old news to us, since we have been selling sit-stand desks for nearly twenty years. However, the confusion and misinformation continues. Worrying about Millennial management is soon to be replaced by Centennials issues. Centennial (Generation Z) employees now entering the workforce were toddlers when social media, iPhones and tablets first appeared. Like Millennials (and everyone else!), they are all individuals so there are no simple rules, but they introduce new opportunities to review our thinking and communications.
We are also racing into a world of machine learning, artificial intelligence, smart buildings and self-driving cars. These changing circumstances challenge the way we think and work and I shall be exploring these topics in the year ahead. We shall also be introducing an evolution of our brand to reflect our role in these transformations.

Price Changes & Resubscription

timelyAs you have probably seen elsewhere, manufacturers’ 2018 price lists are showing a significant uplift, with 5% rises commonplace. After years of small or zero increases, they can no longer absorb the currency issues and rising costs. If you have a project in planning, we probably already know about this and will do everything possible to soften the blow.
I’m also taking this opportunity to mention, just once more, that we shall be closing this database early in 2018. If you wish to continue to receive this monthly newsletter, you will need to resubscribe here.

WDM Newsletter – November 2017

November 20, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 16/11/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

More confusion, not less, as time goes on

WDMheader2017-11Recently, I have been spending quite a lot of my time debunking myths and clarifying facts in the great debate about what we should do to reduce sedentary inactivity. Whether I am making presentations or writing articles, the first and obvious fact (to me, at least) is that ‘standing more’ is not the issue. Sitting less is what really matters and there are many ways to address this. Despite the fact that ‘the sitting disease’ has been in the news for about the last three years, the press coverage and social media noise have only served to confuse the topic rather than clarify it. And, frankly, the workplace furniture industry (in pursuit of sit-stand desk sales) has probably just made matters worse. Sit-stand desks may well be a valuable part of the equation but they are just one element and there are many more aspects to consider. We believe these are best addressed as part of an employer’s wellbeing programme rather than just as a furniture/facilities issue. To discuss this (or share more of my rants!), please contact me.

Supporting mental and physical health at work

wellbeing3Many of our clients focus on mental health as one element of their broader wellbeing agenda and we have been working on meaningful, valuable training to meet their needs. Our first Wellbeing in the Workplace Masterclass addresses the key issues in a lively, informative half-day session. It has been developed with our partner, The Colour Works, with whom we have been working for nearly twenty years. Using the Insights Discovery model, the course incorporates an innovative (and possibly unique) approach to the key issues, including the tools and motivation to trigger immediate action. If you would like to know more about how we can deliver this programme within your organisation, please contact me.

Genuinely unrepeatable chair offers

black_friday_saleAs a B2B (business-to-business) supplier, we have always regarded the big pre-Christmas sales extravaganza as a very long way from our normal business model and completely irrelevant to our large corporate clients. However, we have decided this year to experiment with a mass clearance of our demo chair stock at genuinely ridiculous (below cost) prices. We need the valuable space occupied by our mix of surplus samples and we are prepared to sell chairs at a loss to recover it! The stock list will not be of interest to corporate buyers but may well be just what you are looking for as a home purchase. Special prices will be available from 08:30 on 24.11.17 until 16:30 on 30.11.17. Most models are limited to one example so all sales will be subject to availability. Click here to see the list.

Third and final request!

resubscribe_3We are approaching 2 years of uninterrupted monthly newsletters so I am very keen to carry on! As I have mentioned previously, we are asking all recipients to resubscribe to ensure we comply with the new GDPR regulations in 2018. This is my third and final request for you to subscribe to our new database before we close the old one. To maintain uninterrupted delivery, if you have not already done so, please take a couple of minutes to register for the new database here. The 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.

WDM Newsletter – October 2017

October 23, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 19/10/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

Corporate Wellbeing

WDMheader2017-10Dynamic employers realise that wellbeing and productivity are inextricably linked. Whether your interest is in workplace design, mental and physical health, ergonomics, recruitment and retention, engagement, agile working or any combination of these factors, there will be valuable content to interest you at Citywork London on November 6, 2017.  This high level event provides presentations and workshops to address the key issues of the modern workplace. We are exhibition partners at the event and look forward to meeting all delegates.

The best of both worlds

drumbackMartin Ballendat’s ingenious design provides the Drumback with the cool comfort of a mesh back and the stability of a solid back design without the need of upholstery. The mesh fabric stretches over the polypropylene back like a drum. With a choice of grey and black frames and 16 mesh colours, Drumback offers a stylish product with good support and adjustability at a mass-market price. Early trials have met with very positive responses and this chair provides a unique design choice in the sub-£400 project chair market.

Hospitality product moves into offices

aircharge2I have mentioned aircharge® here before and the brand has grown globally in the hospitality sector. Several major coffee shops and hotel chains are already offering Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) inductive charging facilities as a service in their public areas. Even car manufacturers are introducing the technology to their vehicles. With inductive charging now available on Apple products (from iPhone 8 onwards), we expect a much higher level of interest in offices. The aircharge® product portfolio has grown to suit a very wide range of installations with trim and inserts to match chrome, wood and leather as well as the ubiquitous black and white. The most common implementation offers a standard 80mm diameter insert but other variants are available and we also have desk lamps and monitor arms with integral chargers. View products here or  contact us for further information.

Approved Trainer Status

iirsmWe are delighted to announce that we now have Approved Supplier Status from the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management. Our first five approved courses all cover workstation health and safety topics but we shall be evolving and growing the approved list in the future. Even for our sessions that are not yet approved, we apply the same preparation, style, delivery and communication methods. Of late, our most popular seminar sessions are ‘Sit-Stand – exploding the myths’ and ‘Is it true what they say about Millennials?’. Typically lasting 45-60 minutes, we are happy to offer these to local groups from professional bodies for regional meetings. For this type of event, we often make no charge and we may even be persuaded to sponsor it! To discuss this further, please contact me directly and I shall be delighted to explore options.

Second request

resubscribe_2Please ignore this item if you have already resubscribed! If not, we need your help to ensure we comply with the imminent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect in Europe in the New Year. To do this, we are asking ALL subscribers to reregister to ensure you continue to receive this monthly newsletter. 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 at 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.

Time to pick up a pre-Christmas bargain

demo_chairsIf you are looking for a quality computer chair for yourself or a loved one but have always felt corporate seating is too expensive for your personal budget, we have good news! In the course of our daily business, we use many sample chairs for customer evaluations but these samples do not become part of the subsequent sale (often due to colour or specification). The warehouse is now looking a little cluttered with these samples so, with Christmas decorations in the shops, it seems people (other than me) must be thinking about the festive season! To find the ideal chair gift (or treat for yourself) at a substantial discount, please check our current list here. It is regularly updated so check again soon if you do not see what you want. We will even hold Christmas presents in stock for you until nearer the time!

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