WDM Newsletter – November/December 2016

November 21, 2016

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

New Visions of Work

wdmheader2016-11I have attended every biennial Orgatec since 1994 and the most obvious difference between then and now is how much smaller the exhibition has become. Conspicuously, the fact that only 8 halls were in use meant that the piazza and some of the central boulevard were closed. As a result, walking from the South to North Entrances involved some rather circuitous routes through halls, reminding me of Las Vegas casino design. My visit this year was somewhat disrupted by a cancelled flight and resultant delay arriving. However, with dogged determination, I managed to visit all 8 halls, covering about 35,000 steps and nearly 24 km according to my FitBit! My thoughts and observations are summarised here.

Latest family member

sofi_meshIncorporating the proven HÅG Balanced Movement MechanismTM, the SoFi chair range is well established. Recent research at the Karolinska Institutet has demonstrated that users of the SoFi can outperform the body movement of both those sitting in traditional office chairs and even those standing at their desk. The SoFi Mesh chair is a logical and successful addition to the portfolio, demonstrating contemporary aesthetics for the design-led office without compromising all the key features and ergonomics of the existing range. Contact us for a demonstration.

Extending the brand message

advertising_public_sectorVolume 23.6 of Government Business magazine includes an article by BIFM about the current outlook for the FM industry (pages 19-23). We saw this as an ideal opportunity to reflect our growing activities beyond the traditional furniture sector in key areas such as wellbeing and training (page 22 of the article or here).

Growing portfolio of partner premises

clerkenwell2Our key partners have showrooms in Clerkenwell and this gives us the perfect opportunity to demonstrate a broad range of concepts and designs within a small geographical area. Conversations are often more about how people work than about specific products. As a result, clients always leave with new ideas. Whether you have specific needs in mind or you are just looking for inspiration, we are happy to show you around. Contact us for further information.

Orgatec 2016

November 17, 2016

orgatec_2016_entranceI have attended every biennial Orgatec since 1994 and the most obvious difference between then and now is how much smaller the exhibition has become. Conspicuously, the fact that only 8 halls were in use meant that the Piazza and parts of the Central Boulevard were closed. As a result, walking between the South and North Entrances involved some rather circuitous routes through halls, reminding me of Las Vegas casino design.

Despite the size reduction, there was still more than a million square feet of exhibition space and more than 600 organisations displaying their wares. My visit this year was somewhat disrupted by a cancelled flight and resultant delay. However, with dogged determination, I managed to visit all 8 halls, covering about 35,000 steps or nearly 24 km according to my FitBit! This article is therefore my own view of what I saw and makes no attempt to provide a comprehensive review of the entire event.

img_6268Sit-stand continues to be a topical issue in the UK but exhibitors i Cologne fell into very distinct categories: European office furniture manufacturers now treat sit-stand as ‘business as usual’ so sit-stand variants were displayed alongside more traditional seated-height options. By contrast, frame manufacturers, especially the substantial number of exhibitors from the Far East, displayed all the variants of their frame designs without tops, focussing on function rather than appearance. Interestingly, neither of these approaches recognises the culture change issues surrounding sit-stand or the need to manage their introduction with a Change Management approach rather than a simple case of desk replacement.

img_6290A wide variety of perching stools also reflected the interest in sit-stand desks. As well as the established specialists like the Aeris Muvman and Hag Capisco, there were many cheap copies and a variety of saddle stools. Again, the majority were displayed simply as products. Only a very small number came with a story.

Some manufacturers of seating and desks are starting to introduce apps and electronic tools to encourage movement. However, most of these look like an afterthought, many are just branded versions of someone else’s software and I think it still seems sensible to look to third parties for good furniture/app integration.

img_6276Moving away from workstation furniture, designs for soft seating and other breakout areas were well represented but most ideas here seem to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary. A key factor is the integration of acoustic benefits into the larger pieces. The importance of reducing noise distraction to improve productivity is now well recognised and many manufacturers reference this. One of the more interesting concepts was the Team Up Study which offered easily movable breakout seating with magnetically  linking side panels.

img_6280Also in evidence were many examples of multi-function chairs. Commonly, these are based around a single seat and back moulding with multiple leg and upholstery options. This creates a single family that suits breakout, canteen, training, breakfast bar, meeting room and other applications.

On the accessories front, fully configurable monitor arms to provide instant adjustment for two large monitors in an elegant manner are now widely available and a handful of monitor arm manufacturers also offer some sort of IT integration in the form of a multi-adaptor hub built around the arm mounting.

If you need to improve acoustics, retro-fit pads are available in every conceivable shape and size. The days of concealing such products are long gone and the common approach now is to make the acoustic provision into a design feature in its own right.

img_6294-1Continuing the acoustics theme, pod manufacturers continue to explore the ‘office within the office’ concept with units varying from single telephone boxes to pop-up boardrooms. This office-meets-study-meets-garden-shed concept particularly appealed to me as a short-term breakout area.

In summary, therefore, I found nothing revolutionary and some of my favourite items lacked practicality for everyday use. However, the world’s furniture manufacturers continue to evolve their designs to meet the rapidly changing needs of today’s market.


For more pictures, visit our Pinterest page.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin November 2016

November 11, 2016

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


headerimage11-2016Providing bespoke chairs for individuals with musculoskeletal problems continues to be a core part of our business but, as our larger scale project business evolves, we have been working with clients for greater integration of standard and bespoke offerings. This is particularly important when budgets are constrained.
One key way of approaching this is with our Capsule Collection (CC) approach. Put simply, a CC includes a small, medium and large model of one chair using three different backs and three different seats. Crucially, these elements are all interchangeable. This creates the potential for nine different variants, all at the same price and all with independent seat and back adjustability, inflatable lumbar support and seat slide as standard.
Add a few key optional extras such as neckrest, coccyx cutout and a choice of armrests and the CC portfolio offers a wide mix of rapidly deployed, quick-fix solutions which will address a high proportion of individual needs. Inevitably, there will always be personnel who are outside the dimensional norms or have more complex requirements and, for these cases, it is easy to implement an escalation process to accommodate them (we have been doing that for over 20 years!).
Choosing one or more models of such a CC as your principal operator chair simplifies procurement and provides an even more cost-effective capability because standard chairs can be modified on site by swapping seat or back pads or adding an option. This methodology has proved particularly popular in the public sector.
Contact us for more information.


iso_iipOctober was a busy month for system reviews. Both our ISO9001/14001 Integrated Management System and our Investors in People Gold status were due for two-day inspections and renewal. The ISO IMS was renewed without any non-conformances, or even any advisories, and the IiP inspection scored us even higher than 3 years ago (as we hoped!). For us, these are not just ‘plaques on the wall’ but external validation of our organisational DNA, reflecting the hard work and commitment of our excellent team.


new_occufitOur portfolio of medical, healthcare and industrial seating products has been extended significantly in recent months and our new PDF catalogue can now be downloaded here. It shows all the variants of key models – more than 170 in total – and includes answers to many of the most common questions such as key dimensional data, upholstery options and warranty information.


orgatec_visitMy Orgatec visit this year was somewhat disrupted by a cancelled flight and resultant delay on the way out. However, I did get round all the halls with more than 32,000 steps recorded on my FitBit! Sit-stand furniture is now (finally) mainstream and only the Chinese frame manufacturers were really making it an issue. Of our existing supply partners, the Sofi Mesh chair was the most significant new introduction. I shall blog a more comprehensive report after my holiday.

WDM Newsletter – October/November 2016

October 25, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 20/10/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

Is this the future of seated wellbeing?

wdmheader2016-10We offer many high quality chairs with excellent ergonomics and comfort. However, we believe that the BMA Axia Smart Active chair is unique worldwide in delivering Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone app. By downloading the free Apple or Android app and pairing it (instantly) with the chair, the user creates a personal, multi-functional posture coach. Working in a similar way to a wearable fitness device and connecting to sensors in the chair seatpan, the smartphone app monitors movement, sitting time and posture changes (or lack of them). When necessary, it prompts to encourage dynamic chair use and gives personalised tips and practical advice according to the individual’s behaviour. The Smart Active technology is available in any BMA model from the Axia 2.0 series and replacement seat cushions can be retrofitted to existing chairs (or standard products bought in the future). Crucially, the upgrade costs significantly less than £100 + VAT per chair. For further information, view the video or contact us for a demonstration.

UK manufactured 24/7 chair

enduranceHistorically, we have always recommended Scandinavian or Dutch chairs for control room and heavy duty use. In the past, we have been unable to find a UK product that met the quality, comfort, durability and ergonomics standards we demand. Although we continue to promote those legacy products, we are delighted to be able to add a chair from a UK manufacturer to our portfolio for this demanding sector. Endurance is based on an existing product with minor modifications to meet our requirements. With a 30 stone weight limit and 3-year 24-hour warranty, the chair offers a viable and effective solution where budget is constrained. With a choice of two backrest heights and an integral head support in the higher back variant, it provides a comprehensive selection of options to meet many of the most demanding seating applications. Contact us for further information or a demonstration.

New visions of work

orgatecOctober 2016 sees the return of this biennial exhibition which started over 60 years ago. In particular, I expect to find lots of sit-stand furniture and ideas for agile working. Acoustics is another ‘hot’ topic and has had its own zone in recent years. This is due to greater recognition and understanding of open plan office environments and the 4Cs (collaboration, communication, contemplation and concentration). The main theme for the event this year recognises how the work environment can impact creativity and productivity so I am looking out for lots of interesting and a few ‘off the wall’ ideas! I shall be writing a full report of my findings by the middle of November but, if you use Twitter, the Orgatec feed is a useful source of immediate information.

Our specialist logistics team

er60fleetIn addition to the expert partners we use for larger installations, we continue to provide a national installation service for small projects, one-offs and specials with our own trained personnel and vehicles. Each van in the current fleet has an ‘ergo’ number – ER60 NOM, ER60 NOW, ER60 VAN, ER60 YES – but we are running out of options. I have no idea what number we shall be able to find for the next vehicle. I have now trawled the entire list of available choices on  the DVLA web site (that’s how sad I am!) and there are no meaningful words remaining. We have no immediate need so this is something to ponder on but we welcome any inspired suggestions for the future.

Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin October 2016

October 24, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 12/10/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.


headerimage10-2016As I write this, we are coming to the end of World Mental Health Day here in the UK. There have been all sorts of physical and virtual events and plenty of activity on social media. Two campaigns particularly caught my eye: #Take10Together from MHFA and the NHS/Jordan Stephens collaboration #IamWhole. As our activities are drawn more and more into human factors as well as physical ergonomics, we are working with organisations and individuals who provide mental health education, training and support. If you need some suggestions about suitable partners, we shall be glad to help.


advantage2After many years of success with the original Advantage, we are delighted to introduce the new Advantage 2 which maintains the proven Contoured keyboardTM design with low force mechanical keyswitches for proven comfort and reduced musculo-skeletal load. New to this model is the SmartSetTM programming engine which provides powerful keyboard configuration tools to boost productivity. The old rubber function keys have also been replaced with high quality tactile mechanical keyswitches, further enhancing the product of choice for software engineers, programmers and intensive users the world over. Download the U.S. brochure here or visit our web site for more information.


techno_gremlinWe are very proud of our advanced use of technology in all its forms and (nearly all of the time!) we are completely in control of all our processes. In the last month, however, two separate events occurred unexpectedly. First, our eBulletin provider experienced a cyber attack which resulted in our April Fools’ Day Get Britain Sleeping newsletter being resent. No contact details were accessed: the calendar was simply reset, triggering the resend. Second, my phone started going through my address book and inviting everyone to join me on LinkedIn. Both issues are now resolved and I hope you were not inconvenienced by either. I apologise if you were.


hfe_in_practiceFor the ergonomist in your life, the perfect present will be available just before Christmas! Human Factors and Ergonomics in Practice: Improving System Performance and Human Well-Being in the Real World is edited by Steven Shorrock and Claire Williams, two very experienced and highly respected members of the ergonomics community. Their vision, more than two years ago, was to create  a publication that demonstrates the practice and benefits of human factors and ergonomics (HFE) ‘at the sharp end’. This is not a book of academic theories, it is a series of explanations and case studies outlining how HFE is being applied every day in real-life, practical applications. There’s even a chapter by me!


WDM Newsletter – September/October 2016

October 21, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 15/09/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

A more focussed message and clearer thinking?

wdmheader2016-09It is nearly twenty years since we sold our first sit-stand desk but the real growth in interest amongst UK employers has arisen since early in 2014. Initially driven by publicity about the potential health impacts of sedentary behaviour, employers were bombarded with news, statistics, research and plenty of online ‘noise’ predicting dire consequences if there was not a rapid and immediate transition from traditional office environments to workplaces populated with ‘standing desks’. [more]

Stylish and practical wireless phone charging

airchargeI have been using an aircharge sleeve on my iPhone 6s for several months and, as well as protecting the phone, it is much more desirable than fiddling around with a Lightning connector cable when I need to recharge the battery. We offer aircharge facilities for staff in the office and I find it in a growing number of hotels, coffee shops and hospitality environments. Of course, in Clerkenwell, you can find aircharge in almost every showroom! For organisations wanting to offer this facility to their own personnel and visitors, there is a choice of options. The most common version – the surface charger – fits an 80mm diameter hole so it can be retrofitted to a standard desk grommet. Others can be incorporated into monitor arms and task lamps. See some of the variants here or contact us for further information. (If you are curious about the technology, you can find out more here).

New product sections and pop-out design

seatingexpertsWe originally set up the seatingexperts.uk web site alongside sitstandexperts.uk to reflect our knowledge beyond the specialist ‘ergo environment’. Working with a variety of manufacturing partners we now offer a broad portfolio of products to address every need in the workplace. The web site is still a work-in-progress but the sections for Reception & Breakout, Office Project, Modular, Meeting & Training Room and Boardroom have been completely redesigned. As mentioned last month, we are also working on a Comfort Score system to help buyers make a decision based on suitability as well as on aesthetics. More information about this coming soon!

People we like whose work we respect

energiseyouEnergiseYou helps innovative organisations to thrive by:

  • Coaching your people to improve their energy and be the best they can be.
  • Coaching your leaders and managers to create energised, engaged, and high performing teams.

They do this using a unique approach in their workshops, webinars, podcasts, energy events, 1-2-1 coaching and motivational talks. Creating a positive, energised workforce leads to greater engagement, performance and retention whilst reducing absence. Find out more at EnergiseYou

Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin September 2016

October 20, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 14/09/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.


headerimage09-2016Although we repeat many of our key webinars on a regular basis and at different times of day, some of our international participants find it hard to attend if they are in a significantly different time zone. In addition, other pressing demands sometimes prevent our UK delegates from attending events they have booked. We are therefore in the process (rather belatedly, some might say!) of recording each of our core sessions so that you can ‘attend’ at a time and place to suit your own diary. The first ones can be found here (with some other interesting videos). More will follow soon.


healthyworkingAt our August Training Day, we were shown the new Healthy Working assessment and e-learning package which is being phased in to replace Workstation Safety Plus by our partners, Cardinus. This radical new approach has been developed in partnership with Health & Safety Laboratory. In our view, it is altogether more holistic and responsive than any of its competitors, encompassing all types of computer work, devices and locations into a single, integrated and dynamic process. The quality and scope of this new product reflects the extensive research and development programme that led to its launch. Contact us for further information.


iso27500I know that I keep raising this topic but I attended the official launch at BSI on September 1st and I really believe this is an opportunity to put ergonomics and human factors at the centre of organisational strategy. It was interesting to attend an event with such a diversity of interests (including delegates with responsibility for user experience, quality, technology, design, wellbeing, compliance, risk and occupational health, as well as ergonomics, human factors, health and safety). A LinkedIn discussion has started here but, if you can’t access that, try here.


knowledge250pxBakker Elkhuizen, another of our close partners, has just launched a new online Knowledge Centre. We have worked with the team at BE for nearly twenty years and their research and resources have prompted or informed many of our own webinars, seminars and articles. This month also sees the launch of their new corporate headquarters in the Netherlands and some exciting new products – but I am sworn to secrecy for the time being! Check out our social media channels for sneak previews or wait for further information here in due course.


livechat250pxMany people have already taken advantage of the new instant Chat facility on our main web site. We have been surprised that it has become instantly popular. Providing answers is not yet one person’s full time job but some days it seems like that! It has been really interesting to see the sort of questions people ask. Some can be answered in an instant and some remind us of the old ‘Which is better for RSI – a trackball or an ergonomic mouse?’ conundrum. At least our answers are not restricted to 140 characters! Some questions are also giving us ideas about how to develop the site and what further information and resources to add.


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