WDM Newsletter – December 2016

December 16, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 15/12/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

OUR FIRST YEAR OF NEWSLETTERS
A volatile period for politics, business and the economy

wdmheader2016-12As the end of the year approaches, we can reflect on some dramatic events, welcome the festive season and celebrate the first twelve WDM issues. We thank you for valuing our commitment to customer service and quality products and, in a highly competitive market, we really appreciate your business. We also know that many of our regular newsletter readers are not customers themselves but do specify and recommend us to clients and colleagues. These are valuable introductions and we always welcome suggestions for new resources that you would like us to provide. Whether this time of year is important to you for religious or family reasons – or just the chance to eat and drink too much and fall asleep in front of the TV! – we wish you a very happy time and look forward to speaking to you in 2017.

MY FAVOURITE APPS OF 2016
A handful of handy tools to make your life a little easier

apps_2016This is a little off-piste compared to my usual items but I use a wide variety of tablet/smartphone apps (more than 150 at the last count) and I thought it might be of interest to share those I use most often or find most useful. This is not intended to be one of those ‘ten things that changed my life’ lists. If that is what you are looking for, try GQ’s 100 Best Things in the World Right Now. By contrast, I hope my short list contains at least one or two that you do not already know about that might potentially save you time or money or make your life a little easier. [more]

PEPI MESH
Simple, stylish design at a competitive price

pepi_meshPepi Mesh
has been designed to maximise user comfort and convenience. Its breathable, height-adjustable mesh back and synchronised balance mechanism (with auto weight adjustment) make Pepi ideal for today’s flexible work environments. Like the solid back version, it offers lumbar support and seat slide as standard, as well as optional height- and width-adjustable armrests. You can find the full technical specification here. For other project seating choices, please visit seatingexperts.co.uk.


CHRISTMAS DONATION

Helping save lives

air_ambulanceOur 2016 Christmas donation goes to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, selected by our team as a very worthy local cause. The average cost of each mission is £2,500 and most involve life-or-death situations. This excellent work receives no government funding and relies entirely on charitable donations from the general public. We are proud to help with our own small contribution.

PRICE REVIEWS
Currency impacts take their toll

price-reviewsI have mentioned before that recent £/$/€ fluctuations have impacted everyone. It is common for manufacturers to propose price rises at this time of year and we expect increases from all our suppliers. At up to 10%, some increases are significant (although all look trivial compared to Microsoft and Apple!). To minimise the impact, most manufacturers are looking at product-by-product reviews rather than a blanket percentage increase for their entire range. We shall be publishing all price updates once we have consolidated all the information but I would strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible if your are planning or budgeting for significant purchases in 2017. The sooner we know, the more we can do to help.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin December 2016

December 16, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 14/12/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

SEVEN YEARS OF EBULLETINS:

headerimage12-2016As the end of the year approaches, we welcome the festive season and celebrate 7 years of uninterrupted monthly eBulletins. If you are a customer, it is the time for us to thank you once again for your continued support. In a highly competitive market, we thank you for valuing our commitment to customer service and quality products. We really appreciate your business. We also know that many of our regular readers are not customers but do specify and recommend us to clients and others. This is another valued source of business and, if you are not doing so already, we invite you to explore other ways to keep in touch such as social media or our many webinars and training events. Whether this time of year is important to you for religious or family reasons – or just the chance to eat and drink too much and fall asleep in front of the TV! – we wish you a very happy time and look forward to speaking to you in 2017.

AXIA SMART ACTIVE CHAIR:

axia_smart_activeIs this the future of seated wellbeing? BMA have addressed the ‘sit less, move more’ conundrum with the latest version of their Smart Chair technology. We believe the Axia Smart Active chair is unique worldwide in delivering Bluetooth connectivity to a smartphone app, creating a personal, multi-functional posture coach. Sensors in the chair seatpan enable the app to track movement, sitting time and posture changes (or lack of them) and it prompts to encourage dynamic chair use. It also gives personalised tips and practical advice according to the individual’s behaviour. For further information, view the video or contact us.

CHRISTMAS DONATION:

dorsetairambulanceIt is many years since we last sent Christmas cards but we still associate this seasonal donation loosely with giving up the practice and spending the money more effectively. Our personnel are invited to nominate their chosen charity and then we all vote to decide on the recipient. For 2016, our Christmas donation goes to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. With an average cost of £2,500 per mission and no funding except charitable donations, we all believe this is a very worthy cause.

MY FAVOURITE APPS OF 2016:

appsThis is a little off-piste compared to my usual items but I use a wide variety of tablet/smartphone apps (more than 150 at the last count) and I thought it might be of interest to share those I use most often or find most useful. This is not intended to be one of those ‘ten things that changed my life’ lists. If that is what you are looking for, try GQ’s 100 Best Things in the World Right Now. By contrast, I hope my short list contains at least one or two that you do not already know about that might potentially save you time or money or make your life a little easier.  [more]

PRICE REVIEWS:

price_risesIt is common for manufacturers to propose price rises at this time of year. You will be aware (and I have mentioned before) that Sterling/Dollar and Sterling/Euro fluctuations have impacted everyone and we expect price rises from all our suppliers. Some increases are significant (although all look trivial compared to Microsoft and Apple!). To minimise increases, most manufacturers are looking at product-by-product reviews rather than a systemic increase. Price updates will be published once we have consolidated the information we have, but I would strongly recommend that you contact us as soon as possible if you are planning or budgeting for significant purchases in 2017. The sooner we know, the more we can do to help.


My Favourite Apps 2016

December 12, 2016

This is a little off-piste compared to my usual blogs but I use a wide variety of tablet/smartphone apps (more than 150 at the last count) and I thought it might be of interest to share those I use most often or find most useful. This is not intended to be one of those ‘ten things that changed my life’ lists. If that is what you are looking for, try GQ’s 100 Best Things in the World Right Now. By contrast, I hope my short list contains at least one or two that you do not already know about that might potentially save you time or money or make your life a little easier. (I am not connected commercially with any of these organisations. I’m just a very satisfied customer).

Revolut
revolutRevolut is, quite literally, more than just an app and I am telling everyone about it. Combined with a pre-loadable MasterCard it provides a highly effective way to buy goods or access cash in a multitude of currencies and at highly competitive exchange rates. Just install the app, link the app to your bank account and then order the MasterCard. It will arrive in a few days and then you are ready to make purchases or get cash (usually without transaction charge) from an ATM wherever you travel. Preload as much or as little sterling as you wish and top up instantly at any time through the app. I have already used it in the Netherlands, Ibiza, Germany and South Africa without problems. You receive a text confirmation within seconds after every transaction and you can even block the card instantly through the app if you lose it (I have had cause to test that too!). As well as the convenience, I estimate that the very attractive exchange rates have already saved me between £100 and £200.

Citymapper

citymapperIf you need to find your way around London (or about 40 other cities), Citymapper will quickly show you all the available modes of travel. Start by telling it where you want to go (obviously, it already knows where you are) and it will rapidly calculate available options and display journey time and approximate cost. It is particularly useful if, like me, you prefer to use buses instead of the underground. In London, the choices are pedestrian, bicycle, bus, underground and taxi. If you have an Uber account (see below), it will offer you this option and click directly to the booking app. Once you have made your choice, you can see the route and number of stops as well as how long you need to wait for the next bus, train or tram.

Uber

uberOne of those organisations that polarises opinion, Uber seems to have adopted the ‘there’s no such thing as bad publicity’ mantra on a global scale that makes Ryanair look like amateurs. Love them or hate them, Uber have disrupted the taxi industry in a way that Amazon or Airbnb have reshaped their respective markets. I have been a ‘rider’ for nearly 4 years and love the convenience and transparency of the user experience, which has evolved significantly over the years. I have used the service in several cities in a number of countries and there is something quite reassuring about arriving at an unknown destination and opening a familiar app which summons a car with a driver whose name you already know. I have also just discovered that, if you are a new customer and you register here, we both get a discount!

Notability

notabilityI attend many conferences, seminars and webinars. I learn a lot of useful information but I am not very good at taking notes. Notability enables me to scribble notes, type them or even record the event. My preference is to type the notes but I also record events to listen again later. When I do this, I can jump to the relevant section of the audio recording by clicking on the note text I was typing at the time. I can also take photographs (of presentation slides, for instance) and embed them at the relevant stage of my notes.

Google Keep

google_keepThere are hundreds of note-taking apps and I use others (Evernote and Wunderlist) for specific purposes or situations. Where Google Keep really comes into its own is when you need to remember something at a specific location rather than at a given time. I use it mostly for shopping: to remind me to pick up the dry-cleaning or get some toothpaste but it’s equally useful to remember to do things as soon as I get to the office or return home in the evening. It’s really simple and can be used as a Google Chrome extension as well as the app.

Google Photos

google_photosYou may wonder why an iPhone/iPad/iPod user would have any need for Google Photos when iCloud integrates and synchronises the photo output from these devices so well. The answer is that I also have a digital camera! On a recent safari, I was able to take zoom photographs that far outclassed anything I could have taken with my iPhone. I upload these directly to Google Photos. I also synchronise my Google Photos account with my iCloud account so that I can see everything on any device. Digital photography allows us to be indiscriminate in what pictures we take so, like everybody else, I take far too many photographs and have to be quite ruthless when selecting what to keep. Deleting the ‘master’ image in Google Photos also deletes all Google/iCloud copies on other devices.

CamScanner+

camscannerI can still remember when a photocopier was one of the most essential tools in any office. In the days of pdfs and email, we just have a small multi-functional printer/scanner/fax machine that is a printer more than 95% of the time. More commonly, I scan documents with my smartphone using CamScanner+. It is quicker, easier and much more flexible. Simply take a photograph of the document, use the autocrop/alignment tool to ‘square it up’, auto adjust light or colour if necessary and then save as a pdf or jpg. Brilliant! You can then email or share the document directly from within the app. The ‘+’ version is chargeable but a free version (that watermarks documents) is also available.

I hope you have found something useful here that you did not know already. These are all based on my own experiences so, if you are more of a geek than me and can tell me how to make better use of these tools – or you want to suggest something else – please do.


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.

ORGATEC 2016
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.

HÅG SoFi MESH
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.

ADVERTISING IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR
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).

CLERKENWELL SHOWROOMS
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.

INTEGRATING STANDARD & BESPOKE SEATING:

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.

OUR SYSTEMS VALIDATED:

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 OCCUFIT CATALOGUE:

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:

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.

THE CONNECTED CHAIR
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.

ENDURANCE
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.

ORGATEC
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.

ER60 FLEET
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.


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