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.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin July 2017

July 14, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 12/07/2017. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

A PARIS PERSPECTIVE:

HeaderImage07-2017
My recent visit to Paris for the Préventica 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. [more]

EX-DEMO CHAIRS:

demo_chair_stockWith our company year end just behind us, we are conscious of the need to update our demo stock and clear redundant samples. Chairs, in particular, seem to propagate in the warehouse! To create space and, perhaps, give you the chance to buy an excellent chair for your home, we have created this inventory.  Since mentioning this in my May eBulletin, we have added a few more to the list and dropped some prices. Warranty periods vary from product to product but all are outstanding value and several are even offered below our cost price.

YOU WAIT A WHILE AND THREE COME AT ONCE!

3keyboards250pxLike buses, mini keyboards seem to arrive in batches. This month, we have three new products from three different manufacturers. Each has a very different evolutionary history and application. The new Bluetooth and wired Ultraboard from Bakker Elkhuizen has evolved from the highly successful Sboard/Saturnus which has been a mainstay of our portfolio for several years. The Balance keyboard from Contour complements their RollerMouse products exceptionally well and, finally, the new Wireless K360 from Logitech provides a quality, compact RF wireless product to fill the gap created since the demise of the Microsoft Arc. See them all here.

INTERNATIONAL LEGISLATION:

global_legislationA close friend and colleague has recently given me access to an outstanding document which outlines the legislation relating to occupational health and safety in 41 countries. This provides real insight into the diversity of statutory and legislative requirements. Did you know, for instance, that onsite workstation assessments are a requirement in countries like Singapore, Switzerland and South Africa, as well as the UK (and many others)? Or that, in China, personnel must be trained and pass a test in work safety before being ‘assigned to post’? If you are working in multiple markets and would like to discuss this further, please contact me.

WORKPLACE ASSESSORS – UPDATE:

assessorThank you to the many who replied to our recent request for UK workplace assessors. We have been delighted with both the number and quality of applicants. For the time being, we have almost completed the process but there are still a few UK areas where we need better cover. For these areas, we are now only considering ad hoc self-employed personnel but, if you are interested in joining our team on this basis, please send your CV to Heike Kluever-Littlewood.


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!


WDM Newsletter – June 2017

June 19, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 15/06/2017. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

INTERNET OF THINGS OR INTERNET OF SERVICES?
Exploring Smart Buildings and Smart Occupiers

WDMheader2017-06The ThinkFM Conference 2017 explored how technology impacts the role of the Facilities Manager and, indeed, the entire workforce. There is no doubt that connectivity and wireless technology in its many incarnations – the Internet of Things (IoT) – is making it easier to monitor buildings and equipment as well as anticipate faults. This improves preventative maintenance and many workplace services dramatically. Much more interesting to me was how much may be achieved by monitoring people as well! We are already familiar with occupancy monitors and wearable technology that can assess our steps, posture and heart rate. [more]

EVA CHAIR
Responsible, innovative and beautiful

eva_chairThe new Eva from Orangebox places the company firmly in the premier league of international seating and furniture manufacturers. I was privileged to be part of a small focus group to see and comment on the concept in the last few weeks before its launch. It is very clear that enormous attention has been paid to every facet of its development and construction. The sleek, minimalist profile creates an elegant chair and aids its outstanding sustainability story. Simultaneously, the simple, intuitive controls combine with a wide adjustability range to maximise comfort. Contact us to experience the chair yourself.

THOUGHTS FROM CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK 2017
There is more to Wellbeing than fabulous furniture

wellbeing2The buzzword at CDW 2017 was Wellbeing. I am delighted to see that the designers of mainstream workplace environments are recognising the importance of Human Factors and Ergonomics (HF&E) but we know that issues to consider under the Wellbeing heading are numerous and diverse, extending way beyond the provision of comfortable, attractive furniture. We see mental health as a major cause for concern for many of our clients so it is important to address this alongside physical health and employee engagement for a successful, productive workforce. [more]

WEBINARS & EVENTS
Education & training opportunities

webinarHave you looked at our event diary recently? We run regular webinars alongside periodic training and education events on topics relevant to senior managers in all organisations. Whether you are in Facilities, HR, Health & Safety or Procurement, there will be subjects that resonate with your current priorities. Recent webinar sessions include ‘Is it true what they say about Millennials?’ and ‘Zero Inbox – the Basics of Email Management’. Many events are free! Check the page regularly to see what else we have added.


Osmond Ergonomics eBulletin June 2017

June 16, 2017

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 14/06/2017. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

THOUGHTS FROM CDW 2017:

HeaderImage06-2017In comments about Clerkenwell Design Week 2015, I noted that ergonomics is an essential subject for some, a relevant topic for others and a misunderstood and inconsequential distraction for the rest! In this short article, I shall be expressing my subjective observations about how this is evolving in wider workplace attitudes as reflected during CDW2017. [more]

ADVANCED DSE ASSESSOR TRAINING:

DSE_training2We still have some space on our 2 day DSE Assessor Course in London on Wednesday and Thursday June 28-29, 2017. Once again, this will be delivered for us by Human Applications and the content has recently been reviewed and extensively updated. The location is the boardroom of the Pledge/Edge Design showroom in Clerkenwell – an ideal venue close to Farringdon station. To find out more and/or register your interest, visit our booking page at ergonomics.events.

FREE RESOURCES ONLINE:

online_resourcesAs well as working on significant plans to update our website, we have been reviewing and updating our literature and resources recently. There have also been some additions to the collection. You probably know most of our ‘purple pages’. These all relate to our traditional activities in the ergonomics, occupational health and safety market. ‘Blue’ materials are targeted at broader workplace requirements and project needs. The whole portfolio is freely available to download here.

INTERNET OF THINGS:

internet_of_things_smart_buildings250pxAt the recent ThinkFM conference, there were some thought-provoking presentations about how technology continues to influence workplace design and management. Whilst Agile Working is still the ‘hottest topic’ at the moment, future technologies and some very clever products that already exist will change the way we occupy buildings and, more significantly, the way our buildings respond to our occupancy. Most dramatic of all was the keynote presentation by Ben Waber of Humanyze who gave us some stunning insights into behavioural analytics.

THE DICHOTOMY OF TECH:

Tech_contact_lensRegular readers will know that I love technology! As well as ThinkFM, I have attended a number of recent presentations about new developments that impact our behaviour and, indeed, our lives. However, I frequently find myself torn between thinking ‘this is brilliant and really useful’ and ‘do I really want to surrender so much information about myself?’. I know there is nothing I can do about it but my privacy seems to be constantly eroded and I have no control. However, there is one technology this Grumpy Old Man is really looking forward to: Smart Contact Lenses! Wouldn’t it save a lot of embarrassment to see a person’s name appear beside them in augmented reality as they walk towards you?


IoT & Big Data – where is it leading?

June 15, 2017

smart_building250x250The ThinkFM Conference 2017 explored how technology impacts the role of the Facilities Manager and, indeed, the entire workforce. There is no doubt that connectivity and wireless technology in its many incarnations – the Internet of Things (IoT) – is making it easier to monitor buildings and equipment as well as anticipate faults. This improves preventative maintenance and many workplace services dramatically. Much more interesting to me was how much may be achieved by monitoring people as well! We are already familiar with occupancy monitors and wearable technology that can assess our steps, posture and heart rate. How much further will this go – and will we accept it?

We all recognise that Google and others simplify our lives by giving us ready access to information (although Google still can’t help when I ask it where I put my car keys!). We also understand that there is a quid pro quo of surrendering data about ourselves in order to improve the experience and information available to us. Whilst I am delighted and entertained by what technology can do for us, I am increasingly agitated by the dichotomy that exists between the benefits and the intrusion.

robotIn his opening address at ThinkFM, BIFM Chairman Stephen Roots listed the New Generation of Robots as one of the top ten trends impacting the workplace. The loss of jobs to automation is widely discussed and a genuine cause for concern in the medium term. Are we all accelerating that outcome by volunteering the data that will make it possible? Uber may not be a company we look to for management inspiration but it is certainly one to watch for technological innovation. They are actively exploring driverless vehicles, whilst their existing drivers are allocated jobs by sophisticated software. One might argue that this is already management by algorithm.

Ben Waber, the keynote speaker at ThinkFM, provided a brilliant explanation of how his company, Humanyze, uses behavioural analytics to improve productivity. The impact of interventions by Humanyze was stunning and I am certain we shall be hearing much more about his company in the future. However, whilst the rigour of their work and the robust research on which it is based look impeccable, I still find myself a little uncomfortable about the individual data being collected.

paranoid_slimI do not think I am paranoid and I am sure, to some degree, this cynicism is generational. I am not even suggesting we should be fighting against any of this technology. I just feel we should give more thought to the privacy we are surrendering! I have just read Stewart Mitchell’s article (PC Pro magazine 274/pp14-15) which explores what Amazon Echo, Google Home and others might be hearing that we are unaware of. The answer is quite a lot. Without question, the article reinforces my view that unethical applications can and have been exploited and I do not want this sort of technology in my home.

I realise that, whereas my blogs usually raise questions and suggest answers, this article simply raises a lot of questions! Am I paranoid? Do you agree? Is all this technology ultimately a force for good – or not? As always, any feedback is very welcome.

 


Clerkenwell Design Week 2017

June 13, 2017

clerkenwellIn comments about CDW2016, I noted that ergonomics is an essential subject for some, a relevant topic for others and a misunderstood and inconsequential distraction for the rest! In this short article, I shall be expressing my subjective observations about how this is evolving in wider workplace attitudes as reflected during CDW2017.

In 2017, there are still many who fail to really understand ergonomics. Despite that, the common theme throughout Clerkenwell was Wellbeing. Office furniture manufacturers, designers and architects have all realised that the most productive workforce is happy, healthy and engaged. Since finding, employing and retaining talent is the highest cost for any business, this makes sound commercial sense and puts human factors and ergonomics (HF&E) at the centre of good workplace design.

Not that ergonomics was overtly discussed at Clerkenwell! As usual, there was plenty of talk about sit-stand furniture and reducing prolonged sitting, as well as lots of information about agile working, acoustics, light, product design, colour, texture and living walls. These all address HF&E issues yet there seems to be a need to ‘dress it all up’ with buzzwords and catchphrases. Clearly, ergonomics is just not interesting enough on its own!

Most workplace furniture manufacturers approach the wellbeing issue from a perspective of offering variety: give employees plenty of different ways to work, design them into bright, comfortable and inviting spaces and the talent will come – and stay. That is how the thinking goes. Your choice of supplier will dictate how much science or research is applied to this thinking and how it is described. The conversation may be about Smartworking, Creative Spaces, Future Office, Clever Workspace or another, similar, name. Activity based working (ABW) fits into much of this thinking but our own simplified approach is to break down activities and the needs of personnel into the 4Cs: Collaboration, Communication, Contemplation and Concentration.collaborationMy own view is that mental health is now a crucial consideration and workplace design is only part of the issue. As well as more open discussion about mental health, there is a growing understanding of how to manage the needs of individuals and teams where stress or depression is an issue. If we want to discuss Wellbeing, we must go beyond describing different ways of working and look at both mental and physical health to optimise individual performance.

health-wellbeing-productivityDespite the appearance of a growing number of Wellbeing Managers, there is no formal qualification nor, indeed, any particular career path. There is also plenty of debate about what we actually mean by Wellbeing. We must take care that the really important issue of keeping staff mentally and physically healthy is not hijacked by marketing buzzwords and thereby devalued.


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