Sit-Stand-Perch – Exploring the Third Option

August 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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


Has the UK sit-stand market finally grown up?

September 9, 2016

er60nomIt 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’.

Even using the term ‘standing desk’ is misleading to the uninitiated because it implies that simply replacing seated activity with standing activity is the answer. Furthermore, some of the (apparently well-researched and highly reputable) research recommended that we should all aim to stand at our desk for up to four hours per day. The problem, however, has never been about too much sitting: it has been about not enough movement. Standing undoubtedly helps but it is only part of the solution.

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Hedge’s 3S’s Ideal Work Pattern

The ‘stand for four hours’ rationale has now been widely dismissed and many who really understand the issues will recommend a 30 minute cycle of sitting, standing and movement such as ‘Hedge’s 3S’ cycle proposed by Professor Alan Hedge .

With clearer guidance, employers can make better judgements and the sales enquiries we now receive seem to come more from a ‘good thing to do’ perspective rather than ‘do we really have to do this?’.

What is also significant is that most large employers are opting for 10 – 20% sit-stand, often putting a pair of sit-stand desks at the end of a bank of standard workstations. By contrast, more and more of our ‘mini project’ orders (typically, 10 – 40 desks) are for smaller organisations equipping all of their personnel with a sit-stand option. It seems that these smaller organisations recognise that they are doing much more than changing the furniture: they are introducing a culture change. As a result, they want to embrace that change, recognising the value of the training we provide and appreciating the importance of proper education to ensure users benefit fully from the new furniture and the behaviour opportunities it creates.sitstandtips

It may simply be that the sort of organisations who come to us do so because of our commitment to training and the added value we offer beyond the desks themselves. Or it could be that sit-stand furniture buyers are becoming more sophisticated and demanding a  more comprehensive package.

Whatever the explanation I like to think that, after nearly 20 years, the sit-stand market is finally growing up!


Workplace Design & Management April/ May 2016

April 22, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 21/04/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

MOTUS SIT-STAND DESK

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As the demand for sit-stand desks continues, we are proud to offer a product that provides two-stage height adjustment (625mm – 1245mm) and a four-memory controller at a price that competes with a well-known Scandinavian furniture store! We have already completed many successful installations and the product is available directly from our warehouse with a range of worktop sizes and finishes. A three leg version for cockpit-shaped worktops will also be available soon. We also offer a comprehensive installation, set-up and user training service. Find out more and view our Motus video here.

FACILITIES SHOW

facilities_showWe have just booked our space for this year’s event so you will be able to find us on Stand M1305 which is just inside entrance 2. We like to keep our exhibition options open as late as possible so we shall decide what to display nearer the time. You can expect to see products that illustrate the latest thinking in Agile Working and Workplace Design together with information about the many support services and resources we offer to complement the furniture. Make a diary note if you haven’t already!

CLERKENWELL DESIGN WEEK

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Now in its 7th year, this international event has grown into a significant showcase of the best products and ideas available. The mix of open-house showrooms, exhibitions, presentations and events provides an outstanding opportunity to see and hear the latest thinking in the world of workplace design. We shall be there each day so let us know if you want to meet up to discuss ideas or look at specific products.

ISO27500:2016

ISOThe commercial and productivity arguments for good staff health and wellbeing are now manifest and dynamic employers have this at the centre of their business thinking. This new international standard provides guidance for executive board members and policy makers within organisations of all sizes and types. It considers essential values and beliefs and explains the seven principles which characterise a human-centred employer.

DOING GREAT WORK WELL – OPTIMA-LIFE

optima-lifeOptima-life works with organisations that want to help their employees achieve more, both at and away from work. Their salutogenic approach aims to keep people energised and resilient, as they seek to engage and educate people. Using a blend of technology, coaching/training and support tools, the team provides bespoke offerings tailored to an organisation’s needs. The result is a culture where performance and purpose are increased and the risks of organisational stress, fatigue, and burnout are reduced.
www.optima-life.com


THE HUMAN-CENTRED ORGANIZATION

April 15, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 13/04/2016. You can view older eBulletins here and register to receive them monthly.

THE HUMAN-CENTRED ORGANIZATION

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The new ISO27500:2016 standard has just been published and addresses human wellbeing as an important economic measure. Unusually for an ISO standard, this document is aimed directly at executive board members and provides seven key measures of human-centredness. For those of us involved in ergonomics and human factors, this represents a quantum leap by drawing together health, safety and wellbeing, accessibility, individuality, inclusivity and social responsibility into a single document as guiding principles in the design of products, services and processes both within and beyond an organisation.

HFE IN PRACTICE

book250px‘Human Factors and Ergonomics in Practice: Improving Wellbeing and Performance in the Real World’ is a new book about HFE as it is actually applied in day-to-day life. It is edited by Steven Shorrock and Claire Williams and contains an impressive list of international authors. Amidst the distilled knowledge of this august and international body of professionals is a chapter by me! The book is due to be published in Summer 2016 but you can find much more information in the extensive blog or through #HFEinPractice on Twitter.

WEBINARS

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We have just scheduled another series of events running through until August. These popular sessions provide an ideal way to extend your knowledge or refresh your memory in a focused session of less than an hour. The current timetable includes modules by our Training Manager, Stuart Entwistle, but I have three speaking engagements scheduled over the next couple of months so I shall be developing new themes to be added soon. All our webinars are free. Take a look at www.ergonomics.events.

NATIONAL BACK EXCHANGE

nbe250pxWe have just booked our space again for the NBE conference and exhibition in September. This year’s theme is ‘Erasing Boundaries’. As well as displaying new products, we also plan to deliver one of the exhibitor workshops. Our session title this year is ‘Coping Strategies in a Rapidly Changing Workplace’.  There are many issues facing managers today and the pace of change makes juggling priorities even more difficult. Obviously, I have no idea what the content will be yet but I plan to make it both informative and entertaining!

GET BRITAIN SLEEPING CAMPAIGN

sleeping250pxDid you see our April Fools’ Day email, blog or web site? With new, and often conflicting, research appearing almost daily, it is hard for business managers to know what guidance to follow. To confuse everyone further, we announced a new recommendation that ‘Work routines should be broken at least once an hour with a short sleep of 3-7 minutes’. In the end, nobody asked us for more information about the ‘sleep walking treadmill desk’ and we spent far more time on this nonsense than we should have, but it was fun! If you missed it, take a look at getbritainsleeping.com.


Workplace Design & Management March / April 2016

March 18, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 17/03/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.

SMART WORKING

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Almost weekly, we hear about a Smart/Agile Working programme that is failing to meet expectations. There is obvious corporate appeal in reducing estates and the associated overheads but many organisations fail to address all the associated issues such as manager training and the sense of detachment that may arise from home working. Our January newsletter pointed to some useful free resources or you can contact us for a more hands-on approach. Either directly or through partners, we can offer support for all elements of your programme.

SPIRA PLUS

SpiraPlus250pxThe Spira Plus chair offers great ergonomics at a manageable price. Its range of adjustments exceed many models at significantly higher prices, ensuring excellent comfort and support in a stylish, modern design. It meets the brief, whether you need a highly flexible project solution, a specialist occupational health provision or a default preventative chair. Features include adjustable pelvic and lumbar support with independent back-angle adjustment. Options include 4d armrests and extra quilt wrap seat for even greater comfort. For petite users, a shallower seat pan is also available.

OFFICE PODS

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Are open plan offices the most effective way to create a dynamic, collaborative environment or the easiest way to ensure impaired productivity? As the debate continues, pods provide a flexible way to break up open spaces with dedicated concentration, contemplation, private or meeting rooms. Rather than ‘what should it look like?’, it is always better to start with ‘what are we going to use it for?’ – not always such an easy question. From telephone box to meeting room, contact us for assistance.

SIT-STAND WORKSTATIONS NOT BEING USED?

sit-stand-no-training250pxAlmost every office furniture supplier now offers sit-stand desks in their portfolio. Most of them have no understanding of the potential culture change that they bring and many provide no proper training in their use. If you have started a sit-stand programme and failed to see the benefits or installed sit-stand options but nobody is using them, we provide training and education to put that right. Contact us to find out how we can help.  If you would like an overview of how we see the UK market, view my recent blog here.

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY & THE INTERNET OF THINGS

WearableTechAt the Wearable Technology Show, I was stunned by the pace of recent development. We know a few employers are already running health and wellbeing projects with watch-style monitors. I believe that the workplace revolution will come when other technologies, such as smart textiles, are combined with elite sport methodologies to produce demonstrable business benefits. As yet, I am not really sure what format this may take but I am observing with interest! If you know more about this, want to know more about this or have already run project(s), I would love to hear from you.


How much should I stand at work?

March 7, 2016

newspaper_headlines_600As the debate about too much sitting rages on, there are many misunderstandings. ‘How much should I stand at work?’ is a question we are asked frequently but, like ‘What is the best office chair?’, it is one of those ‘not really the right question’ questions. Thanks to the reach and diversity of the ‘net, the volume of information on the topic – impartial research, marketing blurb pretending to be research, informed opinion, ill-informed opinion and downright nonsense – continues to grow and, for many, the newspaper headlines and conflicting messages are bewildering.

When people ask me about the ‘right’ amount of time to sit and stand, I jokingly ask them to give me a figure that suits their needs and I will find them some research to support that figure! As a non-academic, it seems to me that researchers always say that more research is needed (possibly because they are actively seeking funding to extend their research?) but they are not always good at looking objectively at existing research, especially if it may contradict theirs (possibly because they are actively seeking funding to extend their research?).

Sometimes, history is completely ignored. Reports as far back as the nineteenth century and significant research from the 1980s onwards identify musculo-skeletal symptoms associated with long periods of standing amongst retail workers and others. Yet, the Consensus Statement published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) in 2015 concludes that those whose jobs are predominantly desk-based should “progress towards accumulating 2 hours per day of standing and light activity (light walking) during working hours, eventually progressing to a total accumulation of 4 hours per day”.

I have already stated that I am not an academic and I must also make it clear that I have no medical training either but, as one who has spent over twenty years working in the field of workplace ergonomics, it seems to me that the research basis for the BJSM paper makes cardiovascular issues its focus and ignores or trivialises the musculo-skeletal considerations. I know many people who could not possibly stand for as much as four hours a day, yet a document with the Public Health England logo in its header advises them to do so.

No wonder there is so much confusion!

what-can-we-learn-from-spacePrompted by the disparity in advice and encouraged by recent conversations with professional colleagues and friends, I have been looking for research-based recommendations that we may be more confident about. As a result, I have been reading ‘Sitting Kills, Moving Heals’ by Dr Joan Vernikos, former NASA Director of Life Sciences.

At first glance, the cover has the look of one of those slightly dubious self-published, self-help books but the content is based on thirty years of NASA research and experience. It was published in 2011 (more work that was apparently ignored or overlooked in the BJSM conclusions) but is particularly topical at the moment since British astronaut Tim Peake has been carrying out cardiovascular research on the International Space Station.

In simple terms, Dr Vernikos’ primary recommendation to reduce the cardiovascular risks of prolonged sitting is to stand up often. Her work concludes that the length of time standing is not relevant but the number of times you stand up is what matters. In other words, standing up ten times for two minutes is ten times more effective than standing up once for twenty minutes. The answer to the question ‘How much should I stand at work?’ is therefore little and often. A couple of minutes a few times an hour should suffice. Remember, though, that this must be throughout your waking hours, not just at work. Obviously, other elements of a healthy lifestyle will also help and we continue to recommend all our other sit-stand tips.

Of course, the 150-page book contains much more than one simple recommendation and the history, background, medical and scientific explanation makes an easy, enjoyable read. It is likely I shall blog further about this in due course.

In the meantime, I look forward to being challenged about this article! What do you think?


Don’t waste your money on sit-stand furniture!

July 8, 2015

This may seem an unusual entreaty from someone who has been selling sit-stand furniture for nearly 20 years but I am becoming more and more exasperated by the half-baked, ill-informed, incomplete and often misleading stories appearing in the press and online about sitting and standing.

If you or your organisation are contemplating buying sit-stand furniture, I want to stop you in your tracks and make you think carefully about how you approach the ‘less sitting’ issue. Otherwise you will waste money, no matter what products you buy.

This statement probably needs some explanation!

You may have seen all the noise in the press, social media and online about the risks of prolonged sitting. Attention-grabbing headlines such as ‘Sitting is the new smoking’ sell newspapers but don’t really help you understand what to do about it. The more you see or read, the more bewildered you will probably become! Academic research can be confusing or inconclusive (or both).

All the evidence supports the statement that many of us are too sedentary but nobody seems to know what is the optimum sitting/ standing ratio. Furthermore, much of the noise completely omits any reference to the need to replace sitting with a variety of activities, not just standing. A lot of apparently validated material is, in reality, a thinly veiled effort to add implied academic rigour to the process of selling sit-stand desks.

The office furniture industry is full of willing salesmen who will be happy to let you replace your existing desks with sit-stand options. But most are selling the product, not the concept.

I have been selling sit-stand furniture since the last century! I understand about the cultural issues of introducing sit-stand, the training requirements and the benefits as well as the problems they may cause. I also know that standing more is only part of the solution. Most people in the furniture industry don’t.

It doesn’t matter whether your motivation is a board level edict, a wellbeing initiative, a desire for best practice or a vociferous colleague with a note from their physiotherapist. Whatever the circumstances, you need to avoid a knee-jerk reaction or a relationship with a poorly informed supplier.

With good quality sit-stand desks now available at under £500 and desktop adaptors available for even less, taking the sit-stand option may seem logical and (comparatively) inexpensive – perhaps even inevitable. However, it will not be money well spent if nobody is using them in six months or if your personnel replace poor sitting postures with poor standing postures.

So please – stop and think before you sit and stand!


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