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.

WDM Newsletter May/June 2016

May 20, 2016

This article was originally emailed as our monthly Workplace Design & Management newsletter at 11:00 on 19/05/2016. You can view older newsletters here and register to receive them monthly.



The scale and range of CDW displays and activities expands annually. This year, for the first time, I shall be attending for all three days (contact me if you want to meet up!). With so much to do and see, it is important to use time wisely so I am already planning how to make the most of the event. If you are attending, especially for the first time or only for one day, I hope you may find my action plan useful:

  • Visit the web site and research thoroughly before setting off.
  • Decide which showrooms/displays are ‘must see’ and work out a viable route between them.
  • Aim to attend timed events that are clustered geographically to avoid wasting time criss-crossing the area. Start with the ones that only occur once and then try to fit repeated sessions around them.
  • Remember that it can take 20 minutes to walk from one side of Clerkenwell to the other – and that assumes you don’t bump into someone you know on the way!


okamura contessaDespite being one of the largest furniture manufacturers in the world (2015 turnover > £1.2bn), Okamura products are a comparatively well-kept secret in the UK. With models to compete head-on with iconic office chairs in terms of style, quality and ergonomics, we are delighted to include them in our portfolio. From the Zephyr Light to their provenContessa flagship product (illustrated), Okamura chairs incorporate unique styling and functional elements such as the fully height-adjustable armrests with built-in seat height and recline-lock buttons. For quality, elegance and functionality, Okamura is a brand you may never have considered. Now is the time to put that right! Contact us for more information.



In the limited space available, we have decided to focus on sit-stand designs at this year’s event. As always, we shall be showing a mix of proven and brand-new products. With nearly 20 years’ experience of sit-stand furniture, our three approaches will include desk, adaptor and touchdown table variants, as well as perching stools. All are instantly adjustable and supported by our full installation, setup and training service. Come to Stand M1305 (by Entrance 2) to learn how not to waste your money on sit-stand desks!


agile_not_workingAgile Working is a ‘hot topic’ at the moment and we hear many stories about how brilliantly employers have implemented an Agile Working Programme (AWP). Such accounts demonstrate how that success has positively impacted productivity, personnel satisfaction, wellbeing and engagement. We hear rather fewer stories about what happens when it fails but I fear that proper investigation would show that the failures outnumber the successes. [more].

When Agile Working isn’t Working

May 10, 2016

Agile Working is a ‘hot topic’ at the moment and we hear many stories about how brilliantly employers have implemented an Agile Working Programme (AWP). Such accounts demonstrate how that success has positively impacted productivity, personnel satisfaction, wellbeing and engagement. We hear rather fewer stories about what happens when it fails but I fear that proper investigation would show that the failures outnumber the successes.

I am an enthusiastic advocate of a good AWP but it seems that many organisations fail to grasp the scale and planning required for a successful implementation. Indeed, it is probably fair to say that many of the so-called AWPs that have been described to me barely justify the title. There is much more to do than simply take away some desks and give everyone a laptop or clear some office space and fill it with an apparently random selection of brightly coloured soft seating or install sit-stand desks and assume everyone will know how to use them.

I think that the problem lies in confusion about who ‘owns’ the process. Often it may be driven by Estates or Facilities but the managers involved need to take a broader view than their usual professional perspective. A collaborative, multi-disciplinary programme group is essential and a key member (probably the key member) is the Change Management expert. These specialists understand how to manage the staff consultation process, accommodate the psycho-social factors and implement appropriate training and support. Any successful programme is almost certain to require external assistance or, if the project is big enough, the creation of new roles within the business specifically to deliver the programme.

I would love to hear about your own experiences. Have you been part of one of the successes? Or part of something that failed or never really ‘got going’?


Closing a Building is the Beginning, not the End

July 30, 2012

There are many reasons for initiating a Smart Working project but one of the most common is the need to reduce real estate.  Defining the project, identifying appropriate personnel and job roles, establishing procedures, managing consultations and setting the roll-out agenda and timescale are all significant projects in their own right.

As a result, it is very easy to focus on closing buildings and “getting people out there” (whether that means home, hub or hot-desk working).  But what happens once they are “out there”?

It is quite possible that some (or all) of the original project team may be redeployed or disbanded at this stage – just when the real, long-term projects are beginning.  Whether the challenge is showing managers how to manage staff no longer under their constant supervision or showing those same staff how to manage themselves when they are not constantly supervised, there are new procedures to be created, resources to be provided and progress to be tracked.

It is also important to appreciate that problems arising out of failure to manage the new culture effectively may take some time to become evident (in much the same way that reduced absenteeism is almost certainly masking increased presenteeism in the current economy).

To ensure that Smart Workers are effective wherever they “touch down”, here are 10 simple rules.  They are by no means comprehensive but give a good overview and, for clarity, focus principally on computer users:

  1. Ensure they have proper health and safety training appropriate to their new environment.
  2. Ensure you provide clear guidance about appropriate behaviour.  Don’t take it for granted that common sense will prevail!  If they spill boiling water on themselves whilst making coffee in their own home during work hours, or trip over the cat whilst getting their laptop out of the car, or set up their workstation on the landing and roll their chair away from the desk and down the stairs, how can you minimise the likelihood of, and your liability exposure to, such events?
  3. Think about the physical ergonomics.  If they work at the kitchen table on a dining chair at the wrong height and use a laptop without a separate stand, keyboard and mouse, then musculo-skeletal problems are almost inevitable.  Back, neck or upper limb pain will, at the very least, inhibit productivity.  In the longer term, this may lead to absenteeism and, potentially, litigation.
  4. Provide guidance about posture.  Assuming the equipment makes good posture possible, personnel need to be trained to understand what good posture is, how to achieve it and why it is important.
  5. Carry out proper risk assessments. A home workstation will be very different from something provided in the office.  Use a DSE risk assessment that is specifically designed for home workers.  A computer-based version will be easiest to manage.
  6. Set up a mechanism to remind and prompt users to take breaks, step away from their desk, stretch and refocus.  This can be done through periodic email reminders, internal chat/social media tools or dedicated software such as CtrlWORK.
  7. If they spend a lot of time on the telephone, ensure they use a headset.
  8. Make sure that any equipment you provide is simple to use and obvious to set up.  If not, assume it won’t be used!
  9. Check regularly that individuals are coping.  Is the new way of working matching their work-life balance expectations? Are they managing the workload?  Are they feeling isolated?  Early recognition of problems and prompt interventions to address them are essential.
  10. Cut them some slack!  If they want to start work at 07:00am and then walk the dog for two hours at lunchtime, think seriously about whether the business can accommodate that and whether it will significantly increase both productivity and job satisfaction.

In one of my recent monthly eBulletins, I provided a list of the tools we offer to address all these issues.  More details here.  As always, I welcome comments, ideas and challenges !

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