3rd November 2015
Posture People guest blog
“How and where we work is in a state of flux. Within our workplace we are experiencing more change, more quickly than at any time in the last 25 years”- Jim Taylour, Orangebox
As the millennial generation (people born between 1980 and 2000) gradually enters the workforce, we have seen a big shift in the way people want to work. Fixed station workplaces are still relevant and often preferred, but this way of working isn’t as flexible as many would like. Whether it's child care, the dreadful morning commute or hours of the day when you are most productive, Millennials are now having a say in when and how they want to work.
Different spaces to suit the individual
“The way offices are being used, the way people are working and the technology they are using is evolving fast” – The Senator Group
With these changes in the workplace, how can we create safe environments to enable how they want to work? Jo Blood, a leading ergonomics expert from Posture People had the following advice:
"More than a building, offices are now a marker for your company brand and culture. As well as nurturing existing staff, employers want to attract the best talent with offices that stand out above the rest. Modern offices now usually consist of open plan offices with individually designed zones dedicated for separate tasks. Whether it’s deciding to find a quiet pod for focus work or meeting spaces for a spontaneous meeting, it’s important to accommodate the way they choose to work with inspirational spaces."
“131 million working days are lost to sickness, the largest contributing factor (25% at 31 million days) is back, neck and muscle pain” – HSE (Health and Safety Executive)
From a health and safety perspective, there is a pressing issue with occasional desk users vs. fixed desk users. Occasional users are usually using laptops and other mobile devices that can cause long term muscular skeletal issues when not used correctly.
We would recommend making all occasional office users aware of correct postures and working practises and have controls in place to stop employees working on beanbags when using screens! When creating an agile working environment, it would also be beneficial to provide staff with accessories such as laptop stands to prevent them dropping their necks to view the screen, separate keyboards to ensure the screen is at the right distance and footrests to allow them to sit at the correct height. Once mindful of good workstation setups, employees then have the knowledge to set up their home offices correctly.
One size does not fit all
Here at Posture People we have a 5% rule. Generally 5 in 100 people will not fit into a standard office furniture solution. That’s why we suggest agile working environments have fully adjustable flexible furniture such as height adjustable desks, arms to adjust the height of your monitor and ergonomic adjustable chairs. Educating these users to adjust their own chairs correctly will also allow the office to share the space, whilst still keeping everyone happy and comfortable. In some circumstances, employees with ill health or more specialised conditions will still need a tailored solution.
This is one of the best pieces of advice we can give in shared working environments; provide hand sanitiser! If you are having a nasty bout of sniffles in your office, imagine how quickly it can be spread when sharing desks! Encourage your poorly staff to take the day off, even if they are only due in on certain days. In the long run, taking a couple of days to recover is miles more productive than coming in just to make an appearance.
Leave your work at the door
If you allow working from the home, office and everywhere in-between it’s important to set limits and get the work/life balance just right. Although working from home seems appealing to a lot of us, it can blur the lines of when it’s time to stop emailing and stop working. While it’s vital to be contactable during working hours, just make sure you encourage staff to take regular breaks, keep hydrated and have a time cap on when it’s time to finish work and wind down.’
About Posture People
Posture People are an independent furniture consultancy based in Brighton, specialising in ergonomic and design lead products. They have recently celebrated their 10th year of business, and pride themselves on creating offices that look stunning and make for more productive work environments.