Posts tagged adjustable height desk
A Case Study on Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates by Workforce Segment
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Despite how trendy they may seem, standing desks have been around for quite some time. Historians recount that Leonardo da Vinci used standing desks for his brainstorms on “flying machines” while Thomas Jefferson employed a 6-legged “tall desk” with an adjustable top, and Ernest Hemingway stood while writing his masterpieces due to a nagging leg injury (Knighton, 2015). Given that standing rather than sitting appears more in line with our human evolution, it may seem surprising that adjustable height desks have yet to become the norm in workplaces. Innovant’s new case study yields insight into the reasons why certain workforce segments tend to have higher adjustable height desk (AHD) success rates while others don’t, the problem users face in AHD adoption, and how they may be overcome.

The wellness case for the AHD paints a rosy picture. The benefits range from the alleviation of back and joint pain to the improvement of conditions such as heart disease and Type II diabetes. Looking at the numbers, it would seem that the world believes it. A study from TowerEight indicates that online searches for standing desk information have increased by over threefold in the United States over the course of a year, from May 2016 to 2017 (Tower Eight, 2017). While this spike can result from a variety of reasons, it is plausible to believe that consumers are at least growing more curious about AHDs, which is usually the first sign that demand is picking up.

So, why does it seem that mostly deep-pocketed financial and tech giants are implementing AHDs in any meaningful way? In other words, with all the Googling going on, why aren’t three times as many people pulling the trigger?

Factors Impacting Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates

One possible reason for the demand stall is the questionable success of adjustable height desk adoption by users. Here are three major influences likely to determine the rate of AHD success or failure in the workplace.

Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Factor #1: The Importance of Wellness to the Workforce There seems to be no consensus regarding the question of whether or not physical comfort really does drive productivity gains. According to an article by FastCompany, most studies have shown zero impact on worker productivity (Duffy, 2016).

Every workforce is different. While some more health-conscious groups may be thrilled by the ability to shed a sedentary existence, others may not be up for the fatigue that comes with standing for long periods of time. If a worker is in poor physical condition to begin with or has little regard for his or her own wellness, improved mobility may not be welcome. It may even create safety issues for some worker segments. For this reason, companies may hesitate to promote usage of the desks among worker populations.

In our study, we found that certain segments of the workforce population were more open to AHD usage than others. This knowledge will come in handy for managers who are uncertain about who to encourage to use the desks and who to leave alone.

Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Factor #2: The Pink Slip Effect At most companies, dealing with Human Resources or the boss to put in a request for expensive office furniture is an awkward conversation. While some companies are more open to accommodating these desires, many are not. Some employees may fear that asking for an amenity that their counterparts do not have is asking for the pink slip. Likewise, unless a line manager can afford to give a sit to stand desk to every employee in the department, giving this perk to a select few may trigger accusations of favoritism.

Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Factor #3: Sticker Shock There are many varieties of AHDs that corporate buyers can choose from, but whatever way you slice it an AHD is a noticeable investment. While standing desks tend to come in lower on the pricing scale, sit to stand desks can cost in the thousands per position. This creates all kinds of buyer questions about choosing the right type, knowing what to avoid, and how to justify the purchase to the higher ups when adjustable height desk success rates may not be high for all worker segments. For this reason, buyers may scale back and only purchase for a select population, perhaps misjudging the candidates and compromising success.

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Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates Study Methodology

In our study, we monitored desk height position across every employee over the course of a year. At the time of our launch, the company, one of the largest commercial interior design firms in the world, had just furnished their new Chicago headquarters with Innovant’s award-winning FORm_office benching system. This granted full range, electric height adjustability to every single employee in each department.

Desk height was categorized into 4 unique positions: standing height, drafting (or stool) height, as well as high and low seated heights. Desk height positions were tracked in the mornings, midday and the afternoons. After tallying the results, we were able to provide usage rates and trends for each department and for the company as a whole.

Get the Lowdown on Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates

To view the full results and obtain a copy of our proprietary research study, Adjustable Height Desk Success Rates, please visit our opt in page.

Sources:

Duffy, Jill. (July 15, 2016). The Truth About Standing Desks and Productivity. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3061782/the-truth-about-standing-desks-and-productivity

Knighton, Greg. (Feb 26, 2015). The Surprising History of Standing Desks. [Beyond the Office Door: The Breakroom Blog.] Retrieved from https://www.btod.com/blog/2015/02/26/the-surprising-history-of-standing-desks/

Tower Eight. Why Google Searches for ‘Standing Desks’ Have More Than Tripled in 12 Months. (May 16, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.towereight.com/google-searches-standing-desks-tripled-12-months/

Looking Back at NeoCon 2017 Workstation Trends & Themes
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Our key takeaways from NeoCon 2017 center around three themes: a lack of sophisticated technology enablement in collaborative workspaces, a growing acceptance of compressed polyester products, and a striking emergence of thought leadership from niche manufacturers in the workstation category. In this article, we will outline how specifiers, interior designers, architects, and operations and technology professionals can apply these insights to their workstation strategy. We’ll also give practical examples of ways to do so.

NeoCon 2017 Trend #1: Technology Enabled Collaboration Areas Drive Higher Productivity

For years, we’ve seen the gradual shift to office workspaces designed for higher collaboration. NeoCon 2017 brought a new twist to this trend, leading us to question what elements are essential in these shared spaces to truly inspire people to work together. Furniture products designed for teaming or even ad-hoc collaboration have been the hot product category for the past 3 years. 

Much of what we saw, however, did not support or coexist with the collaboration technologies that the most innovative companies in the world use. The problem is bigger than it may seem: according to Forrester research, employees avoid 29% of meeting spaces due to insufficient collaboration tools (Forrester, 2016). This provokes thought as to how much technology is needed, what kinds of technologies are necessary vs. nice to have, what is the cost, and what return on investment should companies expect to see for this outlay?  

The idea of “huddling” is universally understood as bringing people together to solve problems and foster innovation. These “huddle spaces” - communal areas designed for meetings of up to six people - are served by many manufacturers with lounge-like products peppered with whiteboards and the occasional auxiliary display. Marked by good styling and attractive materials, little if any of the products we saw were sensitive to making good use of collaboration technology. The fastest growing companies achieve their innovation goals when employees can quickly and effectively share their information. This requires easy access to collaborative technologies within huddle spaces. When designing a workplace to maximize huddle space usage, consider the following technologies:

  • Robust Wireless Networks: Employees are relying on both their own wireless devices and the supplied hardwired collaboration technology. Wireless networks should be designed to avoid limitations or dead zones where mobile devices won’t be able to function properly. If not, meetings can become delayed or canceled altogether due to the challenge of finding a way to get everyone connected. Design the huddle spot with the roaming wireless user in mind. Device charging stations don’t hurt either. 
  • Virtual whiteboards: Going beyond the traditional flat screen display can be a very powerful tool for sharing ideas among a team, working both within a huddle space and remotely. Choose whiteboard applications that operate in real time, store information in the cloud so that valuable information is not lost, and can be accessed by teammates offsite.
  • Video conferencing: To encourage adoption of video conferencing, huddle spaces must first make it easy and foolproof to initiate and connect the conference without delay. Not so obvious, the participants of the conference must also be visible and audible. Collaboration and video conference technologies deliver this, but if the environment or furniture is not adequately supportive, critical collaboration tools are rendered useless.
  • Office Information Security: Remember the WannaCry virus? The threats are real and ever-present. Including a guest network will help prevent network password misappropriations when visitors join a huddle area meeting. While it’s important to ensure proper network security, remember that employees are typically the largest source of security breaches. To help employees feel at ease with huddle spaces nearby, consider privacy screens for workstations near communal areas that are highly trafficked. Many of our clients restrict any kind of network access in areas where guests visit frequently, such as lobbies and cafeterias.

Clients and employees alike will thank you for better collaborative technologies. According to Forrester Research, 51% of business leaders report higher employee satisfaction, with a little over one-third seeing higher employee retention rates (Forrester, 2016).

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Read here to learn about the latest solutions that will help you integrate collaborative technology and cabling into conference room environments.

NeoCon 2017 Trend #2: Compressed Polyester Offers Higher Acoustic Controls for Workstations

Polyester, particularly compressed polyester, has followed the resurgence of felt and felt-like materials, appearing within the workplace in a variety of forms. NeoCon 2017 proved that polyester is making its mark in workstation design, of all places. Compressed polyester is a felt-like substrate - not a fabric - that is easy on the wallet and has terrific sound absorption potential. We’re seeing it on privacy panels, vertical faces of storage, and any other areas that blend acoustics and aesthetics.

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Innovant’s own workstations seamlessly integrate polyester cladding. The multi-functional panels divide workspaces, conceal cabling and serve as desktop storage, providing solutions that are both environmentally friendly and acoustically beneficial. At NeoCon, we were impressed by Silver Award winner Aura™ by Sis Ergo. These wraparound privacy panels, mostly made from recycled polyester felt, snap on to divide adjacent stations on a workbench.

NeoCon 2017 Trend #3: Niche Players Steal the Spotlight for Workstation Design

At NeoCon 2017, niche manufacturers stepped up to the plate, demonstrating thought leadership in the workstation design and development segment. According to industry experts, new products from big fish Herman Miller and Teknion failed to make a splash this year, and word on the street is that Haworth, Steelcase, and Herman Miller will “continue to be pushed by outsiders” (Monday Morning Quarterback, 2017). NeoCon 2017 showcased far more new product selections from smaller companies, signaling a higher degree of competition. At the end of the day, this works in favor of the end user. For the intermediaries who select designs on their behalf, the takeaway is this: there are great rewards to be reaped from looking further than the usual suspects when seeking the latest and greatest in workstation design.

Innovant’s latest integrated adjustable height bench was on display at our North Wells showroom this year. REX™ was developed as a base benching product upon which Innovant could deliver advanced tailoring capabilities. Nonetheless, in it’s out of the box format, REX has redefined the adjustable height benching category by delivering (finally) a product that perfectly conceals and manages cabling and technology to deliver a beautiful product without the mess usually revealed by work surfaces at standing height.

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Check out more of our thought leadership in the workstation category here

NeoCon 2017 & Beyond

Putting it all together, NeoCon 2017 showed us that the office design and furnishings market is at an evolutionary inflection point. The paradigm is shifting with greater thought leadership coming from less expected places. These innovations are expected to deepen already existing trends and introduce an environmentally friendly twist where possible.

Architects, designers, specifiers, operations and technology professionals, please weigh in here by commenting below. What is your view on NeoCon and beyond?

Sources:

Forrester Research. (2016, August). Digital Transformation: Achieve Agility and Innovation Through Collaboration Technology. Retrieved from http://compass.microsoft.com/assets/9d/ad/9dad58e1-e430-4f1e-bb3e-effa22c9c5d6.pdf?n=Digital%20Transformation%20_%20Achieve%20Agility%20And%20Innovation%20Through%20Collaboration%20Technology_Final.pdf [PDF file].

The Monday Morning Quarterback. (19 June, 2017). NeoCon 2017 Wrap-Up. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6RxwwvbBCpHR0p1NDdyRGdZSDQ/view.

Innovant Releases Ag Arm, a Series of Ergonomic Monitor Arms for Multi-Screen Environments
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Designed for integration atop all Innovant furniture products, Ag Arm is a sophisticated system of VESA-compatible display mounts for LCD monitors. The product is particularly suited to open plan offices furnished with height adjustable workstations.

Developed specifically for deployment in multi-screen environments, Ag Arm eliminates the possibility of collisions with components on adjacent adjustable height desks. Using a combination of variable arm lengths and rotation restrictors, Ag Arm ensures the most effective fit and alignment of monitors within the footprint of each desktop.

Modular, mix and match parts allow users to easily create or reconfigure dynamic displays. Ag Arm displays can either be mounted to worktops with rapid install and adjust C-clamps or secured to an accessory beam at the back of Innovant work surfaces. For advanced features, an optional convenience power module – with 2 receptacles and a fast dual USB charger – can be integrated into the base of any Ag Arm support post.  

“I’ve never been satisfied with the design of popular monitor arm products. Until Ag Arm, I had not yet seen an intelligent monitor arm product for the tight, multi-screen configurations of today’s height adjustable workstations,” explains Bruce Wells, Director Marketing & Design at Innovant.

Technology is rapidly evolving and Innovant’s Ag Arm ensures that investments made today will continue to benefit users in the future. For more information about Innovant or its products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

About Innovant: Innovant is a renowned industry leader creating intelligent, adaptable furniture for the modern workplace. For over twenty-five years, Innovant’s substantial contributions to office and trading environments have resulted from the sophisticated products and close collaboration Innovant supplies to clients and designers. With a flagship showroom located in New York, Innovant maintains a worldwide network of offices and showrooms spanning North America, Europe and Asia.

If Sitting Is The New Smoking Is Standing The New Patch?

by Fran Ferrone

Over the past 18 months, I’ve gained almost two inches (2 inches!) in a place I don’t need to, primarily because I changed jobs. My last job consisted of ten to twelve impossibly hectic and mobile travel days per month meeting with colleagues and clients, followed by several days working virtually at home. The travel was stressful and the workdays were long, but I was compensated by more flexible hours on my days at home that allowed me to catch a mid-day Vinyasa class a few times a week. While changing jobs afforded me the chance to move from one great company to another, it was also a drastic change in my work style. Now I’m in an office Monday through Friday, and although my work is varied and stimulating, I often feel the physical and psychological effects of being tethered to my desk; and I miss that Vinyasa class.

imageIncreased Concern for Health and Wellness

I’m not alone. Ever since the Wall Street Journal’s July, 2012 article, “Sitting for More Than Three Hours a Day Cuts Life Expectancy” appeared (to be endlessly echoed by myriad media sources) it’s been clear that health and wellness has become a serious business concern. Yet compared to sustainability, which came to prominence in the mid-2000’s, and took years to produce real bottom line proof statements, compelling health and wellness statistics have quickly emerged. Insurance giant, AON, reports that for every dollar invested in wellness programs, companies can expect a $3.00 to $6.00 return. And the cost of not doing anything is even more dramatic. The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism estimates that the indirect costs relating to poor health can be 2-3X direct medical costs. As a result, health and wellness has become the latest clarion call of the office landscape. This is a big topic that would take much more space than this writing allows. To give you an idea of scale, at one end of the spectrum developers are offering more life-style amenities in new and repositioned properties. At the other end of the spectrum, sit-to-stand furniture options have taken center stage.   

Solutions to Meet a Rising Need

Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing and Development for benching and trading desk manufacturer Innovant, reports that just in the past six months, 90% of his conversations with clients have centered on sit-to-stand options. Key motivators for concerned employers are the potential health benefits of standing (or more specifically, not sitting all day) and the opportunity to give something back after transitioning employees to smaller benching applications. In providing a choice, the sit-to-stand option offers workers some control over their immediate work environment.

Because this represents a significant workplace investment, there are factors to consider before committing to the sit stand option. First, “who gets it?” Providing everyone with standing desks avoids inequality but could strain the budget. Firms struggling with this might consider supplying them to workers - like traders, call center operators and receptionists - who are less mobile during the workday. Second, a thorough cost/benefit analysis of day one vs. retrofit day two installations is recommended for anyone considering a phased approach. Other considerations include power sources, wire management and monitor arms for retrofit applications; requests for foot rests and stools (vs. chairs); potential HVAC adjustments; and user safety and office etiquette protocols. Finally, at a cost of $1000 or more per unit, sit-to-stand desks are likely to be part of a holistic solution rather than the solution itself.

image“Inconvenient Planning Strategies”

On the aforementioned spectrum between the amenities being included in new construction and sit-to-stand desks, are some planning options designers have been employing for some time to get people up and out of their seats. Called “Inconvenient Planning Strategies” by my colleague, Ricardo Nabholz, these scenarios evolved over the past decade as companies sought to increase transparency, spontaneous interaction and collaboration throughout the workplace. Conveniently, these same planning tactics also get people moving. Placing staircases in prominent locations encourages people to take the stairs; making them wide enough allows them to stop and have a chat. Dispersing support functions means people have to travel to get to copy/print rooms, pantries, cafés and bathrooms. The proliferation of laptops and wireless technologies have called traditional departmental adjacencies into question, prompting some companies to adopt an unassigned seating policy and/or provide more informal work and collaborative settings – including fixed, standing height benches - that require workers to change locations during the day. More recently, we’ve seen reports of stand-up meetings (that also save time and get people more engaged), and featured in a recent TED talk, even walking meetings.

The Choice Is Ours

Ultimately, while the workplace can indeed support healthy habits, the onus cannot be on the workplace alone. Consider that before we had email and texting, people often had to get up and go find someone to get the answers they needed. And before computers, where it’s easy to gaze and graze, it was difficult to type and eat a sandwich at the same time, so people tended to leave their stations and join colleagues for lunch. Today, it’s up to us to choose options that break our routine, even if they are less convenient. I’m reminded of childhood summers when, before central air conditioning, I spent hot days in my cool basement reading a book while my mother implored me to “put that book down and go get some sun.” Appeasing Mom, I also knew that changing it up was good for me. If Mom were here now she’d say “leave the laptop and go take a walk, think, have a conversation.” With Mom’s voice in my ear, I’ve begun to find ways to take breaks much as I did when working at home. Happily, I’ve found that not only can I still get my work done, I’ve also begun to feel more in control. I now save my Vinyansa for the weekends, but I’m delighted to say that the little changes in my work routine have started to make a dent in those 2 inches.   

Originally published in The National Real Estate Investor, July 1, 2014.