Posts tagged ergonomics
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.

Kinetic Furniture: a Long Walk to Nowhere?
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In recent years, as employers have fought double-digit increases in health premiums while simultaneously trying to squeeze maximum productivity out of their workers, a hot trend in office design has given new meaning to the term “multitasking.” So-called “kinetic office furniture” — treadmill desks — lets workers burn calories while performing traditionally sedentary activities.

Kinetic furniture is showing up in more workplaces as employers buy into evidence that sedentary work is bad for workers’ health and their output. In some Silicon Valley firms, kinetic furniture has achieved iconic status, signifying the type of techie who refuses to plop down on a Goodwill sofa amid empty Skittles packages to write code.

Ergonomics experts, however, aren’t so sure. A recent study suggests that increased activity does not necessarily lead to heightened productivity. In fact, there appears to be a trade-off that employers should factor into any decision to purchase kinetic office furniture.

The study focused on treadmill desks, which feature a conventional computer monitor and keyboard instead of the digital biometric display usually found on exercise treadmills. In the study, workers walking at a slow rate on the treadmill were asked to type words that appeared on the screen before them. A control group sitting at regular desks performed the same task. The treadmill walkers made more mistakes and typed more slowly than the control group.

Researchers also gave the workers cognitive tasks to perform while walking, trying to memorize a series of words and perform math problems. The seated workers outscored the walkers even more significantly on these tests.

Study critics have noted that cognition usually improves after exercise, not necessarily during. Still, it appears that employers should perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether treadmill desks are a step in the right direction.

Content originally published online by The HR Specialist, August 15, 2015.

We Think Better on Our Feet

A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts. In fact, preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, were based on a study of almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year. Engagement was measured by on-task behaviors such as answering a question, raising a hand or participating in active discussion and off-task behaviors like talking out of turn.

Standing desks - also known as stand-biased desks - are raised desks that have stools nearby, enabling students to sit or stand during class at their discretion. Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, who is an ergonomic engineer by trade, originally became interested in the desks as a means to reduce childhood obesity and relieve stress on spinal structures that may occur with traditional desks. Lessons learned from his research in this area led to creation of Stand2LearnTM, an offshoot company of a faculty-led startup that manufactures a classroom version of the stand-biased desk.

Benden’s previous studies have shown the desks can help reduce obesity - with students at standing desks burning 15 percent more calories than students at traditional desks (25 percent for obese children) - and there was anecdotal evidence that the desks also increased engagement. The latest study was the first designed specifically to look at the impact of classroom engagement.

Benden said he was not surprised at the results of the study, given that previous research has shown that physical activity, even at low levels, may have beneficial effects on cognitive ability.

“Standing workstations reduce disruptive behavior problems and increase students’ attention or academic behavioral engagement by providing students with a different method for completing academic tasks (like standing) that breaks up the monotony of seated work,” Benden said. “Considerable research indicates that academic behavioral engagement is the most important contributor to student achievement. Simply put, we think better on our feet than in our seat.”

The key takeaway from this research, Benden said, is that school districts that put standing desks in classrooms may be able to address two problems at the same time: academic performance and childhood obesity.

Originally published on HealthNewsDigest.com, April 23, 2015.

Are You Endangering Your Employees’ Health?

by Rieva Lesonsky

With companies of all sizes seeking to cut healthcare costs and avoid penalties imposed by the Affordable Care Act, we’re hearing lots of news about instituting workplace wellness programs as a way to promote a healthier workforce.

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Workplace practices such as ergonomic office spaces, meditation, mid-day naps, standing desks and walking meetings are being put forth as ways to create a healthier workforce.

Healthier employees benefit business in many ways. They take fewer sick days, are more productive, visit the doctor less often and are less likely to have chronic health conditions that cause their and, in turn, your business’s health insurance rates to rise.

That’s why the news in a study from Employers, an insurance specialist, is so disheartening. It reports that small companies are less likely than big ones to promote healthy workplace practices. Specifically:

  • 77 percent of small businesses don’t offer employees non-traditional seating options such as stand-up desks, treadmill desks or balance balls
  • 29 percent of small business owners say their employees typically sit for more than an hour at a time during the workday

The study points out that jobs are becoming increasingly sedentary and notes research showing that sitting for too long can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and other health problems.

Consider the greater productivity you could achieve when your employees are more alert and energized. Reminding everyone to get up and stretch once an hour via the intercom or an on-screen alert on their computers can make a huge difference in health and energy levels.

Employees who work on computers most of the day should have the ergonomic equipment (desk chairs, keyboards, wrist rests and other devices) to provide a comfortable setting. Otherwise, their productivity will suffer and they could easily develop repetitive stress injuries that would rightly be cause for worker’s compensation claims.

Some small employers are also ignoring basic mental and physical health issues for employees. One-fourth of hourly and salaried employees of small companies report going three or four hours without taking a break, while 42 percent don’t use their allotted time off each year.

Taking regular, short breaks is not only crucial to refreshing employee energy, preventing errors and possibly dangerous accidents, but is also required by law for many workers. If you aren’t letting employees take breaks when they’re legally entitled, you could be setting yourself up for lawsuits.

Encouraging employees to use their time off also has benefits for you and them. For one thing, when employees who never take time off finally quit, you could end up owing them a huge chunk of wages for the time off they didn’t use. In the shorter term, of course, you’re dealing with employees who are burned out and less effective because they’re not getting any downtime.

Ignoring employee wellness not only puts their health at risk, but puts your business at risk too. That’s downright unhealthy, especially when the remedies are so easy.

Originally published on smallbiztrends.com, February 2015.

I Think, Ergo I Stand

By Bara Vaida

imageEvery week, ergonomics expert July Landis walks into offices and observes workers slouching in their chairs and leaning over keyboards with hunched shoulders. Some are straining their necks to view too-high computer monitors and others are awkwardly twisting their bodies to grab their phone or read documents.

She sees recipes for pain.

“There are all kinds of ways that people, without realizing it, are doing things to injure themselves at work,” says Landis, president and CEO of Ergo Concepts, a suburban Germantown, Maryland ergonomics consulting firm hired by large and small companies to create pain-free office environments.

Every year, about 1 million people strain their necks, hurt their backs or sprain their wrists so badly that they need serious medical attention and can’t return to work for days, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That lost work time and the medical costs relating to treating disabling workplace injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $20 billion in 2011, according to a 2013 report by Liberty Mutual Insurance, a Boston-based company that analyzes federal ergonomics data to create its national Workplace Safety Index.

Further, new research shows that the amount of time people spend sitting is causing injury to their health. Adults who sit for more than four hours a day, compared with those who sit for just two hours, have a 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause and a 125 percent increased risk of health problems related to cardiovascular disease, says James Levine, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

“Sitting is the new smoking,” says Landis.

Whiles some smaller companies and single-individual-run businesses may feel they don’t have the money or time for ergonomics, there are quantifiable savings, says Bruce Lyon, director of risk control at the Hays Companies, an employee-benefits brokerage firm based in Kansas City, Missouri. For every $1 that a company spends on workplace safety, its return on investment is about $4 to $6, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates.

“Employers and employees often don’t think of sitting as dangerous,” says Lyon. “But if you are static and sitting in an incorrect posture for an extended period, that constricts blood flow. Eventually, the restriction causes soft tissue damage, and for some it can be debilitating.”

To prevent injuries, Landis, a physical therapist by training, and her staff help companies purchase ergonomically correct office equipment and provide evaluation and training to employees. They teach how body positions and daily work activities can lead to the development of chronic pain.

“There is no one-size-fits-all method of pieces of equipment,” says Landis, whose company has consultants in 45 U.S. cities. “You have to evaluate each person’s height, weight and body type, whether they are right- or left-handed, the amount of time they are sitting in front of a computer, and then, through a collaborative discussion, tailor a solution to that person.”

Consistent themes do arise. For example, in a recent evaluation visit to the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C., Landis worked with Sohni Anand and Chris Graham. Anand suffered from chronic, tingling neck pain, while Graham had occasional lower back pain. After talking and watching while they worked, Landis spotted the problems: incorrectly positioned chairs, computer monitors, keyboards and feet. She gave both AIR employees lessons on using and positioning their equipment, and then offered advices on ways to stay active during the day.

A half hour after Landis had made the fixes, Anand said, “I already feel better.”

Originally published in the Costco Connection, August 2014.

You May Want to Take a Seat (or Not)

by Scott Spector

Approximately a decade ago, the first adjustable-height desks hit the market. These “sit/stand” alternatives to traditional office seating could be manually adjusted or, with the help of an electric motor and push of a button, shifted according to a worker’s needs and preferences. They were intriguing, but costly, as they were considered specialty items.

Over the past few years, and even as recently as the last few weeks, a number of studies have come out pointing to the health detriments of sitting too much, from back and neck pain to increased risk of organ damage and circulatory issues. Experts from the National Institute of Health, Mayo Clinic and more began speaking out about the benefits of motion. Companies, in turn, are starting to listen.

How do I know? This summer alone I’ve encountered several clients who have asked about incorporating adjustable-height desks and other seating alternatives into their office design. Our firm recently completed a project where 20 percent of the office’s desks were adjustable. In addition to clients proactively approaching us, we’re also bringing adjustable-height desks up as part of the programming and workplace strategy reviews and it’s an option they are increasingly selecting. And it’s not just social media and tech firms that are buying into the trend. While not as widespread, some financial services and creative firms are embracing these alternatives and weaving them into the furniture choices they make.

As these options become more commonplace and readily available from office furniture manufacturers, they also become more cost-effective and better. Like any other technology–think of the iPhone or flat screen televisions–now that they’ve been on the market for some time, the price has gone down and the products themselves have vastly improved, thanks in part to user feedback and testing.

Solutions, however, are not limited to adjustable-height desks. There is a plethora of mobile desks on the market, which can allow the wireless worker to roll his laptop and workspace from one meeting area to the next, a model known as activity-based working. VaynerMedia, on Park Avenue South, has successfully used this option for a portion its office furniture plan. Mobile desks, hoteling and benching all allow for greater flexibility, particularly for firms whose workers travel several months out of the year for their jobs (think accountants who spend four months of the year auditing internally at a company before returning to their desks). Mobile and sit/stand desks better utilize space and square footage–a huge benefit for companies.

Whether it’s incorporating ergonomic workstations, placing stairs between two floors to encourage workers to get up, move around and interact, or other wellness measures such as spacious pantries and outdoor meeting areas for employees to get daylight and fresh air, it’s clear that healthy, flexible workplaces have made their way into the mainstream.

Originally published on the Commercial Observer, July 14, 2014.

It's About Time You Get a Standing Desk

imageThe latest issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine provides a brief chronicle of the history of standing desks. In the article, standing desks are introduced as “nothing new. Nor is their use as therapeutics.”

Though the increasing mounds of data compiled in recent studies “warn that time spent sitting correlates with heart disease and early death,” it appears that these health concerns go back centuries.

According to Presbyterian minister Job Orton, “a sedentary life may be injurious. It must therefore be your resolute care to keep your body as upright as possible when you read and write; never stoop your head nor bend your breast. To prevent this, you should get a standing desk.” If Orton’s language sounds dated to you, that’s because it is. He made these comments 217 years ago in 1797.

In 1836, American minister and professor of rhetoric Ebenezer Porter also joined Orton’s pro-standing desk team, arguing that “the standing desk was a good remedy for ‘those who have the animal vigor to sustain the exhaustion it occasions.'” Even earlier, Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot outlined some of the ailments brought on by too much sitting: "Deskbound intellectuals, he wrote, suffered from poor circulation and engorgement of their innards. Bad posture and lack of exercise made them susceptible to dropsy and hemorrhoids.”

According to the article, “office life in the 19th century involved much less sitting than it does today.” In fact, before the advent of such technological devices as the typewriter and computer, most professionals “practice[d] penmanship on their feet… at standing desks.” Even once these writing aids became popularized, people founds ways to work while standing, like Ernest Hemingway who propped up his typewriter on a bookcase “even though he had a 'perfectly suitable desk in the other alcove.’”

It’s time we take these old practices to heart and find more ways to get on our feet while getting work done - out health demands it.

Innovant Wins Major Commercial Contracts with FORm_office Adjustable Height

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Innovant, a leader in collaborative work environments, announces two major commercial contracts for height adjustability. 

A large financial services client selected Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench as the workstation standard for its 2,300 person Newport Beach-based headquarters. The product was also chosen by a global pharmaceutical company as its new national workstation standard.

Both companies selected Innovant’s FORm_office Adjustable Height bench over solutions from the top five major furniture manufacturers. According to Innovant, 50 percent of all incoming requests for proposals for new workplace standards incorporate height adjustability into workstation specifications.

“While adopting a new workplace strategy, it’s not easy for every client to achieve their complete wish list when it comes to furniture. I believe [this pharmaceutical company] found in Innovant and the FORm_office product a solution to meet all their objectives.” – Charles Braham, President at Innovant

Both clients evaluated the products in a formal review process before making their selections. With these latest victories, Innovant has truly taken a leadership position in the height adjustable open plan benching marketplace since launching the groundbreaking product in 2012.

“What sets this product apart is the level of consideration given to all of the consequences created by an adjustable height, open plan workstation.” – Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development at Innovant

This FORm_office product line won Best in Show at NeoCon 2012. It addresses the significant health concern associated with employees sitting at a desk for hours a day.

For more information about Innovant or FORm_office Adjustable Height, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

Innovant Designs Breakthrough Standing Height Version of FORm_office Benching System

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For collaborative offices concerned with employee health, workplace aesthetic and cost, Innovant’s standing height system is the ideal choice.

The standing height bench bridges the gap between Innovant’s standard FORm_office system and its adjustable height bench by raising the height of the work surface. At this elevation, users have the option to stand or sit at the desk using stool-like task chairs.

“Many clients are challenged both by the cost of adjustable height furniture and the aesthetic it creates.  A sophisticated standing height benching system may be the answer that has been hiding in plain sight for years.” - Bruce Wells, Director of Marketing & Development

The standing desks are a breakthrough for office health concerns. As more studies and news articles convey the ill effects of sitting for extended periods of time, Innovant’s standing height bench provides a comfortable and healthy choice, without the additional cost required for an adjustable height mechanism.

Aesthetically speaking, Innovant’s standing height bench overcomes some of the concerns posed by adjustable height. Unlike adjustable work surfaces, which can compromise the appearance of a workplace landscape when set at different heights, standing height desks produce a clean, uniform look. Additionally, since it can be difficult to hide stray cabling under a moving work surface, Innovant’s standing height bench keeps unsightly cables hidden from view.

“The product has just been deployed in a downtown New York City location for an international media company. Our entire office is buzzing with the health, aesthetic and financial implications of standing height benching. It’s a revelation.” – Deborah Herr, Marketing Designer

For more information about Innovant, its FORm_office line, or any other products, please visit http://www.innovant.com.

Office Products to Support Posture

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As a follow-up to our first post of the month on office posture, here’s a list of products that will help keep your back straight, your shoulders relaxed, and create an overall sense of comfort while working at your desk.

First, an ergonomic office chair is key for healthy working. If this is not available to you, consider acquiring a backrest to place at your chair. This will provide support by easing some of the pressure of sitting in an uncomfortable office chair.

Another essential item to consider is one that provides support to your wrists. This could be achieved by using a keyboard or mouse-pad wrist rest. Be sure to use these so that your wrists remain as flat and supported as possible.

Finally, a monitor arm is an excellent tool for easily positioning and adjusting a computer screen. By placing the screen at a comfortable height and appropriate distance, you can avoid any neck strain from tilting your head.

Correct Office Posture

In honor of Correct Posture Month, we turned to Spine Health for some tips on comfortable work posture. If you spend hours of your workday in front of the computer (don’t we all), read on for ways to avoid the pain and strain that comes along with the job.

Spine Health contributors, John J. Triano, DC, PhD and Nancy C. Selby, BS, suggest the following to help avoid back or neck pain at the office:

  • Adopt a user-friendly workstation by adjusting the position of your office chair, computer, and desk
  • Modify your sitting posture. Many people sit towards the front of their chair and end up hunching forward to look at their screens. The better seated posture is to sit back in your office chair, utilizing the chair’s lumbar support to keep your head and neck erect.
  • Take stretch breaks and walking breaks when sitting in an office chair for long periods.

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In order to ensure your workstation is “user-friendly," consider the following adjustments:

  • Choose the right surface height (standing, sitting, or semi-seated) for your work. Ex: Architects and draftsman may want a higher surface for drawing, while traders and other people performing computer-entry work could be seated or standing (depending on the necessary job tools). Finally, work surface height depends on the physical height of the individual worker.
  • Adjust your seat so your work surface is "elbow high.” Also consider the following: A fist should be able to pass easily behind the calf and in front of the seat edge to keep the back of the legs from being pressed too hard and the feet from swelling. Two fingers should slip easily under each thigh. If not, use a couple of telephone books or a footrest to raise the knees level with the hips. The backrest of the office chair should push the low back forward slightly. If these adjustments cannot be adequately made with the existing office chair, a different make or type of chair may be considered.
  • Adjust the height of your computer screen. Once you have made adjustments to your chair, close your eyes and relax. Then, slowly reopen them. Where your gaze initially focuses should be the center-point of your screen. If necessary, use books or a stand to raise the height of your screen.

Happy posture fixing! Also, keep an eye out for our next post about specific products that can help with your office posture.

Launching S4A, Innovant’s new height adjustable benching system this June at NeoCon!  
 To schedule a time to meet with one of our representatives please email  info@innovant.com  or call 212 929 4883. 
 Space 7-4093 7th Floor (Right outside the Elevator Between 3Form & Dyson) 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Chicago IL 60654

Launching S4A, Innovant’s new height adjustable benching system this June at NeoCon!

To schedule a time to meet with one of our representatives please email info@innovant.com or call 212 929 4883.

Space 7-4093 7th Floor (Right outside the Elevator Between 3Form & Dyson) 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza Chicago IL 60654

Talk to Me


From now until November 7, Paola Antonelli’s Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects will be featured as the newest exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. There are over 200 projects that actively explore the communication that exists between people and the inanimate objects that surround us. Each and everyday we go about our lives without thinking about the way the things in our lives are talking to us. Whether in subtle or subliminal ways, they make our lives easier and transform the way we live and communicate with one another.

Designers today help us to develop and improve this dialog, by transforming how objects are being used in all different forms of life. The exhibition focuses on objects that involve a direct interaction, such as interfaces, information systems, visualization design, and communication devices, and on projects that establish an emotional, sensual, or intellectual connection with their users. Especially within the furniture world, designers everyday are focused around this concept of how their design will speak to the people it interacts with. They try to bridge the gap between animate and inanimate, in order to inspire and stimulate the people that interact with their design. 

see the exhibit >