Posts tagged workplace wellness
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/

How Safe is Your Sit to Stand Desk? [Video]

The importance of safety and quality in height adjustable tables and workstations, by Bruce Wells.

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They have arrived. After years of toe-in-the-water contemplation by real estate and facilities executives, height adjustable workstations are now being specified for everyone.

I won’t comment on the associated health benefits, which individuals rely upon to offset the negative impacts of “sitting too much.” Height adjustability in the workplace can’t hurt, right? 

Or can it?

As someone who has developed height adjustable solutions for clients over many years, I can confidently say that customers now seem to be committing to these workstations because they are suddenly more affordable. Competition has made them affordable. But competition has also driven many manufacturers in a race to the bottom regarding quality, functionality, and most disconcertingly, safety.

We demand that machine operators, carpenters and electricians be properly certified in their field of work to ensure their own safety as well the safety of others. However, we provide only optional guidelines to the soon-to-be millions of motorized desk operators in the US.

There are some products on the market with built-in sensors to stop and reverse the operation of an adjustable desk upon contact with an obstruction - whether an object or worse, a human obstruction like hands and fingers. At Innovant, we refuse to compromise safety and have made this capability standard for all our adjustable height products. This anti-collision technology was initially developed to protect the motor within the desk, but it offers a significant safety feature for users. Of course, a feature like this costs a little bit more.

Not only do furniture RFPs rarely indicate this as a mandatory performance requirement, few people ever ask what level of anti-collision sensitivity is built into the products they buy because they don’t know what a “safe level” means. As a result, we now have an influx of questionable quality machinery, (particularly from low-cost manufacturing regions) getting incorporated into furniture here in the US. These come with little to no collision sensitivity built in - all in an effort to make “health conscious” furniture “affordable.”

Accidents are usually rare in a data pool. But when the numbers of that pool grow as we reach millions of motorized, adjustable height pieces of furniture, it’s time to start asking questions about the safety expectations of these products.

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.

How the Physical Environment Influences Work
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Architect Clive Wilkinson, a recognized leader in workplace design, is responsible for some of the most creative office spaces in the world. With a thoroughly modern approach to the way we work, his firm has created spaces for Google, Twentieth Century Fox Digital and countless other business leaders using everything from hanging pod chairs to bean bags and breakfast bars.

At the annual Workplace/Work Life conference, Wilkinson spoke about how the way we work — and our ability to be productive — is shaped by our environment. “Offices are becoming more like homes as lifestyle becomes increasingly important and companies compete for talent,” he explains. “Our world is now ideas driven and our environment needs to be energetic, inspiring and even provocative. Employers also want people to stay longer at work and making the space awesome certainly helps.”

If you are considering making a dedicated space to work at home, he says the best place to start is with a separate work area. “Separation from the family is highly desirable,” he says. “Work is a different state of mind from family concerns, which can be very disruptive. A separate studio is cool.”

For optimum productivity, he says a well-lit, well-ventilated work area is ideal. “We all need constant connection and engagement with nature and the world outside so good views, light and air are vital to our sense of well-being,” Wilkinson says. “Plants are restorative too.”

The need for a separate space at home is different to commercial offices, which Wilkinson says are veering towards open-plan design. “The driving reason to go to work is to collaborate and therefore most of the space should be configured to support that,” he says.

In commercial office spaces, he says there is now a stronger push towards keeping workers moving and less sedentary. “It’s a major concern in planning work space,” Wilkinson says. “People need to move around during the day to stay alert and healthy. We like to emphasize staircases over elevators and to locate amenities to drive people to move around.” But whether your office is a bus ride away or just at the end of the hallway, Wilkinson is a strong believer in well-designed workspaces.

“All people respond to their physical environment in a powerful way,” he says. “It could be very hard to do productive work in a messy home or it could be hard to do creative work in a formal office environment. We need to be mindful of what enables us to get into that state of flow.”

Content originally published in The Daily Telegraph, August 22, 2015.

3 Office Habits to Make & 4 To Break

Staying healthy at work can be quite a challenge, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm. Here are 3 ways to boost your workplace wellness and 4 habits that are negatively effecting it.

Healthy Habits to Make:

1. Drink more water

Coffee is the energy-boosting drink of choice at most offices. Did you know that water also has energizing benefits? Keep a pint of water by your desk at all times and drink frequently. Fatigue is one of the main symptoms of dehydration. Stay hydrated and stay stimulated.

2. Pop a piece of gum

Gum can do more than just freshen your breath; it also boosts cognitive performance and increases energy. Researchers suggest that chewing gum enhances performance due to “mastication-induced arousal,” meaning that just the act of chewing wakes us up and keeps us focused.

3. Clean your desk at the end of the day

Your creative process can be messy, but your desk doesn’t have to be. Allot 10 minutes every evening to clean up your desk, put away any errant papers, tidy all of your cables, and toss your trash. The next morning you’ll arrive to a more peaceful working environment.

Unhealthy Habits to Break:

1. Arriving late to the office

Arriving late gets your day off to a hurried, stressful start. Instead, try to arrive 30 minutes early so you can deliberately set your priorities and settle in before the office chaos crescendos.

2. Keeping a mile-long to-do list

Nothing feels quite as satisfying as checking items off your to-do list. Conversely, nothing feels quite as daunting as seeing that you have a torrent of tasks left to complete. Instead of making a protracted list of to-dos, start your day by identifying your one Most Important Task (MIT). Your MIT should always be specific and achievable. This simple act will give you a sense of purpose as you go about your workday.

3. Always saying yes

Most people feel over-committed and overworked in the office. This leads to stress, fatigue, and anxiety. Get out of the habit of saying yes to obligations that don’t make sense for you. It can feel difficult to say no to your co-workers, but think of it in terms of opportunity costs. Economist Tim Harford explains it this way, “everytime we say ‘yes’ to a request, we are also saying ‘no’ to anything else we might accomplish with the time. It pays to take a moment to think about what those things might be.”

4. Sitting in your office chair

Your office chair is seriously draining your office energy and creativity. This spring, do yourself a favor and replace your office chair with an upright seat. Doing so will keep your body and mind engaged, boosting productivity and performance.

Content found online at Focal, May 19, 2015.