On this page, we are going to attempt to keep you informed of changes in the workspace, creating great working conditions, latest products, and the latest discoveries of workplace behavior.  

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An inside look at the coolest workplaces of the future

If your vision for the future workplace is a drab, cold warehouse sparsely dotted with drone employees, think again.

This information was taken from MSN's "Business Insider" 

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The ever changing philosophy of the office environment

    In my career as a business interior designer which spans more years than I care to say, I have seen so many changes in philosophy of the work space. The Indoor Environment went from lines of private office with lines of steel grey desks down the middle area to the advent of Cubicles.  When "Cubes" first came on the scene they were design, function and form driven...lots of research as to how a piece of paper traveled through the process. Which workers needed to interact with which other workers, what departments needed to be with each other and on and on.  We actually used like 12 page forms to get all these answers and then charted them.  Everyone had their "Personal Space" to somewhat make their own...and it was good.  Herman Miller inc. was probably the leader and to this day is still considered the best in the industry along with Knoll.

    Then after millions of workers were put into these hyper productive environmental cubes, they became "Salesman Driven" interiors which means that all the science of cubicles went out the door and they just lined them up with no thought to workers relationship and departments etc.   Back to the archaic grey steel desks....only with walls.  

    Then it was discovered that all this stifled creativity and open communication and interaction....productivity seemed to slow.        Now along comes the dot.com/tech business and it has

Renovated Microsoft offices have a variety of work spaces for employees. Left, a phone-booth-style room for privacy, and right, an isolation room. Credit Stuart Isett for The New York Times

all changed again...almost like anything goes.

    People now work on benches, lounge chairs, bean bags and other creative spaces.  Much office work is from home or even Starbucks.  People are assembled in open areas and are encouraged to communicate, to share ideas, and to feel human and alive again. 

Yes, quiet time is needed for concentration as shown above in newly renovated Microsoft offices, who by the way, are somewhat innovators in work-space change.   We at Sharp Office Interiors follow those innovations and employ them wherever & whenever we are allowed.   

Very good information that we at Sharp Office follow.  

Sitting: One of the most important items of your workspace

The selection of a suitable chair is a critical step in preventing health problems in people who work in a sitting position. With the ergonomics approach, sitting is viewed as a specific, specialized activity which is influenced by the way that a sitting person interacts with the working environment.

Several basic concepts should be considered:

  • One chair does not fit everyone. The users' body dimensions must be used when selecting a chair so that it does not strain one part of the body while fitting another.

  • Collect data about the user's body height. The optimal seat height is about one quarter of the body height. This is only a rule of thumb since the torso-to-leg ratio can vary widely.

  • There is no chair suitable for every activity. For example, dentists require a different chair than do industrial workers or computer operators

  • Consider maintenance and repair costs. Check with the manufacturer for items to inspect for and how often inspection should be done.

Why ergonomics must be part of any workplace wellness plan

Written by.....
Dr. Wayne Albert.
Dr. Dean
is a professor of Kinesiology at the
University of New Brunswick.

  

Workplace wellness in most organizations centres around health promotion activity or policy development to support healthy behaviour and improve health outcomes in the workplace.

A "workplace wellness" Google search reveals a range of programs focused on fitness, weight management, smoking cessation, stress management, work-life balance and occasionally flexible work scheduling. These are legitimately important aspects targeted at improving specific health outcomes.

It is important to realize that the average office worker spends over 65 per cent of their time at work in a sedentary seated position. No doubt you have seen the media campaigns touting the health concerns related to sedentary behaviour, some going as far as labelling sitting as the new smoking.

Prolonged sitting has been associated with cardiovascular problems, increases in musculoskeletal discomfort, and decreases in concentration and productivity. Improper sitting and work station setup has been associated with an increase in musculoskeletal pain and injury (MSI) in the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, legs and lower back. MSI are associated with the wear and tear on the muscles, tissues, ligaments and joints of the body. It is for these reasons that office ergonomics should be on the workplace wellness program menu.

Ergonomics is the science of matching the work to the worker. In an office environment, a major focus would be insuring that employee workstations fit the worker – not the employee made to fit the workstation.

To design a healthy employee work station properly requires an understanding of the limitations of the human body, especially in terms of muscle and soft tissue fatigue. Again, a Google search on "office ergonomics" leads you to resources on the proper configuration of computer workstations to promote a neutral sitting posture aimed at reducing muscle and soft tissue pain. This is a great place to start, but does not replace the knowledge of an experienced ergonomist to ensure that individual limitations and pre-existing health conditions are accommodated for properly.

Here are some examples of the most common office ergonomic challenges I encounter when consulting with organizations. The first is the desk. The working height of a standard desk is 30 inches, for which we expect it be comfortable for both the 5-foot-2-inch and a 6-foot-2-inch employee. But the reality is that this standard desk height is appropriate for the 6-foot-2-inch employee. The average female is 5-foot-4-inches, which would suggest that the standard 30-inch working height is too high for the majority of female workers in the office.

When the working height is too high, the employee will adopt a posture where the wrists are extended when keyboarding, the neck is extended, shoulders are hunched and back is flexed forward off the chair. These postures increase muscle and soft tissue fatigue, eventually leading to pain when the postures are sustained or repetitive.

It is critical to consider adjustability in office furniture rather than approaches that fit the employee to the workstation. For example, a keyboard tray is often installed to lower the working height for the hands, arms and creating a neutral sitting posture while keyboarding. Meanwhile, the monitor remains on the desktop 4-inches to 5-inches higher, requiring the neck to be extended to properly engage the screen.

Fitting the workstation to the employee would require lowering the desk to the appropriate working height so that the keyboard and mouse are on the desktop along with the monitor resulting in a neutral posture not only for the arms and shoulders but also for the neck and back.

This seated working height cannot be neglected when considering sit-to-stand workstations. It is important to investigate how far the workstation can be lowered in the seated position as many do not lower past 27-inches which is still too high for most women.

The second ergonomic challenge is the chair. The majority of employees who I assess have what would be considered an ergonomic chair based on its features of adjustability, arm and back support. In order to acquire the health benefits of an ergonomic chair, it is necessary to consider the physical size of the employee.

For example, a seat pan that is too wide or too short, results in the inability to engage the armrests and backrest, respectively. The backrest and the armrest serve to take the load off the back, shoulder, neck and arm muscles. An improperly fitting chair is little better than sitting on a stool if the employee is not engaging the features of the chair meant to provide a break for the muscles and soft tissues of the body.

Most office chair manufacturers have chairs that are designed in different sizes and it is important to engage an ergonomist to determine the proper fit based on each individual's body configuration.

These are only a few select examples of the associated musculoskeletal health benefits of proper office ergonomics. In consultation with an experienced ergonomist, office ergonomics as part of the workplace wellness menu can have an positive impact on employee musculoskeletal health.

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