Wednesday, May 20, 2015

9 New Ways We Sit, Thanks to Tech

A large office furniture manufacturer conducted a study of office workers — 2,000 of them, across 11 countries — to see how they relate to the many machines they now use to get their work done. They discovered 9 new ways we sit, thanks to tech.

Those postures are:

1. The Draw

The oft-discussed "lean back" experience of tablet reading, done in a chair. (This posture requires good back support from a chair, especially for the head and neck.)

2. The Multi-Device

You're using your laptop. And your phone. At the same time. (This requires good arm rests, provided by either tabletop or chair.)

3. The Text

You're sitting at your desk, but you're using your handheld device to read, email, or, yes, text.(Arm rests not required, but ideal.)

4. The Cocoon

This is a scrunched-body posture usually reserved for reading (though it can be used for typing, as well). The sitters lean back, pull up their legs, bend their knees, and draw their devices close to their bodies. This is, Steelcase notes, a posture used more often by women than by men.

5. The Swipe

The sitter leans over his or her desk, directly over the screen of a touchscreen device. This posture is pretty much exclusive to tablet/smartphone use.

6. The Smart Lean

A compromise between the lean-back posture of "The Draw" and a more standard sitting style, this posture allows the sitter to check his or her smartphone in a relaxed posture, while also retaining a bit of privacy when it comes to what's being shown on the screen. It's especially popular during meetings.

7. The Trance

You're absorbed in your work, leaning into your table and toward your computer, with arms placed either on a chair's armrests or on your desk. This posture often involves slouching.

8. The "Take-It-In"

This might also be called the "all the way back": It involves a nearly full recline in one's chair — a posture enabled in part by the popularity of large, high-resolution monitors that allow people to read screens from a distance (and also ideal for smartphone-based reading, email-checking, etc.).

9. The Strunch

This is "stretching out" and "hunching" at the same time: When people get tired, they tend to push their computers away from them, compensating for the new screen angle by slouching down toward their desks. They then prop themselves up with their arms on their desk surfaces, sometimes propping their chins up with a free hand.

As seen on

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

3 Reasons Open Office Plans Are Better After All

The open-concept office has its detractors. But it can improve communication without harming productivity.

The open office concept has been around for awhile, but lately has come under fire. Apparently having no walls, no doors, and shared workspaces undermines what the concept was designed to achieve: communication and flow of ideas amongst employees. According to some scientific research, the open concept decreases employees' job satisfaction and decreases privacy, which also affects productivity.

But despite what some of the organizational psychologists and other productivity experts say, the open concept can make a team more cohesive, especially if it's adopted by the senior staff and CEO.

It can also give leaders a better picture of what's going on at the company. Those are just two reasons I'm leaving my company's mostly open concept setup as it is (we have a couple of employees who are more productive when they work in their own offices). And it's also the reason that I, the CEO, sit at the desk that's usually reserved for the receptionist, right next to the front door. Yep, just like Pam from "The Office."

Here are three reasons leaders should consider sitting in the middle of the action:

1. You're tuned in to the office vibe.

If you sit in the same general vicinity as your team, you'll hear more of what they're discussing--good and bad. It's not like you need to function like some sort of NSA operative, but if you're aware of people's concerns, you have an opportunity to weigh in and offer guidance when it's needed. When people need to meet privately with each other or with you, just make sure they have a place to do so that has doors.

2. You're more approachable.

I've never had the pleasure of working in a cubicle, or in an "old-fashioned" office. That said, I envision a corporate setup as being very compartmentalized and the kind of place where the staff don't feel comfortable talking to the executives. A layout where the junior employees are stuck in the middle and the senior-level people are tucked away behind closed doors, kind of like Mad Men.

Setting up my desk near the front door and, coincidentally, next to the kitchen, means people are walking by all the time; anyone can ask me anything at pretty much any time. I can just say "go ahead" and what needs to get done, gets done.

Yes, being in an open office can affect productivity. To get around that, you might adopt a policy that when people need to work undisturbed they're free to work from home. And at the office, make sure everyone has a pair of headphones, and that the rule is when headphones are on, it's code for "Do not disturb."

3. It improves interoffice communication.

Tools like HipChat and Slack make interoffice communication quick and easy, but it's also nice to hear people actually talking to one another, which happens naturally in an open office.

As my company grows--we now have 17 people in our main office and three people who work remotely--space is becoming an issue. I've looked at a few spaces that have tons of character--like beautiful old Victorian houses that have been converted to offices--but I'm reluctant to move into a building where we could all go days without seeing each other. I'm not entirely sure yet how we'll deal with the office space issue as we add more staff, but finding a place where we can still work in an open environment is a priority.

As seen on

Monday, May 18, 2015

Office Furniture Supplier Urges Workers to Get Up and Move More

Photo credit Susan Sermoneta via flickr
A recent survey of 2,000 office workers found that 45% of women and 37% of men spend less than thirty minutes a day up on their feet at work with more than half regularly eating their lunch at their desk. Nearly two-thirds were worried sitting at work was having a negative impact on their health.

Experts describe inactivity as “one of the biggest” challenges in health and wellbeing. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers and poor mental health have all been linked to sedentary behavior with prolonged sitting thought to slow the metabolism and affect the way the body controls sugar levels, blood pressure and the breakdown of fat.

Read what one office furniture company did about it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

How to Design a Workspace That's Right for You

Steve Jobs designed the Pixar building with the bathrooms in the center. Fisher-Price has a dedicated space, the Cave, where designers, engineers, and marketers meet to build prototypes of toys from foam, cardboard, glue, and acrylic paint. And Google allows its software engineers, the core of its intellectual capital, to design their own desks and write on the walls.

Why do these companies spend significant time and resources on designing and configuring physical space?

They each understand how space impacts communication, innovation, and productivity.

Jobs realized that when you design your workspace around chance encounters, big, bold ideas happen. Fisher-Price knows that space dedicated to innovation is essential if it wants to continuously produce blockbuster toys with staying power. And Google operates under the assumption that when we design our own space, we access the intersection of our personal intellect and personal productivity.

Engaged, productive employees don’t work in a vacuum. They need diverse workspaces that help them bring out the best in themselves, where energy and inspiration can flow freely.

So, what can you do to shape your physical workspace so that it works for you?


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

How a Conventional Office Can "Go Collaborative" (and Save Money)

There’s been a seismic shift toward collaborative work in the last 30 years. In 1985, just 30 percent of an individual’s output depended on working within a group; by 2010 that figure was up to 80 percent. No wonder private offices are unoccupied 75 percent of the time and workstations sit empty 60 percent of the time.

In addition, conference rooms are frequently booked but not occupied and occupied without being booked. Work is moving so quickly that it’s difficult for people to plan ahead. What’s needed, says Dr. Tracy Brower, director of Herman Miller Performance Environments, is a greater variety of informal areas that give workers a choice about where and how they interact.

A conventional work environment can make the transition to a collaborative one—and do it in a way that increases density and lowers real estate costs. Download the research report to see how.