Our bodies have a way of letting us know when they’re feeling uncomfortable. Stiff shoulders, sore neck, back pain, and eyestrain are all messages telling us that we’re are not working right.
Technology can be the culprit, forcing us into unhealthy postures. Laptops are wonderful; we’re untethered and free to work from anywhere. But that laptop screen is likely too low for everyday use. Before you know it, your neck is craning and your shoulders are hunched; you’ve become what Cynthia Roe Purvis, Ergonomics R&D Director at HP, calls the “Turtle.” You might even be sitting like a turtle right now and not even know it.
The key to comfort is listening to our bodies. Don’t stay in one posture for too long: sit, stand, and stretch, move around throughout the day. Combined with an ergonomic support tool like a Lapjack to lift your laptop’s screen to the proper height and an external keyboard, and in no time you’ll be feeling better. Your body will thank you for it.
One of the big appeals of technology devices is that they get smaller and more powerful with each successive design. This trend toward miniaturization makes these devices easier to carry and store, and much more convenient to use, which affects how we live and work. The logical conclusion for miniaturization—implanting computers in our bodies—is now less the stuff of science fiction and more a matter of future labs. Read more
Good morning from the National Ergonomics Conference and Exposition, sometimes known as the Ergo Expo, that runs from November 30 to December 3. I’m sitting in an empty exhibit hall, about an hour before the last day of the exhibition begins. Most attendees are at the day’s earliest presentations, though I am in the Herman Miller space staring at the Attendees’ Choice award that we won Thursday night. It was a real honor that the attendees chose the Flo Monitor Arm as the product worth acknowledging here at the show.
The sheer number of products on the show floor that support office ergonomics is astounding. I am humbled by all the good products that are out there.
As I type this blog on an Envelop desk, sitting in a SAYL chair, looking at Flo and our other ergonomic components that when put together truly do make a holistic view of a great environment, I feel very proud to be part of Herman Miller and the Thrive team.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just sit your cell phone or your MP3 player on a spot on your desk and it would magically recharge without having to deal with all those pesky plugs and cords attached to the devices? Well, you may be able to do that in the near future, thanks to eCoupled wireless technology featured in June at NeoCon.
For the past five years, Herman Miller has been working in partnership with Fulton Innovation, the creators of this marvelous technology that transmits charges to devices using inductive coupling, eliminating the need for device-specific power adaptors.
eCoupled transmitters can be built into practically anything from desktops to kitchen countertops to car consoles, so you don’t even see it. You just lay your enabled device on the surface, and viola, it charges automatically.
Last month, a global interoperability standard, Qi 1.0 (pronounced “chee”), was launched for smaller “low power” devices. That means electronics manufacturers can now make their products compatible with eCoupled wireless charging transmitters. And that paves the way to putting those transmitters in things like work surfaces, shelving, and desk tops for charging small devices such as cell phones and iPods.
Standards for “medium power” devices, such as laptops, have not been issued yet, but hopefully that will happen within the next year.
So you’re an executive who strives to make your real estate more efficient and your workplace more effective. It’s necessary. But it’s not easy.
Enter Herman Miller’s Space Utilization Service. Space Utilization Service makes it a lot simpler to gather accurate occupancy data and create the workplace you visualize.
Before Space Utilization Service, the typical method of gathering data was to walk around with a clipboard and count heads. Then you multiply the number of heads by some standard allocation of square feet per person, and voila, you get an estimate of space needs. But that’s exactly the problem. You only get estimates.
With Space Utilization Service, you get accuracy. A small, wireless motion sensor is attached to your work chairs to detect occupancy. The sensors transmit data continuously for six weeks so you can measure, track, and study occupancy and get a precise picture of your space usage. You can analyze on any level you want—entire buildings, conference rooms, common areas, individual workstations.
Using this information, Herman Miller can help you rationalize your real estate and tailor it to fit your people and how they actually work. These days, for example, that often means more support for collaboration and touchdown work, smaller workstations, and less floor space allocated to individual work.
Whatever the case, your real estate will work harder and your people will be more productive. Even better: use Herman Miller’s Energy Manager, too, and reduce your energy costs.
Those Gen X, Y, and Z whippersnappers may be all about mobility and working-wherever-you-are, but we boomers can be adaptable, too, as Robin noted in a previous Discover blog post.
Darn right. I recently traded my Aeron chair for a campground bench and my home office for a 14-foot trailer and am about to test the limits of all this mobile technology ballyhoo. I’ve only gotten as far as northern Michigan, but so far I’ve learned:
1. I can’t work outside. All that natural light that office workers covet overpowers even the brightest computer monitor and strains my aging eyes. So I’m forced into my cubicle-sized and non-ergonomic office that also is my living space.
2. Wi-Fi is ubiquitous wherever there are people. However, no people; no Wi-Fi. There is, apparently, technology that brings Wi-Fi to your computer via satellite signals, so theoretically I could get it even where cell phones fail. My friend says the device works “like magic,” but I’m testing the limits of my budget before I bite on the added monthly charge.
3. So far, cell phone coverage isn’t bad. Even in the middle of the forest, I can often pick up two bars, which is enough for a semi-dependable conversation—or a call to 911.
4. I can recharge my computer with an inverter attached to my truck battery, but the adapter gets really, really hot.
I haven’t crossed national boundaries yet, or tried, like my Gen-Y daughter, to send photos from Peru, nor have I sampled the smart phone gadgetry beloved by my kids, but so far technology has been reasonably mobile. The biggest adjustment has been losing instant and continuous Internet access, but I’d say the view is worth it.
You might think that my idea of an office is different than my parents’ idea. Not so. It turns out that they, like a lot of Baby Boomers, are really good at adapting to what’s becoming more common for all of us—working anywhere. That can mean working from home, a coffee shop, or a “campsite” at headquarters. Mobile work is becoming a reality for many people and businesses.
Here I am working in the coffee bar at Herman Miller. (Got my portable mouse and separate keyboard, got my laptop support so I can elevate the display and get it to a good viewing angle.) Studies show that the simple addition of a portable mouse and separate keyboard dramatically increases comfort for mobile workers.
Ask anyone—like me—who’s really into mobile working, and she’ll tell you that portable technology is a must, and the fewer things to carry, the better. While mobile working may be the preferred work style for many now and most of us in the future, it doesn’t mean we can ignore our health while we do it. If I’ve learned anything from working anywhere it’s that being on the move feels better when I bring some good ergonomic support along with me.
A research summary published by Herman Miller ranks the option to position a computer in a suitable location as one of the most important attributes of a comfortable workspace.
I saw this need addressed during a recent visit to a trading floor located in New York’s World Financial Center. The Herman Miller company Colebrook Bosson Saunders supplied this particular floor with Wishbone monitor arms and posts that can support up to four monitors. Most people on a trading floor work with at least two screens, although many work from four and sometimes six.
The Wishbone monitor arm fits well in this environment because anyone can reconfigure it to support a variety of needs. In fact, the monitor arms on this trading floor are reconfigured up to three times a week.
Monitor arms also carry ergonomic benefits. They allow the technology to move with the user, while contributing to an ergonomic posture and reducing eyestrain.
Unfortunately, from 2008-2009, an estimated 9.3 million working days were lost to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Having proper ergonomic support, however, creates safer, healthier environments that help to prevent these disorders.
Whether you work on a trading floor or in an office like mine, the appropriate technology support, such as a monitor arm, is a smart investment.
The faster the network connections, the better people can work at home and on the move. Google thinks more speed for more people is the answer. It’s planning to test a network that will deliver the Internet over 1 gigabit per second fiber connections “in one or more trial locations across the country.”
Holland, Michigan, where our Design Yard facility is located, is one of the communities vying to be chosen. From now until March 26, residents can nominate the city and make the case for why it should be chosen. All you need is a Gmail account. Here’s hoping that Holland will be chosen (and that you’ll help by nominating the city).