10 Ergonomic Tips for a Healthier Workspace

Eyestrain? Sore back? It is amazing how making even small tweaks to office furnishings or work habits can make you more comfortable. To reduce your risk of injury, and improve your performance, consider these ten practical ergonomic tips for your workspace — and work style.

Check out this very useful infographics created by Knoll:

 


 

The Power of Ergonomics to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

ergonomic

 

Ergonomics is all about efficiency, less downtime, and better performance, which leads to increased productivity. Isn’t that what all businesses want? Technology has created a variety of tools for the workplace, computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones changing how we work.  Each tool presents new opportunities, as well as challenges for workers. Addressing ergonomic issues affects staff emotionally as well as physically, because it expresses the company’s core values to employees that their health and wellbeing matter.

Most ergonomic injuries happen slowly over time, so they may not be initially detected. It may seem like things are going fine in your business, but gradually poor ergonomics will become more apparent in workers from eye strain, to issues like carpal tunnel, and  back and neck strain slowing productivity. Simple things can be done to design a workplace that minimizes fatigue, stress and injuries to workers that keeps business running smoothly. Many companies are creating tools that can be easily implemented into your business.

Photo of Knoll Remix Chair, Courtesy of Knoll
Photo of Knoll Remix Chair, Courtesy of Knoll

Knoll takes an approach called “holistic ergonomics” in the development of products that address ergonomic concerns.  As the company states in a research paper produced by Knoll, called “Holistic Ergonomics™ – A New Approach”, “Thus, holistic ergonomics is all about creating products and workspaces that support how people think and move.”

Knoll’s popular Remix Chair™ is a prime example of this approach. The chair is designed for performance, as well as comfort.  “Inspired by the idea of bringing pre-existing elements together to make something entirely new, Remix pairs upholstered comfort with innovative Flex Net Matrix™ technology for active, all day support. Remix delivers unexpected performance in a familiar form. By combining traditional and innovative elements, Remix infuses movement into a traditionally static upholstered chair,” according to Knoll.

remic_01Knoll’s popular Remix Chair™ is a prime example of this approach. The chair is designed for performance, as well as comfort.  “Inspired by the idea of bringing pre-existing elements together to make something entirely new, Remix pairs upholstered comfort with innovative Flex Net Matrix™ technology for active, all day support. Remix delivers unexpected performance in a familiar form. By combining traditional and innovative elements, Remix infuses movement into a traditionally static upholstered chair,” according to Knoll.

Joya_02
Photo of Kimball Joya Chair™courtesy of Kimball

Kimball Office is also committed to creating ergonomic workplace solutions.  According to Kimball, the Kimball Joya™ Chair is designed with advanced ergonomics in mind that perfectly fits all body types and offers back support and fits any workspace.  Advanced ergonomics and material technology give the Joya its smooth-flowing movement. Thoughtfully scaled seat and back components support a wide range of body types comfortably encouraging healthy postures and reducing physical stress. Optional sliding seats modify thigh and back support for people with long legs while an adjustable lumbar option personalizes lower back comfort.

joya7

 

Both sitting all day and standing all day can be tough on the body. The Humanscale workstation standing desk makes it easy to create some balance. The QuickStand height-adjustable workstation is easy to operate.

sitstand_01
Photo by Humanscale

SitStand_03

 

National’s ergonomic keyboard kit includes a keyboard mechanism with a tray that adjusts from -15° to +15°, 360° swivel, and arm tilt that moves up and down. The mouse tray can be moved to support right or left-handed users. The keyboard kit also includes high density polyethylene tray platform, foam gel wrist pad, and thermoplastic mouse tray.

Basic_Keyboard
Photo courtesy of National Office

 

5 Tips to Prepare Your Office Furniture Budget

5 Tips to Prepare Your Office Furniture BudgetWhen purchasing office furniture, you need to be prepared to answer the following question.

“What is your budget?”

If you don’t have a budget, don’t feel alone. Most companies are unfamiliar with costs associated with office furniture, and often find themselves dependent upon contract furniture dealers, architects and designers to determine how much they need to spend. But there are some things you can do to on your end that will help them, help you. It will also give you the upper hand at the negotiation stage.

Below are 5 quick tips to help you get started building an office furniture budget:

  • Decide how many people you need to provide workspaces and/or seating.
  • Decide whether lighting or other furnishings fit into your budget.
  • Determine how many spaces you need to fill with furniture, and assign a value to each.
  • Add 5% for shipping, 10% for installation, and 10% for tax.
  • Add 20% to the total to give yourself a buffer against miscellaneous expenses.

 

Budgets based on solid information with a bit of a cushion will reduce heartache and hysteria down the road. If you are convinced you need to spend it all, there are no surprises. If you come in under budget, all the better.

Either way, a realistic budget upfront saves money in the long run.

3 Main Categories of Office Furniture Styles

Even with the thousands of options available when choosing office furniture, everything basically falls into three distinct categories:

  1. Traditional
  2. Transitional
  3. Contemporary

The traditional and contemporary styles fulfill the more extreme and defined needs to express one’s taste. But it is the transitional styles that have gained such widespread appeal in recent years. As a matter of fact we are finding that more than 50% of what we sell today falls within the “transitional” styles. The more blended design approach works with a wider variety of furnishings and is less likely to limit a company’s personality. And the furniture you choose defines who you are. Which style are you?

TRADITIONAL

traditional furniture
Kimball Senator

Traditional furniture is exactly what it sounds like – traditional. Usually made of wood, with sometimes ornate accents, traditional furniture has been a staple in office environments for more than a century. There’s a certain beauty in the warmth and comfort that traditionally styled furniture can have. But it can also come off as antiquated or gaudy without careful consideration.

 

TRANSITIONAL

transitional furniture
Knoll Reff

Transitional furniture is less rigid by definition, but essentially marries traditional styling with modern aesthetics. Materials and styles vary widely but laminates are often used to provide a contrasted look of wood against metal, with glass sometimes used as an accent. With this style of furniture, the interior designer has a lot of flexibility to let  the environment dictate mood and atmosphere.

CONTEMPORARY

contemporary and modern furniture
Knoll Ross Lovegrove Collection

Contemporary furniture usually embraces minimalism in its quest for a sleek appearance. Metal, glass and composite materials are commonly used to achieve this. White and black are the most popular colors, sometimes using bright and bold colors for contrast. There’s a cleanliness to this look, often appearing futuristic in its execution. Critics claim this style can sometimes feel cold and uninviting, when taken to extremes.

“Contemporary” furniture is also considered “modern” by most standards. Yet, surprisingly, much of the furniture we classify as contemporary was designed in the 50’s and 60’s. Pioneers in this mid-century modern design such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Saarinen inspired many of the new designs being manufactured today including the chair below by Saarinen.

tulip chair by Eero Saa

What do you think? What’s your favorite style of furniture?

 

The Office is Changing. Are You Adapting?

There are three dynamics that are individually changing in the workplace: 1) WHERE we work 2) WHO is working and 3) HOW we are working. But it has been the perfect storm of all three shifts – occurring simultaneously – that has demanded a reconstruction of the traditional office.

The International Interior Design Association [IIDA] conducts an annual industry roundtable and the 2012 discussions explored the intersection of culture, the workplace and social media providing a great deal of insight into the impending changes we must all face. You can find the entire report here and it is well worth the read.

Below are just a few highlights we pulled from the roundtable assessment.

 

THE OFFICE IS CHANGING: WHERE WE WORK

 

Mobility has untethered us from the desk at work yet we are suddenly tethered to a device that keeps us in touch with work and life, 24/7.

Designers and manufacturers agreed that technology has not only changed the workplace, but the way we work. Employees can and will work from anywhere because they are enabled and empowered by their mobile devices. Wireless Internet and real-time data sharing allows them to communicate seamlessly and be virtually present yet physically remote.

By 2013 there will be nearly 119.7 million mobile workers in the U.S. and with the mobile workforce on the rise there are fewer and fewer employees working in a traditional office. Their new offices are coffee shops, hotels and homes and it doesn’t stop there. Wireless access is everywhere and soon enough that wireless network will be in nearly every public place—connecting us even more.

 

THE OFFICE IS CHANGING: WHO IS WORKING

 

“Seventy percent of college graduates believe they have the right to work via mobile device(s).”

The Millennial generation is changing the way companies define the work that they do. This is the generation that grew up with technology at their fingertips who have become masters of instant communication and social networking. Designers and manufacturers want to attract the best and brightest employees—and these young workers want not just a great company, but a great company with benefits that gives them ample opportunities to maximize work/life balance. Today’s 20-something wants to go to work to see their coworkers who have turned into friends, they want to work flexible hours in collaborative spaces and gain valuable experience by working with community leaders. Employers are faced with the difficult task of creating workspaces that accommodate the four distinct generations in the world of work.

Companies are paying close attention to the need for flexibility in the widening disparity of work styles, habits and social interaction between the different generations that will lead to new work- places strategies and dynamics.

 

THE OFFICE IS CHANGING: HOW WE WORK

 

“There is more cross-over between business and personal; more blurred designation between our professional selves and our personal lives.”

Social media plays an integral role in how people share information, exchange ideas and research content and conversations. It is a tool that allows consumers and clients to get a glimpse of a company’s core—the people, products and values behind it. This opens the door to turn fans into friends and then into followers who then become the ultimate brand advocates who engage in discussions with the company, share posted content and spread the word to their friends.

The value of social media from a personal and professional standpoint has allowed designers to stay connected, seek new opportunities and expand their audience. It has also allowed designers to form their own personalized brand, style and voice.

How have these shifts affected your office?

For Lippe Taylor, Only an Office That Looks Nothing Like an Office Will Do

 

Lippe Taylor, a New York PR agency, is totally focused on marketing to women. And their 17,000 sq. ft. offices on Park Avenue make you feel right at home in a whimsical and relaxing fashion. This was the goal of founder and CEO, Maureen Lippe, who doesn’t think an office should look like an office.

Below are just a few things we noticed as we took Media Bistro’s Cubes video tour that not only take the office-out-of the-office, but subtly remind employees and visitors who their client is – the female.

  • Portrayals of Wonder Woman, their mentor and mascot, spotted throughout the office
  • Living room fully furnished by IKEA
  • CEO’s office filled with lots of wood and designer fabrics and surrounded by glass for transparency
  • Hanging paper-note chandelier for leaving messages
  • Open spaces bordered with windows to allow the sun to spill in
  • Sweeping pod areas that provide privacy, yet are still inviting for collaboration with co-workers
  • Privé Room complete with comfy chair and phone to take care of personal matters
  • Ms. Lippe’s personal collection of mannequins from all over the world, dotted throughout the space
  • A ladies room overflowing with makeup, flat irons and hair dryers
  • Five product closets housing the newest in lipsticks, sprays, nail enamels – all for fun and testing
  • Fashion conference room

Take the video tour with Ms. Lippe yourself. What do you notice that makes this office… not an office?

 

 

US Map Shows Mandatory Continuing Education for Architects In All 50 States

 

Although there is no national license per the NCARB, architects can be individually licensed in each state of the United States. Architects are licensed separately under different laws, and must apply for a license in each jurisdiction.

If you are licensed in multiple states, you are well aware that continuing education dates and requirements also vary in every state. Be sure to check out this great US map on the AIA site. It makes it easy to keep up with your MCE licensing requirements at a glance. By simply rolling over each state it shows the following information for every state, if applicable:

  • The name of the licensing agency for each state
  • The total number of hours required annually
  • Detailed breakdown of hours required
  • Renewal cycle
  • Renewal deadline
  • Clickable link to each state’s agency website

 

 

 

NeoCon 2012 Highlights: Part Four

NeoConography Shots from NeoCon12

 

If you missed NeoCon 2012, where the contract industry kicks off its year showcasing the newest in office products and resources, not to worry.

You can practically relive the experience through the attendees’ perspectives thanks to KI’s #NeoConography photo contest. KI awarded $100 each to the top shots submitted. The five winners are shown below, but be sure to check out KI’s #NeoConography Pinterest Board to see the hundreds of shots taken. From the people and food, to the parties and views, to new products galore, it’s almost like being there. And, hey, if it makes you think about going next year, you can check out the dates here.

KI’s #NeoConography = NeoCon + Photography

Congrats to @KItweets for such a great idea and to the Top 5 Winners, @designelixir, @jensingson,  @hotlead@mndyvn and @TBInteriors_Inc

 


NeoCon 2012 Video Highlights: Part Three

NeoCon12 boasts solutions for collaboration, comfort, flexibility and innovation. Below are more examples of these concepts brought to reality.

 

Martin Bergmann and Gernot Bohmann of EOOS “talk” about TALK, their award winning lounge seating collection designed for Keilhauer. The design is based on research that reveals when two people meet to talk, they immediately turn to a angled positions for relaxed conversation. The angle of the seat and back along with coordinating tables encourage face-to-face, natural conversation. Hear more talk about Talk, below.

 

Blair Wieland of Wieland Healthcare demos SleepToo™, an impressive unit that transforms to accomodate every need of hospital visitors. Starting as a sofa for visiting with the patient and family, it is also reclines for reading a book, accommodates storage for pillows and blankets, to creating a full size sofa for several to sit comfortably. And, yes, when you are ready to go to bed, it even converts into a nearly full-size sleeping area.

 

Comfort and flexibility were resounding terms we heard throughout NeoCon12. Allsteel’s Clarity seating collection designed by BMW Group Designworks USA is a great example of those concepts put into action. Designers Johannes Lampela and Bianca Fleischer talk here about the simplicity of form and function. Great for ad hoc meetings so popular today, you can sit sideways, pull several together for collaboration or talk over the back. The simple and sleek design allows for dressing it up or dressing it down and it’s perfect for more casual and relaxed seating.

 

Mark McKenna, Design Director for Humanscale, discusses Mode, a new multi-purpose, stackable chair designed for cafeterias, auditoriums and break-out spaces. Always considering comfort first, additional features include replaceable cushions, replaceable legs, optional ganging hooks to link the chairs together in place as well the ability to stack the chairs 12-high as opposed to the standard number of 10, yielding about a 20% increase in real estate.

 

What were some of your favorite finds at NeoCon 2012?

 

 

 

NeoCon 2012 Video Highlights: Part One

NEOCON 2012 DELIVERED!

 

Source: p.twimg.com via KI on Pinterest

 

As a result of the economy, technological advancements and environmental focuses, the world of business has changed and continues to do so. These paradigm shifts have transformed the way we work and that has in turn affected the workplace.  NeoCon annually gathers some of the greatest minds, designers and manufacturers of the world in Chicago to reveal how office furnishings are ensuring businesses can keep up with the transitions.

NeoCon 2012 was no exception.  New concepts in furniture, wall panels and flooring, among many, many other items were on display to kick off the coming year.

Below are some of the video highlights of the show, thanks to NeoCon. Enjoy!


1) OFS believes that products should harmonize the space as opposed to working against it. In this short video, Doug Shapiro illustrates how OFS is bridging the gap between furniture and technology. Check out the conference table that actually serves as a speaker as well.

 

2) Mohawk Group identified four top social macro-trends increasingly impacting the way we work, play and interact. From Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y.) and “Rurban” to Spiritualism and Generations, Mohawk translated these trends into new carpet collections and commissioned four design industry celebrities—to offer their own design interpretations using Mohawk’s NeoCon showroom as their canvas. The video below shows top American designer, Todd Oldham’s use of Mohawk’s D.I.Y. collection at NeoCon 2012 aptly putting design back in the hands of the designer.

 

3) Arcadia Contract recognizes changes in the workplace have changed the way we work. More bluntly they claim that typical cubicles, case goods and chairs simply are not cutting it. Today it is about “getting work done” and that translates to “people meeting with people.” David Logsdon talks here about Arcadia’s solution for seating and meeting: the Domo Collection by Qdesign. Check out the Domo lounge for sharing, the Domo table for interacting and solving problems and Domo benches with versatile configurations.

 

4) With it’s focus on comfort, durability, and compactness, Sedia Systems introduced JumpSeat™ for auditorium and stadium seating. Wilson Troup shows here how these chairs, created by Ziba Design, are just 4″ in profile and its innovation is in the slats similar to the human backbone when folding it down.

 

5) It’s always fun to learn what has inspired furniture designs. Hear Wolfgang Mezger, designer for Davis, explain how an “envelope” sparked the innovation of their newly introduced C. R. Lounge, an individual classical lounge program.

 

6) Joe Sultan of Chilewich introduces a new revolutionary tile backing system they developed in conjunction with Velcro®. Called BioFelt™, it is PVC-free, made from 80% recycled and renewable content and is easily removable without a trace.

 

PHOTOS, PHOTOS AND MORE PHOTOS!

Okay, this is not a video, but KI sponsored a photo contest titled. #NeoConography encouraging everyone to submit images from the NeoCon 2012 conference. Not sure who won the contest, but I think we are all winners to be able to see so many varied perspectives of the conference. Check it out here!

 

What were some of your favorite finds at NeoCon12?