This month saw the release of a new ergonomic workstation that lets employees lie down on the job. The Altwork Station, an upend-able workstation that vaguely resembles a dentist’s chair, is the product of five years’ research and development. The aim was to create a standalone desk that was at once productive, versatile and ergonomic.
The Altwork Station is a striking example of a popular trend, that is, comfy office furniture. More and more employees are taking an interest in ergonomic chairs designed to promote better posture and reduce back pain and work-related injuries such as RSI and chronic back pain. In the case of the Altwork Station, CEO James Voigt went to extreme lengths to support a healthy workflow, consulting aerospace engineers for high-tech expertise.
Standing desks and ergonomic chairs have been around for a while; but what’s changed is the way companies and employees are working together to find healthier solutions. In response to well-publicized research on the risks of a sedentary workflow, whether chronic pain or early death, there’s now a greater awareness of the problems and solutions, with adjustable ergonomic chairs and desks an increasingly common sight at organizations and in home offices.
This concern for comfort and employee wellbeing has generated plenty of other smart ideas for ergonomic accessories. Standing desks allow employees to move more naturally and maintain an upright posture, while Workrite Ergnomics have recently developed a new kind of desk lamp that provides a more natural light.
In any business, there are always going to be constraints. During the economic slowdown in 2009, revenue for office-based furniture fell by more than a quarter. But the arrival of new products such as the Altwork Station, which comes in at $5,900, suggests increasing confidence and readiness to invest in ergonomics.
Kensington have worked with businesses to develop a range of ergonomic products that enable people to work productively and in comfort. Recently we took to social media to investigate the capacity in which people discuss ergonomics online and whether health and safety in the workplace is the influencing factor behind the conversation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, 46% of all ergonomic conversation centred on the relationship between back pain and chairs, both in the workplace and at home – 31% of that was in relation to the impact posture has on lower back and gave a clear indication that people are aware of the importance of ergonomics when it comes to general wellbeing.
Interestingly, Twitter was the channel that drove the most conversation. As mentioned above, the ergonomic chair was the biggest source of conversation around a particular product, whilst the rise of the standing desk was the most talked about news article or topical piece. Unlike Facebook, where the conversation was overwhelmingly sales-focused, Twitter saw a larger volume of prosumers discussing product recommendations. It is clear that the volume of discussion around ergonomics in the workplace this year hasn’t gone unnoticed by social media users and while we can’t gain insight into whether this conversation lead directly to sales of these products, we can see that volume of conversation is directly correlated with new stories around the ergonomic industry. August, for example, saw a spike in conversation following the release of a particularly interesting article about ergonomic wheelchairs. What we perhaps can glean from this, is that people are listening – and if this is going to positively impact the wellbeing of employees in the workplace, discussion should certainly continue.
Whether working in an office or at home, choosing the correct chair for your workplace is the first step to ensuring your desk setup won’t be negatively impacting your wellbeing. Less talked about across social media are the smaller ergonomic accessories which can make a large impact to your working day and ensure that your neck, back, wrists and more won’t suffer from prolonged periods of time at a desk and in front of a screen.
Does your organization have an ergonomic training program? What ergonomic accessories do you use on a regular basis? Let us know your thoughts and opinions via LinkedIn.
*Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, Reviews, Forums – data taken from Meltwater.
**Results taken from 6 months of data: April-October2015.