Posted by: Pamela Kalivas | May 8, 2012

Ready for the “Free Address” Office?

No more cubicles! No more desks??? We’re on the move!!! Ever thought your employer would create communal unassigned seating areas rather than having individualized workstations?

This new trend is catching on and seems innovative in cutting costs and facilitating more efficient work flow from transient employee.  Some employers enjoy grand short-term cost savings by eliminating personal workstations, but in the long haul, work injuries could topple or exceed such saving benefits.  The move toward more mobile workstations could prove beneficial, but only if employees are trained and recognize appropriate techniques for setting themselves up when they begin working.

According to the Wall Street Journal, companies such as American Express have work “lounges” where employees encounter a “floating desk”. With laptop strapped to the shoulder and coffee in hand it seems like a self-directed relaxed environment conducive to free-flowing energy and hard work. But the issue with these designated sittings areas are laptop placement and chair styles which are conducive to problems such as:

America Express worker in an office “lounge.”

Eye Strain

Hand and wrist strain

Back strain

Neck tension and yes, poor posture.

You can see this with clarity in a picture taken of an American Express worker observed in the Wallstreet Journal.  The lounge area has a chic and new generation feel, with modern table and chair designs. Past the aesthetic pleasures of this work environment are the little details of looking down at a computer for 4-5 hours or the chair depth and lack of back support of seating arrangements which create neck strain, back strain and eye strain. Where these issues also reside in offices of old fashion design, they will end up more prominent in these types of work settings.  Without proper attention to these types of environments, employees are deprived of optimal productivity in the long-term.

GlaxoSmithKline stated savings of nearly $10 million a year in real-estate costs by giving employees mobile workplace designs.  What is great about their new workplace design is consideration for ergonomic principles, including the availability of adjustable office chairs for their mobile employment team.

While there are some dangers to this set up, there are also real benefits to employers. If a company should implement this design, they should proceed with caution. Ergonomic training for employees can make for a safer environment and a well-informed employment team further reducing costs not only for real estate but worker comp and lost time.

Contact Sierra Ergonomics to ensure the proper accessory equipment is available for your “road warrior” or “hummingbird employee”.  We can provide guidance for design with function workspaces and provide targeted training sessions to give you a head start to cost savings and comfort. Call (949) 720-3996.

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