Inclusive Design is Key to the Future Office

As the modern office continues to evolve post-pandemic, it’s important for designers and specifiers to remain aware of trends and how to cater to workers as they return to the office. Numerous studies show that knowledge workers prefer working from home at least two days per week, and it’s the number one benefit employees look for when seeking a job. Based on this, the comfort and amenities of a hybrid workplace are more important than ever when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Forward-thinking designers are carefully considering how to create various inclusive spaces beyond the open office where employees can focus, brainstorm in small groups, collaborate in larger groups, or just relax. The open office that we all know, was evolving even before the pandemic to address these trends. Now, post-pandemic there’s an even greater need to evolve the modern office to allow for spacing and provide a “resi-mercial” feel that reminds employees of the comforts of home.

Decompression Zones

This area is exactly what it sounds like. A spot within the office where employees can kick back and relax while still getting some work done. Decompression zones are typically filled with soft seating in an open format and are less structured. Employees are free to move around this type of area without a reservation or any formally assigned workstation. Lilly and Jax are perfect office chairs for a decompression zone. They both offer a range of base options including a lounge option for a truly relaxed feel, and a rocker that gives a vibe of being at home on the front porch which is perfect for employees who enjoy working from home and want to bring that vibe into the office. According to research from the HBR, employees who take breaks throughout the day are more productive and produce better work. Don’t overlook the decompression zone when it comes to creating a productive space!

Collaboration Spaces

The goal of a collaboration space is to promote communication, idea generation, productivity and teamwork. There are many types of collaborative spaces, but here we’ll focus on two of the more popular types. First, formal collaboration spaces, which are commonly referred to as conference rooms. With a conference room, the vibe is more buttoned-up, a reservation is often required, and information is typically pushed one way, versus two-way collaboration. The Omnia chair is an ideal fit for most conference room environments. With numerous configuration options and excellent value, it’s a “go-to” for designers and specifiers.

Pictured: Omnia

For training and educational conference rooms, consider the Vox or Dash chair which offers stacking and stool options – perfect for larger collaboration spaces where a value-oriented chair is desired. The second major type of collaboration space is the open lounge space. In this type of area, a reservation is not required, there’s typically more soft seating, perhaps several types of writing surfaces, and even close access to a break area or open kitchen. Compared to a decompression zone, the goal of this collaboration space is to foster employee communication and get the creative ideas flowing, whereas, in a decompression zone, it’s more about the individual and relaxation.

Pictured: Dash

 

Private Spaces

When it comes to private workspaces, there are two broad categories. First is the open office workstation. This is the most common type of workspace, where an employee has a dedicated desk, chair and other accessories. In this type of environment, the employee’s chair is perhaps the most important and personal element (besides family pictures). We can all tell if our office chair has been swapped out because it just “doesn’t feel right”. The Luna task chair is a great value and a perfect fit for open office workstations.

Pictured: Luna

The other major type of private space is the walled-off, private office. These are less common as square footage per employee continues to decline, but in these types of offices, a premium aesthetic, options and a more luxurious feel are usually desired. The Jax lounge is a perfect companion for this type of office. The look and feel of this chair command respect with its bold styling and large overall frame. Combine that with a striking finish and it’s clear that users of this chair are ready for business!

Pictured: Jax lounge with Diddy

The traditional office has evolved significantly over the years and the pandemic further accelerated this evolution. Designers and specifiers will continue to need to look for soft materials that have a “resi-mercial” type of feel, customization and value. With lean manufacturing, steady inventory levels, and unparallel customer service, 9to5 Seating is ready for the future and any specification challenge!

Ergonomics in Interior Design

So we’ve all heard that ergonomics is essential for our health, wellbeing, and productivity. But, do ergonomics have a role in good design?  Based on various studies, the answer is a resounding yes! Here are four reasons why.

  1. Humans find comfortable design more appealing. This should be intuitive, but research shows that people perceive more value in devices, objects, and materials that are easy to use, comfortable, and high-quality. According to a study by Accenture, 32% of a consumer’s motivation when considering a product is the quality and ease of use, which translates to great design. When a product simply “feels right,” you assign a higher worth to it, believe it is higher quality, and naturally trust it to work better. Suppose you set two chairs side by side and one is ergonomically correct, and the other is lacking. The ergonomic chair will consistently be viewed as a better design and overall product. The Lilly is the perfect blend of ergonomics and style. The classic design is complemented by a lumbar supporting backrest and a wide range of finish options, including a rocker base for a fun alternative to the traditional office chair.

2. Ergonomic furniture helps calm the mind and promote focus. Mental health is more important than ever, finally getting the attention it has always deserved. When your body is comfortable, and in a good posture, the mind has one less distraction, improving focus. Research from Indeed shows that a focused mind increases productivity, reduces stress, and improves quality. 

One of the first steps to focusing your mind is the right task chair that feels right and doesn’t distract the user with pain points or constant adjustments. When you need to choose the best ergonomic option, the award-winning design of the HÅG Capisco is a perfect fit. Designer Peter Opsvik crafted this innovative and fun chair to think outside the box of “normal” chair design.

Need something more traditional? Check out Neo. Available as a task chair, stool, conference chair, or executive seating, it’s a genuinely versatile office chair that offers excellent value. Who knew your office chair could make you more focused and happy!

3. Happier employees perceive their environment more positively. With the return to in-person work well underway, many employers face pushback from workers who prefer to work from home. This Harvard Business Review study shows that employees want to work from home on average 2.5 days a week. Generous WFH policies are becoming a significant perk in a tight labor market. So, when employees are in the office, companies are desperate to keep them happy and keep a positive view of the office environment. Studies vary, but this Forbes article shows that the average American adult sits approximately 15 hours per day, so an ergonomically correct task chair is crucial to health and perceived happiness.

4. Enhance the attractiveness of your organization to new hires. This last one is broad but applicable. Given the extremely tight labor market, employers have to be creative and aggressive when recruiting employees. After pay, benefits, and WFH policy, many workers consider the physical environment when choosing a company. Is it up to date? Does it have a relaxed atmosphere? Are there amenities besides the traditional break room? Great design plays a critical role in defining an environment’s overall look and feel, and ergonomic chairs, desks, and accessories help deliver a positive environment.

Whether you are planning a new build, managing a renovation, or simply upgrading old furniture in the office, remember to keep ergonomics and design in mind. Balancing the two leads to happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Not sure where to start? Feel free to reach out to chair experts at 9to5 Seating for assistance. 

Why Ergonomic Chairs Matter

If you owned a factory, you would never allow a worker to operate a dangerous machine without safety shields. If you owned a trucking company, you would never send out a driver in a vehicle without brakes. If you owned a fleet of fishing boats, you would never let your fishermen sail without lifejackets.

So why would you let your office workers sit in old or unhealthy office chairs that lack proper ergonomic adjustments? A lot of time and effort goes into making offices look good, but are you paying enough attention to the health and wellness of your most valuable asset — your employees?

 

There are two aspects of a complete workplace well-being program. First, employers must look at the ergonomics of the office — the physical space,  tools, furniture and office chairs you give employees to work. Second, employers must design and implement a comprehensive wellness program. Before we get into the details of these two key elements, let’s take a look at why it matters.

If you are on the fence about investing in the well-being of your employees, consider these facts:

  • OSHA has cited that musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic injuries have direct costs of between $15 billion-$20 billion per year.
  • According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, which reviewed 250 ergonomics case studies to reveal the impact of ergonomics on business goals like cost savings, productivity and product quality, companies that invest in the wellness of their workers see a 59% average reduction of musculoskeletal disorders; 75% reduction in lost workdays; 68% reduction in worker’s compensation costs and a 43% decrease in labor costs.
  • Since Johnson & Johnson implemented an employee wellness program in 1995, the company’s leaders estimate that wellness programs cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs in a decade and the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.
It is helpful to divide ergonomics and health and wellness programs into two related, but separate baskets. Think of ergonomics as the healthy space a company creates for its employees. It is the healthy thinking behind the space and the tools used by workers. Wellness programs give employees incentives, tools, social support, privacy and strategies to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. Employers design them, but participating in wellness programs is usually the employee’s responsibility.

Ergonomics help employees stay more comfortable and ergonomic solutions can increase productivity by as much as 25%, according to multiple studies. Ergonomics is important because when you’re doing a job and your body is stressed by an awkward posture, extreme temperature or repeated movement your musculoskeletal system is affected. Your body may begin to develop symptoms such as fatigue, discomfort and pain, which can be the first signs of a musculoskeletal disorder. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are conditions that affect your body’s muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves.  MSDs can develop over time or can occur immediately due to overload.

In addition to being a literal pain in the neck for the employee, ergonomic problems also cost employers a lot. According to the Oregon OSHA, the average direct cost of a workers’ compensation claim for an MSD is $14,120. The indirect costs involved bringing the total average claim cost to well over $32,000.

A wellness program is any kind of organized activity in the workplace designed to improve and support the health and fitness of employees. Wellness programs could include fitness programs, health screenings and preventative care and include activities like stress management education, smoking cessation programs, exercise programs, weight-loss competitions and wellness assessments.

 

According to the Society for Human Resource Management Employee Benefits Survey, about 64 percent of employers provide wellness resources and information, and 58 percent of organizations offer wellness programs in general.

Employers can promote a healthier, more productive work environment by offering employees the means and the educational tools to take control of their wellness. A well-executed wellness program can reduce health care costs, augment productivity and increase employee retention, providing further support for the correlation between personal health and job satisfaction.

Creating a healthy workplace is a journey for most companies. It doesn’t happen overnight. But it doesn’t take much to get started either.

Take a look at your furniture. A good place to start is a review of your office chairs. The main feature to look for in an ergonomic seat is adjustability. The more that you are able to modify the chair, the better you can customize it to suit your individual needs. Look for a chair that supports your lower back. The seat pan — the part you actually sit on — should have enough width and depth to support the user.

Just because you are sitting does not mean the experience should be static. Active or dynamic sitting allows the worker to move while seated, which is important since the human body is not meant to stay stationary for long periods. Static seating can cause joint stiffness, circulation problems and back and neck pain.

Picking the right chair makes all the difference.

 

9to5 Seating’s lineup includes two best-selling European task chairs that certainly fit the bill. The company distributes HÅG Capisco and HÅG Capisco Puls, two chairs designed by Peter Opsvik that perfectly blend movement and a comfortable seat. HÅG Capisco is fully upholstered and well designed for desk work. The HÅG Capisco Puls is a plastic frame chair with upholstered seat or seat pad options intended for shorter sits.

Because of its award-winning ergonomic design, the HÅG Capisco chair stimulates intuitive and natural movement in a variety of seated postures. You can sit on it with the seat back behind you or facing you. The wings on the back let you rest an arm while you meet with a coworker or simply need a new position. The innovative base is designed as a footrest and an optional ring makes sitting even more comfortable.

The 9to5 Seating Luna Collection is another great choice. The Luna Collection includes task, task stool, and side chair models, all built with comfort and movement in mind. All Luna models have a pull handle that makes them easy to move. They also feature a mesh back that flexes and adjusts as you move. An optional height-adjustable lumbar provides additional back support.

Another option is Sol. Sol is a task chair that seamlessly integrates technology and supports all the postures we assume as we read on tablets, text on phones, video chat or draw. A slim layer of upholstery or mesh cushions the back while allowing easy movement. Sol uses responsive pivot-back technology for total support regardless of how much you move. The pivoting back mirrors your natural posture changes, letting you settle in or sit up, or even move side-to-side.

With the right office chair in place, it is time to turn to the rest of the workstation. To improve workstations, make sure all the worker’s joints are properly aligned in the neutral position, the office chair is adjusted correctly, the back is supported and the computer monitor, keyboard and mouse are at the right height and aligned.

Ergonomics and wellness should be at the core of every company’s workplace strategy. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will also improve productivity, save money and boost employee morale. If you were the coach, you wouldn’t send a football player on the field without a helmet. Don’t send your employees to the office without protection either.

Correct Posture Month

Did you know that May is Correct Posture Month and that having good posture is linked to numerous health benefits? And who doesn’t want to be healthy or stronger? So, besides doing what mom always said, “sit up straight,” where should you begin?

For starters, let’s look at your task chair. Does it promote erect posture? It should gently tilt the hips forward and support the lumbar spine. Armrests should be adjustable to align the forearms. Footrests or a bar should help keep the feet parked instead of kicking out, and height adjustability is a given. If you’re ready to specify a chair that checks all the boxes for ergonomics and takes a truly unique design approach, consider the HÅG Capisco from 9to5 Seating. Renowned product designer, Peter Opsvik, created a fresh take on traditional design with this office chair, and it delivers!

 

What else can you do after choosing a great task chair for better posture? Let’s start with the problem. Americans spend approximately 13 hours sitting each day. That’s a ton of time in office chairs! So, if you’re going to be sitting between four and eight hours each workday at the office, it makes sense to invest in an office chair that offers excellent ergonomics and naturally promotes better posture.

But what exactly is perfect posture? Trick question! First, according to the experts at posturemonth.org, there’s no such thing as perfect posture. It’s all about good posture, which comes down to moving, sleeping, exercising, and balancing your body. Let’s start with the basics and then dive deeper.

 

Tips for good posture at the office:
  1. Feet should be flat on the floor or using a footrest

2. Keep your shoulders relaxed with elbows at a 90-degree angle

3. Your keyboard should be at the same level as your elbows

3. A task chair that supports the lumbar spine is critical

4. Remember to take a 5-minute break every 30 minutes, stretch and walk around

So, whether you work in an open office, private space, lab, classroom environment, or just about anywhere else, if you sit at any point in the workday, the above tips can help improve your posture as well as a great task chair from 9to5 Seating. If the HÅG Capisco is a bit too progressive for your needs, consider Sol. It’s a timeless office chair with pivot back technology for torso rotation, side to side movement, adjustable lumbar support, a seat slider, and 6-way adjustable arms. The ergonomics on this chair were made for active seating. It’s no wonder that Sol is an award-winning chair, with accolades from Good Design and HiP.

With the basics in place, let’s go deeper on the topic of good posture. As it turns out, strength and regular movement are critical to maintaining good posture. The human body is designed to move around. For those who spend most of the workweek sitting, a strong core and regular stretching are even more important for good health. Unused muscles atrophy over time which contributes to body pain and poor posture. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, half of the computer users have posture-related back pain.

Start at home with a great night sleep and a supportive mattress. Try a pillow between your knees to provide pelvic support if you’re a side sleeper. For back sleepers, a contoured pillow helps promote easier breathing. Next, make sure your shoes are not worn out. Check the soles for even wear as well. Choose footwear that is supportive and comfortable.

At work, sit upright by holding your head up, over your shoulders, and your shoulders over the pelvis. Raise your monitor to eye level to prevent neck strain by looking up or down. Last, consider a sit/stand desk to help promote movement and standing throughout the day.

With a great night’s sleep, exercise, a great office chair, and these tips, you can improve your posture and overall health. Want to go even deeper? Check out this free posture app called Posture Zone. Use these tips for better posture all month and throughout the year.

HÅG Capisco Impresses this Marketing Agency

Pleasantly surprised and impressed – Dallas marketing agency MG Marketing shares their thoughts on adding the HÅG Capisco to their office.

When we first received the  HÅG Capisco & HÅG Capisco Puls, the team was skeptical. It’s different to say the least, and I wondered if these task chairs were really going to be comfortable or more of an over-the-top attempt at ergonomics gone wrong. I’ll cut to the bottom line for those in a rush. The only thing wrong was my faulty assumption about this clever task chair. These chairs are amazing! Read on…

First off, the unique saddle shape for the seat by Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik really helped nudge us toward better posture. Throughout the day each of us found ourselves naturally more upright and less slumped. But not in an exaggerated, unrealistic way. Instead, it just felt comfortable and right – refreshing. The treaded footrests seemed to help anchor us and keep the body aligned. I’m not sure if this is connected, but I noticed one employee using the chair at the max height with his sit/stand desk raised, and he rarely uses his desk above normal height.

Second, the padding and cushioning in the seat and backrest of the HÅG Capisco was like the Goldilocks story – not too soft, not too firm, just right. HÅG is known for their commitment to sustainable, premium materials and precision construction, and 9to5 Seating delivers on sustainability during the upholstery and distribution process. But don’t just take my word for it. The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) has certified HÅG Capisco and HÅG Capisco Puls LEVEL 2, a rigorous classification that requires third-party testing and certification. Our team felt great in the chairs and even better knowing these office chairs were responsibly and sustainably manufactured with over 50% recycled material.

Last, the “flip” was the surprise move with both chairs that really has our team convinced that these are the ultimate task chairs. What am I talking about? Just spin the chair around, rest your chest against the backrest, and use the ergonomic cutouts as armrests while working at a desk. I heard comments like “It felt good on my arms”, “seemed to help keep my posture up”, and “it was just fun to mix it up!”.

So if you’re wondering, “are these chairs really worth it?”. Our position is definitely yes! Besides the ergonomics, sustainable materials, LEVEL 2 certification and 9to5 Seating quality, these task chairs are just fun and really add a conversation-starter element to the office. Kudos to HÅG, designer Peter Opsvik and 9to5 Seating for a truly innovative product in the traditional space of office furniture.

Creativity Happens “In Between”

 

What could the Beatles and office chairs have in common? The recent documentary series “The Beatles: Get Back,” directed and produced by Peter Jackson, covers the making of the Beatles’ 1970 album “Let It Be.” The documentary is an eye-opening look at how creativity comes together to spawn one of the greatest rock and roll albums ever made.

It is a good example of how creativity can happen even when we are not working. The documentary proves that most of the genius that comes through in the Beatles album happens between recording sessions when the group is simply hanging around together, noodling on their instruments and talking about riffs they have come up with and fragments of songs they have written.

If creativity and collaboration can happen outside of work, then imagine what could happen when employees are sitting in their office chairs during work hours. Creativity in the office often happens naturally, but it can certainly be increased and improved through workplace design and the right mix of office furniture.

People around the world rank team building as the most important attribute of great workplaces, according to a recent workplace survey by the design firm Gensler. In Germany, which is dominated by shared and group offices, workers are asking for more open, collaborative spaces. Gensler’s Germany Workplace Survey found that three-quarters (74%) of respondents work in an enclosed office, but over half (61%) would prefer a more open work environment.

Collaboration Matters

Designers are thoughtfully creating more opportunities for workers to collaborate by rethinking meeting spaces and turning them into less formal rooms and touchdown areas. Touchdown areas are for more casual work, often unscheduled. Still, these areas need the right tools that can support collaboration.

9to5 Seating’s Mila office chair is a good choice for a multi-use conference room. The chair can be dressed up in its upholstered version or used more casually in mesh.

Pictured: Mila Fully Upholstered

With its integrated, intuitive controls, Omnia is a great choice for collaborative work as well. A light-scale mesh office chair, Omnia can be specified for work, conference or as a stool and it doesn’t have to be adjusted by the user, making it perfect for these important shared spaces. The Cydia mesh chair comes in a variety of styles including task, stool and side versions making the collection extremely flexible for spaces where collaboration matters.

Pictured: Omnia

Organized Teamwork

As the pandemic subsides and workers return to the office, organizations will want team members to reconnect and engage more frequently in less formal spaces. This organized teamwork brings together workers to make better decisions, thereby strengthening the work process and end product. Multiple studies have shown that collaboration increases employee engagement, creates stronger teams and ultimately improves the bottom line of the companies that encourage it.

If you don’t have them already, think about creating touchdown or team rooms for casual and collaborative meetings. Use 9to5 Seating products like Cydia Mesh, Mila and Omnia with lounge products from the Jax and Lilly collections to create spaces where these office chairs can be easily placed around a table with few adjustments needed to create a comfortable sit, mixed with some lounge products for more casual work.

Pictured: Lilly side with rocker base

The Jax Collection goes perfectly with 9to5 Seating’s collection of high-performance seating products. Jax is a complete lounge line and is available in high-back, mid-back and side options. When blended with other 9to5 Seating products, the lounge collection can be used to create an oasis in the office — small collaborative areas where teams can gather for work or socializing. The Lilly collection with its lounge and side seating, also has counter stools for café use, dining and collaborative spaces.

Pictured: Jax side

By bringing together products like those mentioned above, companies can push their offices into the future. Strategies like creating activity-based workplaces (ABWs) and neighborhood-based choice environments (NCEs) can create collaborative work zones in the office while giving employees a number of options when it comes to how and where they want to work.

Of course, one person’s interaction can be another person’s distraction. It is important for companies to work with designers to make sure the collaborative spaces aren’t compromising quiet, “heads-down” work, and ultimately employee productivity. Like all high-performing offices, the right blend of individual focus work and collaboration space is needed.

 

Meaningful Collaboration

The pandemic forced people to work from home and collaboration suffered. Even though hybrid work — a blend of working from home and in the office — is likely to continue in some form even as the pandemic recedes, the office will remain critically important, especially when it comes to meaningful collaboration. Being in-person with other people is among the top reasons to come into the office, according to a Gensler study. Working in-person with my team/colleagues was universally ranked as the #1 reason in a Gensler Research Institute report, while socializing with colleagues, being part of the community, or impromptu face-to-face connections also ranked high. In particular, respondents reported that the office excels at supporting collaboration, awareness, problem-solving and inclusive communication.

Finding the right balance between work from home and in-person work and heads-down and collaborative work is ultimately a management decision, supported by space and furniture like the products from 9to5 Seating, but even the most introverted worker understands that collaboration — that productive interaction found in abundance in the office — is key to unlocking creativity.

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