How Ergonomics Can Prevent Muscoskeletal Disorders

Given the increasingly sedentary working styles of modern day executives, muscoskeletal disorders are rapidly becoming a cause for concern. Computer technology has revolutionized workplaces but has introduced a host of health issues that require a closer look.

Work related muscoskeletal disorders are associated with painful diseases that affect your nerves, muscles and tendons due to constantly holding awkward postures or performing physical activities that are repetitive in nature. Read more

Do You Need to Break Down the Cubicle Walls to Improve Performance?

Extraordinary performance only comes from an extraordinary experience, so how you feel at work determines how productive you are — or not.

Getting siloed into a cubicle is great if you don’t like people (and great for others if you’re “that guy”), but studies have shown that cubicles do little to improve employee morale. In fact, the cubicle effect can actually lead to lower levels of trust and communication for the simple fact that human interaction is limited.

Social-exchange theory states that the more often people interact with each other, the more potential for trust to build between them. Duh. So, why is it that office cubicles continue being the go-to choice for the majority of offices?

Related: Designing a Better Office Space

An office design should resemble the personalities and values of the people who work there. If you believe in openness and transparency, then an open-floor plan is the ticket, but if employees need privacy for security matters, then one large, single space is not the way to go.

Below are some of the latest office layouts that help (or hinder) productivity:

The open floor. When retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal was head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), he created a collaborative, open work environment that fused together disparate civilian and governmental agencies.

This shared space actually forced communication amongst groups that would have otherwise kept a close hold on information. As a result, a constant exchange of knowledge took JSOC’s average of 18 missions per month in 2004 to over 300 in 2008. No big deal.

While numerous studies aim to highlight open office spaces as detrimental to employee performance and health, what the research doesn’t show is how mentally and emotionally engaged people are in their jobs.

If, for instance, I find my job boring or unchallenging, then sure, my focus would probably be elsewhere, too. However, if you catch yourself being subverted from the task at hand then it may not be everyone else that’s the problem.

The unassigned space. Instead of returning to the same seat every day, non-designated spaces can actually encourage cross-pollination because people don’t feel obligated to return to the same location. Of course, humans are creatures of habit, so it requires a concerted effort to avoid repetition and seek out something new.

 

The dreaded cubicle. There’s a reason why thinking of cubicles conjures up images of the movie Office Space with the climate of “boring” that pervaded the entire culture. Nothing screams “awful” like the typical cubicle layout.

The benefits of cubicle spaces are greater privacy and — theoretically — more productivity since you’re less prone to distractions. However, the flip side of these benefits is a restriction to idea flow, which is the spreading of information through networks. Sure, you can personalize your space, but at the end of the day, it’s still a cubicle.

The individual office. Ahh, the defining characteristic of social net worth. Chances are that if you have your own office it’s because the powers that be (i.e. your boss) wanted to dedicate a quiet location for you to work because he or she expects more out of you. Or, maybe it’s because you’ve simply put in your time and a personal office is part of the advancement package.

I compare having an individual office with the delineation between officers and enlisted in the SEAL Teams. Up to a certain point both officers and enlisted work, train, eat, travel and fight together until, one day, the officer hits about the 12-year mark in his career. At that point one of two things happens: he stays in the military and makes a career for himself, or he gets out because he doesn’t want to play politics.

The individual office is akin to playing politics because it (likely) took politicking to get there. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just the nature of the game. However, a personal office shouldn’t be the defining element of power — fundamentals of leadership such as character and competence should.

Do You Need to Break Down the Cubicle Walls to Improve Performance?

Extraordinary performance only comes from an extraordinary experience, so how you feel at work determines how productive you are — or not.

Getting siloed into a cubicle is great if you don’t like people (and great for others if you’re “that guy”), but studies have shown that cubicles do little to improve employee morale. In fact, the cubicle effect can actually lead to lower levels of trust and communication for the simple fact that human interaction is limited.

Social-exchange theory states that the more often people interact with each other, the more potential for trust to build between them. Duh. So, why is it that office cubicles continue being the go-to choice for the majority of offices?

Related: Designing a Better Office Space

An office design should resemble the personalities and values of the people who work there. If you believe in openness and transparency, then an open-floor plan is the ticket, but if employees need privacy for security matters, then one large, single space is not the way to go.

Below are some of the latest office layouts that help (or hinder) productivity:

The open floor. When retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal was head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), he created a collaborative, open work environment that fused together disparate civilian and governmental agencies.

This shared space actually forced communication amongst groups that would have otherwise kept a close hold on information. As a result, a constant exchange of knowledge took JSOC’s average of 18 missions per month in 2004 to over 300 in 2008. No big deal.

While numerous studies aim to highlight open office spaces as detrimental to employee performance and health, what the research doesn’t show is how mentally and emotionally engaged people are in their jobs.

If, for instance, I find my job boring or unchallenging, then sure, my focus would probably be elsewhere, too. However, if you catch yourself being subverted from the task at hand then it may not be everyone else that’s the problem.

The unassigned space. Instead of returning to the same seat every day, non-designated spaces can actually encourage cross-pollination because people don’t feel obligated to return to the same location. Of course, humans are creatures of habit, so it requires a concerted effort to avoid repetition and seek out something new.

 

The dreaded cubicle. There’s a reason why thinking of cubicles conjures up images of the movie Office Space with the climate of “boring” that pervaded the entire culture. Nothing screams “awful” like the typical cubicle layout.

The benefits of cubicle spaces are greater privacy and — theoretically — more productivity since you’re less prone to distractions. However, the flip side of these benefits is a restriction to idea flow, which is the spreading of information through networks. Sure, you can personalize your space, but at the end of the day, it’s still a cubicle.

The individual office. Ahh, the defining characteristic of social net worth. Chances are that if you have your own office it’s because the powers that be (i.e. your boss) wanted to dedicate a quiet location for you to work because he or she expects more out of you. Or, maybe it’s because you’ve simply put in your time and a personal office is part of the advancement package.

I compare having an individual office with the delineation between officers and enlisted in the SEAL Teams. Up to a certain point both officers and enlisted work, train, eat, travel and fight together until, one day, the officer hits about the 12-year mark in his career. At that point one of two things happens: he stays in the military and makes a career for himself, or he gets out because he doesn’t want to play politics.

The individual office is akin to playing politics because it (likely) took politicking to get there. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just the nature of the game. However, a personal office shouldn’t be the defining element of power — fundamentals of leadership such as character and competence should.

Here’s Why You Dislike the Design of Your Workplace.

LinkedIn Influencer, Gretchen Rubin, published this post originally on LinkedIn

I’m a huge fan of the writing of architect Christopher Alexander, and yesterday, for the hundredth time, I found myself urging someone to read his book, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction.

This strange, brilliant, fascinating book uses architecture, sociology, psychology, and anthropology to describe the most satisfying environments.

Instead of talking about familiar architectural styles and elements, it focuses on “patterns,” such as the Sitting Wall, the Front Door Bench, Child Caves, the Sequence of Sitting Spaces, Sleeping to the East. I love these! I want them for my own apartment!

Related: Former Navy SEAL and I Agree on an Important Habit that Will Surprise You (LinkedIn)

A Pattern Language discusses houses, but it also covers commercial spaces and offices.

It offers insights about why certain offices are more or less satisfying to work in. Take this quiz to see how your office measures up.

I put a “yes” or “no” after each element, as it applies to my own office. How does your office rate?

  • There’s a wall behind you (so no one can sneak up behind you). Yes.
  • There’s a wall to one side (too much openness makes you feel exposed). Yes.
  • There’s no blank wall within 8 feet in front of you (or you have no place to rest your eyes). No, I sit right in front of a wall with a window.
  • You work in at least 60 square feet (or you feel cramped). No; my office is tiny.
  • Your workspace is 50-75% enclosed by walls or windows (so you have a feeling of openness). Not exactly sure what this one means — wouldn’t that give me a feeling of closedness?
  • You have a view to the outside (no matter how large your office, you will feel confined in a room without a view). Yes—no view at all, but I can see outside. Having a window is enormously important to me.
  • You are aware of at least 2 other people, but not more than 8 people, around you (less than 2, you feel isolated and ignored; more than 8, you feel like a cog in a machine). No, I’m all alone.
  • You can’t hear workplaces noises that are very different from the kind of noises you make at work (you concentrate better when the people around you are engaged in similar tasks, not very different tasks). Yes.
  • No one is sitting directly opposite you and facing you. No.
  • You can face in different directions at different times. No.
  • You can see at least 2 other people, but not more than 4. No.
  • You have at least one co-worker within talking distance. No.

Most of us can’t change much about the design of our offices, but these elements at least furnish a few ideas.

My office is very, very small. If I had more room and space, I would love to have a horseshoe-shaped desk, with enormous amounts of surface space, as well as a treadmill desk. Oh, how I long for a treadmill desk. In Better Than Before, my book about habit change, I describe how I did the next best thing: I bought a treadmill desk for my sister. She sometimes walks seven miles — during a work day!

I have to admit, that of all the habits that I changed, or that I helped other people to change, as part of writing that book, getting my sister that treadmill desk was one of the very most satisfying.

How does the design of your workplace measure up? Do you agree with these points? What would you add?

To state the obvious: this list sheds light on why many people don’t like the current trends in office design.

5 Superb Office Design Tips

Office design is so crucially important to the success of your company, it’s well worth consulting professionals to get it right.

“A well designed office may cost a little more, but it is much cheaper than a poorly designed one. A non-functioning office wastes time and causes frustration because it can hinder basic tasks,” says Paul Kelly, head of marketing for Morgan Lovell, a leading office interior design, build-out and refurbishment specialist with offices across the UK. Read more

Why You Should Consider a Standing Desk

How often do you stand at work? Ever wonder if sitting all day is healthy? Recent Studies show it’s important to stand more often and sit less. A standing desk may be your best bet to offset the negative effects of sitting all day. Keep reading to learn four reasons why your should consider a standing desk. Read more

Why You Should Consider a Standing Desk

How often do you stand at work? Ever wonder if sitting all day is healthy? Recent Studies show it’s important to stand more often and sit less. A standing desk may be your best bet to offset the negative effects of sitting all day. Keep reading to learn four reasons why your should consider a standing desk. Read more

Should you telecommute and get office furniture at home?

Recently, Michael Dell, CEO and founder of the namesake company that’s the third largest computer manufacturer in the world, said he wanted to appeal massively to telework for his employees. There are several reasons to opt for telework. Here is a list of those that seem most important :

Read more

The Perfect Home Office

Jo Heinz is president of Dallas interior architecture and design firm Staffelbach. Entrepreneur.com asked Heinz for advice on designing a home office for maximum efficiency. Here’s what she had to say: Read more

The Perfect Home Office

Jo Heinz is president of Dallas interior architecture and design firm Staffelbach. Entrepreneur.com asked Heinz for advice on designing a home office for maximum efficiency. Here’s what she had to say: Read more