Having talked extensively about the ways in which technology has affected the way, and how we work in the office, as well as going into great detail about ergonomics in the workplace; now comes the time where we can think about how the integration of technology has affected the way in which we hold our posture whilst working.
What I mean by this is that with the invention of tablets, laptops and smartphones, the way our bodies move and compose themselves while we use them, changes to suit each device and interestingly what we are using them for.
For decades the standard for office working, has been to place a human on a chair and sit a computer on a desk in front of them. Even though our bodies and the chair are quite flexible in how they move, the desk and computer have remained stationary. This is predominantly due to a bulky CPU that has a fixed monitor, meaning that you are limited in ways in which you can sit comfortably whilst at work.
Now think about the computers and other technological tools that are at our disposal. These have been designed for mobile working and have subsequently and to some extent unintentionally, changed the way in which we sit at our desk and on our chair.
The Atlantic has put together a list of 9 of these body positions that we adopt and are now commonplace within the office whilst we work.
1. “The Draw” – Common to the tablet, this position always takes place in a chair and is mainly for “tablet reading”. In order to remain comfortable, an office chair with a solid free floating back is required
2. “The Multi-Device” – The art of using more than one device at the same time. This is more common place than you think and in some cases without you even realising.
3. “The Text” – Using your smartphone, or regular mobile phone for reading, emailing or texting. Armrests are often used when holding this position.
4. “The Cocoon” – Usually whilst reading, this body position is not just reserved for the office and brings the device close to the user’s body. Office furniture manufacturers Steelcase have noted that this type of posture is used more by females than males.
5. “The Swipe” – For tablet users, this position requires the user lean over the desk and have their heads almost directly over the screen with the tablet often laid flat.
6. “The Smart Lean” – This one is mainly for smartphone users, but may also work for tablets and is a variant of the first position, “The Draw”.
7. “The Trance” – This is a position that has been used in the office, but now with more and more information being read on computers and not on paper, it is becoming ever increasingly commonplace.
8. “The Take It In” – This involves nearly a full chair recline. This position is usually reserved for computer and laptop users and has become popular mainly due to high resolution monitors.
9. “The Strunch” – The name is reference to stretching out, yet hunching at the same time. When people begin to get tired, they adopt this position by pushing their laptops or monitors away from them and slouching in order to gain a better view of the screen whilst resting their arms on the desk.
Steelcase is an office furniture manufacturer that has seen these patterns of behaviour and after undertaking a study that included 2000 office workers in 11 different countries, they concluded that current office furniture and office chairs are just not made to cope with these new seated working positions. This could in turn disrupt our concentration and in turn negatively impact our overall productivity whilst working.
This is no reason to worry or panic though; it just makes sense to be aware of how we sit at work to help avoid unnecessary stresses on the body.
Research and image from The Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com)