Alliance Office Interior Design
9 New Work Sitting Positions Shaped by Technology
Posted By: Lynne Lemieux
Category: Technology | Office Interior Services

New Work Sitting Positions The conventional office of the 20th century was based on the assumption that worker interaction, face-to-face communication, or employee autonomy were aspects of little importance to the organizational structure. Over the last four decades, however, the design and layout of workspaces has evolved along business management needs and trends. At some point, offices were created as communications systems that encouraged the free flow of information, while later on they started to be seen more as dynamic hubs for social engagement. Employee privacy, individual offices, and acoustic control were underlined as some of the most pressing aspects in the work setting of the 1980s. Today, the whole definition of what an office is must be rethought in the context of emerging technologies and increasing complexity of tasks.

A global survey by office furniture industry leader Steelcase revealed that employees now adopt new sitting positions and use office furniture in ways designers could never have envisioned. Over 10,000 surveys were taken by individuals on all continents, and they revealed how the emergence of new technologies has led to the creation of nine new postures – none of which is properly addressed by current office furniture designs. Steelcase researchers warned that, if employees’ work styles continue to go unsupported, it will soon lead to workplace injuries, chronic pain, and low productivity. Here is a brief description of each new sitting posture driven by new technology:

1. “Draw”

• Who uses it: Male Gen Xers
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops, tablets
• Description: Users are forced to draw devices (usually small and mobile) towards them. They bring elbows close to their bodies in order to maintain an optimal focal length.
• Risks: Arm and shoulder fatigue, neck strain, eye strain

2. “Multi-device”

Multi-Device• Who uses it: Female Gen Xers
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops, tablets
• Description: Several devices are used at the same time. Users adapt to multi-tasking and will usually lean forward as they concentrate to take in the information.
• Risks: Neck and shoulder fatigue, no lumbar support

3. “Text”

• Who uses it: Female Gen Xers
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops, tablets
• Description: Users bring both arms close to their bodies in order to text on devices that are significantly smaller than other forms of technology.
• Risks: Shoulder strain, neck strain, discomfort

4. “Cocoon”

• Who uses it: Female Millennials
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops
• Description: Users recline and bring their devices close to their bodies, sitting in a casual position while resting their thighs and bringing their feet on the chair.
• Risks: Deep vein thrombosis, neck strain, disc compression, discomfort

5. “Swipe”

• Who uses it: Female Gen Xers
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops, tablets
• Description: Users are hunching forward to navigate the device with one hand, most often with swiping gestures on touchscreen devices.
• Risks: Disc compression, back pain

6. “Smart Lean”

• Who uses it: Male Gen Xers
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops, tablets
• Description: Users may feel the need to take some time off during a meeting and check texts and emails on their smartphones. Since the move is temporary, they adjust their position to lack of support.
• Risks: Neck strain, disc compression, back pain

7. “Trance”

• Who uses it: Female Millennials
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops
• Description: Concentrated at the screen, users lean forward and support their head with one hand. This is a posture usually maintained for prolonged periods.
• Risks: Fatigue, pain

8. “Take-It-In”

• Who uses it: Male Millennials
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops
• Description: Users recline to be able to take in all the information on large screens in front of them. Their posture is one of contemplation rather than active involvement.
• Risks: Back pain

9. “Strunch”

Strunch
• Who uses it: Female Millennials
• Preferred devices: Smartphones, laptops
• Description: As users become tired throughout the day, they push their devices further away from them and lean forward.
• Risks: Disc compression, muscle fatigue

In this extensive study, Steelcase researchers observed “how the physiology of work has changed, how the human body interacts with new technologies and how it transitions as people shift from one device to another.” They also noted the “changing sociology of work and how people rapidly shift between individual, focused tasks and creative collaboration.” Seeing how every new activity caused employees to change sitting positions, they deemed it crucial to furnish the office in a manner that supports such casual work behaviors.

Compared to a few decades ago, the majority of business organizations nowadays are relying more and more on motivated, tech-savvy employees who greatly appreciate face-to-face interaction and autonomy. To be able to support this never-before-seen connectivity and knowledge transfer, managers and business owners must understand one thing. Offices are no longer solitary places where linear business is conducted – they have become creativity- and innovation-fostering places where people come to meet, interact, and cooperate. And they must be supported – both physically and morally – every step of the way.

About the Author:
Lynne Lemieux, Founder and President of Alliance Interiors Inc., has devoted more than 20 years of experience developing and implementing growth opportunities for some of Canada’s leading office furniture dealers. Her ability to provide clients with inspiring and versatile interior solutions for both business and home office environments has garnered her title of Aboriginal Business Woman of the Year in the city of Toronto for 2012. In her spare time, Lynne takes an active interest in politics, public speaking, and philanthropy, but also enjoys gardening, interior decorating, cooking, yoga, and traveling.