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The Office Paradigm Shift - People, Technology & Sit-Stand Desks

Over the past 100 years we’ve gone from open office “sweat shops”

Office Design of the 1900's

to closed offices combined with open office “bullpens” 

Offices Design in the 1900's

to Delbertville cubicles (I helped design them)

to banquet tables with power bars, AKA collaborative work spaces which have been the darling of office design for the past 12-15 years. However, “a growing body of evidence suggests it decreases productivity and weakens job performance.” 1

Office Design of the 1900's


The Paradigm Shift

Now, a paradigm shift not been seen in 100 years is beginning to take hold and it's being brought on by a change in office culture, technology and Sit-Stand desks.

Activity Based Working (ABW). The latest thesis is that people should work in the type of space that supports the work they’re actually doing, and that might change many times throughout a day. That’s a novel idea – and a bit of welcome news for some of us introverts. But does this address the many who are strapped to their computer doing basically the same thing all day everyday? Although an activity based working environment, as it’s described, may not work in all instances, it does point to a paradigm shift away from the “fit ‘em into the space we give em” mentality.

Banquet Tables with Power Bars: Emerging is the startling realization that a healthy corporate bottom line is not about fitting the maximum number of minions into the minimum number of square feet of office space. Expecting everyone to fit into predetermined cookie cutter work stations or along lengthy banquet tables with power bars is not so conducive to attracting and retaining the best talent.

“Creating a culture-first mentality is a critical step for employers when it comes to building a highly engaged workforce,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles.

“Employees become much more motivated and productive when they know that their employer cares about their total quality of life, which goes beyond traditional wellness and includes physical, emotional, financial and social health.”2

Employee wellness programs have become a staple in many corporations as a way to attract top talent, keep them happy and productive, and decrease employee turnover. In fact, 80% of employees at companies with robust health and wellness programs feel engaged and cared for by their employers.3

Wellness program: A group of services or events offered by an employer designed to lower absenteeism and the number of claims and claim costs by promoting improved health among employees. Such programs may include health screenings, flu shots, smoking-cessation groups and discounts on exercise classes and diet plans as well as providing adjustable, ergonomic furniture and equipment and training on why and how to use them. 

“Sitting behind a desk all day is not conducive to health and wellness. It’s important to give the body and brain a break to recharge by engaging in these health trends that encourage and demonstrate wellness as a valuable part of work life. Corporate wellness programs create both lower health insurance premiums for the company, and healthier, more productive employees. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.“4

The Benefits

The benefits of such wellness programs are not lost on those who have been exposed to such initiatives and value them. The Virgin HealthMiles/Workforce survey found that about 87% of employees said they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer. Perhaps that’s a harbinger of things to come in a competitive global marketplace where attracting and retaining skilled talent is crucial for the bottom-line.3

This paradigm shift is not restricted to large corporations and government offices. Small business and home office dwellers are not immune with health and wellness issues and need to take these things to heart .

1 http://www.fastcompany.com/3019758/dialed/offices-for-all-why-open-office-layouts-are-bad-for-employees-bosses-and-productivity

2 http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/06/11/challenge-2013-linking-employee-wellness-morale-and-the-bottom-line/#2e5bcb5ab3db

3 http://www.snacknation.com/blog/employee-wellness-program-ideas/

4 http://www.hallmarkbusinessconnections.com/article-five-trends-shaping-health-and-wellness-at-the-workplace-corporate-wellness-magazine

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