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Is There a Case to Be Made for Sitting?


In a previous post, I explored the question: Is your chair your enemy?, based in part on the many recent articles, research reports, and infographics claiming that the simple act of sitting is killing you.

But I recently read David Zax’s FastCompany article, In Defense of Sitting, a humorous counter argument (“Sitting may kill you. But at least you’ll die doing something you love.”) to the widely-published judgement that standing while at task is surely the key to eternal life.

What the summer of 1975 did for sharks, what the fall of 2001 did for anthrax, the last few years have been doing for that seemingly innocuous object: the chair.

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Technology Trends, Use Patterns & Place

New Technologies, New Behaviors is a research summary recently published by Herman Miller. I found it to be an interesting review of three specific tech trends and the impact they are having on our use patterns and workplaces:

Smart Devices
In early 2011, for the first time in history, smart phones outsold personal computers. In fact, by February of 2012, 88 percent of the U.S. population carried a mobile phone. Between December of 2011 and January of 2012, the number of adults who owned a tablet computer nearly doubled, and tablets will likely outsell laptops within the next five years.

Unified Communication Channels
The proliferation of technological devices and applications in the workplace has had the paradoxical effect of actually creating more barriers to communication, at least in the short-term. With tablets, smartphones, laptops, email, instant messaging, video, and social networks, people have many ways to get in touch with each other. But not all the devices, apps, and services are able to talk with each other.

Natural Forms of Interface
Natural user interfaces (NUI), allow people to interact with technology in many of the same ways they interact with people: through speech, gesture, and touch.

New user interfaces are not only transforming the way we interact with our devices, but also the ways in which we interact with each other. Researchers are finding that “the increased ability for natural expressions of behavior, such as gesture and posture, extend the possibilities for communication and collaboration.”

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A Sampling: Workplace Cultures Around the World

Steelcase’s recent issue of 360° Magazine, titled Culture Code, shares a big body of research on workplace culture across eleven countries. The following is a sampling of three interesting workplace culture perspectives (by country) from this research.

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Is Your Chair Your Enemy?

A few years ago, I bought a height adjustable work table so we could experiment with standing work postures versus sitting working postures. A few people tried the stand up table, but it took awhile for anyone to really stick with daily use.

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Headphones Are Dangerous

By MatsuyukiAs any friend of Atomic knows, we have a great open office environment and matching open culture. But not all open offices are created equal. My previous employer had the layout of an open office, but not a truly open environment.

A fully open environment means new ideas are shared, problems can be globally solved, and a sense of camaraderie can be built among coworkers.
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Workplaces: Designing for Interaction

I’m a workplace designer by professional experience and education. As Atomic Object’s multi-tasking business manager, one of the many hats I wear is as its workplace planner and designer. Before joining Atomic Object, I researched and designed leading edge workplaces for Herman Miller.

The Harvard Business Review is not my typical go-to source for insights into matters of physical work space, but this article landed squarely at the intersection of my interests in workplace culture and workplace design:

Who Moved My Cube? by Anne-Laure Fayard and John Weeks.

At Atomic, we research and test usability as we design software. This article made me ponder usability from a workplace design perspective.

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Atomic Comes out Smelling Like a Rose

Wow, What an olfactory and visual treat!

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Bike-Friendly Workplaces Can Be Cost Effective

After last week’s Not Your Average Speaker Series: Cycling City at the Wealthy Theatre, Carl and I were talking about how much Atomic Object has invested in support of our bike commuters and what the return on investment has been.

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Atomic is a Bike-Friendly Workplace

Recently I gave a talk at the 2011 Grand Rapids Bicycle Summit. My goal was to illustrate what one bike-friendly employer looks like. Easy enough, as Atomic has cultivated a strong bike culture at our headquarters in Uptown. A fun story to tell.

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The Writing Is on the Walls

Right after we bought our office in 2003, we started down a multi-year, reductionist path of tearing out lots of unnecessary walls from within the shell our our historic building. Consistent with Atomic’s collaborative approach to work, we wanted a very open workspace. A minimum viable set of walls remained or was added to define our bathroom and a conference room.

The architectural design of our building gives us generous fenestration along the north and south walls. We love our daylight and views, but they leave us with less usable vertical space to support some of our important, shared work processes.

Our software developers and designers needed more writing and sketching space, more and different kinds of display space. We all needed broad, multi-functional surface areas for capturing stand up discussions, capacity planning, ideation sessions and the display of important project process tools like story maps and burndown charts. The ideal surface needed to be writable, large-scale, magnetic and easily cleaned.

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