From desk to bean bag

2016-10-11

Today, there are as many ways of working as there are employees, and different generations have different demands on their working environment. The ideal workplace needs to stimulate both creativity and flexibility – without stinting on ergonomics.

Once Upon A Time, Desks, sturdy task chairs and oval conference tables were the obvious way to furnish an office. This is still how many workplaces look, but today many of us work just as well on a sofa or bean bag. Most people agree that a varied office environment works wonders for creativity. Some of the world's biggest and fastest-growing companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Spotify, are acclaimed for their crazy offices with hammocks, TV games and ping-pong tables.

Jane Ahlin, ergonomist at Ergo@Work and chair of the Swedish Ergonomics & Human Factors Association, does not recommend scrapping all desks in favour of cushion rooms and ball pits. According to a survey carried out by Kinnarps and United Minds, four out of five office workers want to have access to ergonomic work furniture. Four out of ten work standing up every week, and every other one seeks help from an ergonomist. Views on the working environment differ between generations, with the oldest generation being most traditional and focused on ergonomics and peace and quiet. 76 per cent of office workers in the 51-69 age group consider it important to have their own office, while fewer than half in the 15-35 age group think this is an important issue.

But awareness is increasing here, too, Ahlin believes:
"I think there used to be a bigger difference. Young people used to be "immortal" but now they're more aware. Many of them have had touches of muscle fatigue themselves or know other people who experience it, and so they become more attentive to how they feel when they're working."

Once Upon A Time, Desks, sturdy task chairs and oval conference tables were the obvious way to furnish an office. This is still how many workplaces look, but today many of us work just as well on a sofa or bean bag. Most people agree that a varied office environment works wonders for creativity. Some of the world's biggest and fastest-growing companies, such as Google, Microsoft and Spotify, are acclaimed for their crazy offices with hammocks, TV games and ping-pong tables.

 

Jane Ahlin, ergonomist at Ergo@Work and chair of the Swedish Ergonomics & Human Factors Association, does not recommend scrapping all desks in favour of cushion rooms and ball pits. According to a survey carried out by Kinnarps and United Minds, four out of five office workers want to have access to ergonomic work furniture. Four out of ten work standing up every week, and every other one seeks help from an ergonomist. Views on the working environment differ between generations, with the oldest generation being most traditional and focused on ergonomics and peace and quiet. 76 per cent of office workers in the 51-69 age group consider it important to have their own office, while fewer than half in the 15-35 age group think this is an important issue.


But awareness is increasing here, too, Ahlin believes:

"I think there used to be a bigger difference. Young people used to be "immortal" but now they're more aware. Many of them have had touches of muscle fatigue themselves or know other people who experience it, and so they become more attentive to how they feel when they're working."