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In Brief


Productivity, safety and wellness are under the spotlight at the A+A trade fair.
Image: Recreation within the workplace Image: Recreation within the workplace

On at Messe Düsseldorf, Germany from 17 to 20 October, the A+A Trade Fair will focus on global trends, services and products that promote health, safety, security and productivity in the workplace. Included is a workplace design and corporate health programme, which will focus on the ergonomic design of workplaces and how work habits impact health and productivity.

Topics will include best practices in creating employee-friendly workplaces and designing effective human-to-machine interfaces. Other issues to be discussed include age-appropriate workplace design, lighting, air-conditioning and acoustics. Also taking place during the event, the International Congress on Industrial Safety and Healthcare will feature more than 50 presentations on occupational heath and safety issues. In addition, a safety and security forum will feature presentations on recent developments such as the avoidance of airborne dust, explosion safety, safe handling and storage of hazardous materials, fire protection and emergency management and fall protection. For more information, go to www.aplusa-online.com.

Smart chair and desk to track workers’ movements

Introduced at the commercial design and business trends trade show, NeoCon in Chicago in June, a new chair and sit-stand desk combination created by furniture design company Herman Miller will track and report workers’ sitting activities. By connecting office workers and their posteriors to the internet, a live operating system (OS) monitors when and where people sit, how often they stand and even when they slouch.

The idea, says Ryan Anderson, director of commercialisation and business development for Herman Miller, isn’t to police employees, but rather to promote healthier desk habits. Paired with an app, the chair and desk will not only monitor peoples’ positions, but also adjust preferred settings when they move to other workstations and prompt changes in posture with vibrations and persuasive messages. It also enables employers to collect data about the habits of workers so that they can maximise workplace efficiency by knowing when, where and how people work. The system will be available from January 2018.

Are workers ready to wear technology?

A recent survey of 1 000 employees by British company, Office Genie found that more than one-third (36 per cent) of people interviewed in the survey believe increased productivity would be a benefit of using wearable technology in the workplace. The survey also found that 42 per cent of respondents believe that stress monitoring is an appropriate use in the workplace. Key features of devices, such as Apple watches, Garmins and Fitbits, include the ability to record, track and report on individuals’ sleep, exercise activity, stress, heart rate and other health-related metrics.

They can also show the wearer’s location. Office Genie’s research also found 41 per cent of respondents feel that supporting employees’ physical health would be an appropriate use for workplace wearables – 30 per cent believe wearable technology should be used to boost productivity while 20 per cent think that monitoring mental health is an acceptable way of employing workplace wearables. There are however, concerns; 49 per cent said they are worried about the negative effect wearable technology could have on employees’ stress levels, 58 per cent are concerned that their employer could look at data recorded outside of the workplace, and 67 per cent worry that the use of wearable technology in the workplace could result in a big brother-style surveillance culture.

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