Office furniture retailer Steelcase has identified nine different postures among employees in its Global Posture Study conducted across six continents and involving 10,739 employees. The study provides insight into how new technologies have changed the way people work and move throughout the day. The study was conducted across six continents and involves 10,739 employees.
The research shows that instead of staying glued to their desktop computer, office employees are now spending up to six hours a day working on mobile devices rather than desktop computers, and often toggle between three different devices throughout the day.
“We saw from our research that employees are using more devices and are more mobile throughout the day than ever before. These changes have led to nine new postures not currently supported by traditional office chairs which can cause pain and long-term injuries and reduce concentration and creativity,” says James Ludwig, vice president, global design and product engineering at Steelcase in a statement. “The user interface of our new devices is intuitive and responds to various gestures but the way technology impacts our bodies as we work has been largely ignored. This study revealed the frequency in which people move and change positions, and the new postures assumed as employees engage with new technologies.”
According to the survey, women prefer to work on smartphones while laptops are more appealing to men. However, men are more likely to work with three or more mobile devices (64 percent) while women choose to work with a maximum of two (47 percent). Compared to other generations, millennials are the most mobile.
Additional findings of the study include:
Laptops versus Smartphones
Employees surveyed work between three and six hours on mobile devices daily. Men prefer laptops (34 percent), whereas women like to work on smartphones (41 percent).
Millennials need space to move
The so-called millennial generation, born between 1979 and 2000, change postures more often than other age group. Seven percent prefer the “The Cocoon” posture (twisting arms and legs like in a cocoon), 15 percent “The Strunch” (stretched out over the desk), and 27 percent “The Trance” (concentrated reading on the screen).
Women prefer to retreat
Female employees choose postures where they can withdraw from the environment, like “The Cocoon” and “The Strunch“. Men prefer open seating postures to lean back, like “The Draw” (for working with tablets), “The Smart Lean” (to create privacy during meetings) and “The Take It In” (leaning back due to bigger displays).
Multitasking and concentration
Irrespective of age and gender, 25 percent of employees prefer “The Multi-Device” posture (simultaneously using several technical devices) followed by 20 percent preferring “The Trance” (concentrated reading on the screen).
The nine different postures identified by the study are:
As people become fatigued, they gradually push their laptop further from the edge of the work surface, resting their weight on the surface.
Technology, small and mobile, allows people to pull back from their desks while they use it.
This posture is representative of how people adapt to multitasking on multiple-devices; one hand holding a phone to the ear, the other tasking on a laptop.
Smartphones are small compared to other forms of technology and, therefore, require unique postures. Employees bring arms in close while keying and gesturing.
People recline, bring up their feet to a sitting height, and draw their smartphone or tablet close, allowing it to rest on their thighs.
This posture results when the device is used on a worksurface in “surfing mode”, in which people operate the device with one hand, typically with swiping gestures.
The Smart Lean
A result of mobile technology and the desire for people to temporarily “pull away”, this postures allows a moment of privacy without having to leave a meeting or collaborative environment.
This posture was observed when people were focused on the screen, either mousing or using a touchpad to navigate, for extended periods of time.
The Take It In
Due to bigger displays, people recline to view content on their high-resolution desktops and/or sit back to contemplate.
“The evidence from the study clearly showed the multiplicity of postures adopted by workers and how comfortable they are in using a widening array of technology,” says Ludwig. “Many people are using chairs that were designed well before these new devices became common tools at work. Back then, chairs were created to help people hold one pose in front of a computer all day. Now we know that people need to move and change positions regularly, especially as they engage with new technologies. We observed people in pain; they need a sitting experience like Gesture designed for the ways we work today.”
The Gesture is a chair introduced by Steelcase in response to the Global Posture Study. It is inspired by the movement of the human body and designed for the ways people work today. The Gesture chair’s three key interfaces – the core interface, upper limb interface and seat interface – specifically support the new postures driven by new technology and more casual behaviors in the workplace.