Rhode Island schools take active approach to learning

It’s a new day in Providence, RI, for 360 High School and West Broadway Middle School. Volunteers from the schools, Nortek, Inc., and Ergotron installed LearnFit™ Adjustable Standing Desks in a unique pilot designed to help the schools test the sit-stand concept in real-time. @BiancaBuono covers the story at ABC6 News.

For more information on other schools around the country visit Ergotron.com/spotlight or hear about Virginia’s Alexandria Country Day School and their decision to adopt sit-stand on a broader scale in this USA Today report.


Innovations in Learning from the EdSpaces Education Show



I just returned from the EDspaces 2015 show for education furniture. The attendees were largely educators, architects and designers, and resellers seeking to use new furniture concepts to improve learning objectives. Among what I expected to see there, there were also a few surprises. Here are my “cliff” notes from the event if you couldn’t attend:

  • Introducing motion into the student’s day. There is significant interest in this topic, most certainly fueled by all the recent research proving the benefit of reducing sedentary time. One of the award winners had a wide range of bicycles, walkers and elliptical mechanisms built into desks—a seemingly good idea, but expensive, complex and space-intensive. Perhaps a good specialty solution. Hat’s off to them for their efforts.
  • Standing desk solutions are starting to emerge. Ergotron’s Bob Hill gave an excellent talk surveying the research supporting the value of standing desks, and discussing how the early adopters have achieved success in their schools. The questions being asked by the audience were not exploratory, rather they had detailed questions about how to successfully implement, such as deciding how many chairs need to be planned in a classroom of standing desks. A key point was the need for student-adjustable desks.  In a recent article in FastCompany, the principal of Vallecito Elementary says, “Our current favorite desk has some of the things we need, but is cumbersome to adjust and requires an army of parent volunteers to adjust the desks in each classroom to fit each child. This is obviously not scalable across the country. …”
  • Collaboration is a top educator priority, but solutions are haphazard. There is clearly a strong desire to provide flexible, re-configurable desk solutions. However, ironically, the most common desks that are touted as collaboration solutions appear to be odd-shaped regular desks. Kidney shaped, trapezoidal, interlocking organic shapes. They look nice, but few are mobile, few allow for height adjustability, and few readily allow the students to reconfigure the classroom quickly.   Also there appears to be more attention to color than to performance. The key to developing the ideal collaboration products will be to provide prototypes to innovative educators, and cooperatively work on developing new solutions.
  • Cheapo tablet/laptop charging carts…yikes! Among the exhibitors there, there were lots of manufacturers with cheap charging carts with power strips. Some even were made of particle board. Please understand that computing devices and their power bricks give off a lot of heat during charging, and they also can draw enough power to blow a circuit breaker or overheat. At a minimum, these carts can reduce lifetime of your computing devices by overheating them, but more seriously, they can be fire hazards. Buy a safe cart with power management and a metal or flame retarded housing please!! The number of fires allowable in a school is ZERO. Look for UL certification labels.
  • Knockoffs. I was surprised to see copies of one of our products and some other top manufacturer’s products. Please don’t buy copies—it takes a lot of research and development to create a ground breaking product.

I am convinced that this is the beginning of a major trend towards standing desks that will improve our student’s health and learning outcomes. Check out emerging research on juststand.org.

By Pete Segar, CEO, Ergotron Inc., President, Nortek Ergonomics and Productivity Solutions


WorkFit-A, Platinum: Life Changer for a Creative

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Creative folks want the ultimate freedom — to do things in their own unique way. Meet Justin, a graphic designer applying his magic to branding projects across the nation. Only problem: a traditional seated workstation was cramping his style, both physically and creatively. 

With the new WorkFit-A workstation, Justin now has the option to stand up and create whenever he likes throughout the day. He notes that his work has improved, his body feels better, and his tension is gone.  He also appreciates the WorkFit’s amazing functionality and design. It’s been a life changer for him. 

Want that same freedom to sit or stand? See Justin’s story

Brand on!

Ergotron Named Winner of Two Tech & Learning Awards


Great ed-tech news! Ergotron was recognized by Tech & Learning Magazine with two Award of Excellence designations for innovative solutions to aid student health and academic performance in our schools.  Products honored were the new-category creating, mobile Ergotron LearnFit™ Standing Desk for students, and the Anthro wall-mountable YES Charging Cabinet that powers up mini-laptops in cramped classrooms and media centers.

Tech & Learning’s prestigious Awards of Excellence program recognizes innovative technologies that break new ground as education tools. Winners are selected by panels of professional users, editors and a panel of more than 30 educator judges who tested hundreds of products for their quality, effectiveness, and ease or creative use of technology.

White House requests $700k for standing desks


America: Stand Beside Her and Guide Her
If the recent White House requisition for standing desks proves anything, it’s that the quest for a healthier lifestyle is not divided along partisan lines. Prominent public figures known to use standing desks include Donald Rumsfeld, Winston Churchill, Oliver Wendell Homes, Jr., and Benjamin Franklin. Notable writers who stood include Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and Oscar Hammerstein II.

Predictably, the US government support of sit-stand desks has come in the form of modeling best practices rather than by mandate by law. Our safety standards for office workers tend to be conservative when compared to the European Union, which considers height adjustable standing desks an ergonomic necessity.

The Thousand Dollar Toilet Seat
It should come as no surprise that some citizens are crying out that the expense is too great and the money better spent on other necessities. An outlay of $700,000 over 5 years does sound excessive; even when broken down over 60 months it comes to $11,666.666, which apart from anything else is not an auspicious series of digits.

How will government workers benefit from this expenditure? Is the standing desk just another symptom of government running off with our collective check book? Are we figuratively flushing good money after bad? I don’t think so. Several independent researchers have found that an effective sit-stand desk such as Ergotron’s WorkFit line can reduce sedentary time by 50% per day among average knowledge workers. Given the documented harmful effects of sitting too much, this translates as a reduced risk for muscular skeletal and cardio metabolic risks for employees.

Fig. 1 Harmful effects of sitting


Let Freedom Ring

While reducing risks associated with sedentary time promotes health and wellbeing, there is a less concrete benefit that was first verified in the land of our forefathers: Great Britain. The Whitehall study was originally designed to prove that people in higher levels of management were more stressed than those they managed. As it turns out, the lower you are on the company ladder, the more stress you’re liable to experience.

What accounts for fewer health concerns among executives? One explanation is autonomy. People who have no choice in the tasks they do, and when they do them, suffer from a lack of decision latitude that can severely limit their performance and productivity.

On the other hand, people in offices who were given sit-stand desks were able to exercise some control over the way they worked with the simple choice to change postures at will. It came as some surprise to researchers that something as simple as this could elevate mood, energy and concentration!

Crown Thy Good With Brotherhood
With evidence-based data showing adjustable standing desks can help mitigate sitting-related diseases AND enhance performance and productivity, the American government, indeed any government, is exactly the place where you want this investment made. Can’t you just picture it? A sit-stand attachment on the President’s desk in the Oval Office? History in the making…

carrie s_a-hr

Carrie Schmitz, Sr. Manager of Ergonomic & Wellness Research at Ergotron (@giveafig)


Counter-balanced sit-stand for employee well being

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I just read a very practical research review article in Ergonomics in Design entitled, “Is Standing the Solution to Sedentary Office Work?” by Jack P. Callaghan, et. al.  It provides a suggested ratio of 1:1 alternating between sitting and standing, with no more than 15 minutes of standing at a time.  That is good practical guidance supported by a number of research studies.

This is certainly consistent with one of the basic tenets of ergonomics, that frequent re-positioning aids comfort by avoiding repetitive stress or static overload.  However, for a typical knowledge worker that computes for six or more hours per day, this means moving between sitting and standing positions 24 times per day.

Is this reasonable?  It depends on the desk.  When one is using an electric desk, the workflow is interrupted by waiting for the desk to reach the proper ergonomic position to start computing again. An electric desk that takes 20 sec to re-position will waste a total of 8 minutes per day if it is re-positioned according to the guidelines.

In American Journal of Preventative Medicine, an article by Dr. Lucas Carr et al. entitled “Cross-sectional Examination of Long-term Access to Sit–Stand Desks in a Professional Office Setting” observed Swedish call center workers with access to counterbalanced spring or electric hoist sit–stand desks for a longer, albeit unknown, duration, and concluded, “It is possible that use of sit–stand desks declines over time and is dependent upon lift type, as more convenient lifts may translate to greater standing.”

This is one of the main reasons why I believe a counterbalanced workstation (where the weight is supported by a spring lift mechanism), promotes health more effectively than an electric desk.  A good counterbalanced desk can be re-positioned virtually instantly, and can be done without disturbing the worker’s thought process. If the worker perceives the effort of re-positioning is too great, they will revert back to sedentary behaviors and begin sitting for longer periods of time, or perhaps standing all the time and experiencing leg or back discomfort.

Wellness experts advise that when you start standing, aim to start in small regular intervals, rather than forcing yourself to stand all day for the first day. The aim should be to get to the point where you can spend half of your working day standing within four weeks.  This can be accomplished with a gradually increasing schedule of standing from 10 minutes per hour in Week 1, to 20 minutes each hour in Week 2 and finally 30 minutes per hour by Week 3. If you experience fatigue or discomfort, ease off a bit. A counter-balanced workstation allows the worker to accomplish this, by easily moving as the worker moves. The workstation becomes an extension of the worker, without a lot of thought need to keep it working with them.

Electric desks still excel for very heavy weights, and highly variable loads; however for a normal office worker with dual or triple monitors and normal levels of paperwork, a counterbalanced desk is going to be substantially easier and quicker to lift and lower, and therefore will be more effective promoting comfort. Furthermore, they do not require electrical power, and are quieter.

Some people will continue to sit longer than 15 to 30 minutes. Some will continue to stand more than two to 30 minutes. But whichever position they are in, switching to the next position can be, and should be, instantaneous.

By Pete Segar, CEO, Ergotron Inc., President, Nortek Ergonomics and Productivity Solutions


Say Hello! to our lightest medical cart yet


Nurses, you asked and we listened! The StyleView® SV10 cart is the simple solution when a full-blown computer cart isn’t necessary – perfect for EMR and telehealth applications. Ergotron and Anthro combined their deep experience in healthcare to design a streamlined cart that delivers the quality nurses and IT have come to expect from us. The SV10 cart is big enough to get the job done, but small enough to fit into tight quarters like exam rooms, roll right up to a patient’s bedside, or stow in a closet! Easy.

Effortlessly move each cart to the point of need, securely accommodate your device, and position it for comfortable data entry and screen viewing. The carts offer 15″ (38 cm) of effortless vertical height adjustment so you can sit or stand as you work.

Choose from these THREE models to match your device:

StyleView® Laptop Cart, SV10 securely holds your laptop and locks it in place!

StyleView® Tablet Cart, SV10 positions your device screen at the perfect angle!

Or for Microsoft Surface users, the StyleView® S-Tablet Cart, SV10 has an innovative magnetic attachment which holds the screen where you want it.

Want to add power to the SV10 cart? Need to attach a scanner to it? No problem. Customize the SV10 cart with the accessories you need. (See product pages for details.)

Whether it is a light-weight cart like the SV10, or a fully loaded med transfer cart, finding the solution is easier than you think. Try our Medical Cart Finder for your best fit.

Celebrate 10th Annual National Health IT Week


Happy Healthcare IT Week! In honor of this milestone anniversary, we reiterate our commitment to advancing health IT. Here’s how Ergotron does its little part to keep HCAHPS scores up.

The first three questions on the HCAHPS survey have to do with nurse/patient experience. So, what if a nurse or caregiver is physically fatigued and that impacts how they interact with patients? What if fatigue leads to being distracted and modifying or limiting certain activities? Nurses have one of the most physically and mentally challenging jobs in America, and are a super-human selfless race that puts the care of others ahead of themselves. There are little things that we can do to help make a difference with nurse fatigue.

In a recent survey, it was reported that nurses spend 3.5 hours per 10-hour shift doing documentation at a computer workstation; 49% of nurses report feeling some level of discomfort during that time.

The 3.5 hours that a nurse spends documenting throughout a shift should not contribute to nurse fatigue, but rather should be a relief point for caregivers. Wrist and neck injuries related to digital documentation are preventable with a properly ergonomic computer work station. Whether it’s mounted on a wall or on a cart, a computer workstation should be intuitively adjustable by the nurse, and done so in a way that encourages the nurse to actually make the custom adjustments to keyboards/mice and LCD monitors. And these adjustments need to require very little effort or force from the nurse. The documentation workstation should not lead to further exertion and musculoskeletal injuries, but rather make the act of documentation a positive experience for our bodies.

When asked for your input on which computer workstations your hospital should adopt, whether it’s a computer on wheels or wall mount work station, make sure that it has a full 20” of height adjustability to accommodate the maximum amount of body sizes in either a seated or standing position, be sure that it has an adjustable keyboard tray with negative tilt, be sure that it takes very little pushing, pulling, lifting or lowering force, and be sure that it brings the documentation right into the logical point of need and use.

So, how does Ergotron fit into all of this?

  • Ergotron mobile computer carts and wall-mounted documentation stations are designed to create positive patient experiences and to facilitate achieving patient engagement objectives.
  • Delivering EMR’s into the natural triangle of care is part of the solution – helping caregivers care for themselves and reducing nurse fatigue is the other part of the solution that helps lead to higher patient satisfaction.
  • Ergotron mobile telemedicine carts are flexible and practical tools for helping with population management objectives, improving quality of care, creating multiple patient touch-points and expanding services and service areas.
  • Ergotron products are anthropometrically and ergonomically designed to include all the features that nurses ask for, and all the conveniences and dependability that IT requires.

Do you love health IT, too? Here are 10 ways for you to celebrate Health IT Week!

October – Worldwide Month of Ergonomics

Ergonomics Month

The International Ergonomics Association (IEA), an international federation of ergonomics and human factors societies around the world, has designated October to be a Worldwide Month of Ergonomics!

Break out the party hats and balloons? Why not! Raising people’s awareness about the importance of good ergonomics goes a long way to preventing pain and combating rising healthcare costs.

We’ll be offering up some tips of our own throughout the month (on the blog and via @ergotron on Twitter) focused on how to make computing more comfortable. Until then, take the first step today by checking the ergonomic fitness of your workstation. Confetti is optional.

American Diabetes Assoc. Recognizes Healthy Workplaces


Does your company or organization inspire and champion a culture of wellness? If so, the American Diabetes Association wants to salute you!

The ADA is recognizing efforts to engage employees or members in healthy living with a new workplace Health Champion Designation. It’s like a wellness “perk” awarded for meeting criteria in nutrition and weight management, physical activity, and organizational wellbeing.

The Health Champion Designation application is open until October 31, 2015.

Learn more here