Category Archives: Work/Life Balance

Sit vs. Stand Webinar – June 5, 2013

Sit v Stand

Join Ergotron’s Wendy McCubbin, aka @workfitwendy and Sr. Manager, Worksite Wellness, and Humantech’s Christy Lotz, Managing Consultant and Ergonomics Engineer, on Wednesday, June 5, for this complimentary webinar:

Sit vs. Stand: What’s the Best Ergonomic Design?

Ergotron is sponsoring this Humantech webinar, which tackles the question: “To sit, or not to sit?” Does one scenario offer better ergonomics over the other?  Since June also happens to be National Employee Wellness Month, it is fitting to discuss a topic that has been debated across all industries—from industrial, to laboratory, to office environments. Prolonged sitting promotes a lack of whole-body muscle movement while prolonged standing leads to fatigue and swelling in the legs. With obvious pros and cons for both, it is difficult to take a stand against one or the other.

This free, 45-minute webinar will teach you how and when to design for appropriate seated and standing workstations based on critical design features and ergonomic design guidelines.

Sign up for this popular event! It is being offered at 11:00 AM ET and 2:00 PM ET but space is filling up fast so REGISTER today.

 

Put the glass down and push that chair away: Simple spins on minimizing stress each day!

Sit less. Stand more. Start now. The question, “Is your glass half-full or half-empty?” is one of those nasty little clichés that you don’t want to be asked when life’s daily grind starts getting you down.

It’s inevitable, though, right?

No matter how full your glass is each day, the grind will get you down. So the better question might be, how can you reduce the stress induced by the daily grind so you can maintain that ‘my glass is half-full’ mentality each day?

Here’s a great little nugget my dad shared with me. Thank you “Author Unknown.”

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading a talk and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’… She fooled them all. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. 

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm.

“If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden–holding stress longer and better each time practiced.”

~ Author Unknown

In my role as “WorkFit Evangelista” @WorkFitWendy, people always ask, “Why is it so important to reduce sitting time and stand up now and then?” So I quickly jump into “according to researchers”, and deliver the science with passion! Since I’m always looking for ways to keep the recipients of my message engaged with the science of it all, this little nugget kind of serves as a great analogy.

It’s not just the act of sitting that puts our bodies at risk; it’s how much of it we do each day that puts our bodies under stress.

Reduce the stress and other health risks you put your body under each day by adding more standing breaks into your daily routine. You’ll ramp up metabolism, burn more calories, increase muscle tone, improve blood flow and boost oxygen levels to your brain!

@workfitwendy

 

 

 

 

Wendy McCubbin
Sr. Wellness Manager, Ergotron

P.S:  Grr–my apologies, folks, was hoping that I could end the blog there, but I just…can’t…do… it…!! 

Sitting time adds up quickly. Really quickly. Increasing your risk for the chronic illnesses linked to what metabolic researchers call “Sitting Disease.” See just how quickly for yourself—calculate the amount of sitting you do each day using the nifty cool sitting calculator on juststand.org. Disclaimer: Enter at your own risk. This nifty cool calculator also calculates your risk for developing Sitting Disease!

Active people, also beware! “We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not do enough to counteract the detrimental effects of eight, nine, or 10 hours of sitting” says Genevieve Healy, Ph.D., world-renowned metabolic researcher AND the research keynote for the 3rd Annual JustStand™ Wellness Summit, July 17, 2013.

Because heart health matters…

Ergotron CMO Jane Payfer is getting her Heart Walk spirit on in preparation for the MN American Heart Association Heart Walk May 19 at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.

Over 90 Ergotron employees and their families will be hitting the field to support healthier hearts, many citing how cardiovascular disease and stroke has impacted their family and friends.

Ergotron’s commitment to healthier lives extends to supporting health organizations like the American Heart Association to help better understand the true impact just “standing more” has on a person’s current and long-term health.

Introducing healthy movement back into the work routine of an at risk person’s day is one way to ease them into a healthier, active lifestyle. Click here to learn more about Ergotron’s sponsorship of the American Heart Association.

Ergotron will have a booth in the Blue Concourse at Target Field. Stop by to learn more about how standing more throughout your day helps to increase metabolism, blood flow, even caloric burn. We will have some WorkFit units for you to demo, and you can put your name in to win one yourself!

Not heading out for the event? Follow Ergotron (@ergotron) and all the Twin Cities walkers on Twitter with #TCHeartwalk. You can also catch FOX9 News reporter Todd Walker reporting live from the Ergotron booth at 8:30 AM. Or, see the pictures on Ergotron’s Facebook page during and after the event. 

And if you see a yellow juststand.org sticker like the one on Jane’s back above? Don’t hesitate to stop and ask what it is all about. Your life, and your loved ones life, may be better for it! 

 

Back to school dorm tech even moms will love…

Michelle Judd, Sr. Marketing Manager @ Ergotron

Have you been observing this wonderful season of back to school negotiation for students and parents in the department stores over the last few weeks?

Wandering through the gear department stores churn out designed to win the Good Housekeeping cool dorm seal of approval, they compare prices and haggle over wants vs. needs. I’ve personally seen a rise in requests for “must haves” in tricking out the dorm in my daily HARO and am not surprised to see sites like this one featuring Dorm Room Decorating in 2011.

It got me thinking. How will the student mount that new laptop or computer or the new TV that they got for graduation? Who is taking care of the hardware?

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Sitting disease a global concern

This past March in Melbourne, the Australia Heart Foundation’s 2011 Conference, “Heart to Heart: from Access to Action” hosted leading international and Australian presenters offering critical clinical, research and public health issue perspectives on cardiovascular disease.

Not surprising, workplace wellness was on the agenda.

ABC News in Australia recently covered the conference in Sit less to lower heart disease, citing research that proves “sitting for long periods can be dangerous to health, even when people exercise regularly, increasing the risk of heart disease and other conditions by 80 percent.”

Among the researchers, Professor Marc HamiltonPennington Biomedical Research Center. “There are molecules in the body that are very potently invoked when we sit even over short durations,” Hamilton said. Regardless of body weight changes or regular exercise, sitting too long, especially all day at work, has harmful risks associated with it.

Also presenting at the conference, Dame Carol Black, the UK’s first National Director for Health and Work. The UK government is working together with employers and health professional groups to create a Health, Work and Wellbeing initiative.

It is terrific to see the concern and action by the world’s government and healthcare professionals to address workplace health, especially as it relates to Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), or, as in the Fit For Work Europe Coalition’s work, the impact of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) on an individuals ability to work and ultimate impact on their workplace and society as a whole.

Take a look at the international CVD statistics just to get some perspective. According to World Health Organization (WHO), in 2005 an estimated 17.5 million people died of CVD; 30 percent of all deaths globally.

Wow.

If standing up to answer the phone at work periodically can help? Do it! 

 

Chair-raising Office Horrors

The neighborhood wasn’t unfamiliar to me; in the last dozen years, there had been a handful of calls. What struck me as strange was the building itself. Not an apartment or a hotel or even a store, but a slick new rehab that had been gutted and rebuilt from the red brick walls on in. There was nothing to betray it as one of the hundreds of tenement buildings formerly located on the lower-east side of the city.

In all, some 7,000 people had occupied this 2,500 foot space. Of course, they were distributed vertically over six stories and historically over 150 years. No surprise then that the building’s current residents were experiencing a haunting. Ten months ago, just a few blocks down, on Orchard, I had experienced one of the most terrifying experiences of my professional career, when the ghosts of a civil war widow and her 12 children decided to come out from under the floor boards of a long-abandoned cistern. As I walked up the steps to the front entrance, I whistled softly to calm my nerves. Heck of a thing, being afraid of ghosts in my business.
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The 411 on laptop ergonomics

Carrie Schmitz, Office Ergonomics Consultant & Engineering Publications Manager @ Ergotron

After years of escalating sales, the popularity of portable computers (laptops, notebooks and tablet PCs) has reached an all-time high. And while desktops will always have a place in the computer market, it’s clear that with people increasingly on-the-go, computer use has expanded well beyond the brick and mortar walls of the traditional office. 

Minute for minute, I know I spend more time with my laptop than I do with any member of my family. I worry more about my laptop’s operating condition than I do about my own health. 

And what does my laptop do for me? 

At best, it allows me to get my work done and “earn my daily bread.” At worst, it is a source of frustration, fatigue and even pain. Clearly, this is a love/hate relationship. 
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The secret life of work from home ergonomics

“Darn it, Carrie, you know better!”

That’s what ran through my mind the other day when I woke up with a very sore, stiff neck. As an office ergonomic consultant, I knew exactly why I had the problem, but I have to admit that when I was doing the thing that caused it, I was not thinking at all. I was just doing.

And here’s the reason why: it was because I was working from home.

For some reason, those sound ergonomic rules that we follow in the office can easily be ignored when we work from home, almost as if working at home isn’t really working.

And while I have everything I need to make an ergonomic workstation in my living room (a cozy spot near the fireplace and in front of the television), I didn’t use it to full advantage because I was only planning to work for a couple hours that evening. If I ever needed proof that just two hours in the wrong posture can result in days of pain and reduced movement, this experience did it.

What went wrong?

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3 Main Causes of Computer Related Discomfort

Carrie Schmitz, Office Ergonomics Consultant & Engineering Publications Manager @ Ergotron

measuring-stick-3-bears-002Shooting pains in the wrist and hand, numb elbows, cramped feet, fingers that tingle, stiff, aching neck and shoulders, lower back or jaw pain, blurred vision, itchy eyes, and lack of energy at the end of the day.

These are the symptoms I hear commonly from people when evaluating their computer work stations. In some cases, I’m consulting with a person who has already sought medical attention and may be undergoing therapy to relieve their pain and regain mobility. The way back to health can be a frustrating process that alienates you from your own body, and the irony is, it is neglect of the basic things our bodies require when at work, that gets us to that point in the first place.

Personal experience has taught me that tracing the negative affects of computer use to the source is critical to long term comfort and productivity. But computer related stress and strain isn’t necessarily due to a single condition, and usually happens over a period of months and even years.

Aside from pre-existing medical conditions, there are three main causes for the symptoms described above:

  • Incorrect Position of Computer Components
  • Prolonged Static Loading
  • Inadequate Rest

Understanding the way these factors interrelate is the key to preventing them from impacting your health and retaining your value as an employee – no small thing in today’s economy. Let’s take a closer look at each, keeping in mind that both the problems, and solutions act together.

PROBLEM: Incorrect Position of Computer Components

SOLUTION: Set-up Computer Components According to Neutral Posture

The first thing to know about setting up your computer is that it’s all about YOU. Don’t let the anthropometric charts confuse you – their primary function is to help designers and engineers create products that fit a defined segment of the population.

Instead, think about your body as a unique blueprint for the design of your computer space. You want to place your computer components to support your body in a neutral posture, that is, where the least amount of stress and strain is experienced. Whether sitting or standing, once you learn to recognize your neutral posture, the monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair locations extend logically from that.

Notice in the illustration below how each part of your body relates to a computer component.

neutral posture sitting text

 

More specific recommendations for computer components can be found at this link.

http://www.computingcomfort.org/educate.asp

PROBLEM: Prolonged Static Loading

SOLUTION: Movement: Blink, Breath, Stretch

 

Static loading is another way of saying “staying still” and it is a major contributor to muscle fatigue and resulting stress. Working in front of a computer screen can cause your eyes to blink less often, making them dry and blurry. When you’re focused on your work, your breathing may become shallow, and you may forget to stay hydrated.

Simple movements and stretching help the body rid itself of the poisonous by-products of muscle metabolism. Don’t work for more than 20 minutes without taking a “breather” of 1-2 minutes for active rejuvenation. Stand up during phone calls or meetings, get up for a glass of water, stretch and shake your limbs. Move at every opportunity and create opportunities to move.

If you want to investigate the benefits of standing at your computer desk, follow this link.

 http://www.umsystem.edu/ums/departments/ur/interact/?p=174

For simple stretches designed for office workers, click the link below.

http://internalapps.ergotron.com/aspfordnn/cci/site/lit/routine-poster.pdf

PROBLEM: Inadequate Rest

SOLUTION: Establish Regular Periods of Rest

Regular periods of rest can compensate for the negative affects of faulty posture and static loading. Even if every aspect of your work space and routine were perfect, your body would still require rest. Ergonomists recommend 15 minutes of rest after every 2 hours on task. Don’t feel compelled to prove that you’re a model employee by being a SPUD (seat planted under desk). Ask you employer to explain the break rules where you work, and take advantage of every minute.

To read the US Department of Labor regulations on breaks, click on the link, below.

http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/workhours/breaks.htm

Computer related discomfort isn’t limited to office workers any more. Students and retirees who spend more than two hours a day on the computer are reporting similar symptoms – especially those who use laptops or small-scale computing devices.

If there’s any good news to report, it’s that preventing stiffness, pain and loss of motion requires the same approach as those outlined above: Neutral Posture, Motion and Rest remain the best ways head-off the 3 main causes of computer related discomfort.

Remember that the best solution for you centers around your own body, the work you do and the environment in which you use the computer. Let your body be your guide to comfortable computing.

For more information on comfortable computing, visit our website:

http://www.computingcomfort.org/

Strategic thinker or reactive doer? The grocery bag approach

Daneen Kiger, Marketing Director – Global Channel Operations @ Ergotron

daneenAs I was writing to my team a few weeks ago, thanking them for their efforts over the last several months, I shared a story that just might be relevant to you. Everyone had been working extremely hard. And as I looked at the numbers over the past year, it felt good to know that we were a part of that….the communications/collateral that we drive, the events that we get involved with, the trainings that we do, the programs that we are driving…no wonder we feel tired sometimes. It can seem like we do so much through a vacuum. Where’s the time for strategy and fine tuning?

Last week, I took all the papers/folders off my desk, threw them into a grocery bag and sat at my sons’ sports practices and I went through it all.

My grocery bag approach

My grocery bag approach

At least two inches of paper ended up in a recycle bin later on. Two inches! But as I looked through all these things that I had printed over the past several months, it put something into perspective for me.

I’m not going to be able to do everything that I’d like to do.

The things that I am doing on a day to day basis are what is important right now. Yes. And while I would love to sit and read the latest channel magazine, truth is, I haven’t had the time. Fine tuning partner site messages, fine tuning processes and process docs. They all have their time dependant on their place in the priorities list. Some things, I realized, where just nice-to-haves. Not worth delegating, just a “note to self” for future reference. Some things, I realized, I need to MAKE the time. And some things, yes, I could delegate.

I could go on and on since I know that we all have these kinds of piles on our desk.  But it felt good to purge and to sort; it felt good to reprioritize my list and to analyze the gaps in my own approach to the list and my job. Sure, it is important to get something done during our days. But after last week I decided that I need to try to carve out time in my week (or month) to read that channel issue, to make those networking calls, or set some new best practices. To make sure that I spend a little time each week on being a strategic thinker instead of a reactive doer.  The opportunity cost of time. It was a really good awareness.

Later I did a Google search on time management and after going through a few sites, MindToolsTM has a great amount of information and even has a downloadable toolkit to dive into and get busy! (sign up for their newsletter to receive that) I loved their motto – Work Smarter. Take Control of Your Workload.

You’d think after managing a team of twelve people and a family of five I would know how to manage my time. Ah well, some days a little extra guidance is always appreciated.

What’s your “grocery bag” experience of effective time management?