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Awareness, Office health and safety

How to stay fit with a desk job

When around 81% of UK office workers spend between four and nine hours sitting at desks each day, a sedentary lifestyle and a poor office set-up is something we’ve gotten used to. But, it shouldn’t have to be this way. It’s now more important than ever to know how to stay fit with a desk job. Here’s how you can create a healthier and fitter working day.  

Walk where you can

If you’re lucky enough to live close to your workplace, try walking in a few days a week. A good twenty-minute, half-hour or full-hour walk a couple of  a week will do wonders for your fitness. Not only that, you’ll be helping the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. If you can’t walk in, then why not park a bit further away to give yourself more walking time. Work on the third or top floor? Ditch the lift and use the stairs. Before you’ve even got to your desk, you can burn some extra calories. 

Walking breaks and lunch breaks

If you work more than six hours a day, you have a right to one uninterrupted 20-minute rest break during the working day, whether it’s for lunch or a brew. Many employers allow one hour for lunches with time for breaks during the day. Use these breaks to stretch the legs, go out for a walk or do some exercise. 

Sit-stand desks

Sit-stand desks are perfect for helping with posture and stretching the legs. These clever desks are adjustable, so you can switch between tasks that need to be done sitting down or when you need to change your position and increase circulation. You can also get anti-fatigue mats for standing desks to reduce pain, stress or discomfort from standing on a hard floor for a long period of time. Balance boards are made for standing desks to increase energy expenditure by 19.2% compared to sitting which means you actually burn calories. They can also increase your heart rate by 15%.  

Exercises at the desk

When at the desk, there are a range of stretches and exercises you can do to make your working day a little more active. 

Desk stretches

  • Sitting back extensions: Sit straight with feet together, putting the palms of your hands into the small of your back, before leaning back over your hands to feel your lumbar stretch out 
  • Prayer stretches: Start on your hands and knees with your hands in front of your knees. You then slowly lower your bottom towards your feet until you feel a mild to moderate stretch through your mid to lower back area. Hold this stretch for around 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat three to five times
  • Seated lateral trunk stretches: In a seated position, lift one arm over your head whilst placing the other hand on your thigh. Slowly, bend towards the opposite side where your hand is on your thigh until you feel a stretch along the side of your trunk (torso) and hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat three to five times on each side
  • Seated knee to chest stretches: Whilst sitting in your chair, lift one knee up to your chest so you can reach it with your hands. Use both hands to pull the knee, bending it upward, placed against your chest until you feel a slight stretch in the lumbar region and at the back of your hip. Hold the position for around 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat it three to five times with each knee
  • Seated spinal rotations: Cross your arms over your chest whilst seated, then grab your shoulders. From there, rotate your upper body from the waist, turning gently from left to right. You should feel a tension on both sides of your lower back as it stretches out

Desk exercises

  • Under-desk elliptical or exercise bike: Kill two birds with one stone and get an elliptical or exercise bike under the desk to work those leg muscles
  • Chair balance disc: This is great for standing or sitting. For balancing when standing, stand on one foot on the balance disc for 30 seconds, then switch feet and repeat
  • Leg lifts and ankle weights: Type away up top and let your legs get some exercise in for you below the desk. Strap on some leg weights and do some leg raises every hour or so
  • Exercise ball: Bring in an exercise ball to act as your chair for a while, and engage your core, this will also help with good posture 
  • Seat squeeze: Multitask away by sorting your emails and doing a glute exercise. Squeeze the buttocks and hold for 5-10 seconds before releasing. Repeat this until you feel your glutes tire
  • Desk squat: When using a standing desk, add a squat into the mix. Or, even if you’re sitting, take a squat break. Bend the knees slightly so the thighs are almost parallel to the ground, and as you bend down, raise your arms straight up towards the computer screen. Keep knees together and aligned and hold for 15 seconds and release. Repeat for four or five reps
  • Thigh squeezes: Use a ream of paper or a sealed package of paper to place between the knees when sat down. Press the legs inward and continue squeezing the paper ream for 30-60 seconds; this will work your thighs

Healthy snacks and hydration

As tempting as it may be to have a drawer full of goodies, if you’re working on how to stay fit at your desk, then don’t put all that hard work to waste by scoffing too much chocolate and sweets. Review your snacking options; opt for fruit, protein bars, boiled eggs, carrots and dip, nuts and rye bread. 

We should be drinking six to eight glasses of fluid a day – water, low-fat milk and sugar-free drinks all count. Make brews to up your water intake and have your own water bottle on the desk to stay hydrated throughout the day. Water can also help you burn more calories and can even help with suppressing appetite if consumed before meals – perfect for curbing cravings.

As well as your desk exercises, stretches, walking breaks and healthier snacks, you should also increase your activity levels outside of work. Plan in a run, walk or workout at the weekend, or when you’re cleaning, break out into a sweat, dancing to your favourite tunes. Now that we are at our desks more, it’s so important to keep active whenever we can. 

Awareness, Space Planning

How to prepare for indoor hospitality reopening

From the 17th May, indoor hospitality reopens, that means restaurants, pubs, bars (including those in hotels or members’ clubs), social clubs, cafes and canteens can allow people to sit and dine and drink. The government states that venues that are providing alcohol for consumption on the premises must also provide table service. Venues that don’t provide alcohol for consumption on the premises can allow customers to order from the counter, but food and drink must be consumed whilst seated. As a hospitality business, we’re sure you’ve been preparing for this date for quite a while, but we’ve got some tips on how to prepare for indoor hospitality reopening that you can come back to time and again for guidance.  

Capacity and social distancing

Firstly, you should figure out how many customers you can accommodate safely, and factor this in when offering booking options. This is important for both your customers and your staff, as well as making sure you adhere to COVID-secure guidelines. If your customers are anxious, they’re not going to want to come again. Review your seating plan and available space to see how many people can sit down with appropriate social distancing – you may have to adjust it, or make more room. For example, you may be able to fit in another table and set of dining or canteen chairs where that huge plant feature is. 

Online booking or walk-ins

Some businesses are only offering walk-ins instead of booking options, as they’re worried about parties not turning up or letting them down. Others are only accepting bookings to help with capacity management and to reduce any congestion or queues. It all depends on your business size, popularity and what works for you here. If you’re a well-known brand expecting a lot of custom, only accepting bookings is the best option. If you’re an independent business, you may find accepting both walk-ins and bookings works best for you. Just make sure you think about any potential queuing to guide social distancing.

Seating plan and waiting areas

If you are offering walk-ins, or even if your next party has turned up slightly early, think about a waiting area that makes everyone feel comfortable, not just physically. Make sure there is adequate room next to each sofa, or you can use multifunctional furniture so that different household groups are safely distanced. 

Toilets

Where are your toilets, and how accessible are they? If you are a small venue with only one toilet, then make sure there are clear signs to say this so people are more aware. Put down social distancing markers in case people have to queue. And, it goes without saying, make sure you have them well stocked with toilet roll and soap. Check and clean them regularly. Having a toilet cleaning log can help you keep track of how often they’re checked and cleaned, and this will also give a good impression to your customers. 

Consider takeaway options

Due to limited capacity and people still hesitant around indoor dining, don’t cut out your takeaway options. You can have the best of both worlds; allow bookings for indoor dining, and offer delivery or collection options. There are plenty of delivery and takeaway partners and apps out there for you to work with. 

Staff training

Make sure your staff are trained up for new ways of doing things, like making sure face coverings are worn. Your customers should also be wearing them when entering, exiting and using the toilets. Maybe you’ve introduced new technology for table service? Run a refresher training session to give your staff confidence in dealing with potential issues or customer questions. Think about customer concerns, as well as any potential problems or frustrated customers and how best to deal with them. Make sure everyone knows the new policies through and through. For instance, state how often they should be using hand sanitiser and how often the bar should be wiped down. 

Communicating with customers

Use your social media, email marketing, shop window and Google My Business (GMB) listing to keep people informed about your business, policies, opening hours, services and general updates. Social media is especially powerful to entice customers back. You can even run a competition to give away a free meal for two by requesting people like, comment, tag friends, and share the competition post on social media. 

Refine the menu

It’s been a while since your doors were allowed to open for the public, so easing back in with the right stock levels is important for your business. Customers understand this. You may need to refine the menu and focus on what you can get in and build it up again. A smaller menu doesn’t have to compromise on quality and amazing meals though. Having stock alerts is an effective way to keep on top of things too. As business grows, you can then review your menu, and it may be the perfect time to get creative and offer new dishes. 

Table service and technology

Table service is mandatory for venues offering alcohol for consumption on the premises, and food and drinks must be consumed whilst seated. Even if your venue doesn’t offer alcohol for consumption on the premises, table service is definitely a good idea to avoid people gathering at the counter. There’s also clever technology and apps out there that businesses can use for table service, allowing customers to order from an app – this works so well for larger hospitality businesses. There’s also systems like eatPOS that offer waiter tablets to better organise orders.   

Whatever your business size, in hospitality, it’s about refining those policies, menus and keeping your customers, and potential customers in the loop. Don’t forget your online channels to keep people updated with promotions, COVID-safety measures and new menus. Make people excited again, and make your business irresistible! 

For any help with dining or canteen seating, speak to our experienced team today. We’re always happy to answer any questions you have.

Awareness, Working from home, Workplace

How to provide for the hybrid worker

The future of work looks to be shifting to a hybrid approach. Many companies have already made the switch to a mixed model of remote working and office days. Employers have sought bigger office spaces to make work environments safer, as well as alternating office and work-from-home days. 

So, as the new hybrid worker emerges – or rather has emerged – what can you do as an employer to better provide for them?

Make sure technology and communication is consistent

One of the most important things to maintain with hybrid working is effective communication. In this day and age, we’re lucky to have so much technology at our fingertips to help with meetings, instant message colleagues, and share and edit documents at the same time. Messaging apps like Slack are made specifically for work communication and for companies with remote workers, allowing employees to chat, share documents easily and to call through the app. Whatever app you use, just make sure you stick to one. For virtual meetings, stick to one platform for this too, at least for your own business. Be adaptable when it comes to clients and customers as they may use other platforms.

Are you ensuring home workers are safely set up?

Did you know that employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for their homeworkers as they do for their office workers? The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has more guidance on this, but it’s all about taking into consideration your workers’ home environments and how suitable they are for the job. You also should be including home workers the same way you include onsite workers, meaning keeping them in the loop on social events (whether virtual or not) and general work communication to keep them motivated, feeling valued and to be able to do their job effectively. 

Work-from-home crate rectangular desk

With desk jobs and a poor office set-up, prolonged sitting is a significant health issue, so homeworkers need to have healthy and productive work stations at home. It all starts with a certified office chair. Make sure work-from-home seating is height-adjustable, with good lumbar support and ergonomic features that will allow workers to get the right positioning for good posture and to avoid eye strain. For homeworkers who may have limited space or unproductive home environments, work-from-home desks can give them a very productive and motivating space to get into work mode, whilst also providing a very good and healthy work set-up. 

Opt for larger office spaces and make them safer

Depending on your company size and how many you have in the office on certain days, you may need to upscale your office space to provide efficient social distancing. Air ventilation is also important. Natural lighting and windows are already features that workers very much appreciate, but now more than ever they are crucial to allow for better air circulation and comfortable work settings. Having your workers come into the office to be compacted in dark and musty environments is not only off-putting, but could get you reported for not following COVID-secure guidelines. If space is difficult or limited, social distancing protective screens can help, but if you do have the space, why not change and adapt to an open-plan layout or reorganise the work space to give more room for staff.

Keep mental health and wellbeing at the forefront

This pandemic has hit hard in many areas, from the tragic loss of lives to financial instability and isolation, driving a mental health pandemic in tandem. That’s why it’s so vital to consider your employees’ wellbeing and stress levels. The hybrid work approach allows for more flexibility, but the inconsistency can be an issue for some. When staff are working from home, make sure communication never becomes subpar, and when there are office days, that they are positive environments that help brighten up the working week. Social interactions are not to be undervalued or underestimated, so it’s worthwhile remembering that when moving to the hybrid work model. Make office days fun and maybe organise weekly or monthly online work quizzes or ‘memes of the week’ challenges – whatever can keep morale up.

Make the office irresistible

One thing employers have to contend with is the fact that many of their employees have gotten used to working from home and enjoying the flexibility that comes with it, including being surrounded by home comforts. The office now needs to entice workers back, so you need to make them as irresistible as can be; remind your staff of what they get in the office that they can’t at home. It may be the time for a fresh update. Whether it’s better office equipment, brighter walls, comfy office sofas, office pods, relaxation rooms, green office ideas, or hygge office design – the office can be the most productive and fun place. Just make sure you follow the guide to social distancing in the workplace.

Need to kit out your office with better seating, desking and equipment? Take a browse through our site right here at DBI Furniture Solutions, or contact our friendly, experienced team today!

Desks

9 great ways to personalise your office desks

Those of us confined to our office desks can end up spending a lot of time there; upwards of eight hours a day! Yet, we often don’t think to put our personal touches on them. Considering it’s almost a home away from home, it’s a good idea to personalise them and make them truly our own. Let’s talk about how we can do that.

1. Keepsakes and photos

When working, we always aim for the highest level of productivity, as we all want to get the jobs done to the best of our ability and with as much efficiency as possible. With that, it’s all about staying motivated. What better way to motivate us than to remind ourselves why we do what we do day in, day out?

At times, when our motivation dips, or if things get stressful and difficult, having a keepsake or photo of our loved ones nearby can get us smiling again. In fact, a photo could be of anything, not just of people, as in a funny memory, a place, a view or even your favourite TV show character. Looking over at something that’s cherished once in a while can keep us going at work. 

2. Unique and fun stationery

Stationery doesn’t have to be dull. A great way to personalise your office desk is to surround yourself with quirky stationery and office essentials that reflect your personality. So, you’re 30 and you love unicorns, so what? As they say, you’re only as young as you feel. If you want to get a mouse mat, sharpener and pencil collection that all show vibrant colours, unicorns and glittery designs, then go for it. This is where you spend so much of your time to do all your hard work, why not personalise things and make yourself happier. Whether it be bright colours, quirky prints, niche brands or colour-coordinated, your stationery’s style can reflect you, brighten your day and even motivate you with improved organisation.  

3. Stickers and skins

To really put your stamp on your desk and even your laptop or computer, you can decorate them with stickers and skins. Laptop skins are a brilliant way to show off your personality and style. There are skins you can get for your headphones, phone, tablet, speakers, and even drones. It’s about time we got more funky office desks, and with stickers and skins, you can add your personal touch to all sorts of office accessories

4. Desk planners and diaries

Desk planners, calendars and diaries can be life-savers, especially when your schedule’s getting hectic. With your own desk planner, you can be on top of all that life has to throw at you. Errands, reminders, to-do lists, shopping lists and task notes can all be in one place. Sometimes work and life can be hard to separate; so a personal diary, calendar and planner can do wonders for your organisation and productivity. 

5. Adding a touch of nature

Bringing the outdoors in can lift our moods. The positive benefits of plants indoors are endless. From helping alleviate stress and increasing productivity, to helping clean the air and improve people’s wellbeing, plants – whether on our desk or near to us – keep us in touch with nature. It’s also another way to personalise our work spaces. Having something we can nurture from our desks, something we can keep an eye on, helps us with our motivation and overall sense of satisfaction. Plants in the office also form part of a more eco-friendly workplace – and there’s a range of green office ideas to help inspire you.

6. Having a chair that’s comfortable for you

Spending lots of time in a sedentary position doesn’t do our health any good. In fact it can do serious damage and even increase our chances of premature mortality. Alongside taking regular breaks and increasing movement, it’s crucial you get the correct office seating in place. Ergonomic chairs are perfect for helping with our posture, for lumbar support and for correcting positions to our screens. Make sure you can adjust the height to work for your desk set-up; you don’t want to be causing eye strain. 

7. Whiteboards, notice boards and sticky notes

You can get cute little noticeboards and whiteboards these days; another great way to personalise your office space. Sticky notes on your walls, in books and documents can remind you of goals, tasks and important information. Find some that fit your style. You may even give yourself tasks that are fun for the day on your whiteboard with a little picture to make your working days more exciting. 

8. Desk puzzles and games

For those times when we get stressed or brain fog sets in, a break with a puzzle or game to stimulate our brains can work wonders. Not only can they take us away from a problem-focused task for a while, they can get our cogs working again, and when we come back to a problem, we may have a different approach or even a eureka moment. 

9. Snack station

A great, motivating fuel for us is snacks! Your desk could be the envy of all desks with a goody tray or snack station. A sugar hit could be just what you need in an afternoon slump (all in moderation, of course). You can also use them as rewards for getting things ticked off on your to-do list.

Personalising your office desks can be a fun task; you can be as creative and imaginative as you want, whatever makes your working days more enjoyable and productive for you. You just need the perfect office desk for you, that’s where we’ve got you covered. Contact our friendly team today for help with choosing the right one. 

Chairs, Working from home

Is your office chair certified?

How can you tell if your office chair is actually safe and well-made? There’s more to an office chair than how good it looks and how comfortable you feel. We’ve compiled the relevant legislation and British Standards that work seating should meet.

What is the UK legislation on workplace seating?

There are a number of regulations and acts workplace seating should abide by, including:

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974: Because employers have a duty to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for their employees, seating at work should not be hazardous or endanger the health and safety of staff. Workers should know how to use them correctly with clear instructions; this means seating suppliers and manufacturers should make safe products that follow the British Standards 
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992: It is required under Regulation 11 that each worker has a suitable seat for work that must be done sitting – whether all of the work is done sitting or a substantial part of it
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992: Seating is referenced when talking about the health and safety of DSE and VDUs (visual display units) with stress on how work seating should not be poor and should support eye levels, good posture and positioning
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992: This also gives guidance on handling and moving goods whilst seated 
  • Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996: This legislations requires employers to consult their staff, or elected representatives, on issues affecting their health and safety  
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998: Employers have a duty to provide working equipment that is maintained in an efficient and safe state with seating regarded as work equipment under these regulations
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999: Under this legislation, employers and those self-employed both have a duty to assess risks to health and safety, including risks associated with seating. The duty holder must identify the measures that are needed to be implemented to comply with health and safety needs

What about working from home?

Home office workstation and office chair

We’ve seen a drastic rise in the number of homeworkers recently, but what obligations do employers have for their work-from-home staff? Well, they have the same health and safety responsibilities for homeworkers as they do for any other workers. That means checking in on them often, making sure their home working environments are safe and that they will not come to harm or injury from work-related tasks. 

The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has guidance for employers on how to protect homeworkers and those who do lone working. They stress the importance of keeping in touch and supervising staff and to be constantly evaluating their risks. Training, supervising and monitoring should not be compromised, and as an employer, you still have to follow the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to manage the risk to lone workers.

When it comes to seating, task chairs need to be durable, safe and supportive of lumbar and posture. Just like office chairs, they should follow British Standards to ensure they are safe to work on.

The British Standards related to seating at work

So, what British Standards should work seating meet? HSE’s seating at work guidance has in its appendix the relevant British Standards to seating at work:

  • BS 2543: 1995: Woven and knitted fabrics for upholstery
  • BS 3044: 1990: Ergonomics principles in the design and selection of office furniture
  • BS 3379: 1991 (amend 2): Flexible polyurethane cellular materials for load-bearing applications
  • BS 4875: 2001: Strength and stability of furniture: Requirements for the strength and durability of the structure of domestic and contract seating
  • BS 5459: 2000 (amend 2): Performance requirements and tests for office furniture: Office pedestal seating for use by persons weighing up to 150 kg and for use up to 24 hours a day, including type – approval tests for individual components
  • BS 5852: 1990 (amend 2): Methods of test for assessment of the ignitability of upholstered seating by smouldering and flaming ignition sources
  • BS 5940: 1990: Office furniture: Specification for design and dimensions of office workstations, desks, tables and chairs
  • BS EN ISO 9241: 1999: Ergonomic requirements for office work with visual display terminals (VDTs). Part 5: Workstation layout and postural requirements
  • BS EN 1335-2: 2018: Specifies safety, strength and durability requirements for office work chairs based on use of eight hours a day by persons weighing up to 110kg, assessing strength of materials, stability and mechanics
  • BS EN 1335-1: 2020: Specifies dimensions of three types of office chairs along with test methods for their determination

How to tell if your office chair is certified

Upholstery and fabrics on task chairs should come with an ignitability sign (normally a cigarette symbol) to show their safety and testing. Look for product details and specifications and if information isn’t explicit on their testing against British Standards, don’t hesitate to enquire. Many brands don’t list them, as it’s a general requirement for the products to be on the market. However, not all products have been tested and up to date, so do check. 

Fortunately, here at DBI Furniture Solutions, we are professionals and supply only the best and certified products for the most healthy and safe working environments, particularly when it comes to work seating.

Orthopaedica high-back chair with headrest and arm rests
Orthopaedica high-back chair with headrest and arm rests

Ousby task chair
Ousby task chair

Good office chairs should be ergonomic, meaning they need to be height adjustable, support lower back regions and alleviate pressure to encourage good blood circulation and posture. 

Head to our executive office chairs page to browse through our extensive range of high-quality, robust and safe task seating, and contact us for any questions or further info. 

Also check out our piece on the different types of office seating and their benefits for more details.

Office health and safety, Schools

Keeping schools COVID-secure

Up and down the country, we have been preparing for schools reopening for a while, and now that they have reopened their doors – in accordance with the coronavirus roadmap – it’s important to keep a checklist to not get complacent. So, to that end, how can we keep our schools safe during COVID-19, as the world tries to get back to some semblance of normality?

1. Maintain good hygiene and cleaning

It’s imperative that toilets are fully stocked and that schools are enforcing frequent hand washing across the board. Sticking up posters reinforcing the recommended time for washing hands and diagrams is advised. Hand sanitiser stations are also highly recommended to provide better access to good hand hygiene, but you should be encouraging pupils to bring in their own hand gels, too. 

Cleaning should be rigorous with daily disinfection of surfaces. Sanitation, water and waste management should be managed meticulously, with those in charge following the appropriate procedures always. 

Mobile hand sanitiser station

Mobile hand sanitiser station

2. Good ventilation

Ventilation is everything, whether it’s confined spaces or larger buildings. Many schools also have portacabins set up for more classroom space. Luckily, summer is on its way and we’re out of winter, so we can open up windows and doors to increase air flow. 

3. Outdoor learning and activities

Many schools already use outdoor learning for their curriculum, but it’s even more of a great idea in the current climate. Virtually any lesson can be taken outdoors. As long as you cover the lesson objectives and curriculum points, there’s certainly no reason why you can’t teach outside! Taking learning outdoors can engage pupils and inject some energy into a topic; it’s a brand new learning space for them, after all. And right now, it can help with social distancing and air flow. 

4. Physical and social distancing

Whilst this is difficult to always maintain in a school, you should have social distancing policies in place, and it does depend on space. If it means lines of pupils need to extend or be split, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Update your staff and pupils on any procedures that need to follow social distancing wherever possible, such as fire drills. Ways to help with social distancing in schools are:

  • Rearranging the classrooms to give more space between pupils
  • Clearing clutter
  • Using the outdoors for lines and queuing 
  • Going outside and using the playground for activities or lessons
  • Having classroom assemblies as opposed to whole school ones, where the headteacher passes on information to class teachers
  • Reorganising the school day by assigning different break times for different Year Groups
  • Having social distancing protective screens 
  • Reorganising lockers in corridors to break up congestion
  • Having a one-way system in place for corridors

Protective screen

Mobile screen

5. Face coverings

The World Health Organisation advised that “children aged 12 and over should wear a face covering under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.” The UK government also advises that where pupils in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by both pupils and staff “when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils and students when outdoors on the premises.”

6. Posters and signage

Signage is highly recommended with floor stamps and posters around to remind people to keep their distance. Signs should be clear and easy to read with as much instruction as possible, especially in a school setting. Toilets should have informative, visual posters on how to wash hands and how long for. Signs in classrooms should encourage pupils to regularly use hand sanitisers, wash hands, keep their distance, and if needed – to wear face coverings.

Children should be able to feel safe at school, and now that we’re living through a pandemic, it’s even more vital to keep pupils safe and protected. Make sure standards don’t slip, that the importance of basic hygiene and physical distancing is non-negotiable, and that both staff and students are doing their part in helping to stop the spread of germs. One thing that can help so much with all of this is the right equipment, as mentioned above. 

For any queries about what furniture and equipment you can add to your school, speak to our friendly, experienced team today.

Office health and safety

How to help with back pain at work

We’ve already brought to you the horrifying truth behind your poor office set-up. Here it was reported that around 81% of UK office workers spend between four and nine hours sitting at desks each day, with the office environment having a significant impact on their physical health and productivity. Added to that, Spine Health also attributes prolonged periods of sitting to causing lower back pain or worsening an existing back problem. It’s vital then that we all look for ways to help with back pain at work. 

What is the best office chair for back pain?

The first and obvious place to start is with the type of chair we sit on. When we’re spending hours in sedentary positions, we can’t waste time or put our health at risk by being flippant about what kind of office chairs we should be using. 

When looking for an office chair to support your back, neck, posture and to keep you comfortable, these are the things you should be looking for:

  • Lumbar support: An ergonomic chair will help support your lower back (lumbar) with designs like flex zones that give constant support – like the Ergohuman task chair
Home office chair to help with back pain and lumbar support
  • Adjustable height: You should be able to adjust your chair to keep you at a good level with your monitor, as well as allowing you to be in a comfortable position for your back
  • Adjustable tension: Many chairs allow you to adjust the tension, by increasing and decreasing it to suit your comfort level, helping to further support your back and posture
  • High backs: Chairs with high back support are great for posture and keeping your body upright. This is so important when confined to sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time
  • Head and neck support: Having a chair with a height-adjustable, pivotal headrest is also important, as they give full cranial support and help with your overall posture
  • Locked positions: Especially for prolonged sitting, lockable positions are so good for our comfort and posture. A chair that can lock into various positions can help with supporting our lumbars 
  • Back tilt: This function is very beneficial for our comfort and backs to ensure we are in good positions for our posture 

The best office chair for back pain should be ticking off all these boxes. Luckily, you’re in the perfect place to find just the type of office seating that can help with back pain and support, specifically with our range of ergonomic executive office chairs

Office stretches and exercises for lower back pain

Woman lifting arms up at the desk to start a desk exercise

Having the right office chair is key to helping with lower back pain, but there are other things you can do to help with your posture and back pain, including exercise. Exercises you can do in the office or at your desk that help with back pain are:

  • Seated spinal rotations: Bupa advises on desk stretches to ease aches and pains, and they say to do a seated spinal rotation by crossing your arms over your chest whilst seated, before grabbing your shoulders. Then, “rotate your upper body from the waist, turning gently from left to right as far as feels comfortable. You should feel a tension on both sides of your lower back as it stretches out.”
  • Sitting back extensions: Another desk stretch for back pains or aches is a sitting back extension. All you have to do is to sit straight with feet together, putting the palms of your hands into the small of your back, before leaning back over your hands to feel your lumbar stretch out
  • Back flexion stretches: If you’re working from home, have a private office, or access to some private space, this is an ideal lie-down stretch. You simply lie on your back, pull your knees to your chest, flex your head forward until you feel a stretch in your mid to lower back region. You hold it there for five to ten seconds, before returning to the start position, and you repeat this around four to six times
  • Seated lateral trunk stretches: In a seated position, lift one arm over your head whilst placing the other hand on your thigh. Slowly, bend towards the opposite side where your hand is on your thigh until you feel a stretch along the side of your trunk (torso) and hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat three to five times on each side 
  • Seated knee to chest stretches: Whilst sitting in your chair, lift one knee up to your chest so you can reach it with your hands. Use both hands to pull the knee, bending it upward, placed against your chest until you feel a slight stretch in the lumbar region and at the back of your hip. Hold the position for around 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat it three to five times with each knee
  • Prayer stretches: Another stretch for the floor, this one requires you to start on your hands and knees with your hands in front of your knees. You then slowly lower your bottom towards your feet until you feel a mild to moderate stretch through your mid to lower back area. Hold this stretch for around 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat three to five times
  • Walking and standing: And of course, you should aim to take regular breaks from prolonged sitting by getting up and stretching your legs. Whether it’s a walk to the office kitchen or in the garden if you’re working from home, regular movement and breaks from sitting will be good for your physical health and alleviating back pain. Opt for sit-to-stand desks to give yourself more movability whilst working

The best sitting position in the office to avoid back pain

The most important thing for avoiding back pain is in your sitting position. Bupa states you can prevent back pain and other problems by just having a comfortable desk set-up. You should be mindful of your posture and how you sit on a day-to-day basis. But, just how should we be sitting then?

  1. You should be keeping your chair close to your desk
  2. Make sure you can adjust the height of your chair to keep your feet on the floor and the top of your monitor at your eye level – your monitor should be at arm’s length
  3. Your hips should be above your knees
  4. You should be sat right back in your chair, making sure your whole back is supported
  5. The backrest should fit the natural curve of your lower back and should be slightly reclined (10 to 15 degrees)
  6. Shoulders should be relaxed with your elbows at a 90 degrees angle, just above the desk
  7. Things should be kept in reach at your workstation, with the most used items within range for you to grab them easily. You should avoid leaning across your desk, to maintain effective lumbar support at all times

Again, it can’t be stressed enough to keep taking breaks and giving yourself movement throughout the working day. Alongside this, you should remember to drink plenty of water, stretch, move, and eat well. Regular movement and breaking up prolonged sitting is not only good for preventing back pain, it’s also great for your overall health, productivity and mindset. 

If you need help deciding what office chair is right for you, we’re more than happy to discuss options. Contact our friendly, expert team today.

Productivity

How to set up home office desks for productivity

Shifting office workers to homeworking brings on quite a drastic change in working processes, one being productivity. When we’re no longer confined to an office – in that purely work-focused space – and in our home environments, procrastination unfortunately can rear its destructive head. Improving working from home can start with small things, but for now let’s look at how to set up home office desks for productivity.  

Have you got the right home office desk?

Firstly, you need to make sure you’ve got the right home office set-up with good morning habits for a productive day. Choosing the wrong place will only set you up for decreased productivity. For instance, is the living room the right place when you’ve got a TV in there? Setting your home desk up in a spare room may actually be better for you. It may be a good idea to set up near a window too, so you can get better natural lighting. It’s all about making your home office comfortable and motivating, to put you in a good place to be as productive as can be. With that in mind, it’s time to look at different home office desks to see what would be right for you. 

Contemporary home office desks

Box desks for home office

There are quite a few modern home office desks you can choose from to make your home office right for you. Take this box home office desk design, for example. You can fold it up once you’ve done your work for the day, so it really is great for optimising space. They’re perfect for laptops and lighter set-ups. 

Box home office desk

Drop desks for working at home

An ingenious design that works brilliantly for home offices is the drop desk. Not only are they extremely versatile in their set-up, but they’re also portable, so you can easily transport them to different areas of the room or house – whatever works for you that day. The main feature is its ability to drop and be compacted to give more room when the working day is done.

Drop desk on wheels
Home office drop desk folded

Corner office desks

Corner office desks are ideal for homeworking environments, for their smart designs fit nicely into rooms, further optimising your available space. Giving you good desk space, both on the surface and underneath, this crate corner desk even comes with more space thanks to its added shelves. 

Wooden corner office desk with open shelves
Comes in left-hand and right-hand set-ups

The drop desk can also work great as a corner desk, so you have the flexibility at home in how you set up for the day. With the drop desk, you can set it up in a variety of ways, from a corner desk to a desk that gives room for two. 

Drop corner desk for home office
Drop desk for two people

Health and safety at home

When in the office, we’re reminded of health and safety policies, and we will have our workstations set up with them in mind – at least we hope you have. But, when working from home, we may let these standards slip. As expected, proper working set-ups can go out the window when the couch or bed is tempting, or if the kitchen table becomes your new desk but isn’t at the right level. Don’t forget about your monitor and eye-level positions. 

Your monitor should be arm’s length away from you, and your eye level should be looking slightly down to the centre of the monitor. Laptop risers will help with this. Slouching on the couch, or laying in bed all day with a laptop will not do you any good. Not only does it invite procrastination and affect productivity, it’s also no good for your posture and eye levels. A proper home office desk is what you need for optimal productivity.

Home desk layout and stationery

Now that you’re in the comfort of your own home working at the desk, you can take advantage and truly put your unique stamp on it. Not only is this good for your own satisfaction, but it’s great for motivation. Be productive in how you arrange your stationery, and always have what you need at hand so you can work more efficiently. Your work may involve you having to go through piles and piles of documents, so never be low on paperclips, binder clips and index flags. Each colour could represent a category, so you know straight away which pile is what.

Being at home, you may want to jazz up your stationery or get some fun office supplies. Another good idea is to have a weekly planner on your desk so you can always see your schedule. It doesn’t have to be just work related either. Here, you can have notes on your home life, to-do lists and reminders. 

A motivating home office

And finally, when you are surrounded by your own four walls when getting on with work, you can truly take advantage of this. Why not surround yourself with motivational quotes, pictures and art; they are your walls, and it’s your desk, after all. You could even have little, motivating quotes on your desk. Motivation is directly linked to productivity, so having art, quotes or items that are just for you, that make you happy and are around you, can set you up for success. 

Home and desk plants are good for productivity

Productive home office workstation

We all know about the benefits of plants in the office, with their positive effects on stress, air cleansing and wellbeing, but they’re also good for productivity. 2014 research by the University of Exeter reported that the productivity of employees jumped by 15% from having the work environment filled with just a handful of houseplants. Researcher, Dr Chris Knight, stressed the importance of having workers be able to see a plant from their desk and he noted: “If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged, you are happier and you work better.” Plants form part of a more eco-friendly workspace, and there’s a full list of green office ideas to inspire a greener working day in our blog.

Set up your home office right and make it your own with productive work-from-home desking. Contact our friendly team for any more info to help you improve your home office. 

Green office, Workplace

Green office ideas: Eco-friendly tips for the office

The typical office isn’t always the most eco-friendly of environments. Fluctuating temperatures as people fight over the thermostat, computers being left on standby all night, and blazing fluorescent lights between the hours of 8am and 5pm. But, it doesn’t have to be that way; there are plenty of green office ideas to be inspired by so you can bring a touch of green to your desk.

So, if you’re an eco warrior at heart, here are a few ways you can set your sights on making a difference in your workplace.

Eco-friendly office tips that you can implement today

  1. Place recycling containers throughout the office – When you’re working all day it’s easy to get complacent. By having recycling containers placed at strategic locations – a paper box near the printer and a plastic and cans box in the kitchen – you’ll help make it easier to recycle. Also make sure you make an effort to recycle your used batteries as these shouldn’t be thrown in the standard waste bin
  • BYOM (bring your own mug) – Rather than getting takeout coffees and teas, which can’t be recycled and have to be sent to landfill, encourage your staff to use real mugs, glasses, cutlery and dishes

  • Bring plants into your office – Not only do they look great and help to brighten up the place, plants are responsible for the oxygen we breathe; incredibly useful! They’ve also been linked to increasing productivity by 15% a UK study found; win-win!

Office with a tall plant
  • Green cleaning – Whether you clean your office yourself or employ a company, make sure you use green cleaning products that aren’t doing any damage to the environment

  • Go paperless – Wherever possible, communicate electronically. Only print documents if you absolutely have to

  • Use tech where you can – If you have client meetings, use projectors and laptops to show your work rather than printing off agendas and presentations. Your clients will appreciate this as they won’t have to carry bundles of paper back too

  • Switch off – This should go without saying but switching off your laptops, computers and lights at the end of the day can make a huge difference. It may not feel like much, but if everyone in the office does it, it all adds up

Green office ideas for the long run

 

Green office ideas with three recycling bins for different types of waste

1. Start a sustainability team

Chances are there’s more than one person in your office who’s passionate about green living, so harness that enthusiasm and give them a place to go wild. A team that is totally dedicated to sustainability in your office can both raise awareness and accomplish more. Some projects they could get started with include expanding your recycling program and helping to inform purchasing decisions. Weekly or monthly inspections can help make sure your efforts are continuing.

2. Look at your suppliers

Whether you’re a business owner or work from home as a freelancer, it’s always a good time to look at who is supplying your power. Green sources of energy such as wind and solar energy are more accessible than ever before, and now it’s possible to switch to a supplier who guarantees their energy is coming from renewable sources. And don’t worry about price either; green plans are actually very competitively priced even compared to more traditional sources.

3. Think about your lighting

The only light that isn’t going to have some kind of impact on the environment – and cost you nothing – is natural light. So wherever possible try and have large windows and natural light streaming in to illuminate your office.

If all natural isn’t possible, there are other options for you. Make sure all the bulbs in the office are LEDs. You could install smart power strips at each desk, and considering adding sensors and timers onto your main lights so they work automatically.

4. Start cycling

Commuting to and from work isn’t the most sustainable of practices. And in reality a fair few of your employees will live close enough to get into the office by cycling, but more often than not it’s the cost of a bike that can put people off making the effort. Thankfully, as their employer, there are a few things you can do to help.

Start by signing up to Cyclescheme; a government-subsidised scheme that helps people buy their new bike tax-free. Another big help is to buy the bike for them and allow them to pay it off over time by taking small regular payments out of their monthly salary.

5. Green machines

Did you know that computers and other related pieces of tech account for 3 – 4% of the world’s carbon emissions? What’s even more shocking is that’s more than the aviation industry which often gets a lot of negative attention. So if you’re looking to reduce your business’ carbon footprint, changing the computers you use can really make a world of difference.

Before you buy, make sure you head to Gooshing UK. It’s a website run by the Ethical Company Organisation and it shows you the ethical and environmental record of various computer manufacturers. The Greenpeace website will also be able to help you find out which manufacturers use the least amount of toxic chemicals during the hardware manufacturing process.

If you’re a large company, then chances are you’re going to be using a data centre which houses your servers. Unfortunately, this is likely to be one of the worst environmental offenders due to the huge racks of machines that need to be powered and cooled simultaneously.

Now this isn’t something you’re going to be able to give up, but you can ask some questions to your data centre to find out whether they use some kind of eco-cooling system or an energy efficient hardware. If they don’t, you could always shop around for a new place or suggest they make some changes.

6. Do a ‘Go Green’ month

Why not plan in the calendar a ‘Go Green’ month to get the whole team motivated. This could work across departments. For instance, you could have content linked to your business talking about how to go greener – whatever your business is. Maybe you’re a business broker that helps buy and sell businesses, and your sales team could be motivated by focusing on business targets linked to healthy food, recycling and the environment etc. You could run a competition across the company to see who gets the most steps during the month. This can be shared across social platforms for more engagement. 

7. Use recycled materials

Just by simply reviewing your stationery and basic office supplies, you can make a big difference to your carbon footprint. For instance, you can opt for recycled and biodegradable pens. And, considering we go through a lot of pens during the years racked up in the office, switching to eco-friendly alternatives will significantly reduce our plastic waste. 

These days, we really don’t need to use as much paper with all the digital notepads and software at our disposal. We can easily open up documents to type notes down. Not only does typing up notes help with reducing paper waste, but it’s more efficient to have all notes quickly typed up and stored to be shared. However, if you do need to write down some notes, there are eco-friendly notebooks out there made entirely from recycled materials. 

8. Monitor brightness

Not only is reducing the brightness on a monitor good for the eyes, but even reducing your computer monitor’s brightness from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% in energy, according to Harvard University. Make sure to enable the energy-saving mode for monitors also to reduce energy consumption. Every little brightness change forms part of a greener office plan. 

9. Ethically sourced 

Do you have an office full of coffee drinkers? Chances are you do. Coffee is a multibillion-pound global industry, but with that comes a significant environmental impact: deforestation, erosion, and water pollution. Try a more sustainable coffee source, like shade-grown coffee, as this requires less water, fertiliser and pesticides, and doesn’t degrade ecosystems. 

10. Reduce, reuse, recycle

Of course, we shouldn’t forget the eco-friendly mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’! Don’t be too quick to throw things away when you may be able to repair and reuse things from a quick fix. Not only is this better for the environment to reduce needless waste, but you’ll be saving money as a business. Think to yourself, does something really need replacing? If it is working efficiently for the business, do you really need to get rid, or are you just excited about having shiny new tech? You just need to weigh up factors. Wherever you can, recycle, and make sure there are clear signs so that staff know exactly what needs to be recycled and where.

Whatever the industry you work in, whatever your brand, your office can go greener from today. The small steps add up, and before you know it, you’ll be giving presentations on green office ideas!

If you’re looking for high-quality, ethically sourced and built-to-last office furniture, then speak to us, as we know a thing or two. We have years of experience in supplying office furniture and accessories. 

 

Chairs, Ergonomics, Furniture, Products, Tables, Workplace

The Next Hot Thing In Cool Office Design

In the offices of today, it is a lot more than just a bank of office desks with monitors and PCs/Macs being installed on each. You want it to inspire! Inspire your colleagues to push that extra bit further, think that little bit harder for that spark of creativity that gives you that one fantastic idea.

When clients enter your office you want them to be impressed. You want your office environment to represent your business. You want the look of the office to nail how you choose to market your business. Want to be seen as the cool kids on the block? Get inventive with your office design. Want to be seen as the retro kids who live for the 70’s/80’s? Where are the arcade machines? It is also true that it is the people who adopt these office spaces as their own are the ones who bring the office to life. While this is most certainly true, you must make sure that your colleagues are comfortable at their work stations to increase productivity. The best way to boost productivity in your office environments is to make sure your colleagues have the space to; eat together, play together and hang out together. The happier the colleagues, the more productive you will work.

A popular concept that small firms as well as large ones such as Microsoft, Macquarie Bank & Ernst & Young is ‘hot desking’. Hot desking is simply bring your laptop and working essentials, plunk them anywhere and you are good to go. Multiple employees can, in this arrangement, use the same desk at different hours during a day.

The image shows a Photorealistic 3d render of an office.