By Nathan Conz
Because I'm Insurance & Technology's "new products czar" (a title-bump that will be news to my editors when they read this entry), a lot of technology solutions come across my desk every day. Until very recently however, none of those products were also, in fact, about my desk.That all changed recently when I was briefed on the offerings of WorkRite Ergonomics (Petaluma, Calif.), a provider of height-adjustable and otherwise reconfigurable work stations -- a science known to lowly cubicle-dwelling associate editors like myself as "servant-oriented architecture."
Here's some research findings the company forwarded to me, some of it conducted by the company, some of it by an independent firm:
Height adjustable workstations favored by workers * Nearly 500 office workers, more than half of the respondents (57 percent) would prefer to spend at least part of their time standing, if provided the opportunity * More than 89 percent reported feeling muscle tension or fatigue at least occasionally at the end of their workdays * A full 16 percent feel this distress on a regular basis * The majority of respondents (92 percent) also favor a desk or workstation that allows them to make minor adjustments in height, or be adjusted to sitting or standing positions. Source: "How Long Can You Stand to Sit" survey, WorkRite Ergonomics, Inc. www.workriteergo.com.
Productivity increased by flexible design * Research indicates an overwhelming 90 percent of U.S. office workers believe that better design leads to better overall performance * Respondents said, on average, they could increase their work output by 21 percent if their office environment were better designed * Nearly half of the respondents noted that better workplace design would make them amenable to longer workdays. *Source: The 2007 U.S. Workplace Survey was commissioned by Gensler Architecture, Design & Planning Worldwide. The independent research firm D/R Added Value in Los Angeles, conducted the research. The full U.S. Workplace Survey can be found online at: https://www.gensler.com/news/2006/07-20_workSurvey.html
Dual-monitor usage results in productivity increases * Helped by WorkRite Ergonomics, Inc., the New Jersey based insurance firm The Durkin Agency moved 20 of its claims adjustors, data entry clerks, and IT employees to a dual-monitor setup using 19-inch flat panel displays. This resulted in a 10 percent increase in the number of insurance claims the firm processed each day and increased employee satisfaction * Companies and consumers looking to replace their 20-inch screen can expect to pay approximately $500 * For $30 dollars more, however, two 17-inch screens can be purchased for a dual-screen set-up, increasing productivity up to 42 percent * Nearly anyone who works with more than one program, or more than one source of information, will find common tasks far easier and more productive with more screen space * The largest productivity gains, up to 50 percent, have been observed from work that involves cutting and pasting between windows. Sources: WorkRite Ergonomics, Jon Peddie Research
Benefit of avoiding worker injury * A single case of workers' compensation can cost an average of $50,000
You can feel free to be skeptical of ergonomics research conducted in part by an ergonomics solutions company, but if you've ever slaved over a keyboard all day, you know there's at least some truth to it. And, take it from a guy who spent two years in a chair literally held together by old newspapers and duct tape at his previous employer, higher quality workstations can make a big difference regarding workplace culture and morale.
Putting all that aside though, the only thing that matters is what you -- the I&T readers, with buying power and decision-making ability at your respective insurance organizations -- think. How do you view "workstation technology?" Is it a waste of time and money, or a simple way to improve the quality of life for your employees while they're at work? Is it a purchase that'd be difficult to justify to the business? And, most importantly, have I asked too many questions at the end of this post?