If you are interested in becoming a mental health champion for your workplace, we’ve been offered a special offer for two courses (either London or Brighton) accredited by the MHFA. Hosted by Loch Associates, this one day course will give you a better understanding, knowledge and confidence to advocate better mental health awareness.
Use code VIP241 on the purchase screen to get a buy one get one free on tickets.
We come across Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) in almost every workplace that we visit. Often triggered by day to day tasks, we’ve put together this guide to help you identify some bad habits that might be exacerbating the problem, how to ease the symptoms and tips on how to prevent RSI going forward.
What is RSI
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is an umbrella term for pain felt in the tendons, muscles and nerves. Usually caused by repetitive movement and overuse, it most commonly affects the upper body including the wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, neck and shoulders.
Not to be confused with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) caused by pressure on the median nerve in your wrist, RSI can present itself with a range of different symptoms:
Dull aches or pain
Tingling and/or numbness
RSI prevention at work
You might think that getting RSI in a sedentary office job would be quite difficult, but we’ve identified some common bad habits that often lead to RSI.
Identify the problem
Small movements such as repetitively copying and pasting from a document might not seem like an obvious contributor to RSI, but if you consciously tot up how much you’re hovering and moving your arm throughout your working week, you might be surprised how it all adds up. By identifying the cause, you can formulate an action plan to reduce the risk of prolonged pain from your RSI.
Do you have a role that requires a lot of mouse work? Are your moving your mouse arm repetitively
Are you sitting correctly, or are you sitting too low down and reaching up to your keyboard?
Can you attribute the problem to your workstation or is there something contributing to it outside of work?
Keep your input devices within the width of your shoulders
In the case of office workers, we would suggest any input devices such as keyboards and mice are position within the width of your shoulders to prevent over-reaching. This is particularly difficult to do if you don’t have the right equipment. If you don’t use your keyboard’s keypad religiously then is there any need for it? Why not swap to a compact keyboard so that you can keep your arms close to your body.
We also see that this is particularly difficult to achieve for petite staff members that sit in chairs that are too big for them, as they tend to overreach for the armrests, resting their shoulders in unnatural positions. Try to adjust the arms on your chair and bring them as close into your body as possible.
How you use your mouse at work
We often see RSI aggravated further by people overreaching for the mouse and carrying out repetitive tasks. To ease your symptoms, we would recommend an ergonomic mouse to keep your wrist at a natural ‘handshake’ angle. If you use your mouse constantly (for example a designer that spends all day on the Adobe suite) then we would try and prevent repetitive movement with a roller bar mouse. This will prevent movement in the arm all the way through to the shoulder.
With a Rollerbar mouse, your palms rest on the padded section and you use the tips of your finger to move the mouse, and depress the roller bar to click. The added benefit of using a RollerMouse is that you can use the fingers on your left or right hand to use the mouse meaning that you can rest the side that you are experiencing RSI.
As big advocates of workplace wellbeing, we have our ear to the ground for the latest ONS news. Recently it was reported that sickness has almost halved since records began in 1993 from an average of 7.2 days to 4.1 days and we couldn’t help but wonder how much ‘presenteeism’ has contributed to this statistic.
What is presenteeism?
Presenteeism is a term that has been coined to describe employees that continue to attend work despite having a reason not to be there such as illness or staying longer hours than necessary. This isn’t to be confused with absenteeism that is the practice of regularly staying away from work without good reason.
presenteeism /prɛznˈtiːɪzəm/ – noun – the practice of being present at one’s place of work for more hours than is required, especially as a manifestation of insecurity about one’s job. “one of the general symptoms of employee insecurity is presenteeism”
Sickness vs presenteeism
We bet you’ll see someone coughing and spluttering right now if you have a scan around your workplace..In fact, 86% of the respondents from a recent CIPD survey said that they had observed presenteeism in their own offices. Often the symptom of the integral workplace culture, alarming only 25% of the companies surveyed say that they are taking steps to actively discourage these unhealthy working practises. This study also found a correlation between presenteeism and increased reporting of stress-related absences and common mental health conditions.
As an employer, you might think that this is a win/win scenario; after all, the employee is so dedicated to their role that they are turning up for work despite having a bad cold, but in reality if the employee doesn’t feel that they can ring in sick, this might be a symptom that something’s a bit off with the company culture or internal policies that favour or incentivise 100% attendance.
Unfortunately, illness is inevitable and it’s hard to believe that even the most dedicated employee would be able to work to full capacity when they are not feeling well, even if your procedures encourage working from home. Moreso, infectious illnesses could risk the health of other employees which will hit productivity hard.
The correlation between long hours and presenteeism
A poor response to sickness is fundamentally unproductive – if the employee is dragging themselves in despite being ill, they could wipe out the entire workforce with their cold. If your company has a zero-tolerance attitude towards sickness, it might be worth reviewing how you respond to staff members that ring in when they are unwell and lead by example by better supporting them through sickness.
Always conduct a back to work interview– And by interview, we don’t mean interrogation. During one of our recent office managers networking events, 360HR recommended that the employer should always conduct a face to face return to work interview with the staff member. This will give them the opportunity to discuss why they were off, or bring to light why they felt that they couldn’t discuss take time away from their role.
Trust your employees – If you have an exemplary employee, it could be worth having a discussion with them and activelyencourage them to recuperate at home. And no, we don’t mean work from home, we mean honey, lemon and day time TV. If sickness and working from home isn’t clearly separated, sickness could be inaccurately reported, so where possible distinguish what is expected in the staff handbook.
Conducting a workplace assessment is a good way to identify if the employee is having trouble with any elements of their role. If tasks are taking longer than usual or productivity has dipped, the employee may appear to be sat at their desk working away, but they might be struggling with common workplace ailments such as back pain, RSI, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or shoulder pain.
Need some advice? Leave us a message below and we’ll get back to you shortly.
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Often presenting itself as tingling, numbness and pain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is caused by compression of the median nerve in the wrist. Anyone who has experienced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome pain will tell you just how uncomfortable and miserable it can be to live with. As workplace assessors, we usually recommend vertical mice to alleviate the pressure on the nerves in the wrist by positioning the hand in a more natural ‘handshake’ position.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow bony gap in the wrist through which the median nerve and tendons for the hand pass. Sometimes the tendons in this tunnel can become inflamed (called tendonitis), which puts pressure on the nerve. This causes symptoms such as pain, numbness, pins and needles, and loss of strength in the hand
and fingers, and sometimes also the forearm.
Most medical approaches to carpal tunnel syndrome focus only on the wrist. However, most diagnosed cases of carpal tunnel syndrome are nothing to do with the carpal tunnel. The symptoms are caused by fascial restrictions further “upstream,” particularly in the neck, chest, and armpit, which are squeezing the arm nerves and causing the typical symptoms.
The symptoms typically start through overuse of muscles that easily fatigue and become irritated. Computer work and manual work involving fine movements of the hands and wrists are the major causes.
Fascia is the main connective tissue in the body and as such wraps around and through all other structures. Taking time to release fascial restrictions through simple exercises can help to reduce the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. Fascial stretching is slow and gentle as fascia is a slow releasing tissue. You will get far better and longer lasting results by doing one slow 2-5 minute stretch rather than a set of shorter muscle stretches. Here are some useful stretches:
Neck and arms stretch
Standing or sitting, slowly take your head to the side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder.
Allow your arms to hang by your sides and keep your arms and shoulders loose.
Gently move deeper into the stretch, waiting when you feel barriers and slowly breathing into them to allow deeper release. Imagine your opposite arm elongating and stretching away from your neck to create a three dimensional fascial stretch in a pattern from your fingers to your arm, neck, and head.
If it feels comfortable, you can use your hand to deepen the stretch, being mindful not to overstretch your fascia.
Neck and back stretch
Standing or sitting, drop your head forwards onto your chest and turn it so that your nose is pointing towards your armpit. As this stretch develops you will feel the releases moving down your neck into your shoulder and down your back.
If it feels comfortable, you can use your hand to deepen the stretch, being mindful not to overstretch your fascia.
Side of Neck
The side of the neck is an area where the nerves for the arms exit from the spinal cord and it can often become tight and restricted, especially in people who use computers a lot. Releasing this area can help with arm and hand pain, as well as more general neck, shoulder, and headache pains.
Lie on your side and place one ball on the floor or bed, resting the side of your neck on it. You may need to place a small pillow under your head for support and comfort.
Be careful not to place the ball too far forwards otherwise it will start to put pressure on your throat. Allow your body weight to sink into the ball, allowing an even pressure on the side of the neck
However, the physical workspace is only one factor that contributes to a successful business model. Having worked from their co-working floor ‘The Foundry’ ourselves, it made us even more curious about how Propellernet have achieved their engaging company culture. With 90% of Propellernet staff ranking as ‘fully engaged’, an average 1 day off sick and just 7% staff turnover, there’s surely something we can all learn from Propellernet.
Following the international success of her book ‘SUPERENGAGED’, we asked Nikki to share Propellernets‘ 15 point plan for a super engaged workforce.
Make engagement a priority
If you’re looking to drive your business’ performance and profits, treat your engagement levels as seriously as your margins. The more engaged your teams are, the more ingenuity they will bring into the heart of your business, and the higher your commercial gains will be.
If your purpose is what you’re working towards, your values are how you’ll get there. Choose ones which create a strong cultural force that will drive your organisation forward. People have well honed bullshit detectors, so values need to be worth the brain-space they occupy, and to be lived to be believed.
Get your people happy
Very simply, happy people do better work than miserable people. It’s not rocket science – but it’s surprising how rarely it’s factored into the business plan. So, make sure you make them feel welcome both before they arrive and on their first day, set them up to succeed, celebrate their achievements and support them through any tough times.
Be clear about your expectations
Putting your people first doesn’t mean letting them do whatever they want; they aren’t assets to be sweated, but they do need to add value. Make it clear what you expect from them, both in terms of business performance and social behavior. Then put the tools, culture and support in place to help them deliver.
Encourage your people to switch off
As well as giving people the tools to succeed, you need to help them feel free to unplug; your P&L will thank you for it. Check that they’re managing their workload; be flexible around working hours; help them keep their free time work-free and insist they take their holidays. In return, you’ll get inspired, energised colleagues who might just light up the world.
Recruit slowly and personally
Recruit at haste, repent at leisure. If you employ the wrong person, it can cost you 15 times their salary to put right. Instead, view recruitment as an ongoing activity, and build relationships today with people who might be a great fit in the future. You never know when the time will be right.
Plan to lose your best talent
People will leave, life will go on, the world will keep turning. It’s better to plan for it than ignore it and end up in a panic replacement scenario. People who say goodbye on friendly terms become a powerful part of your alumni, and act as advocates for your brand and business. The good ones never really leave you, anyway.
Don’t be afraid to be transparent
Honesty really is the best policy. If you’re open about everything, right down to your profits, rumours don’t have space to breathe. And the more information you share, the more people can grab opportunities and tackle any problems together. It’s surprising, perhaps, but there’s safety in sharing numbers.
If you’re working on something you can’t engage with, it’s hard to produce brilliant work.
Fortunately, the opposite is also true. So, ask your people if there are clients or sectors they’d like to work with, then enlist their help with making it happen; it’s a shortcut to enthusiasm and commitment.
Say no to bastards
Never put toxic client revenue before your people. Unreasonable, demanding clients who want the moon on a stick for free are not worth having. They will drive value out of your business, suck the life out of your strategy, take their toll on your team and take your attention away from more
worthwhile clients. Don’t think “How can I afford to be so picky?” Think “How can I afford not to?” 12. Build climbing frames instead of career ladders
In traditional hierarchies, senior roles are scarce, which makes career progression difficult for all but a few. Instead, create innovative, flexible career paths, which are open to non-traditional growth as opportunities arise. By enabling people to blaze their own trails and bring in their side hustles, you’ll create an inspiring group of entrepreneurial thinkers and doers, who will grow your business as they grow their careers.
Create something bigger than yourself
Community matters. Yes, you need to focus on the business at hand, but it’s also worth lifting your head up from time to time and thinking about how you could contribute to the world outside your window. It will enthuse and engage your people and is likely to be some of the most rewarding work you do.
Build a bucket list business plan
Put any scepticism to one side and try to imagine the spirit of teamwork and loyalty that you could unleash by making your team’s dreams part of your business plan. Not to mention the new
commercial opportunities that you could generate along the way. Don’t believe us? Prepare to be amazed.
Act like there’s no exit
Whatever your plans for the business, try approaching it as if you will never leave; as if there were no exit, no prospect of a sale and no retirement date. It will transform the way you work day-to-day and will help you build a brilliant future, and Make Life Better, for everyone.
You can learn about how Propellernet built a purposeful and profitable business in Nikki’s international best selling book SUPERENGAGED. Take it from our well worn and dog-eared copy….it’s well worth a read.
During our time as DSE workstation assessors, we’ve often been asked to help improve the working lives of people that suffer from Raynaud’s Disease.
What is Raynaud’s Disease?
Raynaud’s Disease affects the small blood vessels of the extremities. Commonly felt in the hands and feet, the extremities become over sensitive to slight changes in temperature, causing discomfort and pain. For the 10 million people living with Raynaud’s in the UK, this means that even a simple task like buttoning up a coat (or typing this blog post) can be challenging.
What are the symptoms?
Attacks can be spotted from the following symptoms:
Tingling, numbness or soreness in the extremities such as fingers, toes or nose
The extremity might change colour from white to blue to red as a reaction to a change in temperature or stress
Your hands, feet or other extremities feel cold and have trouble warming up
There are two types or Raynaud’s disease – Primary and Secondary. Primary means that the Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition itself. Secondary Raynaud’s may be caused by an underlying condition that affects the blood vessel.
Although more commonly found in young women and girls, Raynaud’s disease affects men women and children of all ages. To this date there is no known cause of the primary disease, but triggers such as changes in temperature, hormones and emotions can provoke an attack.
Secondary Raynaud’s has been linked to the constriction of blood vessels from smoking, diseases of the arteries, repetitive movement (such as working with vibrating power tools), previous injuries to the affected area and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
How can to manage Raynaud’s at work
Firstly, it’s important to establish from a medical professional whether you have Primary or secondary Raynaud’s and work out what treatment or therapies are available to you.
Our Director and expert assessor Jo has the following tips for managing work if you are suffering from Raynaud’s disease:
Speak to your employer
Where possible, try to have an open dialogue with your line manager or employer. Even if it’s a case of achieving a more comfortable ambient temperature in the office, or swapping out your keyboard, small adjustments might really help improve your quality of life at work.
Mimicking the same symptoms as Arthritis, Raynaud’s in the hands and fingers can be very painful. An ergonomic mouse that keeps the wrist in a neutral position is often recommend to ease discomfort. One mouse that we swear by is the Contour UniMouse that features an Articulating Thumb Support to reduce gripping and pinching of the CMC (basal) joint and helps to reduce RSI.
Regular, gentle exercise
Break up your work into manageable chunks and take regular short breaks in-between the intervals. This is the perfect excuse to get up and move around, walk to get a glass of water and get your blood circulating. Better habits such as eating away from your desk (admit it, we’ve all been guilty of a desk buffet), getting fresh air on your lunch breaks and squeezing in some extra steps can contribute to better circulation.
If you’d like further advice on managing Raynaud’s at work or have further questions, leave us a message below and we’ll get back to you. Alternatively, speak a member of the team at Posture People on 0330 332 0880.
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What a year! Not to sound too much like an Oscars speech, but we want to take this opportunity say a huge thank you to all of our customers, partners, readers of the blog and supporters.
This year we’ve been fortunate enough to be named in the top 10 workplace blogs across UK, celebrated our sister brand Love Your Workspace turning one year old (and recovered from said party) and most importantly helped countless individuals feel happier and healthier at work.
Now it’s time to put our feet up!
Friday 21st December: OPEN until 12pm
Saturday 22nd December – Tuesday 1st January: CLOSED
Wednesday 2nd January: OPEN
Please note that any orders placed after the 20th won’t be dispatched until the 2nd of January.
We hope you all have a lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year,
As well as conducting workstation assessments to help employees feel more comfortable at work, a big focus of ours is to assist people with long-term or progressive mobility disabilities or medical conditions by making their workplace suitable.
95% of the time a workstation assessment involves making suitable alterations, recommendations and education on how to make the most from their workspace. However, 5% of the time it will require a specialist solution to give the individual the confidence to continue working with their disability or mobility challenge.
Conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, chronic arthritis and Ehlers Danlos syndrome can come with mobility challenges. When it comes to choosing an office chair, we would recommend a solution with a central brake to ensure stability when getting in and out of the chair such as the VELA Tango range.
This range of highly customisable chair has stable armrests, making it easier to get into and out of the chair from a wheelchair or standing. The user can confidently lean on the armrest and the chair will not move, benefitting users who have problems regarding mobility or balance.
The option to specify this range with manual or electronic height adjustment and stability belt, means that the user can rise to ‘standing’ height if working or reaching for higher surfaces, or lowered to allow for the safe transfer to a wheelchair or mobility aid if necessary.
In addition to a multitude of additional variations to suit the individual’s disability, from our perspective, it offers an ergonomic sitting position to allow for a comfortable working day:
The electronic or manual height adjustment (and optional foot-plate if necessary) allow the individual to sit at the right height at their desk whilst keeping their feet supported. This can go higher than your average office chair allowing the user to work from standard desk height to counter height. This makes it particularly useful for people who work in laboratories.
The armrests whilst fixed for extra stability, also enable the user to comfortable rest their forearms whilst sitting as close to the desk as possible
Available in 14 base models with the ability to specify bespoke hard-wearing fabrics and bariatric weight limits, the VELA tango range also allows us as assessors to build a chair that suits the condition from the ground up, regardless of the shape and size of the person. This ‘buildability’ also gives the chair we specify longevity, as we can adapt it for progressive disabilities.
As a responsible employer, it is imperative to promote the happiness and wellbeing of every single one of your staff and strive to always be thinking about how people of all sizes can be best supported at work. The cost of accommodating your plus sized employees will be much less than the associated cost of sickness; absence attributable to sickness caused by obesity in the UK as a whole is estimated at between 15.5 million and 16 million days per year.
Obesity can cause challenging situations in the workplace and can affect an individual’s ability to work, as well as their underlying mental health. In addition to type-2 diabetes and hypertension, (the better-known health problems associated with obesity), plus-sized employees may suffer from back pain and other postural difficulties resulting from inappropriate office equipment.
It’s important to take prompt action to find a suitable solution once it has been identified that an individual needs some assistance and essential that any conversations around the topic are dealt with sensitively without any hint of conscious or subconscious discrimination. The provision required for each employee will be unique and based upon an individual’s needs, and above all, employers should never assume an employee cannot perform a certain job function because of their size.
If you look around the office, there is likely to be someone who is sat on an inappropriate chair for their size. The key indicators may be:
The employee does not comfortably fit in between the armrests / or needs to adjust the arm rests each time they sit down
If the chair has no armrests the individual may be visibly too big for the chair
The employee has complained of a musculoskeletal issue such as back, neck, hip or knee pain
The back of the chair does not properly support the employee, even when the tension has been adjusted.
Consequences of an ineffective chair can be employee discomfort leading to a loss of productivity. Even worse, the chair may break, causing extreme embarrassment and potentially, physical harm to your staff member.
Bariatric – of or relating to the treatment of obesity
The BodyBilt range is a good solution for plus sized employees. The Big & Tall collection is BodyBilt’s unique solution to the seating problems facing users of above average height and weight. In particular their J2504 model features a reinforced seat structure that is 22% larger than average seats, accommodating workers above the 80th percentile. This chair is rated to support up to 500 lbs (around 35 stone).
We usually help employers with this very sensitive issue by asking the difficult questions for them. These necessary questions save employers and managers from the potentially uncomfortable discussion about how much someone weighs in order to get the correct equipment for their workstation.
Regular DSE assessments may highlight the need for specific provision, or an employee may request a change in the work environment or equipment themselves. A DSE assessment for an entire team or division using our ready prepared form may remove the need for anyone to feel singled out.
Prior to coming on site or making recommendations for suitable products we always send out a pre-assessment form that asks for information such as height and weight. It’s vital to find out the weight of the individual as many office chairs are only guaranteed to support a weight of around 18 stone (approx 114kg). The completed form is then sent directly to us, saving your managers and staff from that awkward conversation about an individual’s weight.
Get in touch to find out how we can help with sensitive workplace challenges. Leave us a short message below or call us on 0845 313 1503 to speak to one of our experts.
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Building on the success of our previous events, we are delighted to annouce our next office managers networking event. Each quarter, a group of office managers, PA’s, facilities managers and operations professionals from Brighton and beyond, get together to discuss some of the issues that have been popping up in the workplace.
In addition to getting to meet some like minded people, each session gives us the opportunity to gain some insight on topics such as stress in the workplace, employee engagement and health & safety regulations from an expert guest speaker.
Our next office managers networking session will focus on employee retention with Emma Meeking (Head of People) & Briony Robertson (Talent Manager) from the Natives Group. With over 150 specialists working across 6 offices in 4 continents, we will be hearing about their efforts to keep the best of the best on board, and share our own experiences of attracting the best candidates.
Tickets are free but spaces are limited so please book to avoid disappointment.