Tech Nous: Power Napping

Next time you buy an office chair, check to see if there is “snooze” button! If there isn’t one you could miss out on growing European trend in the workplace called “power napping”.

Manufacturers are developing office chairs with backrests that can be set right back into horizontal position thanks to an unusually-wide aperture. This allows office workers to indulge in power napping – brief, oh-so-relaxing lie-down at the desk that is said to work wonders in terms of boosting energy and performance levels. Indeed, studies show that 20-minute nap increases workers’ motivation and reduces the risk of making mistakes. The so-called “nap zone” is typically (and not surprisingly) between noon and 3pm.

OSH has been telling us for years that it’s healthy to take regular breaks, so instead of cruising off somewhere else for chat or cuppa, why not just “hold all calls” and hit the recline button for quick 40 winks while nobody is looking. Of course, if the trend continues to grow, half the office will be taking siesta anyway and won’t notice you having kip behind your desk!

At ORGATEC, the international trade fair for office furniture and furnishings to be held in Germany at the end of this month, visitors will be able to test-drive office chairs with integrated “power-nap” functions. On display will be wide range of adjustable furniture that allows employees to sit, stand, or indeed, lie down on the job. Because sitting for long periods of time can create problems for office workers, the latest generation of office seating offers greater ergonomic adjustability than ever before. These range from height-adjustable backrests with integrated depth-adjustable lumbar supports to armrests with adjustable height and width settings, as well as sliding seat with depth adjustment.

The “sit to stand” workplace, first reported in the mid-’90s, is finally catching on in this country, as employees of all heights can quickly create the best ergonomic conditions for themselves. Adjustable tables, for example, allow workers to perform “in-between” tasks while standing.

Office furniture design is also catering to the increasingly popular work arrangement known as “desk sharing”; as well as the latest wireless technologies which provide far greater degree of flexibility in communications.

Even sophisticated office seating and desking technology cannot take away the fact that we humans are simply not designed to stay seated for long periods of time. ORGATEC says one in three office workers complains of aches and pains in the back, neck, arms, shoulders and head. Furthermore, 50 percent of all work absences and applications for early retirement on grounds of ill health are attributable to back problems. Others simply suffer on in silence.

Help may be at hand though, with newly developed “ergo mouse” – also being showcased at ORGATEC. This handheld PC-supported measuring device is moved along person’s back, recording the degree of spinal curve and the current position of the person sitting in the chair. It then calculates the best anatomical position to sit in. With one of these devices in the office your posture should show marked improvement!

More and more ergonomists recommend that office workers alternate between sitting and standing as the day progresses. You, on the other hand, may prefer to simply lie down on the job. For people like myself, who work from home, refreshing lie-down is always on the cards, and we don’t need any high-tech seating technology to send us off to Noddy-land.

As to whether power napping will really take off in this country – somehow I doubt it. But it’s nice to know that we have the technology to do it successfully. Alternatively, you could simply have couch installed in your office! M

Glenn Baker is editor of M-tech.
Email: [email protected]

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