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Top 3 Workplace Must-Haves for Millennials in 2016

 

39089042 - young team of architects working on a new project

39089042 – young team of architects working on a new project

Generation Y, those mobile-wielding, tech savvy free-thinkers have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America and comprise a considerable chunk of the workforce.

As such, the workplace that served previous generations is no longer ideal for today’s (and tomorrow’s) workers, innovators, and managers. Companies that aim to attract and retain top talent find themselves in a race to progress and evolve their corporate culture. To do so, they must offer new ways to work, communicate, and collaborate.

This list of three workplace must-haves will position companies to leverage the characteristics that define the Millennial generation:

1.    Mobile Communication

Beyond offering team members a mobile phone (or a mobile phone allowance), companies need to find ways to reinforce the mobile communication strengths of this generation. They have grown up with smartphones, tablets, laptops, texting, Tweeting, and Snapchatting. Empower them to use their always-connected lifestyle to better the business. Invest in the work and productivity apps they need, prioritize digital workplace communications, and modernize the technology they use to get their work done.

38151008 - handsome young casual businessman text messaging in office

38151008 – handsome young casual businessman text messaging in office

Regardless of the apps your business chooses, make sure Millennials can collaborate on the go (Slack, Asana), and that they have access to wikis and social networks to share ideas, mind mapping tools, and a virtual white board of sticky notes.

Research commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by SurveyMonkey uncovered that 93% of Millennials say the latest technology is important to them when choosing an employer. To attract, employ, and retain happy employees who will likely fuel a company’s innovation, give them the apps they want, the data security they need, and the speed they crave.

Keep in mind, though, that Millennials are not only interested in interacting through technological means. Adobe’s May 2016 study revealed that Millennials value interpersonal interaction over digital interaction at work, so give them the technology, but also invest in Happy Hours and teambuilding outings for them to connect. It is often said that this generation spends so much time with “virtual” relationships (social networks, chatting, even online dating) that they are disconnected from their real peers, but studies show this is far from true. In fact, they respond well to opportunities for interaction and shared physical space.

2.    Flexible collaboration

Millennials view the workplace in stark contrast to that of their parents and grandparents. To enable them to do their best work is to be flexible and define new ways for them to collaborate with co-workers.

Outfit workstations to be flexible and accommodate different people at different times. Imagine the Silicon-Valley startup offices with shared workstations, adjustable office furniture, and productivity-enhancing tech gadgets – aim for your own version of that, no matter where your company is or what it does.

Consider these solutions:

  • An open-space office that is ideal for collaboration
  • Workstations that have adjustable Sit-Stand desks to easily allow for different workers to use them each day
  • Dual monitor arms to connect laptops to. With these, Millennials can work from any workstation or area in the office. They can also make sure the screen is at the right height for their bodies.
  • Gel wrist rests to protect their bodies from common injuries from activities such as typing and using the mouse for prolonged periods of time.
  • Wireless phone chargers and hands-free headsets to empower their chosen communication styles

 

Outfit the office with conference tables, webcams, and white boards for official collaboration; but also comfortable sofas, ping-pong tables, and gourmet coffee so they can brainstorm informally. You can also arrange walking meetings to get their blood pumping, energy levels rising, and innovative ideas flowing.

36052057 - business people meeting

36052057 – business people meeting

Remember that flexibility is key, so don’t make it a policy to clock in and out. The most important thing is that they get their work done, and that they get it done well. If your team needs to stay and work into the evening, order them dinner. If they want to work from home a couple days a week, let them – just ensure they have stable internet connection. Providing your team with a flexible workplace creates a comfortable and supportive environment, which is what they crave and what motivates them to do their best work.

3.    Something to believe in

By and large, Millennials want to make the world a better place: more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable. According to Fast Company:

  • 50% of Millennials would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values
  • Millennials want to work with purpose

Having a corporate mission statement, values, and goals is no longer enough. Companies need to align on passions and commitments to engage Millennials. But beyond the verbiage, they need to give their Millennial co-workers opportunities to contribute and excel at the difference the company is making. Acknowledge them, reward them, and celebrate their commitment to making a difference.

46070618 - group of business people celebrating by throwing their business papers in the air

46070618 – group of business people celebrating by throwing their business papers in the air

One of Fortune magazine’s picks for 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015 was SAS, where the opportunity to make a difference is a tenet seen both by the company and by its Millennial workforce:

“SAS is a place where you can make a difference. Our Millennials bring an energy and a new way of looking at things and keep us challenged and progressing” said SAS Vice President of Human Resources Jenn Mann.

“SAS’s supportive and engaging environment allows me to quickly see the impact of my work in the office and in my community. It truly is one of the best workplaces,” adds Associate Software Developer Nolan Piland, who works on SAS®Curriculum Pathways®.

 

The Future is Millennials

In less than 10 years, by 2025, Millennials are expected to comprise 75% of the workforce. To prepare is to act now to shift your corporate culture to be one that supports, inspires, engages, and respects the Millennial must-haves of mobile communication, flexible collaboration, and something to believe in.

 

 

If Sitting is the New Smoking, then a Sit-Stand Desk is the New Juice Cleanse

Google the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” and you will get results from Inc., CNN, Forbes, and nearly 20 million other web pages. It is true: sitting all day is bad for our health. Sedentary lifestyles have been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, and muscular problems. But if sitting is as bad for you as smoking, then working at a sit-stand desk is just as good for you as yoga, Zumba Step, and eating Superfoods, organic, gluten-free, vegan, or doing a juice cleanse! Continue reading

Work and Travel Smart!

Creating an ergonomic workspace is vital, but it won’t do any good while traveling. So if you imagine working on a white sandy beach or at a sidewalk café, consider this: it could get pretty uncomfortable out there. Luckily, there are quite a few possibilities to care for your body on the road.

Read our special post on Ergonomics To Go!

Kare ergonomic chair

Testimonial of the month – NYC CEO on the Kare Chair

Some testimonials just have to stay anonymous. It might lack the warm human touch, but we’ll compensate with some inside info to our products, which hopefully will be very useful to you.

Background: One of our clients is a high profile, Manhattan based international corporation, who has used our fully adjustable ergonomic chairs for over 10 years. Their CEO wanted to get a chair for his newly designed home office.

Reality: This CEO could get any high-end designer chair on the market, but nothing would support his back the way our Kare chair did. It was the only chair that would address his physical concerns and that was what he was using in his executive office day in and day out.

Details: He chose our model 817L Kare Chair because it was the exact type of back support he needed. It was a combination of chair design, the shape of the back and the function of the back, which included the seat depth adjustment, the right combination of medical grade foam, the back angle tilt adjustment and the dial in lumbar adjustment that worked together synergistically, to bring him comfort, and support his health when sitting for so many hours. A high-end customized fabric was selected to match his home décor (wife approved).

Conclusion: We are proud that we were able to make a difference to the quality of his life. That speaks volumes for the design of this chair and our gratitude for dedicated customers like this.

We always value customer testimonials and feedback, just send us a line @ info@kareproducts.com

 

About Karen Burke

Karen is the founder and president of Kare Products, specializing in active ergonomic solutions. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

Ergonomic Solution of the Month – 5 simple changes to your workstation for a healthier more vibrant you!

 

  • Have you found yourself working many hours and longer days at a computer?
  • Did you “inherit” a workstation when you started a new job that wasn’t customized for you?
  • Are you noticing aches and pains that seem to have appeared out of the blue?

You are not alone! Many people (myself included!) are finding themselves working longer hours at workstations that are far from ideal.

Our situation is easy to remedy! It doesn’t have to require major investment (or changing jobs); it just requires that we re-think our surroundings, focus on ergonomics and our health, and realize that setting up our workstation takes little effort and comes with big rewards to make our workstation work for us!

To feel healthy and more vibrant, there are 5 simple changes you can make to your workstation. These are not “move your office to the beach” or “do yoga 12 times a week” suggestions, but rather little things you can do for your posture and positioning of peripherals that will energize your body and mind (and, yoga enthusiasts, your spirit too!).

It’s pretty amazing what a difference a one-inch adjustment to your chair or your body can do for your efficiency and daily comfort. These tips can apply to wherever you work: in the office, at home, or while commuting. Let these five principles guide you to a healthy and vibrant you!

1.    Elbows & Wrists

No matter where you are working, take a moment to ask yourself “where are my elbows and wrists?”

Ideally, your elbows should be level with your wrists when on the keyboard. For most people, this means raising your chair; but sometimes, the chair won’t go high enough. You have two choices: lower your keyboard or raise your chair.

I sometimes find myself with my elbows on the chair arm or my forearms on the desk’s edge, which may be causing skin compression. Most people hang their wrists on the edge of the desks while working and this is a habit we must nip.

Most people can alter their current setup to allow for these ergonomic improvements. If you need more ideas, solutions can come in the forms of:

  • Keyboard tray that lowers your keyboard and mouse
  • A customized chair with a taller cylinder of 6” that raises the chair.
  • Fully adjustable sit to stand desk that adjusts to your correct wrist and elbow height when you’re sitting or standing.
meerkat in the desert

This little individual has got it *almost* right – he just needs to work on leveling his arms a bit.

2.    Feet

Once your elbows and wrists are level, shift your focus to your feet.

Ideally, you should sit fully back in your chair, enjoy back support and have your feet flat on the floor. If your heels barely skim the floor, you’re going to need more support. If you raised your chair to get your elbows level with your wrists, most likely your hips are now a lot higher than your knees. When your feet are unsupported or barely able to stay flat on the ground, and your hips are higher than your knees, this can destabilize your spine adding pressure to your low back.. Some people rest their feet on the base of the chair, but this does not offer enough stable support and there is blood flow restriction caused from bent knees

We must get our feet well supported (either raised or flat on the floor) and our hips level with our knees so that our spines can relax into neutral posture.

I like the easy fix is of using a footrest that is flat and can hold both feet.

3.    Shoulders

Now that your feet are firmly planted and your elbows are level with your wrists, where are your shoulders?

The right answer is: my shoulders are relaxed and my elbows are in a relaxed neutral posture by my side. But typically, people cannot give me the right answer without some adjustments.

Often people crank up the chair arms or rest their forearms on the edge of the desk. This posture will cause compression, restrict blood flow to the forearms, and raise your shoulders to unnatural heights. This can lead to awkward postures and shoulder aches.

The simple solutions to proper shoulder positioning are to lower the chair arms or better yet, get out your screwdriver and remove them altogether! That way, you can relax your shoulders.

arcitc wolf (Canis lupus arctos) stretching itself

Take care of your shoulders and back, remember to stretch!

4.    Back

To determine if your back is in the right position, I recommend assessing the location of your belly. Is it aligned and touching the front of your desk? It should be!

Now, when you adjust the chair back to angle toward you, you will have full back support and be in a neutral working posture.  I don’t want you to be pushed forward or leaning back; instead, I want your entire back to be fully supported and positioned in a nice upright balance. We call this neutral posture and it is key to working in comfort when you’re on the computer.

If your chair does not have a back angle adjustment, most likely you’ll perch on the edge of your chair and receive little or no back support. Many people sit far back from the desk edge, which can result in shoulder reaching, upper back rounding, and neck angled forward trying to view the monitor. Your ideal working posture is to have your back upright and fully supported so your back muscles are not fatigued by the end of the day.

5.    Head and Neck

The desired, neutral posture is for your head to be upright and level when viewing your monitor. Did you know that your head weighs somewhere between 9 to 11 pounds?! When it is in a forward tilt position, it puts a lot of added pressure on the neck, rounds the shoulder blades to counterbalance the weight of the head, and puts more pressure on the entire back.  When your monitor or primary monitor is centered in front of you, so is your head and your neck.

Is your monitor too far away? If so, the forward head tilt is a common posture. A simple remedy is to bring the monitor(s) closer to you. The right distance is an easy arm’s reach for a 17” monitor and a little more for larger monitors. Be kind to your neck. If you’re wearing progressive glasses, lower the monitor about 4 inches and let your eyes rather than your neck do the work. A monitor arm will allow for quick and easy adjustments.

Be kind to your neck - keep it level and upright.

Be kind to your neck – keep it level and upright.

5 Quick Questions for Your Health

When I am working, I ask myself these questions and make adjustments until I have the right answers. You may want to try printing them out and putting them by your workstation to remind you to ask yourself:

  1. Where are my elbows?
  2. Level with my wrist
  1. Where are my feet?
  2. Supported and flat
  1. Where are my shoulders?
  2. Relaxed, with elbows by my side
  1. Where is my back?
  2. Belly to desk edge, with back upright and supported
  1. Where is my neck and head?
  2. Level and upright

Try to break it up by periodically getting up and moving. This will change your body posture, so stand up, stretch, do neck rolls, or take 5 breaths.

Here’s a blog about stretching that will truly make you feel energized in just a few minutes.

To your comfort and health!

About Karen Burke

Karen is president of Kare Products which specializes in ergonomic products. She has 30 years experience in ergonomic product design and consulting.

 

Galaxy S4 Ergonomic Features

Galaxy_S4The Samsung Galaxy S4 has drawn a lot of attention for it’s innovative and ergonomic features. The bigger visual screen and scratch resistant glass make viewing easy on the eyes. The GS4 phone is much larger than most consumers have grown accustomed to when it comes to mobile phones. Apple’s iPhone 5 prides itself on its minimal size and other manufacturers have followed their footsteps (4.87 x 2.31 x 0.30 inches). At 5.38 x 2.75 x 0.31 inches, the GS4 has earned the title of a “phablet” which is a combination of phone and tablet.

Is it too big?

Naturally some people will wonder if the GS4 is too big to be comfortable. The device was designed to fit in the palm of your hand and this works well for most adults. For children or people with smaller hands, this may not be the best practical solution.

Form Factor

You will notice that the Galaxy S4 phone has beveled edges and a curved chassis designed to fit ingalaxy s4 in palm the palm of your hand. Phones with a flat edge design do not rest as comfortably in your hand because the natural resting state of your hand is curved and not flat, as if you were giving a high-five.

Screen Size

Samsung GalaxyS4 shines when it comes to the new larger easy-to-read screen size and smaller footprint. Other phones with a 5-inch screen, such as the HTC Droid DNA haven’t been able to match the smaller size.

Weight

The GS4 design still manages to weigh less than the S3. From an ergonomic standpoint, having a phone that can fit in your hand comfortably and maintain a reasonable weight (4.59 ounces) is a huge plus because the lighter design puts less strain on your hand. All in all, the size and weight of the phone, clarity and larger screen size along with shape of phone add up to positive benefits for a person who spends lots of time on their phone. Samsung offers some well thought out ergonomic benefits to consider when purchasing your new phone.

 

Author Byline

Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.

Driving Ergonomics – Take Care While You Drive

If you thought ergonomics was limited to office settings and to sitting properly in front of your computer, think again! Driving, especially for long periods of time, puts significant stress on the back and neck. Small cars often don’t fit tall drivers, while other cars may not support all users. If you have to crank your neck to look through your mirrors, twist or turn your body to enter and exit your vehicle, or if you tightly clench the steering wheel while sitting in a hunched-over position, driving your car may be a musculoskeletal injury just waiting to happen.

The good news is that there are many ergonomic tips for driving which will allow you to drive comfortably, safely, and injury free. With a few adjustments and even some innovative ergonomic car accessories, you can prevent neck and back pain behind the wheel and enjoy the ride.

Proper Sitting in Your Car

Follow these ergonomic strategies for driving:

  • Adjust the seat height so you have a good view out the windshield but avoid hitting the steering wheel with your thighs.
  • Check that your feet can depress all the foot pedals without your back coming away from the seat back or move your seat closer to the steering wheel
  • Recline the back of your seat so your shoulders are behind your hips maintaining an upright, relaxed posture.
  • Many car seat designs force rounded back posture. To support the natural curvature of your spine, invest in a thin lumbar cushion or full backrest to reduce rounded shoulders and back postures.
  • Set your seat height and seat angle to support your bottom and thighs evenly to prevent uneven, circulation-restricting pressure points on your glutes and thighs.
  • Hold the steering wheel with your hands at the nine and three o’clock positions, rather that at ten and two o’clock, leaving your arms and shoulders in a relaxed and healthful position
  • Adjust your mirrors so that you can see without excessive twisting or turning of your neck
  • Check that you have ample room to get in and out of your car easily; enter your vehicle by sitting first and then swinging your legs in; exit your vehicle by sliding your legs out first and then standing up (decreasing strain to the low back)

Ergo Driving Breaks

To reset your spine and alleviate pressure caused by prolonged sitting, take advantage of red lights or sitting in traffic by doing some simple stretches, such as reaching your hands up towards the sky.

After two hours of driving (if not sooner), get out of your car for a stretching or walking break. Not only will this prevent stiff muscles and strain to the back, but also relieve the stress in your wrists and hands. Holding a steering wheel in awkward postures or too tightly can give rise to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Ergonomic Car Accessories Review

Here are some of the latest ergonomic car accessories hitting the markets:

  • Magnet Bubble Seat Cushion, Acu-Bead Magnetic Cushion: These economy seat cushions feature molded foam bubbles, magnets and acubeads for pressure points. For best value and support, consider buying higher quality: Nikken, ObusForme
  • Comfort Lumbar Support: is a favorite for poorly designed car seats. This supports healthy lumbar supportposture of the entire back, relieve aches and pains, and tension to avoid rounded shoulders and back
  • Wooden Bead Car Seat and Bamboo Car Seat: Allows air to circulate, keeping you cool when driving. With mixed reviews about the comfort and quality of these, a bigger concern is the compression to your bottom and legs.
  • For healthier seating posture, wedges can improve spinal alignment and reduce back pain from the scooped bucket seat design.
  • Ergonomic children’s car seats: Feature a lightweight design, comfortable handling, and adjustable seats and back/head/shoulder rests to fit the physique of each child

 

Author Byline

Karen Burke is the President and Founder of Kare Products. Karen has over 30 years of expertise creating ergonomic furniture that helps avoid injury and promotes health for all types of discomfort and body sizes.