Ever since interior designer Frank Lloyd Wright suggested (as cited in the Way We Work Isn't Working) that the world needed to think about open plan offices, they've become the standard way to do things. The open plan supposedly cuts down on the prison-like environment of the cubicle, suggesting a collaborative environment in which everyone can see their fellow workers and feel like they're all part of the same effort. Over time, people began to truly hate the open plan office, because it was thrust upon them. The Telepgraph's Josephine Fairley described them, as many do, as lacking in privacy, leading to noise spreading across the office and dissolving productivity through distraction. She also cites a study in which it also led to people getting sick, and problems with personal space.
The issue is that many offices do things because they're the latest trend. Once someone suggested that Sitting At Work Will Kill You, many offices began to install them, offering employees the chance to stand on the job. This trend became huge, and people dug up examples of great minds like Earnest Hemingway using them as a justification that they increased productivity and were somehow healthy. Now the downturn against the standing movement has begun, with Quartz reporting "sudden on-set cankles" as well as several other huge shifts one requires. US News and World Report suggests it may be doing more harm than good. Nevertheless, the standing desk industry is growing and adapting, with an ex-Apple employee creating the Stir mechanical standing desk, a $3000 piece of furniture that can adapt to sitting and standing, learning when you should move yourself.
The problem with a lot of these fads, and offices in general, is that many are made at the behest of the big boss making assumptions about what their people need to work their hardest. Steelcase, creators of the Steelcase Leap (an expensive ergonomic chair that's worth every penny), also install entire furniture and office sets, including quasi-open cubicles that give the level of privacy your employees may want. An informal survey of the entire office may suggest something entirely different, though, and it's important to not assume before spending $5000 or more on a bolted-in desk.
This is where Altwork's station came from. Co-founded by Che Voigt, an engineer and investor based in Sonoma, California, the on-wheels station can adjust into multiple modes, including a "zero-G" mode where you ergonomically shift backward into a position where you're almost laying down. The desk can also swing its attached monitor, keyboard and mouse and rise to become a standing desk. Magnets hold the accessories in place, and Mashable described the process as "making them acutely aware of [their body]...and how poorly [they] sat in normal chairs."
The real incentive of the $5900 station is the adaptability to the normal office space. While it is "open" in the sense that it doesn't work, the zero-G and more upright "focus" modes keep the user on the screen in front of them powerfully. It also can swing the monitor to the right of the chair for easy collaboration. Modes are shifted into using an attached panel that controls the engineered, Apple-style station.
Many of the solutions through Steelcase and others, such as Herman Miller and their ever-popular Aeron Chair and desk options, have the inherent issue that Altwork has solved; they don't move. Installing even a small desk will cost a similar amount through a broker, with no way to (unless you pile boxes up to standing height) elegantly adapt to a different worker. It's also part of one of the many startup costs that people forget; unless you go cheap (or rent through a service such as Cort Furniture, neither of which your employees will be impressed by), even the most basic office setup can drive up costs. Altwork's flexibility may both fix the health (according to Voight in a discussion with tech blog SlashGear, we've been ignoring our bodies at work) and logistical issue of moving offices and different staff requirements.
Whatever you choose, try to think less of what's "cool" in the media at present, and focus on what the employee wants out of their work day. If it's something that creates hard work, comfort and results, you're onto a winner.
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