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The hidden ergonomic benefit of work pods

How acoustic work pods afford two vital kinds of movement — triggering cross-pollination and engendering a more active, inspired office.

People tend to think of ‘privacy’ and ‘quiet’ when they think of work pods. Well-designed and well-made models certainly do provide both. But they also unlock an incredible but overlooked  ergonomic benefit: the freedom to move. An office fit with a variety of pods or working spaces gives employees the freedom to move through spaces each day, reaping the innumerable benefits of movement.

In this light, work pods are an affordance for movement — and can play a crucial role in a manager’s strategy to create a more active office. 

Work pods allow and catalyze two vital kinds of movement 

“. . . whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly organizing and re-organizing our workplace to enhance performance. Space is a resource that must be managed, much like time, memory, and energy. When we use space well we can often bring the time and memory demands of our tasks down to workable levels. We can increase the reliability of execution, and the number of jobs we can handle at once.”-David Kirsh, cognitive scientist, professor, University of California

When we talk about movement at work, we are referring to two kinds of movement that are equally important for well-being, comfort, and productivity. Work pods catalyze both.

Movement #1: Movement at the desk (or while working)

Raising one leg at a time on your footrest to shift postures, alternating between a standing and sitting posture, bouncing, rocking, swaying on an active seat, or enjoying micro-movement as facilitated by an anti-fatigue mat… These are all the subtle movements you can perform while ‘sedentary’ at your desk. The goal is to build more opportunities for these kinds of movement into the design of the workstation itself. 

Below are some of the design features within Hush work pods that provide employees this opportunity for more movement while working. 

  • Sit-stand adjustability – hushPhone has a built-in fold-out standing-height table, and hushWork has a manual height-adjustment system — both allow for a smooth transition between desk heights without interrupting workflow 
  • Comfortable, support standing – hushMeet pods are built with an ergonomic armrest for users to lean on in a supported and relaxed standing posture 
  • Room for ergonomic accessories there is ample room within solo pods to add footrests, active chairs, or anti-fatigue mats that bring more movement to the desk

Don’t forget that ergonomics seeks more than movement — it also looks at environmental conditions like light, sound, temperature, and smell and assesses how well these conditions support comfort and performance. Which is why users can adjust lighting, ventilation, and acoustics in each Hush pod. Check out our article for more on the engineering behind a pod’s acoustics: Quiet but not too quiet: the acoustics of the office work pod explained.

Movement #2: “In-office mobility” 

“Workspaces that provide variety and encourage in-office mobility have higher effectiveness and experience scores.”- Gensler’s U.S. Workplace Survey 2019

Short strolls between pods, brisk walks around the office building, stretching sessions, and walking meetings… these actions all represent the second vital kind of movement an office space should facilitate: in-office mobility. 

The key here is first to provide a variety of work environments, giving employees options. Because each kind of work environment (or pod, in our case), provides an environment suitable for a unique task, the user is empowered to match the task to the pod and

move through pods each day — maintaining total flow. From this angle, work pods not only encourage but catalyze movement as the employee maintains flow. The beautiful thing about in-office mobility is that movement welcomes more movement. Objects in motion do tend to stay in motion, after all. So in time, your team will become more and more active each day.

Hush pods “afford” movement, creating an active office 

“By incorporating Active Design strategies into office environments, employers stand to benefit from employees’ increased productivity and improved quality of life.”-The Center for Active Design

“Affordances” is an interior design  concept valuable to understand when looking at how Hush pods catalyze movement.  And it’s quite simple. Working and living in the built environment as designers, managers, and employees, we perceive the elements in our environment in terms of what functions these elements afford us. A keyboard affords typing. A chair affords sitting. And a mouse affords mousing. Because we create opportunities for movement through the implementation of work pods, Hush work pods afford movement. 

And if we adhere to careful, strategic planning in the placement of our pods, we can afford maximum movement. Well-thought-out affordances such as work pods serve as a cornerstone for a more active office. In fact, creating a variety of workspace, encouraging movement, and incorporating height-adjustable work surfaces are three of the nine principles of Active Design. All three of which principles are fulfilled by Hush. 

The collision factor: the dynamite of an active office rich with movement

Have you ever been too deep in the weeds of a problem? You racked your brain and approached the problem from different angles, but you couldn’t seem to crack it. So you took a break. You moseyed to the work cafe. On the way, you ran into an old colleague and struck up a conversation. Mid-conversion, it clicked: the solution revealed itself. This, in a nutshell, is the collision factor at work. 

The collision factor refers to how well the office design supports these kinds of spontaneous meetings with colleagues. Organic conversations are sparked, and the ideas flow. Because serendipity gets a person out of their head and into the of the moment, inspiration strikes. Inspiration, which, of course, leads to innovation. And innovation, of course, is the name of the game.  

Not only does the collision factor ‘hack’ innovation. It also improves morale. Because connection strengthens relationships and enlivens one’s sense of alignment with organizational goals. 

3 Tips: a Hush pod layout that catalyzes movement, triggering collisions 

When players in management and office design caught on to the collision factor, we started seeing design strategies to increase mobility and cross-pollination — with the ambition of triggering collisions. Workspace variety is one of these strategies. An office rich with a variety of workspaces — placed strategically to encourage movement — will engender more collisions each day.

  • Ensure seamless flow of movement through work environments — remove or reposition physical barriers which unnecessarily block this flow 
  • Make the layout dynamic. Rather than clustering all pod-types in one spot, place different styles of pods beside one another so employees must move throughout pods each day to satisfy their work pattern
  • Make the walking distance between pods pleasant — don’t space pods within each cluster too far apart, discouraging movement 

Not only does a movement-rich office fit with pods reconcile the need for both privacy and collaboration while triggering collisions. It gives employees a healthy sense of autonomy in the workplace by giving them options for where to work. The collision factor is simply the cherry on top for a dynamic, active, inspired team. 

Wondering what Hush Work would look like in your office? Download the AR app and place virtual boxes in your space — download app store.

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