Category Archives: Environmental Design

Standing Desk

Standing Desks

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Standing desks seem to be one of those movements that have developed an irresistible momentum. No data needed. They instinctively resonate as a good idea. A no brainer. Why would we need any research to back it up? Sedentary lifestyles are killing us, causing obesity, diabetes, back pain . . . so standing must be better.

If it wasn’t already clear through common sense, it’s become painfully clear through science that sitting all day is terrible for your health. What’s especially alarming about this evidence is that extra physical activity doesn’t seem to offset the costs of what researchers call “prolonged sedentary time.” Just as jogging and tomato juice don’t make up for a night of smoking and drinking, a little evening exercise doesn’t erase the physical damage done by a full work day at your desk.

ergo-X banner

ERGO-X Conference of Champions

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As most of you probably already know, the EID site is part of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s family of services. We strive to cover as many dimensions of HF/E as we can in our limited space and time. That is one of the reasons we had our open forum day and we will do that again. It is also why we point out great HFES events such as UX Day. Today we are happy share another one of these great events, the ERGO-X Conference (link to https://www.hfes.org/Web/HFESMeetings/ergoX.html).

At ErgoX, world-class leaders in the ergonomics field will translate the latest scientific findings and best practices into effective information, procedures, tools, and approaches you can use to improve your work safety and wellness outcomes – all in a unique, user-friendly, and intimate setting.

Trash Can fillled with food

Upcycling

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This might be an example of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon , but the day after I wrote the article about precycling , I came across this Cassandra Daily (from The Intelligence Group) about upcycling . Upcycling is to take your waste and do something with it that is more value-adding than standard recycling. The Cassandra Daily highlighted three examples from the food industry.

Dumpster diving freegans are no longer the only ones making good use of rubbish bin scraps. Similar to how the nose-to-tail movement has seen butchers and carnivores become more mindful about meat consumption, new initiatives that utilize would-be food waste in creative ways are inspiring diners to think twice before tossing leftovers.

the google logo

Best Places To Work

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Fortune Magazine recently published its annual 100 Best Companies to Work For issue. This is important to all of us, because we spend so many hours of our lives each week working. That is why we have covered workplace design and teleworking here at EID.

Now … drumroll, please! … Our winner for my Best Company to Work For is an organization that enjoys a strong leader, very clear goals, a truly disruptive vision focused on growth, with high stakes, and when the day is done, it’s Stoli time.

rubbermaid plasticware

Design for Precycling

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Many companies pay lip service to their green initiatives, maximizing the marketing benefits of eco-friendly practices rather than trying to establish real reductions in their environmental impact. Sad, but unfortunately true. According to the UN Global Compact on Climate Change, we are getting pretty close to the point of no return in the amount of damage that is building up, so it is rewarding to see some product design trends that can have a real positive benefit.

One bold new supermarket chain in Berlin, called Original Unverpackt, is cutting through this misleading practice by going green the old-fashioned, and sometimes difficult, way: selling everything in bulk and allowing customers to bring their own containers.

We Work Office Space

Innovation of the Workplace is Not Just About Cost Savings

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Using an office at WeWork feels a lot like checking in at a swank hotel. Indie music plays softly in the reception area. Young professionals with laptops sprawl across couches, beanbag chairs, and even pillow-covered stacks of wooden pallets, sipping artisanal coffee or lemon-accented water. Depending on the day, help yourself to a waffle brunch, or sign up for a $1-per-minute massage in a conference room.

This is the third in our series on the future of the workplace. You can find the first one here and the second one here.

Homeless Man

Urban Environmental Design

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Since the HFES Annual Meeting this year is in Los Angeles, we thought we would take EID there for this week’s innovation Monday article. Specifically, to a new development in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood that shows a level of attention to the complete resident experience that is unusual in housing developments for the homeless. It was written up in the Most Innovative Companies issue of Fast Company that we have been featuring, although it was not on the official list, perhaps because it is not run by a private sector company. But it is still an example of innovative design and good human factors.

“There are still people who think we should isolate these individuals on the outskirts of town,” he says. “What we’re doing is part of a much larger movement. Affordable housing needs to be much more integrated in the physical fabric of the city you need to integrate other supportive services in the building to help create a bridge for these individuals back into culture. You can’t just give them an apartment and expect things to work out.”

Humanoid Robot

Emerging Technologies and the Precautionary Principle

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Scientific American has a great series where they invite thought leaders from a variety of science-related fields to expound on an important topic. At the recent World Economic Forum, they asked philosopher and neuroscientist Nayef Al-Rodhan to talk about the ethical implications of emerging technologies. It is an incredible read and not gated, so I recommend every one of you should read his thoughts on the subject.

Immediate ethical red flags emerge, however: Building neuromorphic chips would create machines as smart as humans, the most intelligent species on the planet. These technologies are demonstrations of human excellence yet computers that think could be devastating for our species and, as Marvin Minsky has put it, they could even keep humanity as pets.

Fireworks

One Year Anniversary

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In honor of the one year anniversary of EID’s relaunch (check out our first post ever here) under our new format, we thought we would copy an innovative technique used by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In addition to being a brilliant, award winning writer, he is also credited for having one of the best comment management strategies for his blog at The Atlantic magazine. One dimension of his strategy, which seems obvious on the surface but is incredibly rare, is to start with the assumption that some…

cubicles

Open Floor Plan Part II

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The last time we covered this topic, we focused on the opportunities that arise with the dynamic assignment of workspaces. We highlighted that open floor plans were a great advance in the evolution of workplace layout, especially back when there was a lot of basic taskwork that leashed employees to their desks and a small group of other employees they needed to interact with. They were all there, just a shout away. The cost savings were huge in reduced space needed.

The bigger driving factor, however, has been the pervasive idea that open offices encourage collaboration, spark creative conversation, and increase productivity. Since there’s really no such thing as a private conversation in many of these offices, they also serve to symbolize the modern, egalitarian workplace ideal: one big happy family that types together, eats together, and works through personal drama together.