With so many new office products and equipment being released in the market regularly, it’s difficult to remain on top of everything and understand how these products function unless you have the time to devote. Today’s post features Camille Fraser, president of ErgoMania. Camille has helped hundreds of Ergonomic Service Providers by providing guidance and ergonomic equipment that fit their clients’ needs. She provides her knowledge and expertise around the world with her Preferred Ergonomics Equipment Program. Camille also hosts the monthly Ergonomic Equipment Showdown in the Accelerate: The Business of Ergonomics Program.

This is the first of a two-part series of my interview with Camille. In this episode, she’s going to share useful information and tips that you can apply when you’re conducting ergonomic assessments. This is an info-packed conversation you don’t want to miss. 

Below are some of the questions I asked Camille, and her responses:

What do ergonomics service providers need to know about workplace policy with fancy active chairs?

That's very dependent on the place that you're suggesting the active chairs from. Some policies differ a lot between different businesses. So it's all about finding the right person in that company to ask if it's violating any safety policies or anything like that. You really have to go find that person before suggesting an active chair just to make sure that you're suggesting something that your client can actually use.

Have you ever heard of a situation where someone got a recommendation to use a treadmill desk or an active chair, they put it in place, and then a safety professional walked by one day and said, "We can't have that in the office"? 

I haven't heard of it personally, no. Normally, people do their due diligence before they actually talk to me. I’m also used to selling all the products, so they might not come back to me and tell me, "Hey, this didn't work out in this business because I didn't check out before I could actually have an active chair."

There’s so many unique chairs emerging nowadays, and it's really great. That means a lot more people are getting into the mindset that you actually have to move throughout your workday and not sit around all the time. However, that also means that there's a lot of chairs out there to cipher through to make sure that it all works out. But a lot of people are getting into it and greeting them more with open arms for employees to try those things out, so it’s good.

I’ve seen many people getting fanatical about the benefits of using active chairs. But research is saying that reducing sedentary time is a huge concern, and those types of chairs won't actually do much to help you. What can you say about that?

That's the main thing about the active chairs because their main goal is to increase your output of energy. But then at the same time, they found that—most of the chairs—that’s not what they’re actually helping with. It doesn’t really help in increasing that threshold that you wanted to see. However, it’s helping in different aspects, which is some of the research that's come out quite recently, such as changing just a little bit more blood flow in the legs. That's why more and more people are into it too. But most active chairs don't really help out with increasing your energy level, so it's still considered sedentary behavior, if that makes any sense.

Recently, many people are on board with active chairs because of the amazing health benefits it provides. Do you think that using these types of chairs might lead to other concerns in the office?

I think it’s the same with when we have the craze for standing desks and everybody just decided to stand the whole entire day, and then they found out that the pain just went down to the knees instead of the back, so it just kind of switched spots. I feel that with a craze like active seating getting more and more popular, people are just so interested in this shiny new toy that they're going to just want to sit in it all the time. And they're going to soon realize that maybe they should do the same idea as the sit and stand desk where they still have a good ergonomic chair that gives all that support and they switch out their chairs once in a while to kind of switch positions throughout the day and just move about and have a little bit of movement in the legs to get that blood flowing a little bit more. I think that’s where we’re going to end up being, but getting people in that routine, I think, is going to be key to making those chairs effective.

Are you a fan of the cross-legged chairs?

Personally, I'm not a person that crosses her legs often. If you're a person that loves to cross your legs when you're sitting, that normally just means that you're not comfortable in the sitting position that you're in. So you cross your legs to have a little bit of a difference. 

It's great for people that like to sit cross-legged. But obviously, you can't sit cross-legged for a long period of time, even if you're used to sitting in that position all the time. What I find with these chairs is that it's great for people that are going to sit cross-legged regardless because that's how they want to sit, right? But I don't think that it's a good idea to use it throughout the whole entire day. 

Since it’s a chair that accommodates you for sitting cross-legged, it’s a wider chair because it supports your knees and your legs when you’re cross-legged, so it has to have a big footprint that’ll take in your office. So if a person doesn't have that big of an office or they’re just a little cubicle, then it might not be worth it to get a chair like that because it takes so much space. And you don't want to use it all day, so you're still going to have your office chair with it. Cross-legged chairs are not really for all-day office use. 

Do you think that most of these types of chairs that exist are only on the market today because it’s being marketed directly to the consumer, and if the consumer had a better understanding of optimizing their workplace for them, then they may not even be looking for a new chair?

Yeah, I think so. I think education, obviously, is key. That's why if you're having some discomforts or even want to be more productive, ergonomists are super helpful with that. Even with the algorithms and stuff that we have nowadays too, they can definitely see what your interests are. Let's say you like yoga, then they just send you a cross-legged chair because you can get into different positions. So they're really targeting all of that towards the consumer. It might be great for your hobby, but it might not be great for your office. 

I feel like educating yourself is super key in just helping your employees or the workspace figure out what's best. Even as professionals, sometimes it's really hard to figure out whether it’s a good product for your clients. It's really hard to just suggest the product to someone, especially if you've never tried it before and the client really wants that product. It does take time for professionals to do it, so I can imagine how much time it would take for somebody that's not really educated in office ergonomics to make the correct seating and how much time they should be sitting. There's a lot of different things that go into office ergonomics that are more than just the chair.

And that’s it for part 1! For the second part of this episode, Camille will be sharing with us more insights that can add so much value to how you operate your business and your services as Ergo Service Professionals. 

Connect with Camille

If you're in Canada, I encourage you to check out the Office Ergonomic Equipment on her website. If you'd like her to help you source the best Ergonomic Equipment for you, check out her Preferred Ergonomic Equipment Program.

Another thing: If you want to learn how I'm helping Ergonomics Consultants grow and scale their businesses, sign up to the waitlist for the Accelerate program.

Want to get into office ergonomics assessments without the confusion or overwhelm? Download the 7-step resource guide here.


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