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Working from home - getting serious about furniture - An Interview with Guy Osmond

February 07, 2022

Working from home - getting serious about furniture - An Interview with Guy Osmond
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Working from home has been a necessity throughout the pandemic, but now the idea of Hybrid Working is the "new normal". As we move from necessity to normal, we should also be moving from the dining room chair to something that is going to properly sup...


Working from home has been a necessity throughout the pandemic, but now the idea of Hybrid Working is the "new normal". As we move from necessity to normal, we should also be moving from the dining room chair to something that is going to properly support us. Guy Osmond has been on that journey throughout the pandemic with his ergonomic furniture business, and shares with us what we should be looking for.

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Transcript

Well though, to the human factors, podcasts, all things about humans, technology, particularly the bits in between.

And welcome to this episode of 12 or two, the human factors podcast with me, your host, Barry Kirby, and welcome to the first proper episode of 2020 to personally. I can't believe it's 20, 22. Not to mention that by the time you get into this podcast, then January is pretty much done, but hopefully fingers crossed.

This will be the year that we'll get to spend some more time in each other's company, physically, rather than just virtually. But the past two years whilst they they've gone by in a, in a really quick time and who can remember what, what 2021 looked like? Nevermind 20, 20, the pandemic fundamentally has changed things for everybody.

And we've been living that, um, an enforced work from home. Where you can, uh, where you have been for a long time. Now you may recall we had a discussion at the beginning of the pandemic with Kirsty. Angra where she gave some hints and tips about how to make the most of the space we have and how to work during the day about making the use of the, um, the, the dining room table, the ironing board, and, you know, making sure you got plenty of rest.

But it's the pandemic has made us do anything. It's to really look at the value of working differently. The hybrid nature has allowed us to spend more time at home with families and rethink what our working day looks like. There's now a strong drive that we can be much more flexible in our working. It needs to be proven that employees can be trusted and will deliver what they need to, rather than the underlying idea that employees, if they were to go, going to be at home, they spend all the time in front of the team.

In fact, it's now suggestions that we can go even further, change everything, sell off the offices and do it all from home. Personally, I think that's gone a bit far for a number of reasons, including team-working mental health and simply not having the right facilities at home to work properly. I know some people who are still working from the dining room tables and still using ironing boards.

So I'm home today's guest will help us address some of the issues surrounding that last topic. The ability to work from home correctly. With the right equipment and in the right way,  is the owner of Osman ergonomics, a company that specializes in the ergonomics in ergonomic furniture. I first met guy a few years ago at the ergonomics conference.

It was so taken with the passion with which he talks about what he does. And therefore I'm really pleased to get some time with him today, guy. Welcome. And thank you for being here. 

Thank you very much. And I'm very pleased to do so. 

Very cool. So before we get into this main topic around how we can work from home and how we can make that work for us, let's get to know you a bit more.

So what is your current role? What does the owner of Bozeman ergonomics actually do on a day to day basis? 

Oh, my favorite question guide, please talk about yourself. Okay. I'm trying to keep it sharp. So, um, I run the company, ultimate economics. I've been in. For 45, 46 years, we'd been in the workplace economics specifically through furniture and that sort of thing for nearly 30 years now.

So my job is much as it was before, but with a lot of other complicated complications since COVID, because obviously there's a lot more considerations. So, um, I hopefully support my various members of staff I've could have a really good team. So. Our average length of service. I was looking at the other days, nearly 10 years.

So I've got a very motivated, engaged team. So, um, they probably think I don't do very much, but I sort of did cross with all in the background, just trying to figure out what's happening next, anticipating what's happens or what's going to happen and, um, or clearing up what just happened depending on how the day's going.

Actually at that, that is a heck of a long time to be in, um, in one role effectively, you know, you're seeing that length of time and seeing your business grow. What inspired you into that in the first place? 

How did, how did it. And I'd like to say, I've always had this grand plan and vision of where my life's going, but that's very far from the truth and this like many other things in my life was pure coincidence.

Um, a bit of an unfortunate one initially, but. I put my back out as a workplace injury, frankly, working for my father when, you know, for 40, 50 years ago, not 45 years ago, you know, workplace health and safety, wasn't quite as focused and organized as it is these days. Just as a silly thing, put my back out.

It had recurred and then. Nearly 30 years ago, I put it out again, went to see my doctor who referred me to her husband, who was a rheumatologist. And he had designed a thing at Saulsbury hospital called the desktop desk, which is effectively taking the old school desk idea of a sloping workstation and applying it to a keyboard and screen and stuff.

So it was a, an old school skip test type design for. Um, to use with our computer, um, and then cause a very long story short cause we did a lot of negotiating with NHS trust, which as you can imagine is like running intrigue or much of the time, but we ended up manufacturing that under license and that was our first product.

Um, and it came about just around sort of early nineties. So just when the first DRC regs were coming into place. So we exhibited what was probably the. Well health and safety or Ross per show or something. Um, for our first time with one product, not really quite knowing what I didn't at that stage realized I was in economics.

I don't think we have a good idea that might have a market. Um, and then of course we saw this inter web thing coming and we registered ergonomics.co.uk. I think about six months before the economic society, as it then was registered economics.org.uk. So, yeah, so, so yeah, I would want it to say now and again, I have vision and thinking maybe the internet was going somewhere with something that I did think we ought to get on.

No. That's really fascinating though, to see how you've had that, um, you know, inspiration again, born of life experience and, and just seeing that flourish. It's um, is that something you thought? What, what was the original plan? Did you have an original plan? So before this came into play, well, when you were, um, what w what did little guy want to be when he was older?

Oh, God, no idea. I mean, over the years I've been there. All sorts of businesses. So I, I, I, my father owned a business was very entrepreneurial. I suppose. I'm the oldest of four boys. It naturally seemed I would go into business, but, you know, suggested it was something as grand as strategy would be completely overstating.

It. Um, you mentioned about, uh COVID-19 and we'll get, we'll get onto. You know how you've dealt with COVID-19 in the business, but how have you found working through COVID yourself? So obviously you've had to work from home and that type of thing. Have you found it? 

Um, I love working from home. It's the truth.

Um, there's a lot ideas, messy interaction meetings. We start, but actually I live in the depths. It's all set. We've got quite a nice houses. You can see my study is quite large. I'm not sure to space. Um, I can look out not from this window, but if I want to go and sit somewhere else in the house, because the stream at the bottom of the garden, so I can tick all the biophilia boxes without any problems at all.

Um, and I do have. I have a very short attention span. I'm incredibly easily distracted. So actually if I'm in a room on my own. I can sometimes force myself to just get on focus, whereas where I'm in an open plan office. Cause I like to think I'm a bit of a people person I do. And I like to be involved in what's going on.

Um, some might say interfere in what's going on, but I think it's probably as good for my staff for me not to be in the office as it is for me. So, um, but there are all the other issues I do. Miss. I've just started. Some more face-to-face meetings in the last couple of weeks, since it's the start of January 20, 22, I've started seeing, I've seen a few suppliers and that face-to-face interaction.

I I'd sort of forgotten. Actually the, you know, there is a sort of chemistry, the body language, the just that there's all sorts of parts about it. And I think particularly. When you're on a teams, a resume, there is an agenda, and it's just so easy to dive straight into that, go public, get through what he's doing and then leave.

Um, and I literally, in the last couple of weeks, just from chance conversations with people, other opportunities and ideas have cropped up that I'm certain just wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been face-to-face because the environment wouldn't have been right for the conversation to go in that.

Yeah, it's interesting. Isn't it? There's um, there is a fair bit of thing around there around particularly innovation, uh, when you're working in, um, yeah. The ideas environment does that, can you actually do the innovation thing, overt teams and zoom and things like that. Um, and I'm, I think very much for me, the jury is out.

We've been able to do some of it, but it still isn't as rich as being, being able to be in a room with a white board. Um, and just to be able to splurge ideas up there and. There's something about the body language and, and, and the lack of, or the ability to just talk over each other and not talk over each other and interact in a different way.

So, yes, no, I see exactly where you're coming from. That interaction thing, I think calls. Um, there was an entry. I haven't been challenged chance to read it, but I just saw it probably on LinkedIn this morning, Barco who do some tools for, um, um, video conferencing and that sort of thing. They just probably some research and it was something like 28% of people think they're actually just missing out.

I think it was in their career. As I say, it was only grabbing a headline, but through remote remote meetings, because. You know, you need to be a really good facilitator or chairman to run a meeting. The hybrid one is even more difficult and actually everybody being remote. So I think we'll see some problems with that.

Where as we move more through a hybrid mix of people just actually. Just sort of almost get left on the edges because they're introverted or they're not that they need to go away and think about the idea rather than jumping straight in as other people will. So, yeah, I think there's, there's a lot of management skills that we need to work hard at that are, that are we're discovering different needs.

Maybe we've never been. Fully understood Erica  beforehand. No, I think that's very true. Cause the I'm going to be giving a talk for the IET in a couple of weeks. I think it is. Um, and that they, they do that as a hybrid event. So normally I would either do an online thing. You don't like this or you do it face to face the idea of having to match two audiences at the same time.

That for the first time in awhile, worries me. Um, how do you, how do you, I'd rather do. One or the other, well, um, both, I think that's very difficult. And then the further thing in that, of course, depending on the requirement is I just really struggle with meetings where you're just looking at somebody's initials and they haven't got the camera.

Now I get that. Some people really struggle with that. But I actually, I mean, I, I, my training managers, you would emphasize, runs quite a lot of remote training and I helped with him on some of that. And, you know, having looking at however many or, you know, a third of them, You've only seen them for two minutes when they checked in this morning.

And you don't even know if they're there, whether you're talking to yourself. I think that's, that's even more difficult as a presenter or trainer, but also to, you know, how much value is there in that. Because if the presenters struggling to know whether they've actually getting their messages, Then, you know, how do you quantify whether that's yeah, and I, this is where I've lost a lot of sympathy with a lot of, um, university lecturers, um, having, uh, supported some of them.

You can see that they just go in on zoom and then there's all the students in there. There's again, there's just the dot, dot, dot.dot. What do you, what are you talking to? It's incredible. Um, anyway, what we'll do is we're just gonna take a quick break and then we'll come back and talk, um, talk a bit more about you.

You are listening to the human practice podcast. We wanted to take yoga, Judy's heats and say, thank you for your support. You can help further by rating us through your podcast provider, sharing through social media and telling your friends and colleagues let's work together in raising awareness of the value in the users at the center of what we do.

Welcome back. And we told them to Guzman from Ottoman the ergonomics. So guy from, from the business perspective, then what does  economics do? What makes you different from just a furniture furniture online ordering company? Well, the first thing is obviously at a glance, we just sell furniture, but the difference is we had some consultants in and, um, I know there'd be a lot of people in the, in watching this podcast and you're listening and you call us who are consultants.

And of course, you know, for the non consultant, it's great to get somebody in and pay them money to tell you the blind really bloody obvious was there, but we need that. And I certainly did. And we. We thought we, what we were selling was products because actually that was what was on our invoices. But actually we realize that people come to us for knowledge, you know, they know exactly what they want.

Most people can do a web troll and find the cheapest price or the quickest delivery or whatever they're looking for. Whereas most people come to us with a problem for, for the ergonomics part, not so much on the project type stuff, but the majority of our business is dealing with people. But musculoskeletal problems.

People now, particularly homeworkers who realized that what they got just isn't adequate. So they don't bring up and have a list of pro you know, just with a list of part numbers and say, can you give me a price? They actually ring up and say, I've got a whiplash injury, or I've been working my time in table.

And I've got this terrible pain across my neck. And, or a lot of them say, I've been to see the physio. And they said, we should bring your chiropractor. Cause we deal with a lot of. Uh, so the medical professionals who encounter the people with those needs. So, so I suppose to sum it up the differences, most office furniture suppliers probably start with a conversation.

That's something along the lines of, we need X chairs or we need to fit out a room for 20 people. Whereas the majority come to us and say, here's my problem. How can you help? Oh, that's really interesting then. So. Without being rude. Now this possibly is rude, but ergonomic chairs, not just like really expensive chairs is there is what, what, what sets an ergonomic chair aside from, from your standard office chair?

The main thing is that if you look at a standard office chair, Especially one that is made in China and, um, fully leather with fixed arms and says it's an ergonomic chair on the box. So you have, it must be economic and cost 49 99. Apart from, I know I'm not being particularly disparaging to Chinese products because some of that stuff is great.

There's all sorts of stuff being made indeed in the UK, that's pretty much rubbish, but around the world, but the problem is. That first of all, a lots of chairs probably in, in number terms, absolutely. Men are, the majority are not very, uh, not. Properly adjustable. So they don't have enough knobs or leavers to get them in the right posture for you.

But actually even what they do have quite often, the geometry is not very good. So we probably all sat in a cheap chair, office chair in one of those. Superstores or whatever, or even a Scandinavian furniture store in their office section and sat on it, pulled the lever and then back and suddenly the support you had on your lumber area just vanishes.

And there's a great space of it. So the geometry of a lot of cheaper chairs is. It's not right. Another common thing is, I mean, when I started nearly 30 years ago that chairs hall had fixed arm risks, but most of them now are height-adjustable, but quite often they're actually set quite far forward. So actually, if you're quite slim or petite, you can't, I'm not a problem.

I have a course, but you, you, you can't get close enough to the chair, to the desk. So there are a lot of things like that. Collectively just mean it's quite difficult to, to suit you. I mean, it may, there are individuals who will find a chair for not much money that exactly fits them, but that's more an accident of where they've looked and how big they are rather than actually the fact that the chair they're looking at offers particularly good economic color quality.

So, so the main thing, the main, the biggest reason first. From the, from the chairs we sell that offer all the features we'd hope for in terms of a good ergonomic setup is, um, there aren't so many may, so inevitably they will cost more money just for them volumes involved. Uh, lots of them are much more bespoke components.

So the treat ones you get them will be basically a kit of armrests and casters and bases and all the rest of. Um, and then also there will be the configurability of them. So there will be various different models available there in different seats, sizes, and all those other bits and pieces and the add-ons you may need, if you've had a whiplash and need the next support or something like that.

So, so yes, they are usually more expensive than you would otherwise pay. But one of the things we do quite well, not so much recently because we haven't been able to put people in that scenario, but where people come in or we take a selection of chair, Um, to, to show them, um, then, you know, if they're sitting on a rubbish chair, they don't have to tell us what we think when they sit on a chair that we found is the right size for them and properly set up.

Cause you'll see it on their face and their whole body language. They actually, you see them relax, you see them smile their face sometimes even lights up. So, um, so yes, they're expensive compared to what you can pay. But, you know, if you get it right then it's well worth it. And obviously we'd spend, particularly these days, enormous periods of time on, um, setting, uh, you know, at our, at our work station, you know, you make sure when you buy a car that you can get a comfortable posture and a comfortable sitting position, you spent you buy a bed and probably put quite a lot of time and energy and money into making the right mattress or bed choice.

I chair that you can spend eight are often more hours per day in, you know, why not put a bit of time and effort and a bit of science into thinking about what you need. Yeah. I mean, when you put it like that, I mean, it it's, um, it's, it's almost why wouldn't you, isn't it. Cause the, you do spend an awful lot of time in that office chair and it's the, um, um, probably the strongest relationship you've got with a piece of furniture.

So from what you're saying, then it it's one of these things. How do you know when it's right. And I guess what I'm trying to get to here is, so you can see any chair and, um, I guess I'm as bad as anybody else. I'll say I'll sit there and I'll make it work, which for an economist is, is really bad. But how do I know when the chair is right for me?

How do I know when, without giving away any of your sort of secret sources at work, but how, how do I, how do you, how do you know when success has been hit? Well, we know from how successful we are was so, you know, the feedback we get from customers, but there's. Three elements to it. I would say the first thing is actually identifying the need classic ergonomics and straightforward stuff, but not just, you know, what's the person like how tall are they, how much, you know, all the anthropometric data, their body measurements.

So we're going to get it right to actually physically fit them. Then it's identifying those. Chair or the right combination of components for a chair to get it right for that individual. And then the other thing, which is really, really important, it's the training, because like any complex tool, if you just wheel a chair into somebody and say, there you go, we'll figure it out.

Um, how much, whatever the money they spend, they're not going to optimize the value and the benefit they get from it. So we make a big play. Um, the follow on, pardon? What we call, if it's an, if it's an individual, you know what we call installation set up and training where we show them what the knobs and leavers are for show them how to set them up, show them why they would want to do that and what they're trying to achieve.

So, um, and if it's for lots of people, then you try to find the. You know, where it fits that sort of a bowl quarter. We would propose a handful of, depending on the client, two to six different models, lots of people to try them, inevitably, there's going to be compromised, but you find the best possible compromise for everybody.

And also specify a product with quite a lot of adjustability in it so that the maximum number of people can get the benefit. So from what you're saying, then a lot of that consultancy. And part of it, if the consultancy, the training, that, that part, um, is a big part of what you do. So how have you managed to do that June?

COVID how have you managed to do something, um, which is very engaging that now remotely, is that the proven a bit of a challenge? Absolutely. And you know, one of the biggest problems for us is when we suddenly, simply haven't been able to do that. We've been working on tours and we've actually just done.

We've actually just been a rollout for homework or chairs to one particular client where for all sorts of reasons, um, interest wasn't via, but, well, they, they, they basically didn't want us to do individual setups. Um, there was a further complication that with some chairs to be collected. So we also had to go in and get them, but a lot of them would drop off.

So in this case, this particular contract. Did it have a chair has not. Katie knocked down in boxes, which is completely contrary to anything we had ever done prior to COVID. But what we did is prior to delivery, sent them an unboxing video, then we followed up with a, this is how the set it up video, and then various other resources, posture, guidance, how's it get to do so we weren't able to do it face to face, but we were as close as we can reasonably get in the circumstances.

I mean, interesting thing. It was a four email sequence and we're looking at over 90% opening and nobody unsubscribing for the whole four email sequence, which I'm without question, that is the most successful campaign we've ever run. It's obviously not a sales campaign. It's a customer service one, but we were using that as a template now to actually look at the similar sort of setup for other other users.

Presumably went through COVID whereas a lot of businesses have had to almost, um, uh, slow working. I mean, hospitality in that w it was complete nightmare user scene, um, with this drive to work from home, but was there a big uptake in, in, um, in chairs and stuff going into the home? Uh, there was mean it's interesting how it's sort of evolved.

I mean, for quite a long period, probably a year, I just said what? We're just a homework, a chat company. It was almost as though everything else we're doing fallen by the wayside. I have to say there's one thing I love about a lockdown is you don't have to confirm when they're going to be in logistics complications of which they suit you and what time and all the rest of it.

You just say it's coming and you can be pretty sure. If they're not there, then they damn well should say so. Yes, that's um, that's there has been a boom. What we've seen now is we're getting a growing quite rapidly growing now. Number of people. Whoever with very specific needs going back to, so a lot of it has been sort of pretty generic Tara, good quality chairs to fit most people, um, to get them out as quickly as possible.

What we're now seeing is growing numbers of people who, for whatever reason, whether, um, they never got a chair or they've never been properly addressed, or they never made enough noise about it. With some sort of musculoskeletal problems that we've always dealt within the workplace. We're now getting growing numbers of people at home saying, look, I've just can't cope anymore.

I've got to do something about my neck or my backache or whatever. So that's growing. What's also happening is it's the big employers and are saying, hang on a minute. We're buying. One a day, two, a day, 20 a day. Let's actually stop and see how many we actually need. So there's a hiatus while they work that out and do the numbers and all the rest of it.

But what we're also starting to see, and I think that's going to get, get worse. We're getting peaks and troughs of demand. So we've got one client, for example, has just said they need some set standard. That as far as the things that go on the desk that give you the sand capability they become from buying, um, two of them.

Uh, to in January because they open up a client portal that employees to actually order, um, they'd gone from two a month to giving us an order for about 150, the first week in January, just had another order for a hundred dollars. So these were, this was an employee. But prior to Christmas thought their need was a couple of months suddenly finding that need appears to be more like a hundred a month or so.

So that suggests a pent-up need, which we're going to start to see. So, um, yeah, so the, so that how the business changes. The next issues I think is with these peaks and troughs, the demand is actually being able to fulfill orders because you're familiar with the rural material problems and all the rest of it.

And you know, that hundred and another hundred that's just with one client and just with us. So if you multiply that out, Globally, because a lot of these products are manufactured for a global market. There's going to be suddenly, it's going to be a bit like a car safe car, car arrangements, you know, one minute you'll be able to get it, get them over your need.

And the next minute you'll have to look at either an alternative model or six weeks. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Um, you mentioned in that as well, that, I mean, we focus a lot on chairs cause I think you automatically look at chairs when your, um, talk, talking about this issue, but it's not just chairs or is it w what else should we be considering in, uh, in our home office?

The absolute biggest issue for lots and lots. I would say probably a majority of people is space looking at where you can put something there's all the other issues about. Do you want something you can lock away at night or shut the door on it? Cause most people haven't got a room that they can just walk away at the end of the day.

So is it something they can put in a corner of a room or. Do they, you know, can they cover it up or whatever? Um, we, we, we launched the sit-stand desk, which actually shuts down into a cupboard, so you can have it in the corner room. And the whole thing just shuts away at the end of the day. But space, any space is a big issue for people.

And we're seeing it a lot because we have got clients where we'd been asked to deliver a chair. And when we get there, we again realize that the chair's only part of the solution and all that. So it probably isn't going to be a very good solution. So let's say the situation with desk spaces is last phase January, obviously first implies the desk and, and the problem we have is we have these, you know, the web, you know, the south American river company, all the Swedish furniture companies, I say that, you know, they flog homeworking desks on their websites without really.

Any thoughts about how suitable that is. So, you know, our biggest bugbear at the moment is people buying or having, you know, it starts out with people buying, um, desks and actually, um, dressing tables. And you mentioned Kirsty. I remember a conversation I had with Kirsty Angra where she was sitting at her dining, sorry, her dressing table, and actually removed the middle drawer.

Because she just couldn't get the position. Right. And so what we're seeing is people that get a chair, which should solve most of their, a lot of their problems, but actually they'd go to a desk which has got a draw this deep in it. So actually they can't get the right posture around. Table. It's not a desk, it's a table with a drawing it.

So that's another area. We're seeing a lot of problems with it moment, but trying to find enough space to actually work effectively is, is I would say most people's problems. I mean, I guess the houses haven't really been built to. You know, the, the vast majority of houses, um, I think from what you said earlier, and I'm in a similar situation where I'm looking, I've got some space that I can use and all that sorts of, but the vast majority of office workers won't have a house.

That's got a, B, a D you know, a proper built in office. It's, it's probably got a small room on the ground floor. That's been sold to them as an office, but actually it's probably one meter and a half square or something like that. You're not in room to swing a cat, nevermind have a proper desk in there. Um, so I guess.

At the moment, the employer in the office, in the, in the tree office space has that responsibility to make sure that that's clearly defined. You're going to work. You expect to have your desk, your suit expect to have the chair that's appropriate. You do your DSC assessment. Um, and you know that the legal obligations I think are very clear.

How do you think that changes now with, cause this pan, this hybrid working stuff isn't going away? I think people have seen, you know, I've seen the light to a certain extent that the, that there is flexibility to be hard and it's good for employers. It's good for employees, but where do you see that legal, responsible?

Changing or the employer's responsibility to the employee. And I don't know if you've got any insights on that. Well, I mean, the first thing I would say is I was talking to Matt, Butterfield's a leader economist at the health and safety executive quite recently. And he was saying that, um, TRC regulations have been sort of on the back burner at the HSC because they got other more pressing issues.

And, you know, they're, they're already quite old and there's a lot of work in, in reviewing what's going on with it. But he was saying that actually they have come back. So. There are a key topic to be thinking about now whether the DSC regulations in the format, they currently stand are sufficiently applicable is a topic for another whole podcast, but we won't get into that.

But, um, I think of the, of the very beginning, the HSC said to employers, they publicly said, don't worry about it. This is a temporary arrangement. And therefore. You don't G just give as much guidance as you can be done after rush around doing stuff for staff. Um, well, everybody's narrow agreed as you can't call two years temporary alongside the actual COVID demands, whatever happens post COVID.

If we ever fully get to whatever post COVID might be, the hybrid workplace is undoubtedly here to stay people working from home, working from the office and working elsewhere. And so employers now have to ex. That they have a responsibility. If you define your employee's work place as their home, there's all sorts of contractual, complications and legal issues and so forth.

But from a fundamental duty of care issue, if you say to somebody, your role now is home-based, then you have a responsibility in my view, exactly the same as you would. If you said here's your office, that's your tests there. Go and make yourself comfortable. So I think, and we are now seeing employees. The more dynamic ones are now well down the line.

Some are literally having client, you know, employee portal saying, here's all the kit. You might need. Just pick what you need. Some are putting constraints. So you might be not health approval, or you might need a facilities approval or a line manager approval. But you know, that's the switch to all employers are saying, we just need to do this.

And, um, and, and it's interesting how they're approaching that. It is. Heartening in many ways, it's, it's really positive that employers are now seeing that as a, it is a positive plus. They're not being forced to do it yet. I, I I've got no doubt that that will come, but at the moment, you're right. There are a whole bunch of people out there who are actually saying we get better.

We get more out of our employees this way. So we'll look after them in order to treat them like the, I guess, the good asset that. Yeah. Yeah. And I think through certainly growth is ongoing, but right from early in COVID that the mental health issues of homeworking were very much a focus. And I don't question that as absolutely.

Right. But I think the musculoskeletal, the physical health issues. Neglected. I was going to say a bit, actually quite a lot as a result of the focus on mental health and that, you know, we all know that mental and physical health are completely interconnected. You can't just say, well, let's sort out the mental health and we won't worry about the physical.

They're all intertwined and therefore, um, it's just essential, but actually employers take the holistic view on how they're going to look after that. And that will make them more productive at cost to be commercial. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, you know, all of this stuff is a positive to the bottom line in the grand scheme of things.

Speaking of, um, bottom line. How are you going to be changing your business then with what you've learned so far? Have you got, have you got any significant changes coming up in the future or are you happy with the way with the way things are going? We're going to offer a different range of services that we build on  clearly is not everybody has a demand at this moment for.

What we used to do, which was to rock up with a fully trained our installation team. They're all qualified display, screen equipment assessors. So they understand the process or that they don't do an assessment. So not everybody wants that. So we have to flex the suit, the market. Um, we're, we're, we're making a lot more of our resources are available, uh, becoming available, um, on the internet.

So more stuff or building on what we've done with just the. To start shooting we're up to about 50 tips and tricks, really, which will be everything, everything about sort of, well, actually we're doing everything from how to, how pregnant women can get more comfortable at their desks through to forest bathing and a whole mix of stuff.

Taking a holistic view to that. Sorry. So we're going to be doing a lawful loop that will sort of snippets of video. So we've set 20, 22 for us as a year of knowledge sharing. So we're going to, if you're, if you like sort of turbo charge the stuff we've already got, but out a lot more, because I think the one thing I've really noticed is, and, um, we'd speak to him with Barry when you work in or live and commute and sort of communicate, you know, economics, human factors.

Community everybody pretty much gets it. You're not having to explain what you do or why you do it or anything because people understand the need and its application, everything else I've been amazed, just sort of watching stuff on LinkedIn at, you know, the simple example. Now people buy a sit-stand desk from an online supplier and arrives in a box.

They're very proud of they've assembled it, plugged it in and it works, but they've been given no training about how to use it. And we joke about spending nearly 30 years teaching people how to set. And now we're teaching people how to study. And at the self, you know, when we deal with very large clients where they have occupational health departments, they have health and safety, their facilities for governments.

They've got the whole scope of support. All of this stuff is built into the training and knowledge. It's part of the knowledge that's within the business. One man or one woman band, small businesses, you know, they, they, they don't the stuff we take for granted. They just don't know. And when you tell them, oh my God, I never thought of that.

Yeah. So there's a lot of, you know, information that just make available. I think. I think that's gotta be, um, hugely interesting. And I'm really looking forward to seeing these, um, these snippets of bits of this, this, this turbo-charged knowledge, uh, when it becomes available. So thank you very much for sharing that with us.

We'll just get into the, my, my new feet on newish feature now, uh, which is to bring the interview to a, uh, a nicer, some potentially amusing close, um, what I'm calling the, the final three. So th th these are the same three questions that I'm asking every guest now going forward. Um, so. To hit the first one.

What is your go-to book or paper or reference, and it could be technical or fiction entirely up to you that you keep on going back to what's your, what's your go-to read the, I I've given a lot of thought to this and I have a very low attention span. So actually finishing a book is quite an achievement for me.

So I've actually, I mean, there've been sort of childhood stuff and all the rest of it, but I do read a lot of, I read a lot online. I read a lot of magazines actually. The one ongoing resource. So I find really makes me think is wired magazine. I've actually know why, but I just find that they're long, detailed research based articles.

Um, and about all sorts of I'm in the last month, the new ones just come in, I'm going to have another chance to look at it yesterday, but the, you know, there was stuff about sustainability. There's all sorts of fascinating things about people, replanting rain forest, by having drones that basically like a giant pea.

So that. Seeds into the ground. I mean, sorry, it sounds such a random thought. I know what that one cake, but I just find, I get quite excited about new technology ideas. And so I find month on month. Really quite invigorating in terms of what I'm reading right now, which again is sort of the most interesting.

So it from Spanish, um, beyond the workplace. So Nigel is one's book. I fingers got some really useful and interesting insight. I know he's just spoken my actually I suggested to let the charter Institute and get them along the speech as a speaker, which he's done. So I think I like that that's research based, I think certainly in the work.

There's a lack of proper research. You know, we can't go to people and say, you really need to buy, sit, stand desks because this, this, and this there's lots of research, but quite often, you know, any equals six or something. So it's not actually something you can say this beyond doubt is unequivocal evidence that this needs to be done.

So, um, so yeah, that's my, that's my sort of thought for the moment. So, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self? Nothing to do with work. I'd say leverage yourself to the eyeballs and invest in property. So that will be looking around it. That's that's something I should have done more.

I've done. I've done some. But again, I'm in terms of, you know, a migrate age that started thinking about retirement and pension and all the rest of it. I think the absolute safe bet would have been more property. I mean, as it turns out, you know, I'm not too badly off, you know, if you remember the size of the.

Starving to death. So it's not an issue. Um, but yeah, that's the one thing I will be looking or invest whether it's pension or however you do it, if you're not interested in property. But my thinking at the moment is that would be where I am right now. If I'd done that years ago, that would have been a useful thing to have.

My problem is I like spending it too much rather than investing it. Um, okay. Then the other investment is don't get too excited about fast cars, find wine and watch it around, competing to, um, and final one then. Um, but it's kind of me cheating about where to go next, but it's um, who would you suggest I interview next?

Who would you like to hear being grilled on this? When it, again, I think. Useful to look at people coming at it from a different angle. And so I spent quite a lot of time in the sort of workplace design community attending seminars. And I'm always fascinated by how much overlap there is between what's said there, but he's never in the car with his seldom in the context of human factors and ergonomics.

It's more about employee motivation, engagement, all the rest of it. And similarly, there's not much in sort of. Conferences and things that sort of overlap towards the sort of the more practical things. So, I mean, I've mentioned Nigel is, and he's just done it. The other guy had in mind who doesn't come from human factors, background at all, but has real experience of workplace design and the psychology and all the, a lot of stuff written re two really interesting books.

Isn't there last year. Ah, who's written various books and consults on all sorts of really, and he's a deep and wide thinker as well. So, um, whereas, you know, when you get me on quite shallow, deep as a puzzle in my thought process, so if he wants something to expand it into it, it does sort of bigger picture type thing.

I think Neil would be a good one. Fantastic. Thank you for the recommendations and, and thank you for your time today. It's been really insightful into, in, into something. I think everybody takes for granted, but, but you're proving quite, uh, quite admirably that actually we need to put a lot more thought into it.

How can people get in touch with you if they, uh, if they want to know more about what it is you do and to, for their ergonomics. So I mentioned our website, economics.co.uk. Uh, my email address is guide dot Osman and economics.co.uk. Um, and if you can't remember all that then info@economics.co.uk, or I'm on LinkedIn.

I'm quite active on LinkedIn. So if you search on Giles', there's not many of us is one in the states. I know, but if you get the names spelled right. Probably not why there's some people I'll have to remember Donnie and Marie, that's the spelling of ultimate Barry's pretending not to quite remember. So I think they've been around for, they're still playing volume, still playing Las Vegas.

I think many moons ago. I could say that immediately in anybody with no. Give me my age away with that one 10 is probably the best back guys. Perfect. Thank you. And we'll make sure that all them details are on your guest profile@twelveohtwopodcast.com. Um, so thank you very much for that. Really, really appreciate it.

And. Just in a bit of a wash-up, we I'm still moonlighting on human factors cast, so you can come and join Nick Rome and myself weekly at 10:00 PM, UK time to talk about topical, weekly news and issues in the human factors domain. We are live on all social media platforms and which scares the living daylights out of me every week.

And, and we'll try and keep them linked through as best we can. So do feel free to come and join us. When, if you come and drop chat messages and things like that, they do come through straight to the live and in the pre and the post show, we more than happy to have them sort of conversations. It's quite good fun.

This podcast is becoming available on a wider number of platforms, including YouTube for a more visual experience. And we getting more and more. I'm going to say competent. Go that far, but we getting more adept to pushing the right buttons at the right time. But we're also going to try and see how we can develop some short guy mentioned of some of the ideas that he's got.

Um, but I'm trying to work out how we can use some of this content to create minute long clips, which will make it ideal for the likes of Instagram, Tik TOK, even. 12 or two Tik TOK account. I just don't know what to do with it. Um, but that's going to require a bit more learning from myself. And so trying to fit that in, we'll have to wait and see.

We are very excitingly close to the 10,000 download target, um, that I initially set when we set this pocket. And we're going to be hitting that, um, two years early than I anticipated. So I'm very excited about that. We've got it is less than a thousand to get there. So there's going to be an episode coming up where we're going to have fireworks cake and all that sort of stuff without the fireworks and without the cake, probably, but we will be doing something in that, but it is really, really exciting.

I didn't think we'd get that, get there that this quickly. Um, but for now, thank you all for your time and see you all on the next episode. Thank you for these things. It's well, the human gets in touch with your questions and comments on social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. See you next time. It's more than just common sense.

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Guy Osmond

Managing Director

I have been in business for over 45 years. My commercial activities have included a children's clothes shop, a wine bar and supplying Space Invaders machines to pubs. For the last three decades, I have worked primarily in the field of ergonomics and human factors. Bringing ergonomics processes and thinking to the world of office furniture and workplace wellbeing, my company has helped organisations of every size to provide support and equipment enabling personnel to optimise their comfort and productivity. For the last ten years (long before Covid), this has included products and services for those working at home.