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wellness at work: Italy is increasingly sit-stand!

Smart working by now is an expanding working mode. In Italy as well – at last-  it has been regularly inserted into a regulatory framework thanks to law 81/2017 that deals with key subjects, such as job duration, terms of notice, control methods and so on. And furnishing as well is adapting to this trend; for example with “agile” sit-stand workstations as Linak demonstrates.

“Sons” of smart working are widespread working and coworking. Since work is increasingly itinerant, fast, smart and agile. Meetings are more and more stand-up meetings, but they are also held in lounge areas and in common spaces. Just to make an example, in Milan, the Porta Nuova district is a bulwark of widespread work and coworking. There are many areas that rent workstations in exchange for affordable fees. Getting connected in every place and at any time of the day has become a life habit and new technologies enable us to fully live this change.

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Furnishing as well is adapting to this trend.

Pieces of furniture are designed to make our work simple and healthy wherever we are. From insulating panels to ensure a certain privacy though among people, to “variable” workstations, changing according to Activity Based Office to answer to different activities (for instance the focus room or the phone booth).
Up to sit-stand tables that are so popular  in North European offices and that are gaining ground in Italy as well, in prestigious head offices and in coworking areas. And the sit-stand trend perfectly integrates in the smart-working context.
Media have already highlighted, in different articles, the importance to keep a proper posture at work and to alternate sat down work to standing moments. This behavior enables to prevent disorders such as cervical, backache, dysfunction of the spine, thus reducing discomfort and absenteeism from work. Sit-stand desks, driven by Linak lifting columns, are gaining popularity in many offices and working places in Italy.
Plenty of Italian design companies are following this furnishing trend for office furniture to keep up with remote working, coworking, home office and everything makes a job highly smart. Italy is increasingly sit-stand!

 

Photo gallery:
1 Sit-stand desk by
Manerba  equipped with linear actuators Linak.
2 Sit stand table with central column by 
Emmeitalia equipped with linear actuators Linak.
3 Sit-stand desk  Estel equipped with linear actuators Linak.
4 It is designed by Tine Mouritsen and presented at Danish LIVINGroom the first sit-stand desk that integrates a power napping pillow. It is equipped with linear actuators Linak.

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A major International corporation with 100 years of history.

Born in Como and a cosmopolite by vocation, Mario Colombo likes to establish relations with customers and retailers from different cultures and countries, for he believes that understanding diversity can be the key to a stable growth in all areas.
Now sales director for Herman Miller, a fitting role, as this International corporation was established in Michigan over one century ago and is worldwide renowned as  an example of innovation and excellence in design.

What are Herman Miller’s hallmarks?

Its acknowledged guidelines could be summed up in one sentence: “Design doesn’t mean business only, but it’s also a moral duty”.Herman Miller’s mission is the creation of design solutions to help people to do great things.That sums up our attitude in the approach to workplace and product design, always highlighting the central role of the individual. Along with this principle, there is an on-going commitment to the environment, a focus since the 50s.

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How do these values become a driver for your strategies?

Each product must be carried out through the so-called “Human Centric Design”. If it serves no purpose useful for the user, the objective has not been met. This modus operand is woven in the company’s genes and we work together with designers such as Yves Behar, Studio 7.5,Tim Wallace and more, who share our attitude and our passion.
Our environmental objectives go hand in hand with the design process. Each item is assessed for its recyclability at its end-of-life, but it’s likewise important to carry out products meant to last. For instance, the chair Aeron now available in the new version Remastered, up to 91% recyclable, carries a twelve-year guarantee, 24 h a day.

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Herman Miller has always been innovation-oriented, offering novel visions for the office (for example Action Office or Aeron). Such extraordinary evolutions are still possible today? 

The office scenario is constantly evolving, therefore it’s difficult to foresee how things are going to change over five or ten years.
Home office is now spreading in Europe and the Mediterranean area, flexibility is a guideline for many organizations, which could suggest a progressive and radical reshaping of the office. I think that teamwork areas are going to be more and more prevalent, hence companies like Herman Miller will try to find the best way to support the people, who work there. We have designers all over the world, who are developing new products, and new things are expected in the European and global market.

As a Sales Director for the vast area that stretches from Portugal to Israel, including Italy, do you find any difference in the culture of work, requirements and ways of working in the different countries?

Obviously, in such a vast area I can see a culturally diverse context and I’d rather make a distinction between an International consumer base and local organizations. The multinational companies have often standard operational guidelines throughout the world, for the choice of design as well, irrespective of the country in which they operate. Those organizations affected to a lesser extent by the global chain can still have an individual approach in their choices. The architects dealing with interior design, fit-out and design of new models are always the best ambassadors of the trends of modernization, because customers, both global and local, rely on them for advice. That’s a common denominator in all countries I work in. So diffusione through the architects is central for a company like ours, in order to expand our studies and the results achieved by observing the ways of working contained in the Living Office project.

Studies on issues and new prospects of the workplace that Herman Miller is developing in the US ares also applicable to the Mediterranean countries?

Many studies still come from the US, but we take into account that some trends are developed all over the world. We see the same trends in Italy, Europe and the Mediterranean area, open space and cooperative rooms.The Uk and Europe have been following this direction for many years and are moving even faster than the US. Another example is the request for sit-stand and height-adjustable tables in Scandinavia, and long before the Mediterranean area. Our latest studies concern “Happiness in the office”, a theme revealing how the dynamics of the approach to the office work are the same throughout the world, hence we are trying to understand the nature of our customers and the personality of workers, so that we can supply a holistic approach to the design of an office. This study is focused on the already mentioned Living Office project.

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In the last few months, the Italian branch has changed in a lot of ways. What are the strengths and strategies planned to cope with the Italian market?

After working several years in the Export area, I’m very happy to do my part also for the Italian market. The Showroom Herman Miller in Milan is a European Hub that, along with Paris and London, makes even stronger our presence in the EMEA area.
My priority is to keep and, where necessary, step up an efficient distribution network, in line with the view of growing in the Mediterranean area, where we work through long-standing executives and also a younger generation, now part of a matrix form of organization like ours.
Some colleagues belong to reporting lines, that are not related to me but to the UK branch. The company has consolidated the South Europe region, including Italy, Iberia and East Med, to conform the strategies to such different areas, some of them already working with established markets – like Italy, where we have showrooms and offices – while others are working off site like East Med and Iberia. The spread of our studies is an asset we use gladly in the whole EMEA region – also in areas we deal with from Italy – which gives us visibility with customers and architects, who play a key role. The diffusion occurs through workshops events and conferences, carried out together with our Insight Group and run by colleagues mostly dealing with R&D.

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Sit-stand and user-friendly workstation.

A user-friendly multimedia workstation with a light design, and without any cable thanks to the use of Linak‘s bluetooth technology: these are the features of Tecnus Evo -evolution of the height-adjustable table Tecnus- designed and produced by Emme Italia, a company that since 1995 marries innovative technologies with Italian handicrafts to offer customized and constantly in progress solutions.

The growth of Emme Italia continues with the usual passion: from the traditional drafting tables to the electrified sit-stand version using linear actuators by Linak and, recently, the most advanced step Tecnus Evo.
Tecnus Evo is a new result of the collaboration between Emme Italia and Linak: a multimedia workstation inspired by a common vision of dynamic ergonomics, well-being and IoT in the workplace.
It is featured by clean design and high performances:
the integration of Linak’s new bluetooth technologies allows the elimination of wiring and a user friendly approach;
the rechargeable Battery Pack makes the table independent by power supply;
height adjustment can be controlled either by the traditional push-button panel housed into the column or by a smartphone (for iOS or Android App).

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The App Desk Control allows the adjustment of the table with a touch and also to save custom settings and set personal goals for wellness.
Standard height adjustment from 72 to 112 cm is perfect for workstations and informal meetings, other adjustments are available on request.

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Height-adjustable table, structure in painted steel column (black, white or RAL tailored colors), desk top in melamine.
Dimensions cm 100 x 200; height cm from 72 to 112.

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Sit-stand office desks to shape behavior.

Smart office means to adopt concepts of dynamic ergonomics, too; for higher comfort and greater efficiency, sometimes devices integrate digital technologies to support our Internet-oriented lifestyles. Following this IoT (Internet of Things) philosophy Linak launched DPG, a new family of very intuitive panels for the height adjustment of sit-stand desks, well-synthesized in the claim “Designed to shape behavior”.

During a normal workday, we all sit down too much and move too little. This is a common challenge, but how do we change it and turn it into a habit to use the height adjustable desk every day? This is a global challenge that we at Linak have chosen do our utmost to solve and develop a solution that will make desk users use their height adjustable desk more and in a new way.
Based on researches on behavioural design, Linak developed an innovative solution that will make desk users use their height adjustable desks more and in a new way.
The desks panel for height adjustable office desk is essential and needs to be:
Intuitive,
Motivational (give reminders to the user),
Digital.

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The DPG family consists of four desk panels ranging from a simple up/down panel to advanced versions with sophisticated features. All four DPG desk panels are intuitive as they are operated via tilt instead of buttons meaning you do not need to look while adjusting the desk. It does not get more intuitive.
Research proves that being reminded to stand up during a workday, results in an increased usage of the desk. So, reminders are integrated into three of the four DPG desk panels either via light and/or via notifications in the app.
Finally, digital means that an app is available for several platforms. Bluetooth® technology is integrated into three of the four DPG desk panels. Connect to the Desk Control™ app and it opens a wealth of options.

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The app that completes the DPG
The Desk Control™ app is available for phones and computers, and contains a lot features such as the possibility for individual settings, statistics and getting reminders to stand up. Optionally, the app can also be used to drive the desk up and down.
The app is downloadable free of charge from the different app stores
Truly unique and innovative, all data is of course synchronised between the different platforms. This means that if you change your settings e.g. in the app on the phone, it is automatically updated on the computer and in the desk panel itself.
The DPG is much more than just a new desk panel: it is a platform of endless functionality possibilities, yet designed with an impressive suite of standard features. It will change the way to adjust and use the height adjustable office desk.

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Desk systems: is a really groundbreaking desk possible?

Can a product design make a desk “groundbreaking”? While I’m asking myself that question, the video, posted by Curioctopus, about the desk of the future enabling us to perform any task by using very simple intuitive gestures is raging on Facebook. But maybe that’s not the only possible way to breathe new life into a furniture unit, that still remains the archetype of the office.

The video picture of the lively and interactive worktop by Curioctopus is the opposite of the emptying out shown in that “Evolution of the Desk posted a couple of years ago.
In the hybrid domain of the Workplace 3.0, the desk should still be an analogue unit made for comfort or should it turn into a digital object?

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The first outlook, generated by Internet of Things, refers to an intangible desk, to a smart and interactive technological tool, provided with information systems, where what matters is software design rather than industrial design.
The second concept means a tangible furniture unit, increasingly pleasant and versatile.
A comfortable, ergonomic, equipped, customized piece of furnishing … maybe inspired by the San Girolamo’s Studio painted by Antonello da Messina …

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The distintive features are fittings that become an integral part of the system and the perceptive and design components, in particular colours, finishes and materials. Last but not least, the functional performance: customisation, both aesthetic and anthropometric; sit-stand, easy wire management and installation, versatility and disposition to fit different requirements and jobs and space organization.

WOW selected some of the more innovative desk systems launched at Workplace 3.0 and during Milano Design Week.

 

Estel, I Pianeti – Evolution.
A versatile and integrated desk system that allows to create different and extremely customized configurations for the workplace. From the single desk to the 3 or 4 cluster stations, available with sit-stand with height adjustment devices harmoniously inserted inside the wooden frame. The range of accessories also includes Lockers that houses personal boxes and Chairboxes that accompany the user moving in the different working areas.

Fantoni, Woods, design by Metrica.
The key feature of the design is the use of solid beech or oak wood that gives a natural mood to the system. It includes large executive and meeting tables, fixed office desks and sit-stand workstations.The sloped design of the leg gives the table a simple yet sophisticated look, comprising two telescopic cylindrical elements, one of which is in wood. Inside it is an electronic mechanism that effortlessly adjusts the height of the table top.The table’s electrical connections are hidden under the top, while the modesty panel can be fitted with storage accessories and with a USB socket for recharging electronic devices.

Herman Miller, Atlas Office Landscape, design by Tim Wallace.
A work system which brings together height-adjustability and collaborative working in one elegant solution. The ‘no beam’ structure, frees the workspace from clutter so people can sit or stand in comfort, adapting postures to their activities. The desk system includes sit-stand height-adjustable desks, screens, tables and storage elements to create a whole office environment. “To me the problem wasn’t in creating a single desk, there are plenty of examples of those- the designer explains-The real challenge comes when that single desk needs to be multiplied and then fitted into a space. I saw the opportunity for a system that really benefitted the working environment, both today and in the future.”

MDF Italia, 20.venti, design 967.
The technical challenge starts from the use of a slender frame generated by a 20×20 profile. The collection includes both individual tables and double workstations, which can be aggregated, and a wide selection of screens and accessories. An intentionally iconic system that renounces unidentifiable stylistic solutions.

io.T (intelligence of Tecno), design studio Gtp and other partners.
io.T is a smart system of connected furnishings with the capacity for integration with IT systems, devices and hubs, designed to offer information and real time solution to owners and managers of smart buildings and end users. A project combining the tangible, analogue world with the intangible world of digital through a smart furnishing system designed to improve the well-being of the end user. The missing link that transforms users into recognized people.
Tecno picks up on studio Gtp’s intuition and creates a working team of experts such as TIM, STMicroelectronics, Digitronica.it, Ilevia, InfoSolution and Videoworks who have worked for the past two years on developing and optimizing the io.T furnishing system.

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Wellbeing and dynamic ergonomics in the workplace (Assufficio).

The document “Wellbeing in the Workplace” is an excerpt of one of the Assufficio Technical Commission’s research, that will be downloaded in the extended version, by the Assufficio website. The document explains the need of adaptability to the anthropometric dimensions, the problems of incorrect postures and also focuses on the new trend of sit-stand desks.
The conclusions? To reach wellness, it is important to change habits before changing the habitat.

The workers’ wellness depends on light, noise, temperature and, mainly, the right posture. The workstation should be adaptable to the user’s anthropometric size, through an ergonomic seat and a height adjustable desk. Working sitting in front of the computers, the correct posture is not enough for the worker’s health. He should have the opportunity to change position, to stand and move.

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For this reason smart working and activity based office are good for our work -life balance and our heath too.
The document suggests standards for chairs and analyzes the desks by classification based on heigh and adjustment type.

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Simply switching between seated and standing position, for ten minutes every hour, would allow us to minimize the negative effects of extended sitting, improving our work efficiency.

Pictures by Ettore Schioppa, member of Assufficio Technical Commission, from the booklet “Wellbeing in the Workplace” ´©`Assufficio.

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Furnishings for task area at Orgatec..

The desk systems launched at Orgatec 2016 allow to bring people together around a table or separate them with small screens; they are ergonomic and very often height-adjustable for sit-stand work.
The storage systems become interior design elements: useful modular dividers in open plan offices. High customization and space saving are the common elements to the desking and storage system selected by WOW!

Sedus, Grand Slam + se-Wall.
Clever combinations of desks, storage system, screens and transparent elements, to create a functional storage and working area in open-plan landscapes. The multifunctional elements can be configured as required with a wide range of flexible options, which can also be expanded into corporate communication areas.

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Estel, I Pianeti.
This desking system removes the classical rigidity of the office. It is constructed along a horizontal along a central point of sequenced containers that supports cabling functions for the desks, interspersed with sound-absorbing wall partitions.

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Unifor, Teamer, design by Michele De Lucchi + Cases, design by Jean Nouvel.
Configuration of four facing workstations with ends fixed and designed to accommodate brief informal meetings. It is supported by a central steel column that taper down from below the table to the base plate fixed below the raised flooring. A freely composed group of Cases modular containers and open storage elements in natural wood provides the workstations with filing and storage space.

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Haworth, Be_Hold.
A storage system to support different work styles – from highly collaborative to focused – while leveraging design elements(perforated metal, colors, fabric element, lockers, sliding cabinets…) create functional workspaces with an individual personality.

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Vitra, Cyl, design by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.
The Cyl system encompasses a variety of different sized tables. Solid wood emphasises the clean lines of the system with its smooth planes, structural frame and cylindrical elements. As an intentionally ‘analogue’ system, Cyl dispenses with integrated power solutions. “It was originally conceived for the home… I think the simplicity of Cyl responds to a demand for clarity and fosters a welcoming atmosphere in the office world”, explains Ronan Bouroullec.

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Sinetica, Stay, design by Paolo Mantero + Use Me.
A complete abacus of modular surfaces with nicely rounded shapes to create endless compositions, stand alone   or integrated, with cabinets and libraries  from the Use Me collection. The table in all its functions and forms, from the operative office to managerial, from the meeting room to collaborative environments. Wood and fabric suggest residential and contract situations.

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Ersa, Edge, design by Claudio Bellini.
In addition to the different leg design, the metal construction of the system and the recyclable felt-covered partitions also make the system stand apart with its style, function and acoustic capabilities. It can be fitted with cabling, planters and lighting.

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True, Wing, design Parisotto + Formenton.
The table was born for workspaces, but is also suitable for home-office and residential. The light structure, is inspired by the work tables stands, the top has rounded “soap bar” shapes.

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Vitra, CDS, design by Antonio Citterio.
A desk system with an industrial aesthetic. it is available in a variety of configurations and models, including the sit-stand one. Structural sophistication and logistical efficiency are the plus.

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Kokuyo, Rolling Workspace, design by Nendo.
.Circular whiteboards can be freely rolled around in the workplace and leaned against the wall. Desks, benches, and high counters that match these circular whiteboards were also designed with slits cut into them, enabling combinations with large and small boards.

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COffice by Estel at Orgatec: multifunctional Islands.

Estel consistently develops for several years his own vision of Smart Office that inspired the ever wider range of solutions of COffice program; following  the launch at Salone del Mobile 2016, Estel will present new “islands” at Orgatec (Hall 6.1, B48 stand).

The complex and holistic path to the Smart Office is summarized in the Latin motto “Per aspera ad astra” chosen for the Orgatec participation. The installation in the booth stand is a comfortable open space without barriers that provides answers to the needs of the new ways of working thanks to  dedicated areas that easier improve wellbeing and productivity.

“Islands”, more than furniture (Lounge Island, Video Island, Ergonomic Island, Break Island, Snack Island) designed to answer various activities and needs: this is the COffice program approach which aims to “boost relations and pleasure at work” creating in between areas for informal meetings: for example Break Island for self-service buffet during lunchtime, or simpler ones for coffee break.
COffice also provided hybrid workstations as Island Snack to play a meeting while dining.
The range includes more technical Islands, for example Ergonomic Island equipped with sit stand workstations and height adjustable desks or settings  that include technologies integrations: Island Lounge, for waiting rooms and Island Videos, conference areas, integrate monitor inside the furniture.isola-snack-estel-orgatec-wow-webmagazine

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Pillow Table: sit-stand-nap desk.

Displayed at Salone del Mobile,at Danish LIVINGroom,(hall 10 stand B03) the very first height-adjustable desk (linear actuator systems by Linak) coming with a cushion for a comfortable power nap at work. Tine Mouritsen, inspired by new WOW, designed it.

A lot has been said about how healthy the height-adjustable desks are, a real symbol of a new dynamic ergonomics, and this trend is spreading in Italy, too, where  companies more conscious of the employee’s wellbeing don’t give up the pleasure of a sitting standing workstation.

The benefits of a nap are also well-known, especially after lunch, a real drive for multitaskers. Not accidentally, nap rooms are often considered in smart offices and several major companies have already started to study functional furniture allowing to take a nap.
Yet, we’ll see something original at Salone del Mobile that combines these two must-haves to feel at ease and way happier in the office.

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Pillow Table is a sitting-standing desk equipped with integrated pillow in its top.
Linak Danmark A/S has been invited to participate on the Danish LIVINGroom booth –  stand B03, hall 10 – at Salone del Mobile in Milan. The Danish manufacturer of linear actuator systems is the only sub supplier on the Danish joint booth, as the other participants are well-known Danish manufacturers of furniture and famous designers. The company presents a range of solutions featuring top design, comfort and ergonomics, including a sit-stand desk, designed by the Danish architect Tine Mouritsen, who took inspiration from the thoughts behind New Ways of Working into consideration. The desk shown at the exhibition is therefore mounted with a pillow intended for a powernap.

“Agile”, even working at your own desk.

Movement is the elixir of our life, and it’s a source of wellbeing and health also at the office. That’s what the Michele De Lucchi’s installation “The Walkmaintains and is proved by several studies showing how unhealthy immobility is and the physical and mental advantages of a dynamic posture, starting from the desk, which should be of the “sitting-standing” type according to ergonomists.

Prolonged sitting is a risk factor for all: people who sit for 11 hours or more a day are 40 percent more likely to die over the next three years. Of course, no doubt,  gym, walking, swimming, cycling, outdoor pursuits… but what can we do during the about eight hours a day on the job?
An office organized by activity settings proves to be healthier compared to the one keeping us stuck in front of a worktop, and those companies supplied with gyms, yoga areas and gym teachers offer their employees much more than a relaxing break; the same applies for companies, the offices of which are furnished with “sitting standing” desks, which is not yet so popular in Italy but quite widespread and even compulsory in several European countries, where Wellbeing Awareness is more deep-seated ( WOW! posted an article about sit-stand desks at Orgatec).
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(Caption upper photo: USM Kitos)
The quality of life can start from the desk: “We improve your life” is the motto of Linak a world leader in electric linear actuator (desk top height adjustment equipments).

Better safe than sorry, as they say, and health benefits (blood circulation, drainage, muscle strengthening,bone and skeletal systems..) coming from a sitting-standing posture are definitely proved.

UNI Rule EN 527-1:2011
There is a UNI rule still valid, yet rules are voluntary and maybe an incentive to make companies aware of this theme could be useful. The newest release of the European standard EN 527-1:2011 “Office furniture — Work tables and desks Part 1: Dimensions” replaces the previous edition EN 527-1:2000.
The EN 527-1:2011 specifies dimensions of work tables and desks for office tasks to be undertaken in a seated, a sit stand or standing position.
Compared to the previous edition the new standard updates the sizes of desks taking account the technological progress of PCs, now all flat screen (and no longer CRT), which allows to get office desks with depth significantly lower.
The standard divides the desks classifying them into four types:
Type A: height adjustable (the height can be changed anytime by the user
Type B: height selectable (the height can be adapted to the user at installation)
Type C: fixed height
Type D: height adjustable or selectable, with limited range of adjustment

The EN 527-1:2011 also introduces the concept of “sit standing desk” allowing the user to vary between standing and sitting position during the working day and obviate to spend several hours sited. This type of height adjustable desks are mostly used in the northern Europe.
The new release also presents new requirements, room available for legs has been increased with more freedom of movement or, regarding desks with fixed height, that height is raised.
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Walking …at your desk.
Why just stand at your desk when you can walk? A walking/working posture should be healthier than standing still… The answer is a ridiculous treadmill desk. It’s not a joke, a Canadian research reported in the journal Computers in Human Behavior shows that treadmill desk has a beneficial effect on attention and memory. A good solution to save your fitness center admission fee!

Status and dynamic vision also for the executive table( lower photos).
Element, designed by Foster + Partners for Unifor, is a board meeting of great elegance that responds to a more dynamic vision for the executive workplace. For the manager who does not like the static, it provides the twice use as large round desk or conference table, both allow the standing or sitting posture. The height adjustment of the heavy desk top sets magically pressing a hidden button.