Having written a previous post about being one of Centerbrook’s “standup architects,” I have been sitting at my desk more lately. This started after I read a New York Times article that warned of “health problems, including varicose veins and musculoskeletal injuries” from standing on the job. Unfortunately, the article did not come to a conclusion about the superior posture.
My fellow stand-up colleagues and I currently move back and forth between sitting and standing, depending on how we feel. But perhaps soon our health concerns about both postures may become inconsequential.
The Times article raised an interesting possibility: “Mobile devices could mitigate the need for better office ergonomics.” Now that digital technology allows us to conduct business anywhere – on the go, in cafés or informal workspaces – will we be moving about so much that sitting or standing for long periods of time is no longer a problem?
Will we start to encounter new bodily afflictions related to cell phones and tablets, smart watches, or Google glass? Varicose veins may vanish, but will we have to worry about “Quervain’s tenosynovitis,” aka “BlackBerry thumb” or “tech neck”? How about “cell trance” – where people talking on the phone wander aimlessly, sometimes into oncoming traffic?
Offices of the future may become completely flexible, open spaces, with a multitude of options for sitting, standing, co-working, or lounging on the green roof. As architects, our job of anticipating the workspace needs of our clients may become more complex as those needs increasingly involve the intertwining of our bodies and our communication devices. Even today we can see visible changes in the body language and postures of young Millenials and Generation-Z students that occupy the schools that we design. These are the workers of the future. What will they prefer? We need to be prepared. Until that time, we will try to reach a happy medium of moving in between positions; and I stand by my original conclusion: all things in moderation.