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Charlie Duff

Sift Media


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Wellbeing at work: review of Fellowes office aids


You have a duty of care to your employees. Wellbeing is important and employees off sick – for whatever reason – is inconvenient and costly. So it’s important to make adjustments and practice preventative steps as the best medicine.

This includes desk assessments and ensuring employees know how best to prevent any common issues caused by poor posture and bad desk organisation is simple to achieve yet essential. Of course this doesn’t always solve everything –I remember years ago someone from a big company said what they really needed to do was to stop their employees going ski-ing – then they wouldn’t have so many injuries which took them out of action. The problem was that they liked to hire dynamic, exciting people, who happened to like exciting things like adrenaline sports. An occupational hazard it seemed.

Fortunately no such incidents have occurred here, but some of the team were in need of a little TLC. So when Fellowes offered me a workstation assessment and some equipment to try out, I jumped at the chance.
The assessment asked me about my posture, screen height and spine position. It then made several suggestions which I could easily do myself, such as adjusting the height of my monitor and remembering to set up my keyboard, chair and telephone correctly. As a journalist I often find myself reaching for the phone, getting buried under papers and generally slouching around. I should stop that.

They also offered me a wrist support mouse mat. I had been having a particularly busy time and had been doing even more computer work than usual. A pain in my hand around the thumb developed and I found it hard to mouse. By the evenings I was finding it very painful and was beginning to worry as it spread up my arm until some geeky friends told me I was probably experiencing what they as coders get all the time – a bit of RSI. So a wrist support mouse mat was most welcome. I liked the colour, purple, first off (priorities), and it’s good that the mat cannot creep around the desk, forcing me to reach for the mouse. The cooling gel pad gave a lot of relief when I was in pain but is pleasingly smooth and slightly squidgy at all times. I’m reassured by the Microban properties it has (although I do not understand how that works). And I haven’t had any pain since despite being busy.

One of my colleagues Lucie Mitchell (who also used to edit HRzone) is soon going to go on maternity with her second child. She admitted to feeling a bit uncomfortable while she is still working in the office so I donated her the footrocker sent by Fellowes. It came in a flatpack which made it easy to transport. It did admittedly take two attempts to put together but once in place it was solid and it is cleverly reversible. Lucie preferred it on the shallower side as she liked the stability, but if you like it rockier, you can turn it over. It does seem to ease some discomfort and she’s still using it.

Our third example is Simon Burgess, a publisher here at SiftMedia. Simon has had problems with his back for some time. Knowing this I set him to task to try out the backrest. The backrest is very lightweight and has a mesh construction to keep the user cool. It has ergonomic padding and its elasticated straps ensure it fitted all the chairs we tried it out on.

He said: “This is the second one that I’ve used and it’s much better than the first one which was very poorly made. Robust. It is definitely helping me – I have herniated discs in my spine and it kills my back if I have to sit in a normal sitting position for too long. This has definitely eased the pain I suffer each day.” Simon has also been wondering if it will fit in his car…

It’s all very well to read a review and be sceptical, but I think the true test is whether people use the products – and we are all still using them without any incentives. I think the favourite was the back support – probably because Simon has the most acute problem out of all of us – but it goes to show that something quite simple to implement can make a huge difference to employees wellbeing at work.

  • If you want to do the desk assessment too, follow this link

To see more about Fellowes products you can find them online here

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Charlie Duff


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