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From the Desk of Nichola Adams

Culture & Conformity – How Can We Encourage Diversity In Our Work Spaces?

We know one size doesn’t fit all…

But even beyond differences in body sizes and shapes, there is something else that we need to consider in terms of those differences, and that is cultural practices and perspectives.

Cultural preferences and work habits may influence ergonomic design considerations. Very often, when talking to people in Britain about movement in the office, there is a reluctance to actually do things like ‘stretch’ at the desk, because of ‘Britishness’. It is almost like an in-built radar we have for each other that sees anything other than stoic stiffness of pose at the workstation as a lack of focus.

In Scandinavian countries, there seems to be a deeper cultural appreciation for movement, which is why many of their designers have been involved in the creation of movement based ergonomic solutions.

“50 percent of Swedes enjoy regular long walks as either part of their daily activities or as a form of relaxation” – source

In Sweden there is a tradition called ‘Fika’, or ‘coffee break’ which is part of the culture and involves taking frequent short breaks while working to encourage people to stay motivated and increase productivity when you return to that task.

Whilst the core principles of ergonomics, such as reducing discomfort and optimising efficiency remain fairly consistent globally, it’s important for ergonomic designs to consider cultural diversity, especially when it comes to education around adoption of new processes or usability, as this will impact how well the changes suggested will be received.

We welcome your comments and thoughts on what cultural differences you have seen in the workplace that have an impact on how adjustments to working methodology is accepted!

Nichola Adams

Founder of Inspired Ergonomics

Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF, ACPOHE Reg Member, is the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics.

Nichola is a specialist in back pain disorders in the workplace. Inspired Ergonomics regularly provides consultancy services to leading UK and International companies on how to reduce and prevent back pain in the workplace as well as working with rehabilitation companies.

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