Interview with Alastair Stubbs, Country Manager for India, Humanscale
“ Sitting is the new smoking.” says Alastair Stubbs, Country Manager for India, Humanscale, while having a conversation with Shubham Singh. He candidly explained the importance of ergonomics at workplaces.
Give us a brief background about the company?
Humanscale gives high end ergonomically designed products and it has now become a leading global designer and manufacturer of products that improve health and comfort at work. It is very different from other companies in terms of design and approach for making products. There has been growing number of work related health issues stemming from prolonged computer use. The reason for designing the taskchairs was to elevate awareness of ergonomics concern and understand the common physical problems at workplace. In the year 2000 Humanscale launched its first office chair named as Freedom Chair.
Talk about the importance of ergonomics at the workplace in India?
A strong ergonomics integration prevents injuries and increases productivity. Sitting is the new smoking and going to work is killing us. Sitting for prolonged hours in office without moving takes a toll on our health. We focus on creating products that are intuitive and easy to use. A humanscale chair is such an exemplary example of it. It is advisable to move after half an hour to keep yourself fit and healthy. When we sit for a long period of time, our body goes into hibernation. The habits formed over the years are creating a lot of problems for us. We need to take away all that bad thinking from people and emphasize more on longevity and sustainability.
After an extensive research we found out that a large number of people are unaware of the term “ergonomics”. We are playing a key role in making people understand the importance of ergonomics. Today an office chair is incredibly sophisticated ergonomic work and should really be an example for furniture designers.
What is your best selling product and why?
Liberty task chair is undoubtedly the best-selling premium task chair in India. The reason for its success is largely down to the sheer size of staff numbers in India. Many companies have at least 1,000 people and a number of them work in shifts. Statistics show that only 2 per cent of office chair users know what the tension control is for. This is a real issue when a gentleman 6’2” tall, weighing 95 kg finishes his shift and a petite woman of 4’10” weighing 42 kg then has to sit in his chair for her shift. The reality is the chair never gets adjusted and so one or both of the users’ health and comfort are badly compromised.
The Liberty task chair automatically adjusts to the user’s body weight and provides perfect recline and support, in whatever posture they adopt without the need for manual adjustments,instructions or training.
What are the common ergonomic related afflictions that the employees face?
The main health issues in the workplace today are brought on by the increasing presence of technology. This has led to an increase in musculo-skeletal complaints such as eye strain, lower back pain and wrist discomfort. Studies suggest over 50 per cent of computer users go about their daily work with at least one form of musculo-skeletal discomfort.
With the ever-increasing use of smartphones and tablets, there are now additional issues such as neck strain, shoulder ache, headache and tingling sensations in the hands and arms.
The need to accommodate individual differences within the workplace is the key to eliminating some of the above. Workers should be given control of their workspace, including their hand and wrist position, monitor position, and individual light level. Individual control combined with high-quality ergonomics training will consistently yield safe and productive workers.