To all Ergonomic and Risk Management professionals,
My company is considering implementing the Details Walkstation as part of the Health and Wellness program. We have our thoughts, mostly from a risk perspective, regarding balance related to multitasking on a moving base, effects of stress of exercise run concurrent with stress of work, inability to achieve a neutral keying posture when walking – forward reaching required as user will need to stand back from surface to avoid forward foot from over stepping tread mill pad and hitting front plastic, effect of distraction of normal office environment on concentration of walk pace and gait, etc. I am putting this out to gather other professional opinion regarding the benefits/concerns of placing this type of product in the work place. I would especially like to hear from anyone who has implemented or tried this type of workstation. The attached website presents a sample of the station referenced. Any and all responses are appreciated.
While I am seen as the “eye guy”, I do have an opinion on this type of “workstation”….YIKES! How much of a sweat do they expect employees to generate while typing a paper or answering email? Wow, what a great way to lose weight. But what if they can’t chew gum and walk at the same time??
Seriously, I think there is a time for work and a time for BREAK! And then there is the risk factor, as you described. I can see the lawyers lining up as I type…..
My suggestion: let them sit on the market for a few years and see how other companies might implement them first; if there are no law suits or criminal investigations in five years, go for it!
My two cents….
At first I thought my mental image of what you were suggesting was wrong, but I checked the website and there it is…work on a computer while walking.
In no particular order, here are my thoughts:
1- There is a body of research out there about how there are whole body effects when subjects gaze stabilize during walking. In essesnce, there are some additional head movements that counteract some of the lower body momements and there is some attenuation in the joint dynamics in the legs and hips to reduce the amount of trunk movement. My issue here is this may not be ‘normal’ walking because the person is trying to read a stable computer during the oscillations induced during gate. Possibly an increase in the likelihood of injury from the amount of time walking “funny”. Of note is that the research I have seen has gaze points farther than what a computer would be set at.
2 – mousing and keyboarding accuracy would be REALLY interesting during a normal gate cycle. From a simple targetting point of view, I am betting errors would significantly increase. I am also betting there would be some interesting issues around the compensatory arm movements while the user tries to stabilize their limbs (increases in muscular activity?). I’d likely become and even LESS accurate typist!
3 – What about tripping/stumbling and so on. Way back in some human factors course I remember concepts about limited attentional resources in functional pools: physical coordination, mental (calculations), mental (auditory), mental (visual)…heck I can’t remember the specifics and my copy of Wickens and Hollands isn’t with me. I would think this would risk increasing the physical errors, simply from an attentional (as opposed to targetting) perspective. The errors in the typing is one thing, but what about walking errors. You’d definitely want to run some tests on this one.
4 – the water bottle I’d want might not be the best idea with the computer.
5 – Some employee would certainly complain because they couldn’t run!
6 – What’s the volume of the treadmills (this would likely add to the ambient office noise)?
7- What are your phone thoughts? (wireless headset?)
8- For people with low V02 max, could they break a sweat on these… would you want them too?
9- Would appropriate “walking” attire/shoes start to become required dress (and the load of implications that would bring to having the employer supply the required “uniform”)
It’s an interesting thought, but I would love to see some real world example of its use and see the research and anectdotal feedback on what people thought. I personally can’t see how I could accurately type or mouse while walking, but maybe it’s easier than I am guessing it is.
In the companies I have worked with they have had great success with the walkstations. The key is to have a slow roll out of products. The walkstations are not for everyone. In addition, the end user needs to be educated in how to adjust them and use them. Here is what we have done
First of all it is NOT about exercise. If people want to exercise go to a gym or fitness center. It’s about slow activity. Max speed on the walkstation is 2 mph. There is not need to go faster.
Educate people on how to adjust the workstation. Just like when you put an articulating keyboard tray in front of someone, if you don’t teach them how to adjust it properly they are still going to have issues. Adjust the work height and monitor so the individual is in a nice standing posture before the treadmill is turned on. They should not work off of a lap top since that will make them look down putting a lot force on the trunk. They should get used to standing position and then try the slow walking.
Progress them SLOWLY into walking and working. Initially 2-5 minute bouts and gradually progress to more time. We have worked with physical therapists and exercise physiologists to assist with the activity progression. This is a new activity and you want employees to get used to it without soreness or fatigue. Programs should be indivdualized.
With the companies I have consulted with they have not experienced any visual or manual dexterity problems. What they have experienced is weight loss and overall wellbeing. After several months using the walkstations most employees will say, "don’t take this away from me".
Our company has purchased four Walkstations for use. We are currently doing a pilot study to see how it affects wellbeing and productivity at work. We have had wonderful feedback so far, and have many people asking for it permanently at their desk.
I personally have worked on the Walkstation, and find it very easy to get accustomed to. I started off at a slower speed and worked my way up. The adjustability of the platform allows for neutral UE posture.
We are very excited about these, especially for our employees that work in sedentary, high productivity demand jobs.
Coming at it from a risk management perspective, I can certainly understand the objections that some of the posts contain. But from a very practical standpoint, what happens when the employee wants to sit down? While the walking work stations appeal to me, I know I would not want to walk all day every day. Wouldn’t you then need a separate set-up, with keyboard, mouse and monitor at a desk? I’d be interested in hearing what the companies who use these are doing about people who do not want to walk all day.Kasey Soto
Sr. Loss Prevention Specialist
Wells Fargo Bank
The Walkstation has a sit-stand model that you can use, so you do not have to walk and/or stand all day.
We are using the Walkstations as a separate workstation, where individuals use them for 2 hours/day. Currently , we have 4 individuals working on each Walkstation.
Interesting that this has recently generated some buzz as we had received a pamphlet, in the mail, on "The Walkstation" just yesterday. One word…..novelty…..as was the use of swiss balls as task seating. As stated in previous posts…..risks will outweigh benefits which in my opinion would be minimal. Those advocates will most likely be salesmen of the product and those in support will most likely be sticking their neck out for lawyers to hack it off in court from disability claims associated with falls etc.
This just screams red flag……….as does using swiss balls for task seating……how many treadmills are purchased to become dust collectors or clothing hangers. Begin as a good intention. This is in no way a negative spin on the product, just an opinion.
John Bragdon, BSc. Kin, CK(OKA)
PRO-ACTIVE Injury Rehabilitation Centre
800 Princess St, Suite 400
We are in a pilot study and have 2 Details Workstations that only go up to 2 miles per hour in our Call Canter. Employees are currently walking up to 2 hours per day and have been for 5 months. They take up minimal space, they have an emergency stop mechanism and are adjustable for the individuals height. So far, the benfits have been documented weight loss, and documented increase in moral. To me it has been very effective, the future plan would be to place them strategically thoughout the building and employees would check them out as they would check out a conference room. A great concept.
It is interesting that this topic has come up. I was recently visiting a vendor who introduced me to the idea. I have to admint that immediately red flashing alarm bells were going off in my head for a number of reasons already stated.
After reviewing the many comments from everyone I have a couple of questions for those of you who have tried them.
1-What seems to be the average age of the workers who are using them? Are the older workers say 45 and up interested?
2-Is there a gender difference between users? I know that most traditional office environments are usually female dominated, but are guys acutally using these as well.
This might prove to be valuable information if deciding if this is right for your work environment.
Thought you would like to know The New York Times just ran a story on this topic (9/17/08).
I wanted to see a picture of the workstation, the link above would not take me there. Could you please direct me to a picture if you happen to have one.
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