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Reinventing the ‘Desk’
Intro to the Dynamic Office

By Patrick Clark

 

Whether we are sitting in a lone corner at Starbucks, telecommuting at home, or working in a room full of other office cubicles—the table-and-chair culture is ubiquitous. Why does everything have to be done in a static position that is unnatural to our species, promotes obesity, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and poor circulation? Ergonomics researchers have been working on the solution for a hundred years and have only entrenched us further into the unnatural, static position. How do we break free of this modern straight jacket?

The answer: find a way to incorporate stretching and exercise in the office setting. Not as a separate activity but as part of the built-in nature of the tasks.

Office work is inherently ‘in-the-head’ and causes mental/psychological pathologies that therapy, yoga, working out, and walking the dog attempts to remedy. At best it is one of the main complaints Americans have about their jobs. At worst the act of sitting all day keeps people with back pain and other injuries from even doing their job.

Therapists know that movement encourages creativity and thinking, and that ‘dynamic sitting’ is a way to increase creativity and brain function. Yoga is used for stress-reduction, physical strength, flexibility, balance, and as a prevention and remedy for back pain. Yet for all practical purposes yoga remains only ‘on the mat’ and is often used to correct faulty body use caused by sitting at the office. The Dynamic Office™ goes beyond ‘dynamic sitting’ by combining yoga with office work. This puts kinesthetic movement into a setting which is normally static.

You cannot walk into an office or furniture store and find anything like the Dynamic Office™. A stand up computer work station needs to have a specific and unique height for each of these: monitor, mouse, and keyboard. There are some chairs available at specialty stores that create a dynamic sitting effect. However, even dynamic sitting has its limitations. (It is only one position which can’t be varied).

What is needed is a kinesthetic, interactive set of furniture and props that allows a person to change positions based on her/his mood, energy level, type of task, or mere impulse. This would resemble a cross between an office, gymnasium, yoga room, living room, health spa, and playground.

The expression “Let me jog my memory” points at the importance of movement and mental activity.

Sometimes we need to jog our memory, then standing or pacing might suffice.Some people like toys in the office like a treadmill, mini trampoline, or Om Gym Inversion Swing.

Sometimes we need to sit and feel grounded, centered. Then the “Zen Office” might do the trick, putting the sitter in a position which opens breathing and frees the ‘chi’.

Sometimes we need to lay down. The body needs a rest. This doesn’t have to mean a nap, just that the body needs a position of restoration and relative inactivity. The Lounge Position or Lay Down Position would be best.These positions—despite the appearance—actually increase productivity by resting the body even as the person is working. The body can actually restore its energy level in these positions much the same as when taking a nap.

And if an outright nap is needed, one isn’t far from that state. (Naps are proven to boost productivity). Many of the world's best inventions happened during naps.

There are many activities that could be done even during a yoga asana—say thinking up the next line for that article or talking on a speakerphone. One could even listen to their email on audio or speak with a colleague while doing a downward facing dog or shoulder stand. Or we may just need to take a short break from thinking.

Furniture for Small Spaces

The ‘Dynamic Office’ takes up slightly more than the amount of space of 2 traditional Japanese tatami mats—roughly 6 feet by 6 feet. It is suited well to small spaces, office cubicles, studios, and loft apartments. The Dynamic Office uses ‘vertical space’ similar to the way cities use skyscrapers. Instead of a large part of the room taken up by the desk, this ‘open space’ in the work area is conducive to organization and clutter clearing. This open space provides the foundation for placing the props and furniture in multiple arrangements. Even the act of placing and arranging the props requires movement and stretching, so this is an advantage. The Dynamic Office is minimalistic, using as few objects as possible to achieve the optimal creative environment. This makes it affordable and easy to move and relocate. Also, moving is much easier to adapt to because the exact same arrangement can be established within minutes of arriving at a new location. And for people with more than one office, this improves productivity because location number Two or Three can use the exact same arrangement as location One. The Dynamic Office is so compact when taken-apart that the entire set of furniture can be carried on a bicycle trailer. If working at home, the same space can be used for sleeping using the Japanese Futon.

 

Thinking on Your Feet and Lying Down on the Job

Standing up is nothing new—even Thomas Jefferson stood up while working. But it is usually avoided. One of the complaints by people who stand up to work is that their feet and legs hurt. The Dynamic Office actually builds a body, which is aligned and strong, but like any exercise, it takes time to achieve the desired results. When the feet cramp, this is due to muscles becoming fatigued and full of lactic acid build up. The answer is multidisciplinary and built into the unique office. Using a ‘footsie roller’, gently massage your cramped foot. This is akin to Rolfing and will actually reshape, realign, and strengthen your foot. Part of your workday should consist of lying on your back with the feet propped up on the bolster to drain the toxins, which accumulate from standing. And if one position causes discomfort like cramping, one can simply switch to another position as needed.

The Stand Up Computer Station or Eco-Shelf is perhaps the best position of all for movement. The user can do any number or movements or stretches even as typing, such as wiggling, standing on one foot or the other (stork pose), or raising the hands above the head. You can also quickly go into a floor pose and get back up. Reading and writing is performed on the second to top shelf where the mouse is located. Either a laptop computer with separate mouse and keyboard or a regular CPU with mouse, flat screen, and keyboard can be used equally well. If getting up and down a lot is part of your work, there is no need for it anymore--you are always up!

The laptop is depicted in the media and praised by everyone for freeing us from the office. In fact, the picture of someone lying on their tummy working on a laptop in bed or on a remote island in the Pacific has become a cultural icon. This is an impossibility and wishful thinking, because this position will murder the neck and shoulders. The reason laptops are cursed by ergonomics researchers is that the screen on the lap causes neck/back problems. If the screen is placed in the correct position to stop neck strain, the keyboard and mouse are too high to be used.--which is why people attempt to lie down while using laptops. However, by lying face down on top of two yoga bolsters (similar to Superman), the head, neck and shoulders are in a neutral position, and one is looking DOWN at the computer instead of on the same level.

The eco-shelf solves all the ergonomic problems that have caused researchers to warn the public from using a laptop as everyday computer. It does this by putting screen, keyboard, and mouse each in the place that each is optimally suited for great body mechanics. The Eco-shelf™ is just as suited to a standard CPU with flat screen--as long as the screen isn't too big to fit on the assigned shelf. (18" will work).

The Dynamic Office is more than a set of furniture—it is a paradigm shift about how to live. The basis for the Dynamic Office is that office work is not a compromise but an activity that is just as fun and rejuvenating as other desired activities. The ACT of office work is a way to integrate aspects of our life which foster balance and harmony in body and mind. It is an approach to work and life that considers the means as important as the ends. The Dynamic Office paradigm relaxes about productivity knowing that when a person is comfortable, rested and at ease, creativity and productivity will be at an all time high. The Dynamic Office saves MONEY by preventing on-the-job repetitive stress injuries, therapy bills due to stress and memberships to the local gym. The Dynamic Office saves TIME by providing exercise during work, improving efficiency, and helping a person to feel balanced at work so they don’t have to unwind after work. The Dynamic Office restores energy rather than zap it. (B.T.W. This article was written in one three-hour ‘stand’.

 

 

Q & A

Isn't standing hard on the body? What if your legs and feet get fatigued?

Standing is more natural than sitting. Feet will often cramp when standing for long periods but there are two simple remedies: 1--Don't wear shoes during standing to allow the foot to stretch and move. Occassionally use a 'Footsie Roller' to gently massage your foot. 2--Change into one of the many other positions to give your legs and feet a rest.

The great thing about the Dynamic Office--which prevents most ergonomic issues from developing--is the act of changing positions. Repetitive Stress is avoided by listening to the body and shifting as needed. The feet can be elevated on a yoga bolster while lying on one's back to relieve the legs.

 

I can't sit on the floor, so I guess the Dynamic Office won't work.

Not a problem. The Tilt Seat™ allows dynamic sitting at slightly higher than that of a standard chair. Instead of sitting on the floor and using the Tilt Seat™ as a desk, sit ON the Tilt Seat™ and use a standard table as your work surface. The best type would be a drafting table.

The Lounge Position and the Lying Face Down position can both be done on a bed or simple raised platform instead of the floor.

 

Why would I want to work out while I'm trying to think and get things accomplished? This seems like a lot of work.

Brain waves conducive to alertness and productivity are stimulated with movement such as active sitting and standing. Sitting in a chair hampers breathing and stunts creativity. Chairs are a COMPROMISE between standing and lying down, not really helping with either. The Dynamic Office™ lets you STAND when you need to wake up, and lets you lie down when you need to rest. Your body is not struggling. Great things are accomplished when the mind and body can relax.

 

But if lie down, I might fall asleep.

If you need to take a nap, perhaps you would get more done.

Many of our greatest inventors, scientists, and political leaders regularly took naps: John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Leanardo Da Vinci to name a few. Countless research has been done that conclusively proves naps are all-around beneficial.

Top 10 Benefits of Napping

1. Improves stamina

2. Increases alertness and motor skills

3. Reduces stress and lowers blood pressure

4. Enlightens mood and attitude

5. Increases accuracy

6. Cuts down on company costs related to fatigue

7. Preserves youth (beauty sleep)

8. Increase in activity/metabolism

9. Facilitates weight loss

10. Nothing like a good nap!

 

But people will think I'm weird. No one else is doing it.

Thomas Jefferson stood up while working, and German students commonly stood up a podiums instead of sitting at desks while listening to lectures and doing school work. If you don't like to think outside the box, the Dynamic Office may not be for you.

 

 

Why did people start using chairs in the first place?

It wasn't long ago that most of Americans lived on farms and didn't need chairs much. We haven't gotten smart to adapting human needs into the office environment.

 

It seems like it would be hard on your back and feet.

The reason people often have issues with standing tasks is because their body is out of alignment and this can create wear and tear--or pain. Also, standing engages muscles that have atrophied from lack of use. Feet especially can cramp when they are out of shape. Shoes do not allow the foot to stretch and move the way it needs to. Arch support is simply a crutch for a foot that cannot support the weight of the body. The Dynamic Office allows one to adjust the amount of time they are standing. One can incrimentally grow stronger and increase the amount of time spent standing as needed. The is the ideal workout, slow, steady, with rest periods built in where needed.

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Standing engages your body the maximum and helps you
'Think on Your Feet!' Our Stand Up Computer Desk comes apart in seconds.

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Active Sitting is the next best thing to standing. The Tilt Seat™ allows multiple positions so you don't get stuck in your chair.

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The Zen Office™ is a floor desk and chair in one for active sitting. Shown here with the larger Sky Bench™ for sitting.

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Stand Up Computer Desk. The one on the right holds book (top shelf) for viewing while typing, writing pad (second from top shelf), books, and laser printer.

For a change of pace you can lie on your tummy with lowest position of Eco Backrest™. We call this the 'Salamander Position". You feel like you're floating!

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The Eco Backrest™ Floor/bed Lounge Chair shown here with Eco Blocks™ (armrests), buckwheat pillow, and Yoga Bolster.

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Tilt Seat Eco Chair™

Eco Backrest™

Lie Down Desk
(same as Eco Backrest™)

Zen Office™

Stand Up or Sit Down Eco Desk™

Dynamic Office™

Om Gym™
Inversion Swing

Eco Sticky Mat

Organic Cotton Yoga Straps

Organic Yoga Blankets

Eco Yoga Blocks

Organic Yoga Bolsters

Restorative Yoga Mat

Yoga carry bag/sling

Eye Pillows

Yoga Lounge™

Meditation Cushions/Zafus/Crescent Zafus

Sitting Mats /Zabutons

Meditation Benches

Sky Bench™

Inflatable Zafu

Meditation Bells

Japanese Incense

Beeswax Candles

Lavender Landscape Poster

Meditation Books and CDs

Platform Couch

Floor Couch

Japanese Living Room Suite™

Floor Seats/cushions
(zafu, smile cushion™, zabuton sitting mat)

Floor benches/stools
(Peace Bench™, Sky Bench)

Coffee Table

Floor Lounge Chair
(same as Eco Backrest™)

Tilt Seat Dining Set

Organic Kapok/wool Futon

Modular Platform Bedframe

Organic Kapok Pillows

Buckwheat Pillows Organic

Body Pillows

Organic Cotton Blankets

Quantum Calming Mat™

Modular Shelves

Tatami Mats

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