Agile Working – what any Facilities Manager needs to consider when implementing: Manual Handling (1)

Agile working – perhaps not as simple as it may seem?

Many organisations are now moving to a more ‘agile’ or ‘activity based’ way of working – either in a gradual way and slowly changing ways of working over time, or in some cases in a more dramatic and transformational way – out with the old, and in with the new.

Either way there are more things to think about than may at first seem apparent.  In this series of blogs on agile working we’ll be working our way through all aspects of people, place and technology and giving you our thoughts on what you need to consider and why. By no means will these be exhaustive lists – just food for thought to help you tailor ‘agile’ or ‘activity based’ working to the needs of your organisation and the employees on which you depend.

Part 1 – Manual Handling

So instead of the traditional desktop computer and a desk of your own to keep all your bits and pieces you now have to take everything you need with you as you move from desk to coffee shop to home, to the train – wherever you happen to be working.  And this can all add up.

So what do you really need to carry?

How can we make this easier?  

How are you going to carry it?  

What are you carrying?  

Electronics – phone, tablet, laptop, cables, chargers

Paperwork, notebook, pens and other worky items

Personal stuff – lunch, spare shoes, toiletries, keys, gym kit – the list is potentially endless!

How can we make this easier?

Lots of stuff… what can we do about it?  Clearly we need to do as much as we can to cut down the amount we need to carry – some will inevitably be more disciplined with this than others but there’s plenty you can do as an employer to help:  do they need all that technology?;  Is it the smallest/lightest it can be to comfortably perform the task required of it?;  Is battery life adequate to avoid need to carry cables and chargers?;  Are spare or loan cables and chargers available in different locations?;  Can paperwork be accessed remotely rather than carried?;  Are digital paper & pens worth considering?;  Is everyone adequately trained to make full use of the digital technology available to them?;  Can storage be provided to negate the need to carry all items all of the time?

And then there’s the personal stuff that many of us insist on dragging around with us!  So many of us are guilty of throwing stuff into our bags and rarely clearing it out.  It’s certainly a hard one to influence – no magic answers here we’re afraid – sorry!

How are you carrying it?  

Backpack?  Messenger bag?  Briefcase?  Handbag?  Trolley bag?  All capable of housing the laptop you’ve provided, but all have their pros and cons, so which one should you provide?

The answer to most ergonomics questions really is ‘it depends’.  Generally we’d say a backpack (on both shoulders) is the best option in terms of comfort and reduction in MSD’s.  But it doesn’t suit everybody, or every situation, so you have to weigh up the best option for you and your employees to avoid it being a waste of money and yet another item of clutter that’s put under the desk or in lockers that’s never used.  

So lots of things to think about.  One size/solution doesn’t fit all, so it will need a bit of consideration and consultation with your employees to make sure you provide the right environment and equipment for your organisation.  Some manual handling training specific to this aspect of an individual’s role would also be appropriate so that you can work together to make this agile transition as ‘painless’ as possible for all concerned.   

We’ll probably touch on manual handling again when we look at storage, and technology, and office design as it’s all interlinked, but if you think we’ve missed anything, or would like to add to the discussion we’d be delighted to hear from you.  Let us know what you think, or what your experiences have been and we can all help add to the discussion on the best ways forward as our offices become more and more ‘mobile’.  We look forward to hearing from you.

PS – we know our posts are short, and to the point, but we kind of like them that way.  Hope you do too? ☺

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