OM in the News: The Ultimate Ergonomic Desk
While the standing desk has become a staple in homes and offices, this ergonomic revolution hasn’t given us an acceptable way to recline flat and still be able to work. And not just lie down, really, but what about all the many micro-positions between standing and sitting? Those are the places Altwork wants to be. Altwork is a convertible workstation that covers everything from standing to sitting to lying down, with your monitor hanging above you, writes Wired (Oct. 28, 2015). The price: $5,900. Unveiled, it sort of looks like the chair in your dentist’s office: a mechanized assembly with plenty of head support and with a swiveling desk attached. The unit also has an arm that holds your second screen, and the desk piece extends out so that you get up from the chair and work standing up at the side. In order to keep your keyboard, mouse, and mousepad from flying down at your face while the desk portion is situated above you, Altwork’s design uses magnets.
The origin of Altwork—which has been in stealth mode for half a decade—came from CEO Che Voight, who injured his back years ago and was unable to sit while working at a computer. “We aren’t trying for a general purpose desk. This is designed for people whose job is to operate a computer. We are looking at CAD engineers, financial traders, animators, technical writers,” says Voigt. “I feel like the high-intensity computer user is undervalued. Those are the people who, if their project gets done a little bit sooner, that’s a big deal.”
Altwork certainly seems like it would make you focus. While it’s not a walled-off pod, reclining with a computer floating above your face sends a strong “Do not disturb” signal—which, maybe isn’t great for communication or co-working. But Voigt says that’s why the standing desk option exists: The importance of the “deskside,” drive-by meeting can’t be underestimated, and Altwork allows for it.
Classroom discussion questions:
- What other ergonomic advances have been made in offices?
- Who will be the customer for this product?