Monthly Column By Women in Office Design
With a degree in the History of Art, Nichola started her career working in art galleries. Looking for a change in direction, she then returned to university to study for a Masters in Health Ergonomics, learning about biomechanics, anthropometrics and psychology.
On graduating, she met some physiotherapists who commented that they just couldn’t find the right chairs to recommend to their clients, so I picked up on the challenge and in 2004, I launched a range of back care ergonomic chairs, for Corrigo Design.
How has the pandemic changed your working life?
“We had to do a major shift in how we conducted our business, and like everyone, we had to change everything to online, from our consultation services to dealing with the factory. We have redesigned our workshops to be delivered on-line,” explains Nichola. “We are currently broadening our services to include further mental as well as physical wellbeing support. Us humans are pretty complex and true solutions recognise the connection between the two.”
What are the current topics that are driving you forward?
All of the companies Nichola talks to, from large legal firms, to small charities, are preparing for a hybrid form of working going forward.
Nichola believes that home working has now been proven to increase productivity, with the office remaining key for collaborative or creative working. It will be a process of gradual change, keeping the flexibility to evolve as workers and business needs become clearer.
“I believe it will be essential to listen and learn from employees’ needs and work around fitting these into the company’s wellbeing culture, as well as ensuring you comply with the HSE DSE 1992 Act and provide ergonomic assessments for both home and office workers,” explains Nichola.
“Interestingly, I am seeing the offices evolving rapidly to replicate the home. Having comfortable adaptive environments is key, ensuring healthy backs, promoting movement, encouraging interaction and providing different environments for different tasks. “
What are your thoughts on the future?
Nichola is particularly looking forward to seeing how the new office designs will develop. She explains: “I believe there is now a significant shift in the focus on wellbeing. We can no longer escape the deep connection between our employees’ mental and physical health. I hope that we will learn the lessons of having to evolve in our working practices and bring all the best of this back into the office. The key, in my mind, will be encouraging a culture of open communication, empowering people through a sense of agency and actively listening to and supporting their individual needs. Ergonomics provides us with the tools to measure and listen to employees’ needs and design around these, forming an essential part of a well building.”