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How Ergonomic Furniture Inspires Active Learning

As anyone who’s ever spent a long day at the office or at school can tell you, nothing is more disruptive or distracting than sitting uncomfortably throughout the day. As new research and innovations continue to influence collaborative workspace furniture design, we’re seeing a revolution in the way that learning, creativity, and communication are affected by something as seemingly simple as furniture. In schools and offices alike, ergonomic workstations are dramatically transforming the way that people interact, both with each other and with their physical environments. Let’s take a look at how interactive spaces with ergonomic furniture can inspire wellness, productivity, and active learning.

Ergonomic Furniture and Physical Well-Being

When it comes to the effect that furniture design has on physical health and well-being, the science is clear. Essentially, rigidly composed furniture that has been designed without regard for the human body tends to create tension and can lead to lifelong problems with flexibility, alignment, and posture. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, non-ergonomic seating can pose “a major challenge to health and learning of students,” and ergonomic seating solutions have been clearly linked to “providing a better learning environment.” Without delving too deeply into the gritty science, soft seating options, combined with height-adjustable features, correct proportions for a range of body sizes, and flexible seating help to promote good posture, proper breathing, and optimal muscular and skeletal development.

For many years, classroom and office furniture reflected the outdated principle that the body was totally separate from the brain. More recently, research has advocated a more holistic approach. In educational and multipurpose settings, for instance, researchers now understand the importance of flexible furniture for a range of uses. Chairs and desks can be adapted for each individual user and can be adjusted to accommodate the best format for a given activity. Thankfully, the “one size fits all” approach is no longer the norm for students or professionals.

 

Mind + Body

In keeping with a holistic approach, the freedom allowed by ergonomic furniture has been directly linked not only to physical well-being, but to mental health as well. According to the Assistive Technology Act Program at Georgia Tech, ergonomic furniture “helps with breathing, circulation, attention, concentration, and ultimately learning.” By laying the foundation for a comfortable, active, and flexible physical experience, students and professionals from all walks of life can be more receptive to new information and ideas. Of course, when it comes to fostering creativity (and productivity) in the classroom or a work environment, this concept is absolutely vital.

Rather than devoting themselves to the passive transfer of information, classrooms and workplaces have become more interactive over the years. This means more opportunities for flexibility, innovation, and adaptation. Whether a setting is geared toward education or productivity, active learning and openness to collaboration can play a key role in predicting the success of an institution. Naturally, collective success always comes back to the individual experience, and this is why ergonomic furnishings are essential even at the most basic level.

 

Why Active Learning Matters

Successful education programs, from K-12 schools to Ivy League postgraduate settings, have come to grasp the significance of promoting active learning, not just for the individual but for entire groups. Of course, the same is true for successful companies, in which innovation and authentic collaboration are always valued highly. Active learning has been shown to create higher levels of information retention, creativity, and adeptness in a range of critical skills, from analyzing data to evaluating ideas to developing effective solutions to problems. On a very practical level, ergonomic workstations and seating solutions tend to prepare the body and mind for the highest level of performance, regardless of the setting.

Looking forward, developments in furniture design promise to create better environments for workers, students, and individuals for whom wellness is a priority. As new innovations continue to unfold, we can expect to see more emphasis on combining research and design to elevate the experience of the individual, ultimately with better results for everyone.

 Author Bio: Andrew Hoffman is a freelance writer and journalist from Los Angeles, CA, who has written on behalf of a range of clients including the Livestrong Network and Demand Media. In addition to writing about a range of topics, he enjoys playing basketball and cooking in his spare time. You can reach out to him over, here.

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How To Feng Shui Your Desk

Feng shui is the Chinese belief of harmonizing the elements of the surrounding environment. This belief has ancient Chinese roots but has recently found its way to the western world. Today everybody wants peace and harmony and even office spaces are not safe from the feng shui master. The great thing about feng shui is that there are basic principles that everybody can follow. These are so easy even those who are uninitiated can do them. Let’s start small. Here are some simple ways to feng shui your desk:

Position Your Desk

The best way to start is by positioning your desk in a strategic location. According to the masters, the best position for your desk is to have a commanding view of the door, a beautiful view out a window and a solid wall behind you. A commanding view of the door gives you authority. If possible place your desk on a diagonal across from the door. If there is a window behind you, place a plant to give you stability. It is also important to have a good view you can look out to. If you don’t have a view, avoid blank walls or a chaotic view. These will contribute negatively to your work. According to the experts a blank wall can lead to lack of ideas or missed opportunities. Chaotic views obviously lead to chaotic thoughts.

Arrange Your Desk A cluttered desk signifies procrastination and mental confusion. De-clutter your desk not only to get thoughts flowing but also to make work flow efficiently. The items found in your desk should be the ones you use every day. If they are not used daily, put them inside drawers and cabinets. It is also best to hide wires and cords.

Many masters suggest the 9-point grid but in order to simplify, focus on these three things. The back left corner of the desk represents wealth and prosperity. This spot should target abundance. Place a plant or something of value like a jar of change or a working computer. The fame portion of the desk is located on the top center. Put your business cards, name plate or motivational images in this area. It’s cliché to have a family picture on your desk but this practice is actually in-line with feng shui principles. The perfect spot for family is on the middle left side.

Desk Size

Your desk size should be proportional to the size of the room. It should not be too big it dwarfs the whole space or too small it becomes insignificant. Choose a small desk for a small room to make reaching for things easier. A  large desk conveys power and productivity but it should not be too big that you can’t easily reach for things you need.

Desk Color

According to feng shui experts, color plays a great role in harmonizing your office space. A white desk can energize the mind. A black desk on the other hand can move energy down and in and encourages introspection. Choosing muted desk colors increases mental focus while bright colors activate the mind.

Using the quick and easy tips above, anyone can add some peace and harmony to a place many of us need it most, our desk and work space. Applying only one or two of these may be all you need to experience tranquility!
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