Emma, a life-sized model that is meant to be representative of what the average office worker might look like in 20 years, was recently designed in the UK. Emma was made in an attempt to show how dramatically workers could physically change in this short period of time if they don't change their bad working habits and give them incentive to do reverse the harm that's currently being done.
Based on research done by UK Fellows, a company that makes innovative office furniture, a team of Behavioral Futurists and a panel of experts in ergonomics, occupational health, and wellbeing at work, it was found that most workspaces are not conducive to good posture. This causes people to bend over while working which means that in 20 years they could suffer from permanently bent backs.
🎞️ Meet Emma, a life-sized representation of what the average office worker may look like by 2040. 👩🏻💼💼🖱️ pic.twitter.com/RCwWleUsP0— DW Science (@dw_scitech) November 15, 2019
The research also forecasts that because workers sit for hours on end, they could suffer from varicose veins due to poor blood flow. The impacts of bad working conditions can extend all the way to a worker's face and skin and cause dry, red eyes from staring at computer screens all day, hairy ears and nose from poor air quality and eczema from being so stressed out.
Employers are supposed to be aware and in tune with these workstation risks but for the most part, they seem to be ignored. It's been reported that in the UK, more than 25% of requests for a more ergonomic workspace go unresolved and 20% of workers surveyed claim that they don't think their bosses took their requests seriously.
It's possible that Emma and this forecast are a bit of an exaggeration but there is some merit to this report. The author of the report, William Highman believes that this doesn't have to be the case and that with some small changes, this future can be reversed. With some words of wisdom, he's quoted as saying “Unless we make radical changes to our working lives, such as moving more, addressing our posture at our desks, taking regular walking breaks, or considering improving our workstation setup, our offices are going to make us very sick. As a result, workers in the future could suffer health problems as bad as those we thought we’d left behind in the Industrial Revolution.”