Office workers are now spending up to six hours a day working on mobile devices rather than being ‘chained’ to their desk computers, according to research published today. Women prefer to use smartphones while laptops are more appealing to men.

Men, however, do uphold the ‘boys with toys’ tradition by generally working with three or more mobile devices while women choose to work with a maximum of two.

Steelcase, the global leader in the office furniture industry, has published intermediate results of the Global Posture Study which was based on research among 10,100 office workers across six continents.

The objective of the survey was to identify which type of work environment fits best to the different workers.

The research revealed that the Millennial generation, born between 1979 and 2000, change posture during the course of the day more than any other age group.

The main findings of the posture study are:

  1. Laptops versus Smartphones: Workers surveyed are working between 3 and 6 hours on mobile devices daily. Men prefer laptops (34%), whereas women like to work on smartphones (41%).
  2. More technology for men: Male employees like to work with 3 or more technical devices (64%). Women prefer to work with maximum 2 different devices (47%).
  3. “Millennials” need space to move: The so-called Millennial, born between 1979 and 2000, are changing postures the most often in comparison to all other ages. They prefer the postures “The Cocoon” (twisting arms and legs like in a cocoon, 7%), “The Strunch (tear over the desk 15%) and “Trance” (27%), concentrated reading on the screen.
  4. Women prefer to retreat: Female workers are choosing postures where they can withdraw from the environment like ‘The Cocoon’ and ‘The Strunch’. Men prefer open seating postures to lean back like “The Draw” (a position to work with tablets), “The Smart Lean”, to create privacy during meetings and “The Take It In” (leaning back thanks to large displays).
  5. Multitasking and concentration: all surveyed workers of all ages and gender prefer the posture “Multi-Device” simultaneously using several technical devices (25%), followed by concentrated reading on the screen (“Trance”, 20%).

The results of the posture study and online survey underline that an innovative working environment needs to support the various ways of working of the employees to guarantee their wellbeing and productivity.

James Ludwig, Vice President, Global Design and Product Engineering says: “The evidence from the posture study is compelling and it shows clearly the multiplicity of postures adopted by workers and how comfortable they are in using a widening array of technology.

“We are using survey results for product design. Gesture, an innovative office chair, has been conceived to support the intuitive body movements during work with various technical devices.”

During the research project Steelcase identified nine different postures adopted most frequently by office workers. They are:

  • The Strunch – The “strunch” As people become fatigued, they gradually push their laptop further from the edge of the worksurface, resting their weight on the surface.
  • The Draw – Technology (small and mobile) allows people to pull back from their desks while they use it.
  • The Multi-Device — This posture is representative of how people adapt to multitasking on multiple-devices. One hand holding a phone to the ear, the other tasking on a laptop.
  • The Text – Smartphones are small compared to other forms of technology and, therefore, require unique postures. Workers bring arms in close as keying and gesturing are performed.
  • The Cocoon – People recline, bring up their feet onto the seat, and draw their smartphone or tablet close, resting on their thighs.
  • The Swipe – This posture results when the device is used on a worksurface in “surfing mode”, in which people operate the device with one hand, typically with swiping gestures.
  • The Smart Lean – This posture is the result of mobile devices that create the desire for people to temporarily “pull away” from others without leaving a meeting or collaborative environment.
  • The Trance – This posture was observed when people were focused on the screen and either mousing or using a touchpad to navigate on the screen for extended periods of time.
  • The Take It In – In this posture, people recline to view content on the large display and/or sit back to contemplate.