Top-to-Toe Ergonomics

Irrespective of the industry we operate in, and the size of organisation we work in, good ergonomics should be part of everyday office design. By taking a holistic approach to the equipment and furniture used, we can dramatically improve the quality of day-to-day working lives and the level of productivity. There are some common physical problems office workers encounter and they all directly relate to their working environment. We’ve set out how, by improving ergonomics in the workplace, we could solve these issues for a happier office and a healthy ROI.

The problem: Low mood and trouble concentrating because of physical pain.
Even low-level pain, if constant, can be distracting and demoralising.

How to help:
You could help by carrying out a full audit of your office ergonomics. Comprehensive workstation assessments could highlight where potential problems are brewing and stop them in their tracks before they impact productivity.

The problem: Eye strain and neck ache.
The glare from a computer screen or even just a badly lit office space can cause agonising eye strain, headaches and even migraine. The neck and shoulders can become strained and painful if a monitor is set at the wrong height, causing computer workers to repeatedly shift their gaze up and down if reading or referencing materials on the desk.

How to help:
Make sure lighting is adequate and provide anti-glare filters for monitors, if appropriate. The right monitor, monitor arm or laptop support can help office workers achieve the correct ergonomic position, setting the screen at eye level to stop neck strain. Meanwhile, a document holder can help them to avoid constantly moving the head from paper to screen.

The problem: Wrist pain and strain caused by repetitive actions.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, where a nerve is pinched, is one of the most common issues caused by office working. Tendonitis is also common in the wrist, while ‘trigger finger’ is often related to repetitive strain injuries.

How to help:
Wrist supports can help avoid angling wrists upwards while working, an action that is likely to cause repetitive strain injuries. Wrist supports can be used with keyboards and/or mouse mats to offer a complete ergonomic desk set up. Ergonomic mice can help position the wrist in a more natural and comfortable position.

The problem: Backache.
Anyone who has suffered even the mildest backache will know how impossible it is to work well with this sort of pain. Spending too long in one position, twisting in an unnatural way to reach for the keyboard or phone, hunching over a desk and even crossed legs – all these can put unnecessary pressure on spinal discs and muscles.

How to help:
Provide lumbar support products and attach to existing office chairs, or invest in sit-stand workstations, which might be a good choice for some or all office workers. As well as helping workers stay limber, stretching their muscles and adding movement to each day, sit-stand desks have also been shown to have beneficial effects on the waistline.

The problem: Lower back pain.
Incorrectly positioned feet causing pressure and pain in the lower back. The wrong footwear, crossed legs and legs twisted at an angle to the body can all exacerbate back problems.

How to help:
There’s a great range of foot rests to help improve circulation and reduce fatigue by elevating and supporting the feet and lower legs. In turn, this will improve overall posture and help your team members to avoid back pain.

Investing in the right equipment in your office can have huge health benefits for your team. You should consider carrying out a workspace assessment today and find out exactly what kind of physical support they need.

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The Secret Diary of a Stationery Lover

It has been a busy week for me as work starts to return to normal (I hate that phrase, what is normal? Surely every workplace is different, what is normal to me might be very different to the guys down at the local garage where quite frankly the state of their reception desk has never looked like anything I have ever seen before, how do they ever find anything?).

At our company the return to the office has enabled us to once again welcome work experience students into our environment so that they can get a feel for working life. Last Wednesday young David spent the whole day with me. A bit of a cocky lad, seemed to think he knew everything, but I soon put him in his place. When I returned from a mid-morning toilet visit, I was greeted with: “Tina from Accounts called for you whilst you were away, I left a Post-it® note on your desk”

I looked at my desk and sure enough there was a note stuck to my monitor. But it wasn’t a Post-it®. Yes it was a sticky note and it was yellow and it was posted on my screen but boy, does this young lad not know anything!

“David – come over here” I yelled “what you have put on my screen is a yellow sticky note. Not a post-it® note. Post-it is a brand of notes – they are of a much higher quality and come in a much wider range of colours. Look, see how that note on my screen is already starting to curl at the edges and will very soon fall from my screen? If I had been another ten minutes in the bathroom it will more than likely have disappeared down the back of my desk and I may never have got the message. Pull up a chair…”

For the next twenty minutes I used our Workplace Solutions catalogue to explain the important difference between sticky notes, including the value of the Super Sticky range from Post-it® which are extra sticky and come in a range of different collections. As I started to talk him through the collections – the green and blues of the Oasis collection; the orange, green and pinks from the Boost selection before moving onto the new Playful collection – I could see his eyes begin to roll with amazement. Information overload.
I did smile, when that young know-it-all kid walked through the door, he would have had no idea how much he still had to learn. Even now I have not told him about the Post-it Extreme range which is water-resistant. Some things I choose to keep to myself, well, I don’t want him to come back to the company at the end of his exams and start having his eye on my role as Stationery Supplies Supervisor do I!

The day was not all about teaching, in the afternoon we had a really good laugh and I played a classic work experience trick on young David. When we were sorting through piles of paper I said “I know what we need – go down to reception and ask Steve if you can have a ‘long weight’ for a job we are doing.” Off he trotted, confident he knew what he was doing. How we laughed twenty minutes later when he returned, Steve having eventually explained the joke!

Throughout the day I continued to share much of my experience in administrating stationery in a busy workplace, but to be honest, sometimes it felt like a lost cause.

“Can I borrow your Sellotape?” he asked later that afternoon.
“I don’t have any I’m afraid.” I knew where this conversation was going.
“Yes you do, I can see it there on your desk, right next to…”
Gotcha! I knew I had young smarty pants once again. “That young man is mere sticky tape, a cheap brand bought in bulk by my predecessor. It is not Sellotape. Sellotape is a brand of vastly superior quality; stronger, tougher and lasts longer.”
Again the eyes rolled. He knew he had met his match.

At 5.30pm the cleaners started to gather in the doorway, removing their equipment from the cupboard, including the legendary red and black Henry vacuum cleaner. Wasting no time, David took that as his cue to pack up and leave. “Right, I’m off, it looks like they are about to start to use the hoover…”

“David, that is not a hoover…” My efforts to educate him were wasted, he was already out the door and on his way home. Funny enough the next day he never showed up for work experience, his mum called to say that he was not well and would not be returning. Kids today, they have no stamina.

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Office Furniture is the secret to productivity

The office is often referred to as a second home to workers, spending more time there than with their own family, and furniture is essential for smooth and efficient functioning of a workplace. It makes the office environment comfortable, pleasant and attractive, and the role of furniture in the productivity of workers and the efficient operation of a work environment is more important now than it has ever been.
With today’s office furniture ranging from the gimmicky to the purely functional, the style that companies opt for sends visual cues about their brand, not to mention impacting on office ambience and employee productivity. Today it’s not just tech and creative set-ups getting experimental with office furniture in regards to their colour and design choices. More professional services and financial services firms are kitting out their offices with height adjustable desks, soft seating areas, private working spaces and abundant indoor greenery.

The right furniture
While hammocks and bean bags may prove a talking point in communal areas of some imaginative, eccentric companies, in reality furniture needs to support and reflect the tasks being carried out. But with businesses looking to optimise their space and reduce the overall number of desks, the onus is more on the type of furniture to be used around the office. And there’s more choice than ever before.
Getting the right mix of office furniture is an investment in its own right, but while design trends come and go, what’s really important is ensuring the basics like desks and seating meet employee needs and make the most of the available space. There is the risk that companies can get swept along by designs, such as sit-stand desks, that are not used to their maximum benefit, for example if sit-stand desks are consistently used in sitting mode, it simply defeats their intended purpose.
Companies need to evaluate which types of furniture best support their employees day-to-day activities. For the employer, it’s about listening to the workforce, trusting their views and accepting that they don’t always have to be at their desks to do their job.

Boosting productivity
With all the positive effects of installing revolutionary furniture designs, one of the most desired outcomes of such change is the increased productivity of employees.
Employees work better and feel situated and happier in their work environment when the furniture is attractive and comfortable. Like a well-oiled machine, healthy employees generate quality output and also commit to working regularly, reducing the absenteeism rate. All this is possible with the installing of employee-friendly and contemporary furniture that breaks away from the traditional norm of workplaces.

Multi-functional spaces
Furniture can sometimes take up a lot of space, but it can actually make the office look more spacious if arranged properly. Multi-functional furniture is ideal for small offices and can help reduce the amount of clutter. Companies with more limited fit-out budgets need to think creatively about how they use the same furniture for different purposes, for example a multi-purpose chair can be used in a dining setting, and also be used for internal meetings if designed correctly.
In larger open areas, a range of flexible settings with different privacy levels turns the space into a vibrant hub where different modes of work can happen simultaneously – collaboration, informal social interactions, learning and even focus work. The addition of open collaborative settings allow people to safely and comfortably connect while moving around easily.
However furniture is positioned within the office, ensuring that employees have the privacy and the personal space they need to get their work done is key. And in modern offices, design choices also need to accommodate technology to connect quickly and easily. Today’s office spaces can look good but above all they must be fit for purpose if companies and employees are to get the most from them.

Higher productivity levels
As the nature of work evolves, office furniture is changing to keep pace, but the basics – a good desk, supportive chairs and comfortable breakout areas are still the essential design elements. The mix of exquisitely designed classic furniture and ergonomically designed modern furniture will give employees a space where they feel welcomed, comfortable and well taken care of, and also give the company a sophisticated and versatile image.
A spacious office complemented by space-saving multi-functional furniture can give any workplace an accommodating air.
Succeeding in the office requires more than the employee’s hard work. The office needs to be furnished with the latest furniture to give the added motivation. The rewards of creating high quality areas for working, for collaboration or for private working are higher productivity levels.

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YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY NEEDS YOUR HELP

The Keep It Local campaign was launched almost two years ago now to raise awareness of the need to support our local economies and acknowledge those businesses at the heart of our communities.

Now as we emerge out the other end of the pandemic, it is abundantly apparent that the landscape will never look as it did before. That need not be a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact. Many of the changes in life will have been for the better, including the way we have grown to appreciate the contribution of local businesses to keeping the economy running and communities active.

Following all the grief and loss there must be lessons learned. Things we took for granted we have learned to appreciate and admire. The magnificence of the NHS, the commitment of our carers, bin men, public transport workers, lorry drivers, shop floor workers…the list goes on. All of them played a huge part in creating a more united country with a willingness to help and care for each other.
Of course, they are not alone. Behind the scenes there are many other businesses critical to our economy that have had to either be put on hold or adapt their offering to work within new guidelines, keeping the economy ticking over, servicing the local community.
Arguably we are one of those businesses, at the heart of the Keep It Local campaign.

We are part of a group of stationers and office products dealers who have experienced the welcome move towards buying from local businesses during the recent pandemic. Our mission is to keep that trend going as the economy starts up again by encouraging large businesses and government organisations to actively strive to use more local companies for their stationery, office supplies and other purchases.

The Keep It Local campaign was inspired by the government’s outlined plan that by 2022 one third of its spend on goods and services will be with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. A lot has gone on in the world since that declaration, but we feel that must remain a focus for the government and more should be done to support local businesses and enable them to compete on a level playing field.
The idea of buying local has been gathering momentum in recent years, but with the Covid-19 outbreak the landscape changed suddenly and dramatically. Many retail businesses had to completely shut down; yet still they adapted their ways to service the community with local drop-offs, safe pick-up points, newly built websites to communicate ordering processes, taking orders over social media – They adapted to survive, and in doing so, these shops became the lifeblood of the local community.

Other businesses that were still permitted to operate, albeit with restricted travel and furloughed staff, carried on adapting the way they operated with skeleton teams; sourcing and supplying huge amounts of PPE equipment for NHS accounts, general practitioners, care homes and pharmacies; offering local businesses support with social distancing products and advice to help the country to get back to business. All products and services that were alien to them just a couple of years ago.

Today we face many new challenges, and it is important that the spirit of Keep It Local stays alive. Earlier this year businesses were encouraged to download a letter from the www.keep-it-local.co.uk website and send it to their own MP, nearly 200 letters were downloaded and used to get parliamentary members backing the campaign. Campaign organisers openly wrote to both Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, but with so many distractions around the world they have decided it cannot keep waiting for a government response. Local businesses need action now.

With costs of living rising steeply, households and businesses are under increasing pressure to survive. A bustling community with high employment and occupied high streets gives everyone a mental and financial lift as we look to recover from the pandemic – only by raising the awareness on a national level can we ensure that the benefits are felt in all areas.

The campaign is now upping the ante to obtain increased support from those in a position to influence. We believe there should be a financial incentive for somebody to order from their local distributor rather than defaulting to Amazon, we want households to visit their local stationer, butcher, greengrocer and baker rather than instinctively visiting the out-of-town multinational supermarket and we want businesses to consider the local environment and community when choosing a provider. We believe local and national administrations could be doing more to encourage those actions.

Please show your support to local businesses and get behind the campaign. More information on the benefits of supporting local businesses and how to get involved can be found at www.keep-it-local.co.uk.

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One more step towards environmental excellence

WRITE BETTER WITH LESS.
Preserving the environment is a major challenge that has long guided our acts and thinking. At Pilot, we constantly innovate while sustainably involving ourselves to limit our impact on the planet. Transforming our pens to make them ever more
eco-friendly is a genuine technological and human feat.
That’s why all our actions drive us to do better with less, to write the world of tomorrow with you.
More than a philosophy, the WRITE BETTER WITH LESS principle represents our approach aimed at reducing the ecological impact of our production while preserving our standards of quality and innovation.
This approach of constant improvement has been rewarded by achieving the very selective EMAS certification for the past 10 years, as well as the ISO14001 norm. Proud of these milestones, we are further pursuing our efforts through an action plan based on 4 essential pillars: our 4R’s – recycle, reduce, refill & reclaim.

THE PILOT 4R’s.

  1. RECYCLE – At Pilot the ethos is simple – limit the use of plastic to the strict minimum. The extraction of raw materials needed to produce plastic represents 77.8% of a pen’s carbon footprint. That’s why, since 2006 and the introduction of the Pilot Begreen range, we have preferred to use recycled plastic to make our pens. This optimisation of the production tool allows us to reduce the CO2 impact of the writing instruments concerned by between 19% and 57%.
  2. REFILL – Change the refill, not the pen. Over 60 % of our products are refillable. This has also enabled our end users to rethink how they consume. Using the same product several times instead of throwing it away is a gesture that’s simple, economical, and ecological.
    Using refillable pens and Pilot Green Packs can also help reduce “greenhouse gases” because manufacturing an entire pen produces more CO2 than just the refill components. From the manufacturing through to the end of the product life, it is estimated that using all of the pens and the refills in a Pilot Green Pack gives the following cumulative CO2 savings (compared to using the equivalent number of new pens and not refilling them): B2P Green Pack -69% CO2, G2 Green Pack -71% CO2, V7 Cartridge System -81% CO2, V-Board Master -75% CO2.
  3. REDUCE – We’re all wrapped up in using less plastic. Since 2010, we have reduced quantities of virgin plastic by over 80% by using recycled plastic and FSC-certified cardboard. In 2020, we went even further.
    Our Begreen range is available with 100% recyclable cardboard packaging. All our e-commerce range is offered in 100% recyclable paper flowpacks. All formats of our logistical packaging are adapted to reduce empty space and are FSC certified. 2022 will see the introduction of plastic-free packaging on all of our FriXion refills
  4. RECLAIM – Between 8-12 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans annually, and 70% of such waste actually sinks to the seabed, where we are unlikely to be able to clean it up. It is key to collect plastic before it enters the oceans!
    In 2021, PILOT took a leading step in the fight against this worldwide pollution by adding an element of reclaimed ocean plastic to the recycled PET material used in the manufacture of the iconic B2P range (Gel and Ecoball).
    This material is recuperated from oceans, beaches, rivers, lakes and the banks of those waterways, by our partner TerraCycle, the world’s leader in the collection and re-use of non-recyclable postconsumer waste.

PILOT BEGREEN.
Making things better and more responsibly has long been at the heart of our actions and research.
Back in 2006 we launched our Begreen range, eco-designed products that are 85% refillable and manufactured with a minimum of 70% recycled plastic. (*% of recycled material, excluding consumables).
This pioneering approach allowed Pilot to be the 1st manufacturer worldwide to offer more environmentally-friendly writing instruments. This determination to be eco-responsible instils all our teams with drive and enthusiasm. From design through to sale, we put all our energy into minimising our environmental impact.
We aim to offer our Begreen products at the same price and to the same high quality as our standard products. Pilot offers a wide range of Begreen environmentally friendly products that meet all your writing needs. Ballpoint pens, marker pens, whiteboard markers, highlighters and more.​​
Most Pilot Begreen writing instruments are refillable and using a refill when the ink runs out, rather than an entire new pen reduces the amount of single-use plastics in daily life. Refilling a pen also brings a reduction in greenhouse gases as manufacturing an entire pen produces more CO2 than just a refill.

PILOT’S CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT.
Preserving the environment is deeply embedded in PILOT’s DNA. In keeping with the principle of continuous improvement, Pilot is determined to go one step further.

The manufacturer is now offsetting the CO2 emissions of all pens manufactured at its European factory based in France.
In addition, the brand is proud to support and fund the “clean oceans plastic bank” project thanks to its partnership with Climate Partner.

This relates to many of Pilot’s iconic models; when purchasing a V-5, V-7, G-2, Fineliner, B2P gel ink or ballpoint pen which are manufactured in Europe, you are buying a climate compensated product. This represents a total of over 33 million pens per year for 1,456,824 kg of CO2.

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THE PERFECT STORM – A tale of increasing paper prices

You cannot turn on the news currently without some story about the rising cost of living and we would love to be able to bring you some great news about how all of our prices are going down, but that would not be true!
Copier paper has always been one of our largest sellers, a commercial product ordered and used in bulk in all types of business sectors up and down the country. Then the pandemic hit. Offices closed, we were all encouraged to work from home. Events were not happening – no posters or flyers printed, documents and agreements were being signed digitally.
As offices reopen and we return to work the paper market is struggling to recover and meet the newfound demand, sending cost prices soaring.
Post-Covid Challenges
Before the paper is even shipped the cost of pulp has increased by nearly 50% in the past 12-18 months. With pulp making up 48% of the production cost – that is significant. Energy prices we all know are on the rise. For a mill producing cut sheet paper it has gone up by over 400%. The impact of this on a carton of paper is staggering.
To make the example easy, if you assume a carton of paper cost £20.00 two years ago, that cost would now be £33.10 – An increase of 65%.
We also have shipping costs on the increase, container shipping costs have increased by up to 800% in some instances, and then when the paper does arrive at port the cost of fuel drives the cost up even further.
As a result of all of this, when demand was on the decline due to lockdown a number of papermills made the decision to switch production to more profitable packaging materials rather than cut sheet paper. To add the final ingredient to the perfect storm, the atrocities in the Ukraine and the knock-on effects, whilst making the cost of paper seem totally insignificant, have nonetheless added to the impact:
• A lot of paper is made in Russia, production has now ceased there.
• A lot of paper is made in Finland and they have been on strike all year
• Russia is a big supplier of trees for pulp, this has now ceased.
• American/Indonesian markets do not want to supply the UK as they get a better return in their own markets.
Our priority remains serving our customers with the best value and the best possible service and we will continue to source the best value copier paper for you to order, but we want to share with you the challenges faced and assure you that we are doing everything we can to deliver. We do have other branded sheets and weights available, if you have concerns about your paper supply, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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