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Reshape Your Office to Reduce Health Insurance Costs

Reshape Your Office to Reduce Health Insurance Costs

Health insurance is on the mind of every employer. With insurers lowering premiums for companies that promote employee fitness, we’ve said goodbye to the “Mad Men” days of workplace cigarettes and whisky, and hello to employer-sponsored FitBits, gym memberships, corporate team sports and adventure retreats. But not everyone can fit a daily workout into the time demands of work and family. Can employers do more?

Advocates of “active office” design say yes, absolutely. By incorporating design elements like interconnecting stairs, indoor/outdoor circulation paths, and strategically-placed activity areas, businesses can get their employees moving around without pulling time out of their schedules.

Designing an active office from the ground up, however, may not be practical for every business. Nevertheless there are ways to shift from traditional design to active design just by changing your existing office layout. Milliken recommends separating heads-down work areas from break facilities, and making conference areas a destination. Researchers found that increasing distance from team members beyond 80 feet reduces collaboration, unless there’s a clear line of sight; if collaborators can see each other, they will walk to speak to other team members. Expert Emily Cooper recommends simple tricks like talking to co-workers instead of emailing, or installing an old-fashioned wall phone so people stand to converse.

Your choice of furnishings will also enhance activity. Height-adjustable workstations burn more than 450 extra calories per week, according to a University of Iowa study. Adaptive furnishings, like these reconfigurable workstations from Swiftspace, let you rearrange focal areas to promote activity; for example, you can reconfigure distant workstations into a conference area so meeting participants walk a maximum distance. Once the meeting is over, the conference furnishings become workstations once again, or they are stored compactly until they’re needed for another purpose.

Health experts say, “Sitting is the new smoking.” Active office design is a smart business strategy. Talk to a design consultant about the ways you can move toward an active office.


Photo © nd3000/

Are Your Storage Systems Disaster-Ready?

Are Your Storage Systems Disaster-Ready?

Irma, Harvey, Katrina, Sandy – these are names which remind us that natural disasters are devastating, not just for private citizens but for the businesses that serve those affected communities. Business continuity and disaster recovery are important considerations in any successful business, but our American “can-do” optimism can often lead us to overlook the need to plan for disaster. Any well-run business carries insurance, but beyond paying a premium, there are other ways to mitigate the effects of a natural disaster so you can carry on business afterwards.

Disaster recovery is most often associated with IT, but it also applies to facilities management, logistics, HR – every facet of a business. A disaster recovery plan is a subset of a business continuity plan, which is itself a proactive approach to maintaining smooth operations in the face of the unexpected – for example, having a backup generator in case of a sudden loss of power. Disaster recovery is reactive, taking action after the fact – i.e., switching on the generator when you lose power.

Your choice of storage system can have a significant impact on your business continuity and disaster recovery plan:

  • Data and records storage – Can essential paper documents and backup drives be retrieved and moved to safety? Who will execute that task, and how?
  • Inventory management – Are inventory records accurate, for insurance claims? Do you have an automated system that keeps inventory records up to date?
  • Logistics – How is the supply chain likely to be affected? Do you have a space-efficient storage system that lets you increase capacity in the safe zone?

Texas supermarket chain H-E-B put their disaster recovery plan into immediate action in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. H-E-B president Scott McClelland, a veteran of Gulf Coast disasters, kept 70% of H-E-B’s stores open and stocked in the immediate aftermath of record floods. It was a remarkable achievement, but it was no accident that H-E-B was well prepared, as McClelland relates in an interview with LinkedIn’s Chip Cutter. H-E-B’s disaster recovery plan included the establishment of command centers in unaffected areas, and coordinating with suppliers to stockpile essential items prior to the storm.

H-E-B’s proactive approach to a catastrophic event let them keep their doors open to continue serving the community. Storing stockpiled inventory was part of that plan. When you’re considering your organization’s storage needs, it’s wise to include your own business continuity and disaster recovery plan in your storage system choices.


Photo © Freedomz/