Er­gonomic fur­ni­ture firms spring into ac­tion, rid­ing big de­mand

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By ZHU WENQIAN zhuwen­qian@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Er­gonomic of­fice fur­ni­ture mak­ers say they have not sat still — rid­ing a boom­ing busi­ness in China, where an in­creas­ing aware­ness by of­fice work­ers of the need for healthy life­styles has seen them move to al­ter their seden­tary work sched­ules.

New York-based er­gonomic fur­ni­ture maker Hu­man­scale Ltd said sales rev­enues in China has grown con­sec­u­tively by about 25 per­cent year-on-year in re­cent years. Founded in 1983, Hu­man­scale en­tered China in 2011.

Cur­rently, Hu­man­scale sells its fur­ni­ture on Ama­zon in China. Ad­di­tion­ally, it has show­rooms in Bei­jing and Shang­hai, where cor­po­rate cus­tomers can visit and place or­ders. It is also plan­ning to open an­other re­tail store in China soon, but will not dis­close spe­cific plans.

“The United States is our largest mar­ket fol­lowed by the United King­dom, although we think China has the po­ten­tial to over­take them,” said Tim Hutch­ings, pres­i­dent of Hu­man­scale Ltd’s in­ter­na­tional unit.

Hutch­ings said his group tar­geted any cus­tomers who use a com­puter, par­tic­u­larly those com­pa­nies in the fi­nance, le­gal and tech­nol­ogy sec­tors.

“We are very op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture of our busi­ness in China,” he said.

“The growth po­ten­tial is amaz­ing, be­cause Chi­nese peo­ple are fas­ci­nated in keep­ing ahead of the curve with cut­ting edge in­no­va­tion and de­sign. Our seat­ing prod­ucts and mon­i­tor arm so­lu­tions are par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar in China.”

Hutch­ings added that there were a huge num­ber of com­puter users in China and his com­pany de­signed prod­ucts that en­abled com­puter users to feel more com­fort­able. As a re­sult, cor­po­rate clients were see­ing im­proved pro­duc­tiv­ity, staff re­ten­tion and prof­itabil­ity.

Tra­di­tional desks and chairs can strain wrists and bod­ies if pos­tures are main­tained in the same po­si­tion for a long time, but Hu­man­scale says fur­ni­ture that adapts to hu­man bod­ies and en­cour­ages com­fort­able pos- tures, such as sit-stand ta­bles that could glide up and down, al­low em­ploy­ees to dy­nam­i­cally al­ter­nate be­tween po­si­tions.

“When I travel on busi­ness in China, I like to get up early and go for a run. It’s amaz­ing how many peo­ple are out in the parks in the early morn­ing, prac­tic­ing Tai Chi and mov­ing,” Hutch­ings said.

“Chi­nese peo­ple un­der­stand the im­por­tance of keep­ing fit and that’s why it’s such an ex­cit­ing mar­ket for us.”

In Eu­rope and the US, many com­pa­nies choose to have er­gonomic fur­ni­ture for their staff, such as Adi­das, Ap­ple Inc, Google Inc and HSBC. In China, on­line news ag­gre­ga­tor toutiao.com, a new me­dia plat­form, also chooses to use er­gonomic fur­ni­ture at its Bei­jing of­fice.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search by the Univer­sity of Pitts­burgh last year, fre­quent stand­ing breaks dur­ing work can help to con­trol weight and re­duce obe­sity, and de­crease the chances of get­ting di­a­betes and car­dio­vas­cu­lar con­di­tions.

“My work has long hours and I have a sit-stand desk,” said Michelle Chen, a 26-year-old lawyer based in Hong Kong.

“Most of the time, I would pre­fer to sit down to work, as it helps to raise my ef­fi­ciency,” she said.

“But it’s great that I have the op­tion to work while stand­ing, es­pe­cially af­ter I had lunch or when I feel tired.”

The growth po­ten­tial is amaz­ing, be­cause Chi­nese peo­ple are fas­ci­nated in keep­ing ahead of the curve with cut­ting edge in­no­va­tion and de­sign.” Tim Hutch­ings, pres­i­dent of Hu­man­scale Ltd’s in­ter­na­tional unit

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