Business of Well-being

InMovement - Kicking the Cubicle to the Curb

InMovement is making employers stand up and take note that no employee should have to choose between earning a living and living healthy. "Sitting all day is junk food for your body," said Gary Hirschel, general manager, InMovement, a Life Fitness company, explained in his keynote presentation at the 7th Annual Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress where the company launched its products.

"People are using reams of copy paper and making their own workstations. We are on the beginning of a movement." Hirschel explained sedentary jobs are not to blame and InMovement's solution is to activate the workplace. Two employees can work together, walk on a two-person treadmill desk and burn calories, for example.

InMovement developed Bi-Stride, the world's first two-person treadmill desk that facilitates information sharing, video viewing and collaborative document building with a work surface and shared monitors. The MSRP for Bi-Stride has not been set yet but is expected to cost less than the retail price of two treadmills.

Other products include the FreeStand, a mobile workstation with a height-adjustable desk surface, a Pivot Table, allowing for standing meetings, and Servo, an active seating solution that converts into an  additional standing-height work surface with the flip of a seat.

"I get very mad and annoyed knowing what I know now and knowing how long I've lived this way," Hirschel exclaimed. "I have been sitting for the last 25 years and only made the change in the last 12 months. I have lost weight, my cholesterol has improved, and I think, what could I be like if I would have started sooner?"

Prioritizing human health and driving a stronger business for employers is the principle foundation InMovement relies upon when carrying its message to employers worldwide. Since InMovement's launch at the EHBC event in September, Hirschel and his team have talked to companies in 123 countries from around the world, pre-sale quotes continue to grow and they have met their expectations for 2015.

"Eighty-five percent of the population has so many priorities that prevent them from getting to the gym," explained Hirschel. "They have their jobs, their families and their deadlines-it really makes it difficult to carve out that time. By bringing movement to where they spend most of their time, the office, we can make sure not to impede on the individual's priorities of getting the job done." To support its initiatives, the InMovement team uses key data from its research findings:

  • Fifteen percent of the population use exercise equipment and 85 percent do not, so the population may not be getting adequate exercise
  • Sick employees cost 62 percent more in healthcare costs than healthy and active employees
  • Sitting leads to diabetes, obesity and muscular-skeletal issues

Hirschel was brought in at the beginning of 2014 to lead InMovement's development. For the next 12 months, he and his team conducted research to test how the benefits of exercise could be distributed among a greater population. His background as vice president of the global supply chain at Life Fitness, a division of $3.8 billion Brunswick Corporation, Lake Forest, Illinois, helped create the path to integrate exercise and productivity at work.

But in order to ultimately reach their target market, they faced an unexpected challenge. "Because InMovement is a start-up born out the Life Fitness heritage in biomechanics, we needed to learn how to distinguish these products from fitness," explained Lauren Beckstedt, director of marketing, InMovement.

"We have a lot of credibility on the science side and access to some of the best minds that study how movement affects the human body, yet the solution for the workplace are not exercise. This is a new category of product, so it required new language in our marketing. These products sit at the intersection of workplace furniture and corporate wellness."

Beckstedt added that people are aware that sitting all day is hurting their bodies but they do not realize how much damage prolonged sitting is doing, and they do not know how to fix the problem. "Corporate wellness has a lot of answers," she added. "But I think when we get to the place of building movement right into the environment, an employee will realize the benefits of working in a healthier way."

Hirchsel created a pilot program around the initial demo products and began a testing process involving 20 large corporations and several in-house employees; each employer determined what worked and what did not by answering a predetermined set of questions about their experiences.

Hirschel and his team spent six months discussing with them different elements of the program. He said it took the better part of the year to really find out what worked correctly; those products that did not work were immediately killed. GE Capital, National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and Collister's were employers included in the pilot program.

After six months of testing, Hirschel and his team realized this endeavor created a new market category  and a new company. They also realized they needed to solve a problem for leadership on how to help C-suite executives feel knowledgeable when they explained the benefits of an activated workplace to employees.

"We developed leadership toolkits to help companies explain what the benefits of workday movement is and how to model the new workstyle," Hirschel said. "Leadership can rely on this information to help with their overall engagement strategy."

As more employers integrate movement into the workplace, Hirschel expects sit-to-stand desks to be the norm and sedentary behaviors will give way to healthier choices in how employees work. When deciding what to name the new start-up, extensive research was performed.

Standing while working became very popular, but they took a leap of faith knowing the company must be based on the idea of motion. "We are on the cusp of major change in how we work as people," he said. "I think we will look back one day at the way we work and really be puzzled as to why we sat in a cubicle in front of our computers. But it is going to take some time."

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