Small Steps

Small steps can make a big difference to the well-being of all who are involved in the Trust’s work. Find out more about some of the suggestions put forward for Sue’s Safety Challenge.

What: Safe and comfortable outdoor working.

Why? On hot, sunny days it can be very tempting to make the most of the good weather and decamp to the garden. At the Trust we’re lucky enough to have access to a very nice outdoor area that’s got patio furniture and parasols. This is great if you’re relaxing with a drink or your lunch, but not so good for prolonged periods – the traditional desk space and office chair may be a functional arrangement, but they have also been set up for safe and comfortable working, something even the nicest of patio sets cannot compete with. Adopting your environment to ensure your body has proper support, you can comfortably reach the keyboard of your computer and you are protected from the sun are vital if you’re to not pay the price of outdoor working with a bad back or other work-related injury.

Implemented? Yes. We’re determined to make the most of our garden so two complementary items have been purchased – as demonstrated by Operations Manager Andrew.

The Cushion Set includes a foam seat cushion and a lumbar support back rest. These should help to ensure a comfortable seating position is maintained, preventing pressure on coccyx, spine, hips and thighs, while supporting the natural curve of the lower back more thoroughly than a garden chair is able to do.

Once seated, Andrew next set up the laptop stand. This is important because – as with an office screen – the keyboard and laptop should be at a comfortable height and distance. Using an adjustable stand means it’s easy to find the correct position to suit individual needs, ensuring safe and comfortable working away from the office desk.

The final item of safety was already in place: Andrew is sat under a large parasol, which is sheltering him from the direct sunlight.

Adjustments for outdoor working


What: Bringing nature into the office

Whose idea? Aileen White, Education Officer

Why? Many of us spend a considerable part of our time inside offices, and plants can be a simple and cost-effective way of improving our surroundings and reducing stress. 

Being near an element of nature can boost wellbeing, as opposed to working in a bare, streamlined environment. Studies have shown there are benefits to incorporating greenery into the workspace, as people crave nature – this is known as ‘biophilia’. 

A trend in office space has seen an almost clinical, bare desk movement take place. In a study from the University of Exeter such ‘lean’ staff environments are compared to that of a bare gorilla enclosure, stating that ‘sometimes – less is just less’. The study goes on to suggest having plants in the office can even improve memory and retention.

At the Trust, we want to encourage anything that makes our colleagues happier, with no negative impact on those who have no particular opinion about greenery. 

Implemented? Yes. We were keen to ensure the nature we brought into the office was resilient and appropriate, as – should the worst happen – we are doubtful a room full of limp and wilting plants would improve anyone’s mood. 

We now have a selection of cacti scattered liberally around the office, as they need little to no maintenance and serve the intended purpose. They will also bring a little extra joy when they flower.

Aileen was the second person selected to win one of 12 silver hard hat keyrings. She’s pictured here with her prize.

Bringing nature into the office

Bringing nature into the office
Bringing nature into the office

What: Cup carriers

Whose idea? Mary Burling, Office Administrator.

Why? Teas and coffees are an important part of office life, they refresh and revive us, provide an opportunity to pause and can even be a way of developing relationships within the office as tea rounds bring people together. But they can also be a stressful experience when carrying a heavy tray full of mugs sliding around.

Implemented? Yes. Four-mug cup holders have proved a good investment, taking the stress out of carrying a tray and enabling us to concentrate on where we are walking, rather than what we’re trying not to spill.

As one of the first people to submit an idea to Sue’s Safety Challenge, Mary was selected to win one of 12 silver hard hat keyrings. She’s pictured here receiving her prize from Bridge Clerk Sue Threader.

Carrying cups safely

cup holder in hand 2 crop
SSC prize
Mary presentation
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