Lying Down on the Job
Even as laptops have replaced typewriters, today’s desks remain flat surfaces that often encourage slouching. Bay Area startup Altwork has plowed more than $10 million and 80,000 hours of research into about 15 prototypes and 10 patents for a workstation that CEO Che Voigt says acts as an extension of the body. It consists of a dentist’s-office-style reclining seat, with an attached computer monitor stand, laptop stand and magnetic desk surface, all of which adjust with the push of a button as the user stands, sits or lies down. The magnetic surface holds a magnetic keyboard and mouse so they don’t fall off. “If it’s not comfortable, you can’t do your best work,” says Mr. Voigt. Altwork offers two models priced at $4,650 and $7,650 and has shipped 1,000 units world-wide since 2016, he says. Mr. Voigt hopes future versions will be able to monitor stress levels and provide cooling and heating.
Related: The Death of the Office Desk Is Upon Us
The Workspace on Wheels
What if the office comes to you? Toyota Motor Corp. recently said it aims to make its e-Palette autonomous shuttle, which it says could be used as a mobile workspace, available for commercial use in the early 2020s. A company spokesman declined to provide additional details. Toyota has said the low-to-the-ground electric vehicle will come in three sizes ranging from 13 to 23 feet long and that its flexible interior design will allow uses from on-the-road stores to offices on wheels. Development partners include Amazon.com Inc., Pizza Hut and Uber Technologies Inc. But workers won’t be speeding down the highway sitting at a desk anytime soon. John Absmeier, chief technology officer of auto-part supplier Lear Corp., which isn’t involved in the e-Palette, says that as long as collisions remain a feature of the urban world, autonomous pods will stay confined to company and university campuses or tightly regulated parts of a city.