There was a time, about a decade ago, when some companies started waxing lyrical about the use of exercise balls as office chairs. But no one seems to have said anything since, so either the employees at those companies are happily bouncing at their desks or have quietly exchanged the inflatable spheres for conventional office chairs. If the results from ergonomic studies have played any part, the latter is more likely to be true, but you can see the original attraction to exercise balls.
Not only did they seem better for workers' backs, they were also cheaper than buying premium office chairs. It turned out that only some employees—those with certain existing lower back conditions—benefited from the trend. The same mistake happens over and over in workplace design; a fad takes hold and only after enough organisations have joined the bandwagon does a university or research group decide to investigate claims. In many cases, the design is a theory and the workplace is an unsupervised experiment.
Businesses take a long time to see if some claim made at the design stage really does increase productivity, or collaboration, or concentration, or creativity. So what can your company do now to make sure a workspace design is sustainable and not just an expensive waste of time?