Companies around the world are changing the design of their offices and abolishing chairs in the workplace. French programmer Benoît Pereira da Silva is not a fan of the idea of spending hours sitting in front of a computer. But he goes further: he works in motion and outdoors in his nomadic office.
Since he started working in rural areas, Benoît no longer sits in a chair. The “walking programmer”, as he presents himself, imagined an office with energy autonomy that can go to all kinds of terrain.
After several prototypes, he developed a complex device, equipped with a kind of cart, to transport a solar panel supplying electricity and a battery. The “workplace” of Benoît is provided with a drone to share his experience.
The chair kills
Benoît Pereira da Silva becomes an “anthropologist” to defend his project. To Le Monde, he explains that bipedia is a physical characteristic of homo sapiens and some animals, and our permanent bipedia is like that of the ostrich.
“Our body and our cognitive capacities work in the same way as our ancestors. Our biological body is that of the time of evolution, more than that of the time of the technical mutations or of the time of the transformations of the ways of life”, he argues.
The programmer does not stop while speaking, as if this were the best way to convince, describes the French newspaper. “We spend a lot of time sitting or lying down so that our body is walking, adapted to the way of life of hunters and collectors,” he says.
For him, this gap is a sign of a fundamental problem, of rhythm between our ways of working and living. “Numerical workers are all sitting in their offices. Our bodies get fat. Our lymphatic system goes off the rails. Cancers and cardiovascular diseases are on the rise. The chair kills,” he predicts.
The idea of the nomadic office begins in 2009, when Benoît hears about the “standing offices” and has access to testimonies from computer scientists who have experienced the format and also that of the “walking office”, with the use of the conveyor belt.
He was also influenced by the essay of Fréderic Gros, Marcher, unites philosophie (Market, a philosophy) and by the purposes of Dr. James Levine, who had published Get UP, telling of the origin of his struggle against sitting.
A decision of the European Court in April 2013, determining that every worker has the right to have access to a height-adjustable table to work standing up, corroborates the idea. Although, most of them continue to work sitting for at least eight hours a day.
For the active development of health, nothing more inadvisable. “It is necessary to wake up for a radical transformation of our ways of life to our biological reality,” he says.
Walking is quality of life
Inspired by these experiences, the programmer decides to start working standing up, then I acquired a conveyor belt to just work walking.
Soon he realizes that walking is a sweet and continuous effort, contrary to the practices of “spasms” (that is, the practices that require a short and intense effort, such as running, for example). Walking is a slow and continuous activity that takes place over a long period of time.
In addition, walking is an unconscious practice that restores hunger, sleep, tiredness, improves circulation and strengthens muscles. Contrary to other sports activities, it allows to be active without being obsessive. Benoît lost 20 kilos without any regimen, just walking while working. He guarantees that he has recovered the cycles of deep sleep, appetite and quality of life.
The programmer rehearsed the treadmill in the office, but it was far from satisfactory. His consulting status, allowed for a time of experimentation. He then imagined a mobile office to walk in the fields, on the paths.
With the help of some partners, Benoît Pereira da Silva embarked on the conception of a nomadic office and invented a system pulled by a contraption with wheels and energy autonomy, capable of moving in all kinds of terrain.
Equipped with solar panel and battery, the device totals 50 kilos. Half the load is pulled by the “trolley”. Last summer, Benoît walked 100 kilometers in Cévennes, a region in the centre-south of France, where he operates.
The future of work
Benoît Pereira da Silva is convinced that the future of work must imagine things compatible with our biological reality.
“We must think of walking corridors for telephoning, open spaces equipped with treadmills, walking circuits, parks and farms for itinerant workers, fields and routes of work”, he advises.
The prototypes that he and others imagine, show that the offices must be improved. "We also have to invent mobile pulpits, office habitats, immersive systems, duplex interfaces, and the use of the Internet.