The office has moved to the table. Business lunches and working dinners have collapsed eating and drinking with work, or better: they have turned eating and drinking into labor. This is part of an obvious shift to a functional organization of life in which the difference between work and recreation is being dissolved. Through company outings, team building exercises, institutionalized play and the like, life becomes work, and should therefore be observed through the lens of labor science, not life science any longer.
Of course, labor science has existed since the late 19th century and can, up until today, be described as a work on work through processes of observation and objectification. In this sense, it has attempted to measure the human organism through a dense network of psychological, physiological and anthropometric variables.
Starting in 1908, Frank Bunker Gilbreth (July 7, 1968 – June 14, 1924) and Lillian Moller Gilbreth (May 24, 1878 – January 2, 1972), the US management consultants and industrial psychologists, worked on the invention and development of the ‘Therblig’ system. Therblig (which is Gilbreth spelt backwards with the transposition of the ‘th’) is an approach to create a universal alphabet of all kinds of work motions. It is a system for analyzing motion in performing a working task. These early motion studies reduced all possible operations of the hand during processes of labor into seventeen basic motions including: search, find, select, grasp, hold, transport loaded, transport empty, position, assemble, use, disassemble, inspect, preposition, release load, unavoidable delay, avoidable delay, plan and rest.
“Suppose a man goes into a bathroom to shave. We’ll assume that his face is all lathered and that he is ready to pick up his razor. He knows where the razor is, but first he must locate it with his eye, that is ‘search,’ the first Therblig. His eye finds it and comes to rest – that’s ‘find’ the second Therblig. Third comes ‘select,’ the process of sliding the razor prior to the fourth Therblig, ‘grasp’. Fifth is ‘transport loaded,’ brining the razor up to his face, and sixth is ‘position,’ getting the razor set on his face. There are eleven more Therbligs – the last one is ‘think’!”
-Frank Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, Cheaper by the Dozen
However, despite the work of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, a gap in their research is recognizable today. Eating has not been investigated in its integral function in the processes of work and labor. In terms of efficiency, speed, optimization there is much room for improvement.
OfficeUS has closed this knowledge gap through an immense research on the processes, both ergonomic and instrumental, of eating as work. The main outcomes of the research can be summarized in the following points:
– Eating speed can be increased, and procrastination reduced with the help of a clock for temporal orientation and delimitation of courses.
– Precision is secured and accidents avoided through targeting tools.
– Ergonomic improvements can be realized through prosthetic cutlery attachments
– Psychological zielstrebigkeit can be improved with a leitsystem on the table.
– Efficiency is increased with the systematization and ordering of the verarbeitet materials.
– Work pleasure is produced through an acoustic environment combining muzak with recognizable labor sounds.