Emma’s workplace health warning goes global

This is Emma, the work colleague of the future. Since her debut last week, she has helped generate a phenomenal 650 pieces of international coverage.

We worked with Behavioural Futurist, William Higham and a panel of experts in ergonomics, occupational health and wellbeing at work, to investigate and research the effects workspace environments are having on office workers’ health and to deliver a report into the potential health problems lurking in the workplace to create Fellowes ‘Future Work Colleague Report’.

The report highlights how current working habits can affect our health and that certain behaviours and problems, if left unchecked, will leave the majority of office workers with permanently bent backs and a huge range of health problems by 2040.

To raise awareness of their findings and bring the report to life, we worked with Fellowes scientists and experts to create Emma – a life-sized representation of how the human body could change in 20 years time, physically and visually, if we don’t take our work health seriously and change the way we work.

And it’s not pretty. The life-sized model and accompanying video illustrates the danger of  hunchbacks, headaches, becoming overweight and repetitive strain injury.

Emma has:

  • A permanently bent back, caused by sitting for hours in a bad position
  • Varicose veins from poor blood flow
  • A rotund stomach caused by sedentary working
  • Dry and red eyes from long hours staring at the computer screen
  • Swollen wrists and ankles from repetitive movement
  • Sallow skin from years of artificial light
  • Red upper arms due regular contact with laptop heat
  • Eczema caused by stress
  • Hairy ears and nose, as well as a swollen nose, because of poor air quality


With office workers spending on average six hours every day sitting behind a desk, over 90% are concerned this is too much time and 98% are worried that this could lead to health problems in the future, there has never been a more pressing time to raise awareness of workplace health.

The report found that UK office workers are already suffering from strained eyes (50%), sore backs (49%) and headaches (48%) as a direct result of their workspace. What’s more, seven in ten workers are resorting to medication to manage these issues.

‘The Work Colleague of the Future report shows that employers and workers really need to act now and address the problem of poor workplace health,’ said William Higham.

‘Unless we make radical changes to our working lives, such as moving more, addressing our posture at our desks, taking regular walking breaks or considering improving our workstation setup, our offices are going to make us very sick.’

The campaign has already gained 650 pieces of coverage and over half a millon organic video views, including UK Tier 1 titles and broadcast such as the Mail Online, BBC World News, London Live, Metro, Channel Five and Sky News.

It’s become a No.1 iTunes trending story, plus global coverage in titles and broadcast across 57 countries, with considerable broadcast reach including all major US TV networks, as well as Bloomberg TV and Reuters TV.