Remtek Workplace and Chris Barlow
Hi, my name is Chris Barlow, and currently, I’m the head of the ergonomics division for Remtek Systems ltd, and the lead of Remtek Workplace. I joined Remtek in 2004, as an apprentice computer engineer after failing to get the relevant grades to get into my chosen University course. It was supposed to be a temporary fix, but here I am 17 years later, still fighting the good fight.
I started as a software installation trainee, back in the day when everything was manually installed from CD’s, I was trained in computer repair, software and hardware installation, warehousing and logistics, and after a few years joined the onsite setup and familiarisation team.
The AT training route would allow me to guide and assist students on their university journey. I shortly trained myself, sought guidance from our other trainers (including my little brother), and gained qualifications in as many DSA approved assistive software and devices that I possibly could, and started my new role as an AT trainer on the day I returned to work after my paternity leave for my second daughter, 5 days before moving homes (great timing!)
Over the next few years, I completed thousands of hours of assistive technology training for hundreds of students and met some amazing people along the way. The lightbulb moments were every day, and when I revisited students for their further sessions, they were showing off the skills they had expanded on from what was taught, you could bottle those feelings. I was proud of my students. A quote I always remember reading on a student’s wall always stuck with me “When you help others feel important, you help yourself feel important too.”
The interest in ergonomics all started when I visited a student with a cool looking chair (Hag capisco) and they let me have a try while we were training. I’d delivered and set up equipment including chairs, desks and peripherals for years, but to try the chair for an extended period while working on a computer made me realise the benefits that the specialist ergonomic equipment meant for people who needed that additional level of support. I was taken under the tutelage of my company Director Mark Farrar, who has been carrying out ergonomic assessments for DSA students on behalf of assessment centres since its inception in 1993, and for the DfES, and in workplaces such as Granada, and the national probation service before that.
The world of ergonomics added an extra level of support which I could offer to DSA students. Once I was qualified, and completed my training, I started visiting students with complex needs and disabilities throughout the whole of the UK. The customer and their needs is always the focus for Remtek. This is the main reason I’ve been here for 17 years.
Since commencing my role as a DSA ergonomics assessor, I have continued my education, and research into all things ergonomic, including extensive product knowledge, and the innumerable disabilities and difficulties which our students experience. No two customer’s needs are the same, even if they have the same disability. Our personalised, customer focused assessment process treats each client as an individual.
Over the last 18 months we have retrained some of our staff who might otherwise have been furloughed, to create new roles in the ergonomics team. We have DSE accredited ergonomics assessors in London, Bristol, and the North West.
Our approach has always been to “bring the showroom to you” and my team of assessors take with them a full complement of chairs, mice, keyboards, stands, footrests and various other equipment which has been evaluated thorougly.
With the pandemic, employees and students have realised that if they continued to work on their home furniture instead of the “luxurious” office workstations that they were used to, they would start to feel aches and pains which they may not have had before.
HSE guidelines state that all employers must assess the risks of their employee’s working environment, regardless of the working environment. This includes any employees who use DSE (display screen equipment) for over an hour at a time. Office workers almost always fit into this category.
We offer different levels of assessment from a required (level 1) assessment, a complex (level 3) assessment for a client with a noted condition, homeworker, driver, and expectant mother assessments, as well as a range of disability awareness coaching and assistive technology training.
Why the ergo offer is industry leading
Our DSE assessors have carried out DSE assessments for some of the most complex cases, and this knowledge is being brought forward as the student’s continue their journeys into the workforce.
Our “on the road showrooms” allow us to carry out live, guided evaluations in a client’s current workspace if required. However, as none of our assessment team are commission based, we are under no bias to recommend unnecessary products if the current equipment is adequate. Often, a restructuring of the current workspace, or some training on neutral postures, breaks, and lighting is all that is needed.
The future of Remtek Workplace
Prior to the launch of the workplace website, I’ve been busy behind the scenes developing relationships with many equipment suppliers and manufacturers, such as Contour, ergonomic café, TCI seating, VELA, and Ergochair.
I was always told that if you don’t know something, ask someone, and learn from that. This has always been our ethos, there should always be someone who you can learn from, and that is what we intend to do going forward.
Next year we will be moving premises, and an ergonomics showroom in the heart of Salford’s Media City will allow companies, and staff members to visit us to evaluate all of the cool ergonomic equipment first hand.
Get started with Remtek Workplace
To see for yourself how Remtek Workplace’s ergonomics solutions can help improve the health and well-being of your students or employees, request a demo with one of our ergonomics experts today.