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We are excited to announce that we are beginning our monthly Inside Novility interview series! Every month, we will introduce a colleague and give you an insight on how the magic happens behind the scenes.
We are starting our series with Inês. Inês is the lead Ergonomics Specialist at Novility. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Movement Sciences from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Physiotherapy from Escola Superior de Saúde Jean Piaget in Algarve. At Novility, Inês is dedicated to the creation of ergonomic training for hotel teams, forming part of Novility’s interactive training solution. Inês is an Associate Ergonomics Professional (AEP)®, certified by the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics (BCPE). Inês will give a presentation at Hotel Tech Live London on September 27th, entitled “Ergonomics & Technology: How connecting these dots can improve your hotel operations”.
What inspired you to become an ergonomics specialist? Was it something that you always know that you wanted to be or did you stumble into it?
I have always been into sports, health, sciences and researching. I wanted to do something that I was interested in, so that I could combine my interests. I decided to study Physiotherapy and after obtaining my Bachelor’s, I noticed that I didn’t want to specialize in sports physiotherapy; I wanted to touch people’s lives in a different way and help them.
After completing my Master’s degree in Human Movement Sciences, I came across this opportunity at Novility that fascinated me. I love biomechanics and the job was related to physical ergonomics, which is aligned with my background. The duty required extensive research, working in a high-tech environment (I love technology) and being involved in the education process of how people can use their bodies in the optimal way to avoid injuries – a perfect match!
What were some of the major hurdles that you faced when becoming an ergonomics specialist?
Though ergonomics is a practice that is present everywhere, people tend to neglect the importance of it. Sometimes when people ask me what I do and I say that I’m an ergonomist, they reply, “Economist?”. So, there has been an awareness issue with this field, but it is getting better.
In addition, ergonomics is seen as a field that is more related with engineering and design, as in building equipment and workplace in a certain way, but less emphasis on the human aspect. Ergonomics is about the way humans operate and it is important not to neglect the link between the people and the workplace.
Tell us a bit about your transition to the hospitality industry. Did you see any problems that need to be fixed?
My dad has worked in hotels for all his life, so I can say that I always had familiarity with the industry. Although I studied something completely different, in the end I ended up working in my field within his field!
When I started at Novility, I did a lot of research about hospitality, specifically regarding the physical aspect. I was amazed by the amount of injuries hospitality employees sustain, and the amount of money that is spent for this cause. Yet, I noticed that the industry is not fully aware of the physical issues they have or might encounter. I saw that there is much we could do about this, and I am very happy to be working towards the goal of educating the hospitality staff on how to use their body in the proper way to avoid injuries.
My ambition is to teach people the significance of moving in an ergonomically correct way, so that they are aware that they can avoid such injuries by using their muscles and body properly. Having such knowledge will allow them to make their own choices, such as deciding on which movement is the most adequate to complete a specific task, given the ergonomic standards.
Do you see ergonomics becoming more important in the hospitality industry, and in the workplace, overall?
Definitely. Bottom-line is that companies will save significant amount of money at the end of the day. It is costlier to train new employees and lose them in a short period, than to utilize training solutions that places human in the core. However, there is more to that. Especially in the hospitality industry, turnover rates are high. Managers have to ensure the wellness and happiness of their employees and retain them. There are companies that have already adopted this approach; they are aware that their most valuable asset is their people. And, the hospitality world will also head towards the same direction, considering the amount of repetitive physical activity the employees are exposed to, and that the core of the industry is the human aspect.
How would working in an ergonomically correct way change the life of an employee?
The main thing is that when employees have been working in a particular way for years, it is difficult to change their behavior. So, it is important to convince them that they will benefit from doing things in a correct way.
It is known that fatigue is the main cause of injuries because when you are fatigued, you will have an incorrect posture, which will lead you to move and accomplish tasks in a poor way. For instance, if you stop every hour for 20 seconds to breathe, calm down and do a stretch, you will have much more energy to complete your work, and your productivity will increase. At the end of the day, you will be a healthier, happier and a more productive individual.
How do you see ergonomics & hospitality evolving together?
Both ergonomics and hospitality are present everywhere, and the human aspect is the core of both fields, so it can be said that the two are strongly connected. Since hospitality employees are exposed to repetitive physical activity, adopting a developed ergonomics program will be crucial. In North America, ergonomics is already a popular discipline, and Europe is slowly but steadily realizing the importance of it.
What does Inês do at her free time?
I enjoy traveling, music, food, football and water sports (I’m Portuguese after all)!
What is the best thing about working at Novility?
The best thing is that we have a young team that produces great ideas. I like how we work as a team, respect each other and have fun at the same time – you can see everyone is happy all the time!