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Can Ergonomic Work Chairs Boost Productivity and Focus?

Ergonomic chairs can make a huge difference when it comes to increasing the productivity of your employees. Learn more when you call us today!

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Do Comfortable Office Chairs Help Fight Stress At Work?

Could a more comfortable office chair help you work better? That was the question Herman Miller set out to answer when they combined forces with the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center to work on groundbreaking research to examine the effects a comfortable chair has on cognitive performance. The result? The Cosm office chair was proven to help workers feel less fatigued, think more clearly, and be more productive.

When it comes to ergonomics, we often think of the physical aspects of how a chair interacts with the person sitting in it. But in this research, cognitive ergonomics was the primary focus—evaluating memory, attention, and the brain's ability to transition between ideas or tasks. At the core, they wanted to learn how well a person could think in one chair versus another.

How The Cognitive Effects Of An Ergonomic Chair Experiment Worked

Together with the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center, Herman Miller’s research team used tests that focus on productivity and cognition to examine each participants' ability to think while sitting in three versions of office chairs:

  • Non-adjustable
  • Highly adjustable
  • Automatically adjustable (Herman Miller's High-Back Cosm Chair)

Each participant wore a heart monitor to measure heart rate variability (HRV), along with a fNIRS device to measure blood flow in the frontal cortex of the brain, where decision-making and creativity happen. They each performed tasks that tested short-term memory, the ability to relax when conditions change, and cognitive flexibility.

Which Tests Were Conducted To Learn The Benefits Of An Ergonomic Work Chair?

Flanker Test

This test measured inhibition, or your ability to act naturally and feel relaxed.

N-Back Test

This test measured short-term memory by requiring participants to recall the position of a shape from two screens prior.

Set-Shift Test

This tests cognitive flexibility, or how the brain transitions from thinking about one subject to another.

Results Of Testing The Cosm Chair’s Effects On Focus

The research found that participants doing individual work had a statistically lower HRV ratio while sitting in the Cosm chair in seven of the nine tests. A lower HRV ratio indicates a lower stress level while sitting in the high-back Cosm as compared with the highly adjustable and non-adjustable chairs in the study.

Even more remarkable, the Set-Shift cognitive test results found people could make decisions faster without a loss of accuracy while sitting in the Cosm Chair compared to the other chairs in the experiment.

Finally, the Flanker tests revealed neural efficiency increased over time for participants who sat in the Cosm Chair.

What Do These Results Mean For Your Office?

A lower HRV ratio is better for short-term memory, cognitive flexibility, and the ability to stay focused even amid pesky office distractions. The results of the seating experiment have important implications for work, especially in today's fast-paced, collaborative world.

The researchers found that participants exhibited faster, better efficiency, and greater accuracy on tasks requiring creativity when sitting in the high-back Cosm as compared to the other two chairs in the study.

How Do Chairs Like The Herman Miller Cosm Benefit Organizations?

Cosm has been proven as a chair that can reduce cognitive load, empowering people with greater mental capacity for their work so the creative ideas can flow.

For people who simply must check off everything on their to-do list while remaining stress free and the organizations that want the same for their people, the Cosm unmistakably enables people to focus on their work instead of their chairs. What about another Herman Miller office chair staple—the Aeron Chair?

The Aeron Chair Design Solution

The design of the Aeron chair tosses current chair designs out the window in favor of a tilt geometry that’s based entirely on human body linkages. This approach means the Aeron Chair provides support by nesting the sacral-pelvic area and delivering a tilt action that echoes body mechanics for superior ergonomics at work.

Research by Bill Stumpf and Roger Kaufman at George Washington University worked to identify the relationship of the body’s major pivot points as it moves between the three basic seated postures.

They wanted to know—is it possible for the body to move from an upright seated position to a reclined position without the support or constraints of a chair, what would it look like?

The kinematics of sitting

What they found was that with both feet flat on the floor and a slightly open angle between the lower and upper leg, all of the body’s major joints pivot around the center of the ankle joint (A). The knee joint (B) actually doesn’t pivot, but travels in a gentle arc.

Further, the hip joint (C) follows an inclined arched path and pivots as the trunk-to-thigh angle opens, and the arms pivot about the shoulder joint (D).

Finally, the head pivots around the cervical spine (E) to maintain a constant relationship between the face plane and a visual target.

Each piece of linkage on the Aeron chair was designed to mimic these body linkages in a movement that’s cohesive with the natural movement of the body. Herman Miller calls it the kinematic coherence model, and refers to the mechanism as the “Kinemat tilt.”

In the Aeron chair, you never have to make sacrifices of any sort—whether comfort, support, or effort expended. No matter if you’re stationary or sitting up and leaning back frequently, the Aeron chair by Herman Miller will support your every move.

G|M Is Here For All Your Ergonomic Office Chair Needs

G|M strives daily for innovative office chair excellence so teams can enjoy comfortable and productive working environments.

Feel the Herman Miller office chair difference for yourself by visiting one of our showrooms in Riverside, Irvine, or San Diego. Whether in-store or online, you can choose from a wide range of the best chairs from Herman Miller. Our priority is helping our clients and customers elevate their workplaces.