What's Up, Work/Life
August 30, 2012
Maybe you prefer jazz while on the job, or to waltz while at work. Alliterations aside, if you’re not listening to music in the office, you may be missing out.
“Music breaks you out of just one way of thinking,” explains Dr. Lesiuk of the University of Miami in a recent New York Times article. Music does this by improving our mood, which reduces stress and encourages creative thinking. A study conducted by Dr. Lesiuk even suggested that music can benefit productivity, as long as a person is not a novice to the task at hand.
So which type of music is best? Dr. Sood of the Mayo Clinic recommends music without lyrics. But most importantly, it should be something you enjoy. So if the song stylings of Weird Al bring a smile to your face, then that’s all that matters—just be sure to invest in a good pair of headphones to be kind to those around you.
What do we listen to while at work? Visit Herman Miller’s Lifework Blog for a weekly playlist from our creative network.
What's Up, Work/Life
July 12, 2012
Many things, of course, and certainly the workplace’s architecture and furniture (maybe even where the boss sits). But primary among them is to know something about how people are feeling, what they’re thinking, what motivates them, and, yes, what irritates them. Community Pulse—an interactive tool we offered recently to our website and trade show visitors—gauged what’s on people’s minds when it comes to work. Their answers fed into a real-time infographic that added to responses from the larger community. We hope this Q&A exercise will get all of us thinking about what fosters community in the workplace.
What's Up, Work/Life
June 7, 2012
If your job were a game, would it be like Angry Birds? Or Whack-A-Mole? See how your answer compares with everyone else’s by taking the Community Pulse—thought-provoking questions on work, life, and that fuzzy area in-between.
You can answer just one question, or all of them. It’s up to you. After you answer each question, a real-time infographic will show you what the larger community is saying.
Join in the conversation by taking the Community Pulse, click here.
March 5, 2012
Every day people endure rush hour traffic, mediocre coffee, and the interruptions that come with office life. Equipped with a laptops and cell phones, many workers could work from elsewhere. So, why to do they go to the office?
“All work is social,” says Larry Prusak, author and director of IBM’s research lab. While mobile technology untethers workers from their desks, nothing trumps face time when it comes to developing and deepening relationships with others.
René Shimada Siegel writing in Inc magazine recently observed, “We’re all in the people business. We’ll only be successful if we really get to know our customers and colleagues.” To do this, Siegel advocates meeting in person, offering 5 reasons to forgo Skype, emails, and texts.
People chose the office for a reason. For those of us who design and furnish offices, the challenge is to make them places where people want to be.
June 28, 2011
A sketch by Ayse Birsel from Design the Life You Love. Photo: birselplusseck.com
We’re all designers, busy designing our own lives. Powerful stuff but sounds a bit cliché, doesn’t it? Designing Is About the Decisions You Make Every Day, a recent article on Fastcompany.com, got me thinking, and before I knew it, the questions were popping up.
The problem is that design has become a fantastical buzzword invoked to change the world, heal your woes, and make your life easier. But if you were to ask people on the street the meaning of design, you would receive a new defintion with each person you stopped. And, too often, design is associated with aethistics. And even if you throw function into the mix, what difference does it make? Does advocating a designed life equate to filling your life with good-looking, functional widgets? Is that how design can make your life better?
The key is to divorce design from any assocation with consumption, which is exactly the direction Ayse Birsel takes in Design the Life You Love, a recent project challenging us to stop and “think about [our lives] for a moment.” Conceived as a recipe, Birsel proposes a simple and thought-provoking way of examining the complexity of your life and to ask what’s next. It’s so simple, in fact, you could do it over a cup of coffee.
Birsel recoginizes that design, at its essence, is decision-making—and good design means good decisions—whether that manifests itself as a cool product, choosing to riding your bike to work, or deciding to go back to school—you’re designing your life when you make a thoughtful decision about what is right for you and for your life. And that doesn’t sound like a cliché.
Design, What's Up, Work/Life
December 1, 2010
When Brian Kane, designer of Herman Miller’s new Swoop lounge furniture line, was looking for vacation property in Calistoga, California, back in 1989, he had no idea he’d end up with an 1884 one-room schoolhouse. Or that he and his wife would spend the next 21 years renovating the historic landmark.
The schoolhouse was originally built for the children of Italian immigrants who came to work in the vineyards of Napa Valley. “And when we pulled in and saw its potential, we just had to have it,” says Kane.
And now, after literally thousands of hours (not to mention nails, screws, and staples) they’re almost done.
The most satisfying part, he says, is just looking at the finished product. “It’s always a little startling to see the before and after, but it’s also very rewarding.”
September 8, 2010
Arturo Guerrero’s life is the stuff of fairy tales–with a touch of luck and a lot of hard work. He was born in 1960 in the fabled city of Madrid and earned a degree in architecture. Then, he somehow took a left-hand turn and decided to become a painter.
Not content to remain comfortably ensconced amid familiar surroundings, he moved in 1993 with his wife, Ana Larrea, and two daughters, Blanca and Lola, to New York City, where he has been working ever since.
Guerrero rides his bike to his Brooklyn studio every morning, paints all day, and returns in the evening to “cook wonderful dinners for my family and occasionally my friends.” Guerrero says that his work “reflects how he, as a Spaniard, views life in New York.”
His work is often muted, sometimes colorful, always attractive, and frequently abstract. Despite traversing a less-traveled and risky road, he seems well on his way to living happily ever after.
Here are seven questions for Arturo Guerrero:
1. What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a series of paintings of which the main subject is the wind. As it passes through the trees or it runs over the surface of the water. Right now I’m also painting urban landscapes at twilight hours.
June 21, 2010
Okay, it kind of is, but with good reason. As almost anyone who is unemployed and looking for a job will tell you (but anyone among the majority of Americans dissatisfied with their jobs may find shocking), work is a predictor of happiness. Only about two-thirds of unemployed workers say they are satisfied with life, while more than three-quarters of working stiffs are.
That may be because work daily gives us access to other predictors of happiness. Events like staff meetings and birthday cake breaks provide social connection, which is a major predictor of happiness.
Work can also provide a sense of purpose and an opportunity to help others. And, if you have work that challenges you but is still within your capabilities, work offers flow experiences—those stretches when you’re so engrossed in an activity that you lose track of time.
“The most satisfied workers find their skills tested, their work varied, their tasks significant,” writes psychologist David Myers in The Pursuit of Happiness. A lot of that has to do with how a person frames his work more than what kind of work he does. An 18-year-old brick maker in Pakistan who makes $3.50 a day working alongside his siblings told NPR, “I’m happy because we are builders of the nation. If we don’t make bricks, people can’t build anything. Pakistan is going to develop every day because of us.” Knowing how you contribute to the bigger picture—whether as a member of a work team, a sports team, or the human race—boosts feelings of wellbeing.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who coined the term “flow,” has some suggestions for how to increase enjoyment and opportunities to experience flow, whether at work or at play. Set goals and measure your progress, immerse yourself in the activity, and focus on that moment in time, rather than worrying about tomorrow.
Money, by the way, doesn’t buy happiness, once basic needs are met. But happiness may bring more money. According to Myers, in recent research “Today’s happiness predicted tomorrow’s income better than today’s income predicted tomorrow’s happiness.”
Photo via: NPR