A research summary published by Herman Miller ranks the option to position a computer in a suitable location as one of the most important attributes of a comfortable workspace.
I saw this need addressed during a recent visit to a trading floor located in New York’s World Financial Center. The Herman Miller company Colebrook Bosson Saunders supplied this particular floor with Wishbone monitor arms and posts that can support up to four monitors. Most people on a trading floor work with at least two screens, although many work from four and sometimes six.
The Wishbone monitor arm fits well in this environment because anyone can reconfigure it to support a variety of needs. In fact, the monitor arms on this trading floor are reconfigured up to three times a week.
Monitor arms also carry ergonomic benefits. They allow the technology to move with the user, while contributing to an ergonomic posture and reducing eyestrain.
Unfortunately, from 2008-2009, an estimated 9.3 million working days were lost to work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Having proper ergonomic support, however, creates safer, healthier environments that help to prevent these disorders.
Whether you work on a trading floor or in an office like mine, the appropriate technology support, such as a monitor arm, is a smart investment.
Recently, the Associated Press distributed an article about how “sitting too much could be deadly.” A number of regional newspapers, including my hometown Chicago Tribune picked it up. As a furniture industry veteran and seating researcher for the better part of two decades, it was too broad—and dire—a statement for my personal comfort.
In helping designers like Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber to develop Herman Miller products—from stacking chairs, such as Caper, to high-performance work chairs, such as Embody—I’ve learned that sitting, comfort, and health are not so cut-and-dried.
In the 1990s I began using pressure map technology, which visualizes what the seat and sitter interface looks like—and how it changes depending on seat construction and the posture of the sitter. These changes translate to comfort or discomfort for the user.
More recently, in the course of our Embody chair development, I commissioned researchers at both the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Milwaukee’s Marquette University, who measured the amount of oxygen in the blood flowing to and from subjects’ lower extremities and heart rate–key health measures. It turns out, both improved when users sat in the Embody chair, versus other chairs, doing the same seated tasks in both.
So, it’s not a simple question of sitting down or standing up—but where and how you’re sitting.
I once worked at a company housed in the second floor of an old mill building. You might be thinking “lovely renovated office space with high ceilings and tons of character.” You’d be wrong. The building was dirt-cheap chic and the only character it had was a homeless man who slept in the unoccupied first floor.
Our office space consisted of shoddily constructed half-walls and an eclectic mix of broken down desks, wobbly chairs—and, most important of all, space heaters. In winter, there’d be miniature snowdrifts on the window sill, and you could see your breath until 10 a.m. We never had temperature wars in that office. We just cranked the thermostat as high as it would go, and our space heaters, too.
Granted, ours was an extreme case. But recent IFMA research shows that complaints about the temperature top the list of common office grievances. Facilities managers say they get an almost equal number of complaints about the office being too hot or too cold.
This is a big deal because there’s a positive correlation between comfort and productivity. Unfortunately, it’s tough to keep everybody happy and comfortable all the time. As any facility manager will tell you, often the person complaining about the office being too hot is sitting right next to the person complaining about it being too cold.
Facility managers do the best they can, but when it’s not enough, people do what they have to do. They use space heaters (frowned upon because of the fire hazard), heating pads, personal fans, supplemental clothing and, in one case reported in the research, a small wading pool under the desk in which the worker could “paddle” his feet to cool them off.
Herman Miller has a sweet and sensible alternative that uses 90% less energy than space heaters. C2 climate control uses advanced thermal electric technology to provide heating and cooling in a single unit. Someday I’d like a C2 for my home office, but for now I use a foot warmer to stay warm. What’s your solution?
Here’s something kind of interesting, depending on how geeky you are:
The origin of the word “comfort” is the Latin “confortare,” “to strengthen.” When you’re comfortable, you’re free from pain and trouble. All’s well. You’re rejuvenated. Stronger. Physically and mentally. Read more