Suffering from a sore neck while you work? Or stiff shoulders? Or having some back pain? There’s a good chance your eyes are to blame. Much like the old gambling adage, “the house always wins,” when it comes to being comfortable while working, ergonomists will tell you, “the eyes always wins.”
The eyes only care about their own comfort and to ensure that, they’ll force the rest of the body to contort into unhealthy positions. You’ll really notice this after a few hours in front of the computer.
One way to create a win-win situation for both your eyes and your body is to move your monitor. Try bringing it closer, moving it away, and adjusting it up or down—of course a monitor arm makes this easier to do. We also recommend increasing the size of the on-screen font. Make your eyes comfortable and your body will thank you.
How many companies can say that and mean it, literally? Not many. Over the years we’ve learned that one of best ways to keep backaches and pains at bay is by properly supporting and aligning a person’s spine while they sit—particularly for the long periods of time they spend sitting at work. That’s why we design the best ergonomic chairs we can.
Consider the Embody office chair, designed by Bill Stumpf and Jeff Weber. More than 30 professionals, physicians, and PhDs in the fields of biomechanics, vision, physical therapy, and ergonomics worked with Stumpf and Weber to develop the instinctive back of the Embody Chair. Sit in it and you’ll feel the backrest automatically adjust as you move and shift positions. The result keeps your spine aligned and healthy.
When we say, “We’ve got your back,” we mean it.
Interested in the science of sitting? Check out Herman Miller’s research here.
Are you getting the most out of your work chair? If you’re not sitting properly, then there is a good chance that you are not.
Just as you were scolded for slouching at the dinner table as a kid, you should be warned against slouching in your chair at work. It’s bad for your back: distorting your spine into an unhealthy “C” shape that puts pressure on the intervertebral discs. This contributes to back pain and general discomfort.
How can you sit better? The first step is to sit back in your chair—all of the way back. Make sure that your back is making contact with the chair’s backrest. This better supports your spine and helps you receive the full benefits of an adjustable work chair. Give it a try, you’ll feel better.
Our bodies have a way of letting us know when they’re feeling uncomfortable. Stiff shoulders, sore neck, back pain, and eyestrain are all messages telling us that we’re are not working right.
Technology can be the culprit, forcing us into unhealthy postures. Laptops are wonderful; we’re untethered and free to work from anywhere. But that laptop screen is likely too low for everyday use. Before you know it, your neck is craning and your shoulders are hunched; you’ve become what Cynthia Roe Purvis, Ergonomics R&D Director at HP, calls the “Turtle.” You might even be sitting like a turtle right now and not even know it.
The key to comfort is listening to our bodies. Don’t stay in one posture for too long: sit, stand, and stretch, move around throughout the day. Combined with an ergonomic support tool like a Lapjack to lift your laptop’s screen to the proper height and an external keyboard, and in no time you’ll be feeling better. Your body will thank you for it.
In the 1970’s, designer Bill Stumpf sculpted foam to comfortably support people while they work—creating the first ergonomic task chair. He introduced ergonomics to our industry.
Since then, Herman Miller and its designers have continued to find innovative solutions, but have never forgotten that design begins with people. Not just their physical attributes, but their behaviors as well. We study the purpose of their work and their postures and movements. Design follows.
A “new” trend is emerging among workers in Silicon Valley: the standing desk. We know sitting all day is not ideal for the human body. The low physical workload and rearward rotated pelvis puts you at risk for back pain. Not to mention, excessive sitting slows your metabolism and can even negatively affect cholesterol levels.
But the truth is, standing all day isn’t any better. In fact, the high workload placed on the body while standing is equally as harmful as the inactivity in sitting.
What the body wants is movement. Alternating from sitting to standing several times throughout the day reduces the chance of back pain and improves circulation. Both are essential to productivity.
The standing desk is far from a new concept. In the 1960s, designer George Nelson developed the first stand-up, roll-top desk for the Action Office line. We continue to encourage movement in all our furniture. Everywhere and Envelop tables enable multiple height-adjustments. Paired with a work chair, you can sit, stand, and move, all of which will help you feel better and work better.
We believe design starts with the person—an approach going back to 1976 when we introduced the Ergon chair after 11 years of research.
We’re not just interested in the physical attributes of people, but their behaviors as well: How do they work? What is their posture? How do they move? Even the purpose of their work. Our commitment to understanding the person through research has helped us to balance science with aesthetics and design chairs in which the needs of the person are central.
Free-flowing action with smooth adjustability, a unique visual indicator weight gauge, and compatibility with touch screen technology–these innovations appear together in our Flo monitor arm, which is sweeping design competitions around the world. And not just any design competitions. Most recently, Flo received a 2010 Red Dot award from what many consider the largest and most distinguished international design competition. It also received the office furniture industry’s coveted 2010 Best of NeoCon award in Technology Support and the 2010 National Ergonomics Conference and Exposition Attendees’ Choice award.
Flo is one of several technology support products designed by our U.K.-based subsidiary Colebrook Bosson Saunders (CBS). In fact, CBS manufactured the market’s first monitor arm back in the 1980s. The company is committed to providing adjustable workspaces that promote a healthy and productive working environment, which makes it exciting to spread the news about products like Flo.
Bill Stumpf, who would have turned 75 on March 1, wouldn’t have cared. He’d have loved it that a design student at his alma mater, UW-Madison, used reclaimed barn wood to recreate the Aeron chair he and Don Chadwick designed.
The student’s inspiration came in part from the traveling exhibit Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller. It’s now at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin, and will be there until April 3. A whole group of UW grad and undergraduate students are looking to the exhibit for inspiration. They’re focusing on the design process and how finished works suit the human body. Something Herman Miller knows a thing or two about.
One student looked at Alexander Girard fabrics and designed a coffee table from wood pieces formed to reflect one of his patterns. One design includes collapsed fabric and raises to become the Eames molded plywood chair.
Take inspiration from everything is the creative person’s mantra. And we love it when creatives take it from us.
You might think that my idea of an office is different than my parents’ idea. Not so. It turns out that they, like a lot of Baby Boomers, are really good at adapting to what’s becoming more common for all of us—working anywhere. That can mean working from home, a coffee shop, or a “campsite” at headquarters. Mobile work is becoming a reality for many people and businesses.
Here I am working in the coffee bar at Herman Miller. (Got my portable mouse and separate keyboard, got my laptop support so I can elevate the display and get it to a good viewing angle.) Studies show that the simple addition of a portable mouse and separate keyboard dramatically increases comfort for mobile workers.
Ask anyone—like me—who’s really into mobile working, and she’ll tell you that portable technology is a must, and the fewer things to carry, the better. While mobile working may be the preferred work style for many now and most of us in the future, it doesn’t mean we can ignore our health while we do it. If I’ve learned anything from working anywhere it’s that being on the move feels better when I bring some good ergonomic support along with me.