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.
Study after study finds that a comfortable working environment improves people’s productivity and makes them happy. It really doesn’t do us any good to suffer. And that’s why for Herman Miller, comfort is one of the most critical criteria in any new product design.
But comfort isn’t just stretching out with a cold one in a Barcalounger. It’s having the proper support for your body and the freedom to move naturally. It’s good lighting and temperature, views in and out, and having everything around you under control, right where you need it. Just as important, it’s the lack of stress. Of course, stress is synonymous with work, but anything you can do to reduce anxiety is a plus.
For example, Herman Miller research shows that storage is a primary factor in a person’s satisfaction with their work space. Typical comments from research participants include: “Stuff piled on my desk makes me anxious and nervous;” “I feel much less calm and creative when I’m not organized;” “When things are really cluttered or messy, I become irritable.”
These findings were part of the inspiration for Herman Miller’s Teneo storage furniture, designed by Ayse Birsel and Bibi Seck. Certainly Teneo helps people be more organized and uncluttered, but there’s more. Teneo’s design helps an environment be harmonious and purposeful. It’s calming, providing consistency and control amid the chaos of fast-paced work. Says Ayse, “We put the person at the center of the problem and see how we can make them more comfortable, and their life easier.” Teneo also earned the coveted Gold award from the 2009 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) in the Office and Productivity category.
Speaking of more comfortable, meet the Setu family of multipurpose chairs from Herman Miller. Multipurpose chairs, with their typically unforgiving, one-piece seat and back, aren’t very comfortable. So Setu designers, Studio 7.5, invented a way to mimic the synchronized motion of the separate seat and back used on ergonomic work chairs. And that means more comfort in all the places we use multipurpose chairs throughout the day, like meeting rooms, cafes, learning environments, lounges, and touchdown spaces.
Still, when we’re back in our offices, we want our work chairs to be able to keep us comfortable all day if we need it. That’s where Herman Miller’s newest work chair, Embody, comes in. It not only is comfortable, it is good for you, encouraging additional air movement into the lungs to feed your brain, increasing blood circulation, and decreasing the heart rate.
Intent furniture, another new Herman Miller product, was designed by Joey Ruiter with familiar residential references, because, he says, “They add beauty and trigger a feeling of comfort. You can imagine yourself in it,” he says. Check out Intent’s raised storage deck, cabinets, and sliding-door units. See if they don’t make you feel at home.
Eyes get uncomfortable at work, too, and lighting can be to blame. It’s an often-overlooked aspect of comfort and well-being in the workplace. Being able to control lighting in your workstation can help prevent Computer Vision Syndrome, an increasingly common issue resulting from glare generated on backlit surfaces. Herman Miller’s new Twist and Flute LED task lights give you the control you need for proper illumination and vision comfort.
So you might as well get as comfortable as you can at work. And if your boss thinks you don’t look miserable enough, say, “I’m getting stronger by the minute.”
By Bill Holm