Can a Comfortable Chair Help You Fight Office Stress?
Our latest research proves how the Cosm office chair can help you feel less fatigued, think more clearly and be more productive.
Artwork by: Tsjisse Talsma
Could a chair really help you work better? That was the question Herman Miller set out to answer when we approached the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center to collaborate with us on groundbreaking research that examined the effects a comfortable chair has on cognitive performance. When we typically think of ergonomics, we think of the physical aspects of how a chair interacts with the person sitting in it. But in this experiment, cognitive ergonomics became our focus, evaluating memory, attention and cognitive flexibility (your brain's ability to easily transition between ideas or tasks) – essentially, how well a person could think in one chair versus another.
Together with the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center, our researchers used cognitive neuro-evaluations – tests that focus on productivity and cognition – to examine participants' ability to think while sitting in three different kinds of office chairs:
- Highly adjustable
- Automatically adjustable (Herman Miller's High-Back Cosm Chair)
Participants wore heart monitors, which measured heart rate variability (HRV) ratio, and a fNIRS device, which measured blood flow in the frontal cortex of the brain, where decision-making and creativity occur. They performed tasks that relied on short-term memory, the ability to relax when conditions change and cognitive flexibility – which comes in handy when you need to take a break from your expense report to answer an important email and then get back to those receipts.
Goal: To test inhibition, or your ability to act naturally and feel relaxed
How it works: Focus on the direction of the arrow in the middle of the screen and indicate which direction it is pointing when a new, arrow-filled screen appears.
Goal: To test short-term memory
How it works: Recall the position of the shape from two screens prior.
Goal: To test cognitive flexibility, or how your brain transitions from thinking about one subject to another (it's associated with creativity)
How it works: Look at a larger shape (circle or rectangle) that might be coloured (red or blue) and match shape or colour.
The Bottom Line
Cosm is the only chair known to reduce cognitive load, giving people more mental capacity for their work – and for the creative ideas to flow. That's good for people, who want to accomplish everything on their to-do list, stress-free, and for organisations, which undoubtedly want the same thing. The beauty of Cosm is that it lets people focus on their work, not their chairs.