Sitting comfortably? It is more important than you think.

11 August 2020

Economists have long since predicted the arrival of the 15 hour work week, as technological advances make the conventional 9 to 5 grind a thing of the past

Of course, in the age of COVID-19 organisations have been forced to abandon traditional ways of working in favour of adopting remote working practices where they can. But has this really been a shift in the way we work or has it simply brought in to focus the challenges of an outdated approach to working life?

Adapting to the reality of operating in the context of a pandemic has been more challenging for some business than it has for others who had already shifted to a more agile and flexible way of working.

Guest appearances in video conferencing courtesy of dogs, cats, children and partners have become a source of hilarity for many as the human aspect of working life is brought in to focus more than ever before in the work-from-home era. Organisations, leaders and managers can no longer ignore what has previously been hidden from view and kept outside of the office as many people commandeer kitchen tables and living rooms to conduct their day-to-day work tasks.

On the surface, working from home sounds great, right? Despite having been relieved of the daily commute and the comforts of home, for many, working from home presents a number of challenges for a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. Isolation and loneliness and a lack of social contact can be difficult to deal with as well as the physical challenges presented by being confined to your house with limited opportunities to get out for exercise. Online fitness and yoga live-streams are helping people keep well, both mentally and physically and provide a some positivity and social interaction in uncertain and challenging circumstances, but many overlook the importance of their seating and ergonomic requirements when working from home.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Sitting is always the means to an end. It’s what you do when you need to launch a new idea, solve a problem, or share a story. Does your chair move like you move? Does it conform to your shape? Does it enable your best posture?

As people change positions, chairs should move with them, keeping them in balance without stressing any parts of their bodies in the process.

When your body is properly supported as you sit, you have the strength you need to stay comfortable and injury free as you work. Thanks to precise geometry and compliance of the seat and backrest, high-performance work chairs immediately put you in a healthful posture. The moment you sit, your spine is engaged at its lowest point- the sacrum. This sets the proper curvature, reinforces your pelvis, and anchors all the body’s major muscle groups. A calibrated system of support throughout the chairs accommodates all regions of the spine, maintaining its natural curves through a full range of motion. And, whether you’re sitting upright or in deep recline, a high performance chair maintain contact with your back, providing you unwavering strength and support while you sit.

Could a chair really help you work better? That was the question Herman Miller set out to answer when they approached the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center to conduct ground-breaking 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 the 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.

The research showed that, when doing individual work, participants had a statistically lower heart rate variability (HRV) ratio while sitting in the automatically adjustable chair in seven of the nine tests. The lower HRV ratio indicates that the participants experienced lower stress and were therefore more relaxed. The results have important implications for work, since a lower HRV ratio is better for short-term memory, cognitive flexibility and the ability to stay focused even amid pesky office distractions – which are unavoidable in today’s fast-paced, collaborative world of work.

With this in mind, we have curated a number of remote working essentials to help you and your teams maintain productivity and comfort outside the office. Click here to find out more.

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