Hey, wait a second. Aren't you that guy who wrote that article on "Sitting is the New Smoking"? And now you're talking about why a good chair matters? Yes, and yes. Because I wanted the opportunity to clarify an important point that I'm seeing and ensure we're all saying the right thing here.
It's true that our sedentary lifestyle is a big contributor to the obesity crisis we now face. We definitely are sitting too much at work which is why I wrote that article. But it's simply not practical for everyone to ditch their chairs and work 12 hour days standing up 100% of the time.
When thinking about this conundrum, I tapped my friend Michael Dura, who is the Small and Medium Business Area Sales Manager (East) for Herman Miller. We had a great conversation about what Herman Miller is doing to bring balance to the workplace--specifically, what the future of a furniture design company can do to help combat (rather than contribute) to our typical sedentary lifestyle.
"The problem, as I see it," Michael Dura told me, "is that companies are using the whole sitting is the new smoking movement to invest in really crappy chairs. Their logic being that, if companies invest in cheap, uncomfortable chairs, then people will be inclined to sit less."
Lots of Available Research on the Importance of Maintaining Good Posture at Work
Good chairs that promote good posture matter at work. There are numerous studies and white papers that have concluded poor posture begins to cause serious blood flow issues and potentially damaging spinal tension after just 20 minutes of sitting in a poor posture. You might be encouraged, as I was, as to just how much work Herman Miller has done around "The Importance of Moving as a Natural Part of the Workday." Herman Miller has published the details of its findings, but their overall solution boils down to a simple, yet powerful mantra: "Sit. Stand. Move. Repeat." It turns out that being fidgety at work has some important health benefits.
Herman Miller has even gone as far as to produce a patented PostureFit "anti-slouch" technology to encourage movement more often. This technology "works with the body's biomechanics to support the natural forward tilt of the pelvis; this in turn enables the spine to maintain its alignment for a healthier posture and improved lower back comfort."
Why entrepreneurs should care about having good chairs
Whether you prefer to sit or stand at work, having good quality furniture is important.
So while I'm all for the sitting is the new smoking movement, it should not be at the expense of quality. I asked Michael Dura about what's next for Herman Miller and how they are contributing to the long-term health of their customers and they are working on ways to naturally encourage and remind you to get up out of your chair and move around throughout the office.
Suffice to say, Herman Miller is looking to stay ahead of the changing needs of its customers by encouraging people not to sit too long. Think about how Nintendo does this via their Wii games, "Why don't you take a break and play outside."
With the Internet of Things movement in full effect, you can expect the leading furniture companies to incorporate the latest technologies into their designs. Soon we will likely have lots of support and encouragement to live happier, healthier and more productive lives; especially at work!