Can a comfortable chair reduce office stress?

Our latest research data shows that the Cosm office chair can help you feel more alert, think more clearly and work more productively.

Graphic by: Tsjisse Talsma

Could a chair really help you do better work? That’s the question Herman Miller set out to answer when we began a groundbreaking research project with the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center to study the effects of a comfortable chair on cognitive performance. When we think of ergonomics, we generally think of the purely physical interaction between the chair and the body. In contrast, this experiment focused on cognitive ergonomics. Memory, concentration, and cognitive flexibility (your brain’s ability to switch effortlessly between ideas and tasks) were evaluated – in short, how well a person can think in different chairs.

The Experiment

In collaboration with the Texas A&M Ergonomics Center, our researchers conducted cognitive neurological assessments, i.e., tests of productivity and cognition to evaluate participants’ thinking ability while sitting in three different office chairs:

  1. Non-adjustable
  2. Fully adjustable
  3. Automatically adjustable

Participants wore heart rate monitors to measure heart rate variability (HRV) quotient and an fNIRS device that maps blood flow in the frontal cortex of the brain (the seat of decision making and creativity). Participants performed tasks that require short-term memory, coping with situational changes, and cognitive flexibility – very valuable when, for example, you need to interrupt processing your expense report to answer an urgent email and then return to your receipts.

The study included the following tests:

Bequemer Stuhl


Objective: To test inhibition, i.e. the ability to behave naturally and feel relaxed.
How the test works: focus on the direction of the arrow in the middle of the screen. For each new screen with multiple arrows, indicate which direction the center arrow is pointing.

reduziert Bürostress


Objective: To test short-term memory.
This is how the test works: remember the position of the shape that was displayed two screens before.

Bequemer Stuhl reduziert Bürostress


Objective: To test cognitive flexibility, i.e., how your brain shifts from one object to another (which is associated with creativity).
Here’s how the test works: look at a larger shape (circle or rectangle), which can be colored (red or blue), and match up the shape or color.

The results

The study found that participants working individually in the automatically adjustable chair (Cosm) had a statistically lower HRV quotient in seven of nine tests. This lower value suggests that participants experienced less stress and felt more relaxed while sitting in a Cosm chair with a high back than in the comprehensively adjustable or non-adjustable chairs.

In addition, the results of the set-shift test showed that people made decisions faster in a Cosm chair – without making more mistakes – than in the other chairs in this experiment. The Flanker task also showed that neural efficiency increases over time in people sitting in the Cosm chair.

What do the results mean?

The findings have important implications for the workplace, as a lower HRV quotient improves short-term memory, cognitive flexibility and the ability to concentrate – even amid the many distractions that are inevitable in today’s hectic, collaborative work environment. In fact, the researchers found that participants in the high-back Cosm chair did increasingly better (i.e., faster, more efficiently, and more accurately) at their tasks that required creativity over time, which was not the case with the other two chairs.


Cosm is the only chair proven to reduce cognitive load and free up more mental energy for work – and creative ideas. That’s good for people who want to work through their tasks without stress, and for businesses that undoubtedly have the same goal. The best thing about Cosm is that its users can focus on their work instead of their chair.


All information taken from the research report on cognitive performance

by Herman Miller and Texas A&M, proprietary and confidential, August 2017

Discover more ideas

Here’s how to design self-care when you work from home.

Can a comfortable chair reduce office stress?

Seven predictions about the future of work

More productivity with the right dual monitor configuration.

Scroll to Top


Technician + Logistic

Nach der Arbeit widme ich mich meinem Hobby Modellbau und bin im Bastelraum oder auf dem Flugplatz aufzufinden.


Project Leader

Holz ist meine Leidenschaft!

Als gelernter Zimmermann durfte ich während meiner drei Jahren Wanderschaft unterschiedlichste Arbeitsweisen, Materialien und kulturell geprägte Designsprachen kennenlernen. 

Das Arbeiten mit dem Werkstoff Holz in seiner Vielfältigkeit fasziniert mich immer wieder aufs Neue.


Technical Manager

Vernetzung von Technik, Ergonomie und Menschen ist das, was mich an unserer Arbeit begeistert. Privat ist Paartanz meine Leidenschaft – von Disco-Fox zu Latin über Rock n’ Roll bis Boogie Woogie.

Nadine Zumbrunn

Interior Designer

Account Manager

Ich sehe mich als Geschichtenerzähler.

Die Kunden beauftragen mich, ihre Biografien zu schreiben, aber anstelle von Worten verwende ich Stoffe, Möbel, architektonische Elemente und natürlich persönliche Gegenstände.

Priska Bauer-Heeb

Interior Designer

Möbel sind meine Leidenschaft und der Umgang mit Design, Funktion, Farbe, Material und Oberflächen ist seit mehr als 25 Jahren Teil meines Berufes, den ich nicht missen möchte.

Office Zug bietet mir als Produkt Manager Digital Retail eine Aufgabe, in der ich all mein Wissen und meine Lust am «Möbeln» einbringen kann.


Head of Department

Die Faszination meiner Aufgabe liegt sowohl in der Vielfalt unserer Projekte als auch in derer unserer Kunden.

Verschiedenste Anforderungen, Ziele und Kulturen verlangen eine hohes Mass an Empathie und Kommunikation.

Der Zuspruch und die Zufriedenheit unserer Kunden ist die Belohnung für ein perfektes Team .