A few weeks ago, I was doomscrolling Facebook and ran across this post from one of my friends, Michael Lawley:
Umm. Full stop. Time for another episode in my #productivitysuperheroes series.
Michael Lawley provides vCISO services for Centene’s specialty companies. Michael was a client of mine in 2010 as part of a larger corporate consulting project. Since then, I’ve followed him and his career on social media.
When I saw “The Chair” on Michael’s post, I immediately responded with a request for an interview.
Melissa: What was the impetus for The Chair?
Michael: When COVID started, I began looking at these chairs. I had a beautiful desk and chair in my home office that I’d used for a long time. I loved my home office setup, but I started having back pains from sitting too long.
I started researching options and discovered the Imperatorworks IW-320. Purchased retail, the chair cost around $4,000 (five monitors not included) and took 18 weeks for delivery. I bought a used one that arrived at my house in a few days.
Melissa: You’ve been using The Chair for a few weeks now. Tell me about the experience of working in it.
Michael: You are totally immersed. You are in a pod. There is a simplification and ergonomic ease that allows you to be totally focused.
It is a fluid way of working. When you are in this immersive environment, your mind hardly ever wanders.
And…the zero-gravity position of the IW-320 removes all pressure from my back. My back feels awesome.
Melissa: What productivity gains have you seen in The Chair?
Michael: The first day I used it, I told my wife that I got more done that day than in the entire past week. And I continue to see those types of productivity benefits.
I have five screens:
- My calendar is in the upper left.
- My top ten strategic priorities are in the upper right.
- My email is open in the far-right screen.
- The middle and far-left screen are for active work.
I don’t have to go searching for tabs or windows. Everything I need is available to me.
Melissa: With all those screens in front of you, do you feel stressed?
Melissa: Does your son, Patrick, think you are a spaceman?
Michael: He thinks it’s the coolest thing he’s ever seen. We are going to build it out as a gaming computer so we can have some fun in The Chair.
My analysis of the Imperatorworks IW-320 Chair
Pros of the Imperatorworks chair:
Designed for gaming, The Chair has a coolness factor of 10/10. Some of the other models in the Imperatorworks catalog look like scorpions, which may bring the coolness rating to a 12/10.
From a workplace productivity standpoint, I cannot argue with the ergonomics. Michael’s back pain has been eliminated. That alone supports the ROI (Return on Investment) of The Chair for Michael.
I also love Michael’s experience of immersion. Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls that a Flow experience. Flow is a state of optimal productivity due to the absorption into and enjoyment of a task. It is a great (and productive) way to work.
Research on working from home supports the idea that a dedicated workspace leads to optimal productivity. I like that The Chair can provide a pod-like place to work without setting aside an entire room for a home office.
Cons of the Imperatorworks chair:
Many folks may be turned off by the priciness of The Chair and its requisite equipment. I recommend calculating your hourly rate and estimating the weekly productivity gains you could experience. Then, you can make an informed choice about the ROI for you.
In my interview with Michael, I expressed some surprise that keeping his email inbox open all day would contribute to his productivity. He insists that, because he has set up inbox rules to color-code and reorder his incoming messages by priority senders, that it is helpful. For most (okay, all) users, I recommend keeping the email inbox minimized, disabling all notifications, and processing email three to five times per workday.
My last concern with The Chair is that it may be too comfortable. The Centers for Disease Control recommends reducing the number of hours per day that workers are seated. Several of my clients use and love the sit-stand desks that the CDC has studied.
If I worked in a reclining chair, I could stay there all day. Some Imperatorworks models even come with massage function. If they design a model with an attached dog bed, I may have to get one.
Of course, if I got my own Chair, my teenage son might strap himself into the thing and never leave.
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Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at email@example.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.
Gracious, Gratias! My creativity and brain power depend on my being upright, and leaning/lurching forward a bit, and this chair would not only make me less productive (if more ergonomically safe), it would give me the heebie-jeebies of claustrophobia. Then again, I don’t have Michael’s issues; my mind doesn’t wander when I’m looking at one screen, and I only want to see ONE thing at a time, either a browser or email, or a calendar. I want to pretend email doesn’t exist until I go to read it.
I can imagine getting something like this for medical reasons, but wow, this would make me less productive, because I can’t get into flow unless I feel things are completely open and airy around me. I can’t even use a desk chair with arms!
This was fascinating, though, and I’ll bear it in mind for sharing with clients!