Each body is different, so why do companies try to standardize their chairs? Just like our bodies, our desk chair selection should fit our body. We often think that all chairs are created equal, but they are not.
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When I first came to my day job nearly 18 years ago, I was given a “standard” chair. There were no fancy features, and ergonomics were.
Over the years, I have seen the chair industry morph into a smorgasbord of chair types ranging from the petite to large. Today, employees can select the right desk chair for them based on “fit.” Just as we “fit-test” our shoes, we now “fit-test” chairs for employees.
Choosing the Right Desk Chair
When choosing the right office chair, follow this simple guide:
- Chair Style – do you prefer?
- Size – petite, standard, large
- Mesh, upholstered, or leather back?
- Fixed arms or height adjustable arms?
- Seat pan adjuster or fixed?
- Casters or no casters (glides)?
- Chrome or plastic?
Selecting the style of a chair helps you weed out manufacturers more quickly.
- Ergonomic Features – when choosing features consider the following:
- Height Adjustment – at a minimum, this is a standard feature on all desk chairs and some conference room chairs today. This feature is non-negotiable especially if you are thinking about this for an office standard.
- Back Lock Adjustment – adjusting the back to two (2) or three (3) positions aids in comfort while sitting and helps with keeping your spine in the correct position (and avoids back pain).
- Lumbar Support – having a separate adjustment that supports different regions of your lumbar is essential for maintaining proper body position. These adjustments allow you to “dial-in” to a particular part of your back (i.e. lower back).
- Height-Adjustable Arms – today’s chair features standard height adjustable arms (up/down), 3D (height adjustable + front-to-back) and 4D (height adjustable + front-to-back + pivot – in/out). Utilizing multiple options for your arms is helpful especially when you are tired. You could also select no arms which were common about ten years ago.
- Seat Pan Adjustment – the seat pan is the seat of the chair. A seat pan slider allows you to bring the seat closer or further from the back. Most seat pans today have a waterfall edge which drops off at the end to avoid circulation cut off.
- Cost – you cannot avoid it. Good chairs range from $300 to $1000. If money is tight, I suggest visiting your local office supply store (Office Depot or Staples). They have great knock-off chairs for approximately $100-$300. These chairs typically come without a warranty and will probably last one to three years.
If you can afford to buy a better chair, check out some of these good ones:
- Haworth Zody, Very, or Fern
- Humanscale Diffrient World, Liberty
- Highmark Emme (OFS Brand)
- Herman Miller Aeron (works best for taller body types)
You can often find deals (E-Bay/Craigslist) on slightly used office chairs from mainstream brand manufacturers. Many of these brands have also started online or outlet stores.
These chairs are worth their money and typically come with a lifetime warranty on parts.
When I began my career, I was given a “standard” chair. Today, in my home office, I sit in a Haworth Zody chair and love it. It supports my body and fits me like a glove.
I had to go through some different chairs to find the right one, and you might as well, but if you follow this simple guide, you can find the right desk chair for you!
[reminder]What features do you look for in selecting a desk chair?[/reminder]
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