How to Choose a Chair for the Office

Many studies have shown that ill-fitting chairs, computer setups, and desks cause an array of aches and injuries from moderate to severe. The loss of work time and cost to companies due to these problems can be well ameliorated by an upfront investment in office furnishings that suit both the work being done and the employees. The effort to properly fit the greatest number of staff with office chairs and other furnishings is not easy and requires that someone be tasked with finding office fit-out solutions. Here we offer the basic best practices in selecting chairs.

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Office workers spend many – studies say far too many – hours sitting down. The problems with badly designed seating are numerous: a seat that’s too long causes strain and poor blood flow in the legs. One that isn’t properly angled also compresses the backs of the legs, again causing poor blood flow and stiffness.

People who are shorter than average often get stuck with seats that are too long for them. By investing in seats with adjustable depth, you will be able to accommodate the greatest number of staff. When someone is sitting fully against the backrest, there should be a minimum of 1 inch (approximately 2 centimetres) of space between the backs of the knees and the edge of the seat.

When you’re seated, your knees should be slightly lower than your hips, which is why an adjustable seat angle is important. You don’t want to be pitched forward but you also don’t want your lower legs to be bent exactly 90 degrees – try just about an inch or so below your hips. People who are taller than average, over 6 feet (a bit over 2 metres), experience too much pressure on their hips and lower back from chairs that are too low, putting their knees up too high.

Many people end up sitting at the edge of the seat, but you should use the backrest at least part of the day. Assuming the seat depth is correct and the backs of your legs are comfortable, a properly designed backrest will provide the final piece of comfort by supporting your spine.

Most “ergonomic” chairs are anything but – they’re overly complicated, unrefined things, so be aware that in this, too, each person is different. If possible, use a vendor that doesn’t require you to buy in volume from the same manufacturer. Often what staff members want is choices, because getting the right fit can really be a Goldilocks process. But the time and money spent on this effort will be returned to the company in efficient, comfortable and loyal staff – great office design is an essential feature of successful, progressive-thinking organisations.