The typical office worker may spend about 15 hours of their entire day sitting. Since this is such a big part of our lives, it’s good to have comfortable seating, especially when working. We can spend most of the workday in an office chair, whether in the workplace or home office. The right ergonomic, comfy office chair may help increase productivity and is one of the most important pieces of office furniture. Many office chairs are beautifully designed, strongly constructed, and provide hours of supportive seating each day. In addition, other office furniture, such as stand-up desks, have become a popular way to add ergonomic elements to your office setup.
What to Look for in a Comfortable Office Chair
Of course, deciding to get ergonomic chairs for the office or home is the easier part of the process. A more difficult decision might be choosing from the hundreds and even thousands of office chair choices from top brands like Serta and HON, including different styles, price points, materials, and features. To help business owners and workers decide what suits their needs, here are some of the things they might look for in high-quality office chairs:
Lumbar support: Consider an ergonomic chair with built-in lumbar support. Adjustable lumbar support can help with comfort. A lumbar support seat cushion can be added for additional comfort.
Height adjustability: When working long hours, consider the adjustment of office chair seat height to stay comfortable. Many ergonomic studies recommend that a worker sits with their feet flat on the floor or on a footrest without too much pressure exerted on the underside of their thighs. Sitting with the thighs roughly level to the hips may help reduce back strain.
Good tilting backrest: Consider a well-designed backrest of appropriate height and width to provide support without restricting movement. Tilt control allows leaning back or forward. A slightly backward reclined position (at a 100- to 110-degree angle to the seat) can help the user keep correct posture throughout the workday.
Seat dimensions: Does the seat comfortably fit the dimensions of the body — not too wide or too narrow, or too long or too short? For example, an office chair with too much seat depth might cause the user to hunch forward, whereas one too wide might make it difficult to use the armrests.
Armrests: Some jobs are made easier with comfortable and adjustable armrest support, such as using a computer keyboard. If armrests are width and height-adjustable, workers can have their arms positioned so that they’re level with the keyboard and not too high or too low.
Materials: Consider a comfortably padded or a breathable mesh back office chair with a luxurious, easy-to-clean faux leather finish. Do you desire soft or firm cushioning? Consider soft padding that doesn’t lessen ergonomic support. Consider firm padding that still allows the office chair to be comfortable to sit in for long periods.
Easy movement: A worker may require a desk chair that easily swivels from side to side and moves on durable casters if a job requires a lot of reaching or moving to nearby parts of the office, perhaps to consult with a colleague. Consider a swivel chair that locks into position for stable positioning, as well. It’s also a good idea to match casters to the type of floor you have — hard casters for soft floors and the opposite for hard floors.
Other comfy features to consider include a headrest for extra support of the neck and shoulders and a back that divides into multiple parts, giving the upper and lower back different support. You might also consider whether the positioning of the office chair controls is logical — are they easy to reach and use from a seated position?
Task and Executive Chairs Built for Comfort
As the name suggests, task chairs are built to suit a variety of office activities and different body types. They’re designed to slide under various desks, allowing workers to perform the tasks they’re assigned during a workday. Task chairs often have high backs, wheels, and adjustable arms and come in a variety of materials offering different levels of support.
While some task chairs can be pricey, many are available at a lower price range and offer good ergonomic support. For example, for around $100, it’s possible to buy a mid-back, breathable mesh office chair with backrest tilt, one-touch height adjustment, built-in castors, and other features.
While task chairs are easily portable, and the ones with lower price tags make them wallet-friendly to buy in bulk, executive chairs are more impressive seats, offering superior comfort and style. Often made with bonded leather, executive chairs are designed for a single person’s use in executive offices or exclusive use in executive boardrooms.
Executive chairs are rated for eight hours or more of comfortable work time compared to a couple of hours for many task chairs. Since they’re designed for executive use, they often feature high backs, plenty of cushioning, higher quality materials like bonded leather and wood, and extra ergonomic support.
A high-end model might include memory foam padding with extra lumbar support, enhancing the spine’s natural curve. Padded cantilevered arms can help relieve muscle fatigue. A tilt tension feature keeps the seat level with the floor as the backrest reclines. The tilt angle lets you select the chair’s recline angle, while a tilt lock lets you lock it in the most comfortable reclining position.
Big and Tall: Not One-Size-Fits-All
Buying the most comfortable office chairs would be easy if everyone had the same body size and condition. But life offers far more variety than that, so one size doesn’t fit all. It’s just as uncomfortable for a big and tall person to be sandwiched in a small chair as it is for a petite person to be lost in space in a chair that’s too big.
Big and tall chairs are tailored to people with larger body types that they may find provides a better fit. By moving from a cramped, uncomfortable office chair to one that gracefully accommodates and supports their size and dimensions, the worker can enjoy a much nicer work experience, which just may be reflected in their attentiveness and performance. Higher backrests, wider and deeper seats, and heavy-duty construction are often features of big and tall chairs.
A well-constructed big and tall office desk chair might be tested to support weights of up to 350 pounds or even higher. Other nice-to-have features could include flip-up, padded armrests, layered body pillows, heavy-duty five-star base with dual caster wheels, and pneumatic one-touch height adjustment.
Stand-Up and Adjustable Height Desks
Varying your workday from sitting to standing can be a helpful way to keep your productivity and focus high. Consider outfitting your office with a desk for standing like those from VariDesk. Many of these stand up desks plug into an outlet and feature buttons to automatically adjust their height to your preference. This way, you can integrate standing into your workday for more time than just to retrieve documents from the printer!
Other Ways to Be Comfortable at Work
Working for long periods at a computer keyboard may cause discomfort on the wrists and hands, especially if working at an awkward angle. While you can adjust your seat height to keep up your wrists in a straight line, you can also buy an ergonomic wireless keyboard designed for protracted use, putting your hands in more natural positions to reach the keys and mouse. You can also get an ergonomic keyboard if you have a laptop but find it difficult to use the cramped keys for extended periods.
Types of ergonomic keyboards include the:
Angled split keyboard
Or if your feet don’t reach the floor properly with your desk chair, you can buy a footrest for under the desk, with different height and tilt adjustments to suit your particular body stature. Some might have “massage” bumps to promote circulation in the feet and a “rocking mechanism” to keep the feet active, promoting circulation during a long day of sitting.
When it comes to working at home or in the office, comfort counts. The right office chairs, ergonomic furniture, and ergonomic accessories can help you, or your employees, focus on the work at hand.
About the Author
Peter Giffen is a writer, editor, and creative project manager with more than 40 years of experience working for national publishers, major corporations, innovative start-ups, creative agencies, content companies, and SEO houses in Canada and the United States. He currently writes about technology, business, health and wellness, travel, project management, and more.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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