People who spend their waking days in an office usually spend a good amount of time seated in office chairs—a position which eventually leads to the development of back problems. This is why companies around the world make it a point to use what are called ergonomic office chairs—chairs that support the lower back and promote good posture.
Unfortunately, not all ergonomic chairs that are available out there are great for office use. However, it’s also true that no single kind of office chair is best. But there are a number of characteristics to seek in an office chair to ensure that the purchase is truly beneficial to each user. These are:
The seat heights of the office chairs to purchase need to be easily adjustable using adjustment levers. What works for most users is a chair whose height can be adjusted from 49 to 59 cm from the floor. This should allow users to have their soles flat on the floor, with arms even with desk height and thighs horizontal.
The right chair to purchase needs to have sufficient depth and width to support a user comfortably. The standard chair has a width of 46-52cm. As for the depth (measurement from front to back part of a seat), it should be just enough so a user sits with back against the rest whilst leaving about 2.5-5.0cm between seat and the back of one’s knees. The backward or forward tilt of a seat needs to be adjustable.
This is one of the most important characteristics of an ergonomic chair. The lumbar region of the spine curves inward, and being seated for lengths of time without any support for this particular curve can lead to slouching (which will flatten the curve) and strain lumbar structures. The right ergonomic chair needs to have lumbar adjustment for both depth and height so all users get the right fit to support the lower back’s natural inward curvature.
The right ergonomic chair needs to have a backrest with a width that measures somewhere between 41-49cm. If its backrest is not part of the seat itself, it needs to have adjustable angle and height. It needs to be capable of supporting the spine’s natural curve, particularly the lumbar region, just like the above part. If the backrest is part of the seat itself, it has to be adjustable in both back and forward angles, with a mechanism to lock the backrest from going too far back when a user has decided on the best angle.
The material of both seat and back needs to have sufficient amounts of padding so the chair itself is comfy to sit on for very long time periods. A cloth fabric which can breathe is better than a harder surface.
An office chair’s armrests need to be adjustable. They need to permit both the relaxation of the shoulders and the comfortable rest of a user’s arms. Lower arms and elbows need to lightly rest, and forearms must never be on both armrests whilst you are typing.
Ergonomic chairs should be able to rotate easily to allow a user to reach faraway parts of the desk without having to strain any part of the body.
Aside from checking if the above characteristics are in a chair you have considered purchasing for your office, it is also important to consider the work and health conditions of the people who will be using the chairs you will be purchasing. Anyone who needs to use laboratory equipment would be better off with a sit stand chair. An executive or top-level manager who needs to be with the boss for meetings that practically last all day will be better off with a heavy-duty chair, a type of chair that is known for being long-lasting, or a high-back chair, a type of chair that allows the entire upper body (including neck and head) to relax. For someone in the office who sweats even with just a little heat, a mesh-backed chair will work best for him.