Office Chair Guide
In the beginning…
Once upon a time there was an office chair.
It was a lonely office chair and one of a kind. There were no other office chairs.
All alone in the world and devoid of company, the office chair sought out its creator, who duly decreed that ‘thou shalt go forth and multiply’.
And it did.
Through a combination of invention, mass manufacturing and developments in ergonomic design, our office chair suddenly found that it was faced with the threat of extinction, due to a disturbing increase in the number of rival ‘designer’ chairs.
Their ranks began to swell even further and soon the original office chair was overwhelmed by a legion of sophisticated and superior quality chairs. The tired old office chair wheeled itself out into the wilderness, full of regret, lonely and forgotten.
Cut to the present…
We have no record of what happened to that original office chair but can only assume that it ended its days in a landfill site surround by thousands of other redundant chairs.
This analogy serves to illustrate the difficulty imposed on us by simply having too much choice. Our hope with this guide is to simplify the process of buying an office chair.
Choosing Your Office Chair
Your choice of office chair will almost certainly be determined by the following factors:
- Style & Material
- Ergonomic Design
- Specific User Requirement
Of course your choice of office chair is largely subjective.
One person’s perfect chair can be quite different from another and this can be determined by a number of factors. These include user body shape, the chairs’ purpose and how often the chair will be used.
For instance, I am sitting here writing this blog in a chair which my colleague finds incredibly uncomfortable. But for me it works, and suits my body shape while I’m sitting for long periods. So therefore if it’s for personal use, try to actually sit in the chair you are interested in rather than buying online.
Although I can literally choose from 100’s of different office chairs (the benefits of working in an office showroom đź™‚ ), my chosen chair is actually not one of the more expensive models. I just happen to find this particular chair comfortable (it’s a Gresham Platinum Ergo in case you were wondering!)
Let me now explain to you some of the main types of office chair that you can expect to find in stores or online.
Ergonomic Office Chair
Ergonomic office chairs are designed to help prevent back pain and help to improve your posture when sitting for long periods. They generally provide good lower back support and are available with or without arms and headrests.
A good ergonomic office chair will have tension adjustment and gas height lift. Make sure that your chair has lumbar support. The lumbar spine on an ergonomic office chair has an inward curve that helps to prevent straining your lower back when sitting for prolonged periods.
If your choice of chair has arms, it is preferable to make sure they are adjustable. This allows you to rest your arms so that your shoulders are relaxed.
Mesh office chairs are designed with ergonomics in mind.
A mesh chair allows the natural heat that your body produces to disperse through the material. They are also considered to be very comfortable because the mesh moulds itself to the shape of your body and at the same time supports your back and lower spine.
Some office chairs only have a mesh back (like the one in the image shown), although it is possible to get mesh chairs which also have a mesh seat. Whether or not you choose a padded seat or mesh is purely a matter of preference but some people like to have the seat mould to their shape also.
Executive leather office chairs are designed with comfort in mind. They are often favoured by managerial types because they make you look important and powerful.
This is probably due to their luxurious nature and the association that an executive chair has with authority.
As a general rule, executive chairs don’t have as many controls as an ergonomic office chair although they may have a standard ‘rock & tilt’ mechanism and gas lift height adjustment.
Some models have a ‘knee tilt’ mechanism which allows you to rock and lock the chair into position.
Managers Chairs are available in leather and fabric but are probably most common in fabric.
A managers chair usually has a high back and removeable arms and is generally bigger in dimension than a standard computer chair (see below). They are also considered more luxurious, comfortable and have deeper foam than other cheaper models.
They will usually have a ‘rock & tilt’ and/or ‘knee tilt’ mechanism and are available in a variety of different fabrics and colours.
Factory Chairs & Draughtsman Chairs
If you work at a counter, in a laboratory or a factory, you may need some extra height on your chair.
They can be distinguished from ordinary office chairs by the foot ring. They will also tend to be on wheel glides rather than casters.
Factory & draughtsman chairs are suitable for anyone working up to a height of around 900mm. They are beneficial because when raised, the foot ring offers support and the extra height makes it much easier to stand.
Computer Chairs & Operator Chairs
Computer chairs and operator chairs are suitable for people with limited finances.
However, although they are at the budget end of the scale, it is still possible to get computer chairs and operator chairs that have ergonomic features.
These include tension support, gas lift height adjustment, moulded back cushions and spine support.
The main difference between these chairs and the more expensive ergonomic chairs is the depth and quality of the padding and fabric. Additionally, the back and seat are separated.
Other Office Chair Considerations
Here are a few more office chair options that you should consider before buying:
– Do you require a standard, medium back or high back office chair?
– Do you need a chair with arms?
– If you decide upon a high back office chair, do you also require a headrest?
– What level of adjustment control will suit your requirements?
– Do you want a chair with gliders, casters?
– Are you likely to use the chair for prolonged periods?
– If you are a larger user you may need an extra large chair with a more powerful gas lift function
– If you want a fixed office chair (no wheels), do you want legs or cantilever (see image)?