As Australians, we spend the majority of our working hours seated at a desk on a computer. Did you know though, that with the RIGHT support, adjustments and frame, you can actually INCREASE your:
Core Muscle Activation
Given that 74% of Australians over the age of 40 suffer from back problems, you'll want to make sure you're relieving this issue for your employees - not contributing to it.
The problem is, the more research you do on finding the PERFECT office chair, the more confusing it all becomes! We've created this blog to help educate you on the TEN most important factors, and help you narrow down the search to meet your budget.
So, what should you be looking for when you're purchasing your office seating?
Bet you got this one, right? If you're not so sure what this really means, it's related to how your furniture caters to the movement and support of your body. It will help you function at your greatest potential through the variety your job entails, your stature, and the following nine points below. Happy skimming!
Height needs to adjust for people of all sizes, as often work chairs are shared around in the modern working environment. An average chair needs to be 40 - 53cm from the floor, allowing:
Feet to be flat on the ground
Thighs horizontal to the floor
Arms in line with the height of the desk
Upper and lower back are supported
The width and depth should fit the standard person comfortably, meaning the width range will be between 17cm - 50cm.
The depth should allow the user to sit with his or her back against the backrest, while leaving 5-10 cm between the back of their knees and the seat of the chair.
Ideally, it will also have an adjustable tilt (2:1 ratio is ideal) allowing you to lean back into it when you need a break from your screen, allowing for mobility and movement to keep you active - but focused.
Office chairs should not only support your body while you're comfortably seated and doing your job, but also keep the blood and oxygen flowing to your brain by encouraging movement and supporting a straight spine. Scientific studies are revealing what we always knew - frequently moving is GOOD for you. While we can't all have jobs associated with being 'active', we can maximise movement while having chairs and stools that accentuate it.
4) Lumbar Support
Lumbar or lower back support, should be one of the key factors when selecting your staff seating - especially for those who suffer from pain in this region. You want to make sure that it's adjustable (height and depth), ideally a mesh back, and curves with that same inward flexion of your spine for added support. Some chairs now offer a lumbar support 'pillow' which allows the user to increase/decrease the extension into their lower back by a hand pump, taking pressure out of the vertebrae - occupational therapists LOVE this option!
5) Upper Back Support
While all the focus is on taking pressure off the lower back, the upper back and shoulders can often be neglected. Those with shoulder, neck and upper back pain will really benefit from this added support, and even the addition of a head rest (presumably these are your taller employees). Another great little add on for those with rounded shoulders? Check out our blog on the Upright Trainer to gain momentum for that perfect posture.
Fabric selection might be an afterthought when it comes to seat selection, with reference perhaps only to a colour that fits your environment. However, the seat and back need to have enough padding, durability and movement to be comfortable for long periods; not too hard or soft in order to support your back and glutes; breathable fabric on the seat; and ideally, a durable, mesh back.
The Australian Furnishing Research and Development Institute is an independent organisation providing industry standards within the nation by way of testing, product certification and research for buyers and sellers of furniture.
This means that when you are buying a height adjustable swivel chair, you can look for this certification to give you peace of mind, knowing that it meets this national standard of safety and longevity for commercial use. Not only do they give approval for chairs as a whole, but their individual parts also.
If you're unsure about whether your office interiors are meeting this requirement, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask us all about it.
Warranties are a great indicator on how long a chair will last based on quality of parts, and durability. If you're spending upwards from $300, you'll expect a warranty per chair to be in the 5-10 year bracket which is a great sign! Market standards suggest that chairs should be replaced every five years, though this would heavily be impacted by frequency of use.
9) Synchronous Mechanism (synchro tilt) and Back Tilt
In Europe, this is pretty much the ONLY chair mechanism to be found. It allows the user to sit in their chair, and tilt back at a 2:1 ratio: a large backrest movement, and a smaller movement of the seat. This allows the user to recline while keeping their seat relatively level to the floor instead of the traditional “rocking chair” type recline. Most chairs that offer this, will also have various 'locking points' (generally 3-4).
While this is the SECOND time we have mentioned back tilt, it is important to understand that there are several differences in the mechanisms offered. Your best bet?
The synchro tilt.
For chairs that will give you an ROI, you're looking at spending between $250 - $480 for an ergonomically designed chair that ticks the above boxes. It's expensive, we know.
Factor in that your employees spend 40 or so hours at work, predominately sitting and working hard to make your business a success; the WEEKLY cost for that high end perch over a year sits at just $1.85 per person for the entirety of its life.
Sounds like it's worth the investment now right?
If you're spending less than $100 on an office chair, you're doing a wonderful job on your budget - but not much else. Cheaper options will certainly LOOK like an office chair, but as far as functionality, comfort, durability, productivity, support and ergonomics go, it's like throwing money into a fire pit and hoping it will mold itself into diamonds. We should know, we've tried and tested A LOT!
Want to know the other reasons finding the perfect chair is so important for staff morale?
You will definitely boost popularity with your employees when you set them the task of achieving the best synchronized chair dancing team, and for inspiration, we've included this little clip to check out your competition and maybe get a little laugh out of you after such a serious blog post.
Have a great week, and enjoy the search for that perfect perch!
Wishes in wellness,
The Balance Team