Office chairs. They're everywhere. Well, mostly in offices, but offices are everywhere, too.
A recent study estimated 4 out of 10 people in the US work in an office. And with shrinking deadlines and expanding workloads, people are spending more and more time in those chairs. Yet how much thought is given to purchasing the right one?
There are a few factors to consider when purchasing an office chair, mainly mobility, comfort, adjustability, and durability. Which of these factors is important to you depends on the type of work you do, and your budget.
Most office chairs are equipped with a set of wheels, usually four or five. Five wheels give the greatest stability, which is important if you're a secretary whizzing back and forth between the copier, computer, and coffee machine. Smooth running wheels also come in handy for those impromptu games of office hockey.
Arm rests lend an air of dignity and comfort to an office chair, but may not be such a good idea for the secretary who needs the greatest mobility during activities such as typing. An executive, on the other hand, will require something on which to rest his elbows when he puts his index fingers to his lips while considering important business decisions.
A swivel chair is a must for anyone. The secretary will find it handy for reaching those filing cabinets, the executive will find it handy for standing up from behind his desk, and everyone can relieve stress by spinning around and around yelling "I'm a helicopter!". Make sure to tuck in your legs for the greatest speed.
If you're going to be spending a lot of time in your chair, make sure you get one that is comfortable. A high back takes tension away from the lower spine, and prevents long term strain. A sloping seat front allows the greatest blood circulation, and reduces "numb leg". This is important if you don't want to fall over when you suddenly stand up to greet the CEO.
Office chairs usually come equipped with some sort of adjustments. The most important of these is seat lift. Make sure you can adjust the height of the seat so that your legs are parallel to the ground, with your feet resting flat.
Most chairs also allow you to tilt the whole chair forward or backward. The best position keeps your back straight, vertical to the ground, while a backward tilt comes in handy for those all-so-important power snoozes. Make sure it doesn't tilt back too far, though. Nothing spells disaster quite like falling backwards out of your chair while you're in a board meeting.
Seat depth is a feature which is often overlooked. This allows the back to slide back and forth to accommodate people of varying heights.
There are many other adjustments available, such as armrest height, armrest width, backrest curvature for lumbar support, backrest height, seat tilt, and back tilt. Generally, the more adjustments there are, the more expensive the chair.
Adjustments are usually made by either mechanical or pneumatic means. Pneumatic chairs work with a combination of springs and compressed air, and are much easier to use.
The quality of your chair will usually be in direct proportion to the cost. A leather seat and back is usually more tear resistant than vinyl. Metal legs and frame will generally last longer than plastic.
Depending on how much time you spend sitting in an office, the chair you choose can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Take the time to consider your needs, and try to strike a balance between them and your budget.