“Naveena, what is the best office chair? “
Every day in clinic I get asked the same question over and over again. What we sit on is not always front of mind… until something goes wrong.
As an occupational physiotherapist I’ve seen too many people with sore backs and heard from too many bosses with disengaged team members.
It wasn’t until I actually googled the information that my clients were searching for when I realised what the problem was.
Us occupational physiotherapists know which is the best office chair, but poor old Dr Google does not! From the 2,360,000,000 results there’s so much confusion. So many chairs being sold with so little therapeutic advice.
“I need to write this down” I thought.
Well, here it is. Firstly, when working out what is the best office chair, you need to consider a couple of key points.
- What is the best chair for the job?
- What is the best chair for the user?
Let’s dive in.
What Is The Best Office Chair For The Job
By re framing our thoughts into thinking about how we will use our chair, what job our chair must accomplish we can start to get to our answer.
Executive chairs that are meant for occasional use in a boardroom are not compatible with the demands of an industrial control room. The materials, the length of time spent in the chair, the adjust-ability.
A couple of hours banging on about C Suite strategy might be perfect for an executive chair like this.
However, if you need to be at a control panel for 10 hour shifts, rotating to multiple screens, levers and dials, well you need a few more features in your chair before you’re happy playing the air guitar.
What Is The Best Office Chair For The User
We know our bodies well and we all adjust our chairs to make it work for us in our everyday lives.
Every time we get into a car (especially when we share it with someone else) we intuitively alter our seats, mirrors etc to make our drive safe and comfortable.
Imagine a scenario where you are unable to do it.
Think about pub bar stools with no footrest, rustic wine barrel seats, tiny seats with no legroom in long-haul flights… We all have our share of badly designed seating that is neither comfortable nor that serves the function well.
Putting this into the context of seating at work where we spend most of our lives (seems that long anyways!), chairs do take on an important role?
In order to achieve a positive comfort’ factor and suit the individual user, chairs must address the inherent variability in human physical characteristics.
Our ratios of arm length/torso length/leg length vary from person to person.
Here is a personal anecdote.
I have practised as a physiotherapist in 3 different countries. India, Australia and America. Across these countries I have seen my clients’ size literally grow before my eyes.
From short to tall to giants!
So the height of the seat and the backrest need to accommodate you or your workplace demographic.
When our offices are located in a cosmopolitan city like Melbourne with a diverse population, we need to ensure that variability is accounted for. A realistic way to do that would be to find chairs that allow us to ‘make adjustments’.
The Best Office Chair will allow you to adjust the
- Seat height
- Seat pan depth
- Seat tilt
- Arm rest height.
Not only are these factors important to address the individual variability (especially with desk-sharing/hot-desking), they also come in handy for ‘moving between positions’ throughout the day.
This ‘adjustability’ covers for over 90% of the office population. Although you’ll still find the outliers of the bell curve. Those very short or very tall people. Finding the right chair for them is not impossible just a tad harder. When you do however you’ll have found a chair and friend for life!
There are a few other things that are handy to know when looking for the best office chair. AFRDI (Australiasian Furnishing and Research and Development Institute) is a premier certification body that does nothing in their lives but tests the quality of chairs (I’m sure they have the best Christmas parties).
The types of tests are pretty wild. In some they bang the chair on the ground on its one leg a million times to see if it would break. It’s AFRDI who help guide decisions on warranty and claims that each manufacturer offers. There’s guidance on the environment that the chair would thrive in. Temperature, humidity (fabrics/leather), non-slip surfaces for those on wheels etc.
When considering the best office chair you also want to know a little bit about the desk situation because together they are a power couple like these two!
Also, do not forget to familiarise yourself with how to use the different levers in your new chair, like you would do in your new car. Test drive your new office chair in the showroom and then back in the office or home as well.
OK, So The Best Office Chair Is…
By now you’ve realised, there is no one best. This isn’t a winner takes all game. The best office chair for you will be specific to you and your needs. After reading this you’re on your way to being an expert in ergonomics. This is the concept of optimising your environment at work.
I’m not going to leave you hanging though. There is one chair I really love at the moment. It ticks so many boxes. Adjustable, sturdy, supportive. The chair is the Therapod X. Check it out.
If you’re looking for a comfy chair…
Because you’re in pain, or now spending much more time seated working from home where you’re now responsible for your own ergonomics, well, I can help.
As an occupational physiotherapist I’m able to assess your workspace and you! Together we can come up with your ideal seating solution.
This could be the Therapod X, or it could be many other great chair options out there. With the support of a great chair and a great physio guiding you through selection and any exercise rehabilitation you’ll be all sit set.
We can do this really effectively via video telehealth, or in clinic.