How To Adjust And Set Up An Office Chair: Simple Five Step Cheat Sheet.

Looking at posts in forums or on Twitter and FaceBook it’s amazing how often I see comments like
“I've had this office chair for 3 years and just found how to adjust the back height.”
So in case you're not sure of all the functions on your chair here's a simple set of 5 steps on how to set it up to suit your needs.

Adjusting An Office Chair: 5 Step Cheat Sheet

Step 1 – Adjust The Seat Height
Begin by raising the seat to its full height and then gradually lower it until your feet are firmly on the floor with your legs angled slightly forwards. This is usually controlled by a lever on the right underside of the chair, or occasionally by a button.

Step 2 – Adjust The Seat Depth
Where fitted, adjust the seat depth by sliding the seat in or out to suit your leg length. Aim to have a gap of about 2 inches between the back of your knee joint and the seat edge. Unfortunately this very important feature is missing from the majority of office seats, this article explains why seat depth matters.

Step3 – Adjust The Back Height And Or Lumbar Support
Raise or lower the chair back so that it gives you good overall support, especially the bottom part of your back. If you have an adjustable lumbar support, use this to fine tune support for your lower back. On some better quality chairs which have full height backs they may be fixed, however there is normally a lumbar support to enable individual comfort.

Step 4 – Adjust the arm height and angle
Adjust the height of the arms so that your shoulder muscles are relaxed and your lower arms are at right angles to your body. Some arms also allow you to alter the angle of the pads and this is worth adjusting to give good support for the task you are performing.

Step 5 – Adjust The Tilt Tension
Where fitted adjust the tilt tension control until you can recline in your chair and the back gives natural support being neither too stiff or too easy to move when leaning back in the chair. Often times though chairs lack this function which can make reclining really awkward.

Here's a link to download my simple cheat sheet explaining the process which you can then print out if it helps. In a future post I'll be taking a look at how to address your work space properly so you don't find you are stretching or twisting unnecessarily.


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4 Responses to “How To Adjust And Set Up An Office Chair: Simple Five Step Cheat Sheet.”

  1. Regarding tilt issues with chairs – I have a chair that reclines & tilts forward and feel both mechanisms really help. The recline helps to relax and the forward tilt I find benefiical when actually writing/typing etc (things that naturally ‘take’ you forward).

    I’ve become so used to these features I wouldn’t want to be without either which make my search for a new chair difficult.

    In my opinion most manufacturers – including the large well known ones – produce chairs that lack a forward tilt. This makes me wonder (1) Is there no benefit to a forward tilt/can a chair without forward tilt offer long term health to the user? (2) am I missing out on good chairs by eliminating them if they lack a forward tilt? and (3) As I’m so used to forward tilt, is it simply a case of ‘retraining’ myself to do without it & when working in these chairs should you type or write ‘at arms length’ in order to stay in contact with the back rest and not get dragged forward by the task your doing?


  2. For whatever reason forward tilt mechanisms aren’t as popular as they once were. As you say you have been using a forward tilt chair for so long that you may well find it difficult to work in a chair without it.

    I suppose the only way you will know for sure is to try one without it and see how you react. HÅG still includes forward tilt on some of its models and while it may not offer the degree of tilt it did previously it may well be enough for you.

    In terms of staying in contact with the back rest it’s probably necessary to get fairly close to your work provided the chair’s arms don’t get in the way of the desk top. Although some prefer to work at more of an arms length which some Steelcase chairs are best for.

    You could always consider something like Varier’s Wing chair which lets the user work at a more open angle and might feel less strange than a chair with no tilt.

  3. Your comment noted Duncan. At work I have a HAG chair and may be able to get a longer trial of an HO9 in the near future.

    At home I have a HAG Balans Vital and I like it but I was advised that this type of chair is only sutiable for short periods, which is fine at home.

    Is Varier’s Wing intended as suitable for long term intensive daily office use and also – something no one ever seems to advise is – should the use actively ‘keep upright’ (to avoid slouching) on both or either the HAG Balans and the Varier Wing?

    Thank you

  4. I think testing the H09 for a number of days would be a good idea.

    As regards the suitability of using kneeling chairs for daily office use, provided the user’s core muscles are in good shape and you vary your working position throughout the day I don’t see why it should be an issue. I generally advise people to keep their old chair until they are used to the different way of sitting when using a kneeling chair.

    People do use the Varier Wing for daily office work, one of the nice features is it has a slight springing when you sit on it which is less harsh than sitting on a rigid surface.

    If practical why not take your Balans Vital to work and see how you get on?

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