The Trend Towards Self-Adjusting Office Chairs: Why They Don’t Work For Everyone

Have you ever taken your vehicle in for a service and when you went to collect it felt like you just got into the wrong car? What is it about auto mechanics that seems to make them want to set your seat up as though they were racing drivers? It takes ages to get everything back to how you had it, unless you are lucky enough to have a memory button to restore your personal settings.

Self-adjusting chairs are a bit like memory button auto seats because they know how you like to sit.

We’re going to check out these 3 aspects about self-adjusting office chairs:

  1. What exactly is a self-adjusting chair
  2. Who is best suited to a self-adjusting chair
  3. Who will find them to be awkward to use


Let’s begin by looking at what exactly a self-adjusting chair is
More and more manufacturers are building in automation to their office chair designs with the idea being that the user no longer has to worry about making endless adjustments to their seat.

Typically this sort of chair senses the user’s weight and movements and the chair’s mechanism moves to support you as you work. This is a good thing because it means that your body maintains a good posture due to the chair moving to support you properly.

Another feature which is becoming more common is the use of advanced polymers and plastics in the chair’s back. This allows the chair back to adapt a much greater level of movement without harsh frame components digging into your body.

Some adjustment will always be necessary like setting the seat height and arm position, however these are largely one off settings. So who will benefit most from these auto-adjusting products?

Who is best suited to a self-adjusting chair?
Most chair manufacturers like the easy life and so consequently design their products to suit the average built person. So what is deemed to be average build?

There are no hard and fast rules, however most use data compiled about members of the military as it is an easy way to categorize the shapes and sizes that people come in.

As a rough guide a self-adjusting chair is probably going to work best for people between 5 feet 6 inches and 6 feet tall and weighing between 100 and 200 pounds. What if you fall outside these averages?

Is there hope for those of us who are ‘non-average’?
These types of chairs can be something of a challenge for both short built and tall users.

Short built people may find the chair doesn’t move easily as they work in it, especially if they are light framed. Additionally the height adjustment of the seat may not go low enough to allow you to rest your feet properly on the floor. This latter point can be fixed by using an alternative gas lift if available.

Tall users may find the opposite where the chair just seems to move too easily, this will be particularly true for heavier built people. People with very long legs could also find the chair doesn't compensate enough for good leg comfort.

And even if you are of an average build there can still be problems. Many models don't have any form of override or fine-tuning adjustment. If you are the sort of person who likes to adjust things either make sure you look at models with some form of user fine-tuning or stick with a more conventional chair.

Here’s a mistake self-adjusting chair users often fall into
Because an auto-adjusting chair automatically gives you support as you work it’s easy to think you can just spend all day in it and assume it will give your body some magical healthy workout.

In many respects it’s little different to a good quality manually adjustable chair, it just saves you the hassle of tweaking loads of settings.

Consequently, it’s just as important as it always was to get out of your chair several times a day and break up your routine. Doing simple exercises and stretching your legs won’t go away and it’s still important to do both, lest you get lulled in to a false sense of security.


  • A self-adjusting chair automates many of the mundane adjustments on your chair
  • Average built people are the most likely to benefit from this type of seat
  • Short built and tall people may well find auto-adjusting chairs too inflexible

Here's where you can read more about some great self-adjusting chairs like the HÅG Futu, Humanscale Liberty and Knoll Generation they may well help you get closer to that memory button control found on some autos.


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3 Responses to “The Trend Towards Self-Adjusting Office Chairs: Why They Don’t Work For Everyone”

  1. […] how self adjusting office chairs actually work – and whether they work for everyone? Now, you can find out. Whether you are buying a single chair for home use or a full suite of chairs to outfit an office, […]

  2. Thank you for the interesting article. From an ergonomic point of view, how can an auto adjusting chair be a good thing when the chair needs to be set up to support specific parts of the back and legs. I feel that these auto adjusting chairs will not offer the support and could potentially lead to additional problems for the user in the long run.

  3. I don’t think it’s that much of a problem, provided the chair is from a reputable manufacturer. Big players like Steelcase, Herman Miller and smaller specialists like HÅG invest a lot of time and money in developing new seating. So, apart from having to set up seat and arm height everything else is taken care of.

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