The Perfect Office Chair: Why Is It So Difficult To Find One?

Imagine you’ve just left your tailor’s shop wearing a $3000 suit he just made to measure for you. As you walk down street you feel like a million dollars, everything fits perfectly. The fabric feels great and you sense people’s admiring glances as you stroll on in your new suit. Perfection doesn't get much closer than this. Back at work you’ve been sitting for a while and start thinking about finding the perfect office chair.

Everyone wants the perfect office chair
Most office workers would love to own the perfect office chair, and many strive to find it. Some even achieve it. Unfortunately any office chair will by its very nature always be a compromise, a one size fits all solution.

And therein lies the problem because humans come in all manner of sizes but the majority of office seats only come in one size. Of course they all adjust so it is possible to get much closer to that perfect seat.

How close can you get to the perfect office chair?
When you buy the right office chair you can actually get pretty close to the ideal chair. It’s always going to be easier for people of average build to find a good chair, because most manufacturers cater to the average. So for them the choice will be wider and the opportunity of acquiring a great chair will be that much easier.

For those not falling within the typical parameters of the average chair size adjustment range things will be more difficult.

Who will find it more of a struggle?
Both short and tall people will find many office chairs just don’t cater for their body size and so that perfect office chair is a lot more difficult to track down. Nonetheless, some manufacturers recognize that this group of users risks getting shortchanged and so have taken steps to accommodate short and tall users by producing models specifically made to suit their frame size.

One of the best specialists in this corner of the chair market is Neutral Posture, which makes some excellent seats to serve not only short and tall people, but also light and heavy framed users too. Its seats provide a huge range of adjustments.

BodyBilt another specialist, as well as having an excellent range of ergonomic chairs, will even tailor make a chair to suit your body’s dimensions. Thus making it possible to find the perfect office chair provided cost isn't a problem. Whatever size you are, you must insist on certain features to ensure you can tailor your chair for your body.

What key features must the perfect office chair have?
Any good office chair must have 5 key features to give the user the ability to set up their chair to fit them properly. Here's what your chair needs:

  • Adjustable seat depth for optimal leg comfort
  • Adjustable back height to allow the lower back to be correctly supported
  • Adjustable Arm Height for ease of movement and minimize the risk of RSI
  • Pneumatic height adjustment to suit your body height and weight
  • Adjustable tilt tension allowing each individual user to set the correct pressure

Some top end chairs actually automate some of these features or provide fixed full height backs with lumbar adjustments to achieve the necessary user comfort. Here's where you can find a quick summary of quality office chairs, which have the essential functions needed.

Let’s end by reviewing the key points in our quest for the perfect office chair.

  • Average built people will always find it easier to find the right seat, due to greater choice
  • Short and tall users will need to look to a specialist to get the ideal chair for them
  • Make sure any chair you consider has the 5 key features listed above

Although you may not find the seating equivalent of a custom tailored suit, follow these simple guidelines and you will come pretty close and may even end up with a chair that is perfect in all respects.


How Big and Tall People Can Get Office Chair Selection Right First Time

One of the annoying facts of life for people who are above average height, weight or build is the majority of office chairs are made to fit the average user, whatever that is.

Generally speaking, people between 5’ 6” and 6’ 0”tall and weighing up to 250 pounds are deemed to be average build.

From the manufacturers’ point of view, this is the bulk of the market, so it makes sense for them to focus on this low hanging fruit. That’s all very well. What should you do if you don’t fit this closely defined size range?

Fortunately, a number of office chair manufacturers produce specific seating aimed at catering for you. Whilst this helps there is a problem, not all of these so-called “big and tall” chairs are a good choice, and one particular category needs to be completely avoided.

If you’ve spent any time looking at different models, you will probably have seen quite a number of chairs looking rather like armchairs on wheels. They are often offered in leather and look big, imposing and super comfortable, yet this sort of chair is the very one you need to avoid.

The reason for this is the lack of flexibility due to the way these chairs are constructed. The technical term for this kind of chair is a one-piece shell chair.

What this means is that the chair and seat back are all made as one piece, so they don’t move independently of each other. This is not good.

When you spend long hours in a desk chair each day, you need to be able to vary the angle between your back and legs throughout the day, as variation and movement keeps your body healthy.

Even when this sort of chair reclines the angle between you back and legs remains fixed and so you end up sitting in the same fixed position all day, leaving your muscles tired and stiff. So it’s best to avoid these armchairs-on-wheels models.

A better idea is to look at specialist manufacturers who really understand what you need and offer a comprehensive range of solutions. Probably two of the best to consider are BodyBilt and Neutral Posture. Both are excellent products for the big-and-tall user. And if you prefer not to have to make lots of adjustments it’s worth taking a look at Humanscale's Freedom chair which largely self adjusts and looks great too.


Is Your Office Chair Like Being Jammed In A Dodgem Car?

Although most manufacturers tend to make their chairs with generous sized seats, if you are very tall and or well built you may find your chair is cramped in the length or width leaving you feeling wedged into it.

This makes it very difficult to get comfortable as it restricts your movements and so consequently you can end up sitting in a very rigid way which is bad news for your posture and muscles.

Fortunately, the answer is pretty simple to fix because just as certain manufacturers realized the need to make below average seat sizes for petite users, a number also produce larger than average sizes.

Frequently these are referred to as Big and Tall chairs which is a good thing as it alerts potential buyers who they are best suited for.

A word of caution though, just because a chair is referred to as big and tall by no means makes it a good chair, it's just a name with no guaranteed level of quality.

Here are some ideas for quality built big and tall chairs from specialist manufacturers.

First, Neutral Posture really understands the sort of chair needed by well built and or tall users and its NP6000 and NP8000 ranges are well worth a look. You could also consider an Aeron it comes in 3 sizes and likely a size C will be best, you can check here on the size chart, the new Embody is another potential answer. BodyBilt is yet another manufacturer to check out

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