Is Your Office Chair Stopping You Getting Your Work Done? Eliminating The Distractor Factor

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When you have the wrong office chair it's like getting off to a false start in a race. You're ready to get on with things and yet something is holding you back.
And the problem is your chair, but it's not that obvious.

How can your office chair distract you?
With the wrong chair you can often find you are distracted from your work. When you start an important task everything seems to be flowing along nicely. After a while though your attention starts to wander and maybe you feel the need to check your email or Facebook account. Something just seems to distract you and yet there doesn't appear to be a reason for it.

How lack of comfort stops your workflow
One of the biggest causes of distraction when working in the office is an uncomfortable office chair. The problem is as soon as you start fidgeting and shifting to try and get comfortable it breaks your concentration. You find your mind starts to wander and this is when you begin to slip into bad habits like checking email, looking out the window etc. So, why are some desk chairs uncomfortable?

Poor adjustability results in inflexible working
The primary reason office chairs cause discomfort is a limited range of adjustability. If you only had to work for 30 minutes in the office you could get away with pretty much any sort of chair. However when you have to put in 7 to 9 hours or more a day at your computer, it’s essential to have a seat that is fit for purpose.

After all you wouldn’t run a marathon in flip-flops and jeans. No you’d make sure you had proper running shoes and clothing. And it really is no different with a heavy workload in the office. You need a seat designed for working long hours in comfort.

Consequently, a chair that only has seat height adjustment, fixed arms and back just isn’t going to hack it. It simply isn't man enough for the task and will soon let you know as it inflicts pain on your body. And even when you can adjust the arms and back there can still be problems. How can this be?

Chair deterioration creeps up on you over time
When you first get your chair it feels great and certainly a whole lot better than the old one. And yet now you’ve had it a while those annoying traits your previous chair had seem to be returning. This doesn't happen all at once, but gradually over time as your chair seems to age prematurely.

This is really a quality issue. One of the biggest culprits in this untimely deterioration is the foam used in the seat and back. For the first few months it’s springy and supportive then as time goes on it stops springing back and instead goes flat and hard.

This is because cheap foam has been used and its low quality just isn't designed to last more than a few months before giving up the ghost. Suddenly you find you are sitting on a hard lumpy surface and the lack of comfort becomes distracting and you find it difficult to concentrate.

Low cost components begin to wear with continual use and what was initially a good firm support instead feels like a teaspoon in a tin of treacle.

Is there really that much difference between office chairs?
It’s easy to think all office seats are the same and something you replace every couple of years. And when you buy the wrong one that's exactly what happens and you get into an endless cycle of buying another new cheap chair.

A couple of years back I enrolled on a part time course at the local college and when the students met up for the first class everyone was excited to see the classroom was kitted out with new chairs.

The euphoria lasted for less than a month and it became necessary to get to class ten minutes early. Why? Because in that short period the backs had broken off at least 4 chairs, so unless you fancied sitting at a backless chair you needed to be early to grab one that still worked properly. Even when you found one that was intact they were awful to sit in for a two hour class as they were so uncomfortable.

The apparent bargain price paid by the college turned out to be anything but. And because of the price there was no guarantee. A bit like buying a dodgy auto – sold as seen. There really is a world of difference between good and poor office chairs.

So, there are good reasons why some chairs stop you getting your work done
Let’s quickly recap:

  • Uncomfortable chairs cause you to lose concentration allowing your mind to wander
  • Lack of adjustability makes it impossible to remain comfortable for long
  • Recognize cheap chairs deteriorate rapidly over time
  • All chairs aren't the same, be careful of falling continually into the same trap

Avoid hearing the double shot of that starter’s pistol signaling another office chair false start. Take care and eliminate the distractor factor when you need to replace you chair.

Here's where you can find information on picking the right ergonomic office chair that will support you in comfort, no matter how long you work.


Why Office Chairs Can Cause Problems For Short People: And How To Deal With It.

Short people tend to get a rough deal on office chairs and are frequently overlooked entirely by many manufacturers. Chair producers tend to cater mostly for average to larger framed users simply because it is the easiest route for them to move the most products.

Most short people face two challenges either their leg length or torso, and sometimes both, don't work at all well with many desk chairs.

Leg length tends to be the biggest problem. The reason for this is that the vast majority of office chairs simply don't adjust low enough to let users place their feet firmly on the floor.

Consequently this puts the lower body in an awkward and uncomfortable posture. Thankfully there are a couple of solutions to this issue.

Begin by checking whether your chair supplier offers an alternative pneumatic gas lift. Many of the better companies have special low gas lifts allowing the chair to adjust an inch or two lower. It may not sound a lot however it can often make all the difference.

The other alternative to the problem is to buy a footrest, adjustable footrests are best as they allow you to fine tune support for your feet.

Depending on your chair's features, reclining can often be a problem if it has fixed tilt tension. This is mostly a problem for lighter framed users who find themselves fighting their chair when trying to recline. Once again fixed tilt tension is designed to suit the weight of an average built person and is much too stiff for lighter people.

Make sure any chair you consider has either adjustable tilt tension or adjusts automatically to individual user weight. Typical weight ranges start at 100lbs and go up to around 250lbs or more, double check if you fall outside this range.

Seat depth is also another key adjustment missing from far too many chairs. Without it it’s often difficult to gain good leg comfort. Unfortunately there is no simple workaround for fixing this.

Low cost budget office chairs are highly unlikely to be suitable for petite users as they lack the adjustments and flexibility needed to achieve good working task chair comfort.

Fortunately a number of manufacturers do cater well for smaller built individuals by providing ergonomic chairs which will work well for you, including seat depth adjustment. It’s worth taking a look at HÅG's H04 and Neutral Posture’s 5000 series too.

Two cost effective solutions deserving investigation are Izzy’s Bailey chair and Via's Riva range.

Here's a quick summary of the key points:

  • Check if you can get a lower gas lift
  • Consider an adjustable footrest
  • Tilt tension or automatic weight adjustment is key when reclining
  • Seat depth lets you set up good upper leg comfort

Why Baby Boomers Need a Good Office Chair More Than the Younger Generation

When I reached my 50th birthday, a good friend of mine let me in on a secret. Here’s what he told me:

“When you reach 50 and wake up in the morning and nothing is hurting, you’re dead.”

I can tell you he was right.

It’s true for baby boomers too because we’re just not getting any younger, in fact it’s estimated that 7900 people a day in the US turn 60. Our bodies have spent too many years in the same posture, probably a poor one at that. So, it makes good sense to start taking care of things a bit better.

Office chairs have improved in quality enormously in the past 20 years. Nonetheless, some will have spent a good number of years before this sitting in a lot of pretty awful chairs and many still do so by buying $100 desk chairs which continue to quietly inflict pain and suffering.

All of this adds up to wear and tear on our bodies and so we start to develop aches and pains, back issues, neck and shoulder pain, wrist and lower arm troubles—maybe nothing major yet; however, they are all warning signs.

Much like a car, if you don’t keep it serviced, it will develop all kinds of problems. So too will you. As the years go by, the more important this becomes.

The Right Tool for the Job

If you still spend a good part of the day sitting at your computer at work, it’s more important than ever that you give your body the best possible support and comfort.

A good, well-designed office chair with the right functions makes comfortable working all day possible. Here’s where you will find a quick summary of suitable chairs to investigate, and you may even want to be more adventurous and consider a kneeling chair. Many people swear by them as a great alternative to a conventional seat.

Look after your body it’s the only one you’ve got.

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