Why do small businesses often get chairs wrong when doing an office refit?

Imagine you've decided to give your bedroom a makeover. It's been several years since it was decorated and the carpets and fittings have been there longer than you care to remember. Probably top of your list would be to buy a nice new comfortable bed, especially if you've not been sleeping so well lately. After all a good night's sleep is pretty important isn't it? Especially if you've had a hard day at the office and it's more of the same tomorrow.

So you've enjoyed a perfect night's sleep in that new bed. However it is quickly forgotten when you get to the office and sit down in that clapped out old office seat.

After barely 30 minutes you're starting to fidget as the discomfort grows. Give it another hour and your neck and shoulders are killing you. Unfortunately this is a far too common scenario in lots of small businesses.

So what is it about office chairs that so many small businesses just don't get?

Why do small businesses overlook the importance of good office chairs?
When it comes to the time to refit the office more often than not new chairs are the last thing to be considered. Sometimes they don't even make it as part of an office refit. Why is this?

Unfortunately, the closest many small business people get to seeing new office chairs is walking around the local office supplies warehouse. There they sit rows and rows of great chromium plated brutes and all seemingly great value. Well here's the thing, most of these chairs can be summed up in a single word. Crap.

Oh sure, they feel comfortable when you sit in them for 5 minutes. What wouldn't after the wrecks back at the office. Theses sorts of chair are made to meet a price and so corners are cut with cheap components especially the ones you can't see.

Because people only see office chairs for sale is in these types of outlets they simply they know any different. And yet in larger corporations this is far less likely to happen. What's the reason?

How larger corporations better understand why staff need good chairs
Larger corporations and multi national companies generally provide the workforce with high quality chairs. How come they are better informed?

First, they employ facilities people whose job it is to find out about what is available. Often they will spend time evaluating suitable products and maybe have a select number of people in the office test competing products.

Second, because they are such large businesses they get the benefit of bigger budgets to spend on the right equipment.

Third, they are aware of the huge costs that can result if a member of staff lodges a complaint that poor equipment resulted in them suffering RSI (repetitive strain injury). In recent years large organizations have become much more aware of this sort of risk and taken steps to minimize it.

Lastly, leading chair manufacturers and their distributors make a point of targeting large companies. As a result the companies are much better informed of what is available and the benefits to staff productivity and wellbeing. Small businesses frequently get stuck with the other end of the market.

Why weak and ill informed sales people are bad news for small businesses undertaking a refit
Frequently small businesses turn to their office supplies company when it comes time to re-equip the office. On the face of it this seems like a natural thing to do. And yet far too often office supplies sales people obsess over price and how they can be the cheapest, instead of providing the client with the right answer. Because so much of what they handle is price orientated they end up selling everything around price. Value and quality get lost in the plot. Here's how it should work.

When undertaking an office refit the single most important furniture component to consider is the office seating. Think about it, it's where your staff will likely spend 8 hours everyday.

If you want to get the best out of them they need the right tool for the job. They need to concentrate on getting their work done, not worrying about the pain that butt busting chair is inflicting on them.

The problem is the office stationery supplier is rarely equipped to advise on the correct quality of chair. It's time to copy the big boys.

Calling in an office interiors specialist makes a lot more sense
As an alternative to using an office supplies company, small businesses would be far better doing a little research to find an office interiors specialist.

Take time to seek them out. Meet with them and discuss your aims and see if they seem qualified to carry out the work. Ask them for references from satisfied customers, call them up and see what they have to say.

Most cities have these sorts of knowledgable companies who can give expert advice on not only seating but all areas of office fit out.

True, you may have to spend a bit more to get what is truly right for your staff. In fact the cost of proper seating may come as something of a shock. Nonetheless, it will almost certainly be a lot cheaper than a costly legal wrangle ending in compensation for a work related health issue.

There's also a good chance a specialist might save you money by suggesting a better way of achieving what you're trying to do.

And if things are all going over budget, why not do the job in phases? Better to get the right equipment first time instead of having to ditch it and buy again in 18 months time.

One final thought. When next undertaking an office refit, involve your staff. Ask them what is the most important thing to them about the proposed refurbishment. If they have got lousy chairs don't be surprised if a new chair is top of the list.

And that doesn't mean getting them another dodgem on wheels. Just like that comfortable bed what's needed is a proper ergonomic office chair.

Let's recap on what we've covered here.


  • Small businesses often attach little importance to their office chairs
  • Large corporations know the value of providing the correct seating to staff
  • The local office supplies company is rarely qualified to advise on a refit
  • An office interiors specialist has the knowledge to provide the best advice
  • Buy the right equipment once, in phases if necessary
  • Involve your staff you might be surprised at what's important to them

What next?
Here's where you can find a short video on the 5 essential features needed on an office chair.


Why You Need A Proper Office Chair Once You Reach Fifty

In this article we're going to examine why people over fifty need to take a different approach to their office chair. We are taking a look at the following 3 points:

  1. What changes once you reach fifty?
  2. Why are some chairs not suitable for people of fifty or over?
  3. What must you have on your office chair?


So let's begin by considering what's different about your needs at fifty.

What changes once you're in your fifties?
If you have spent most of your working life in an office it's likely you have spent at least 25 years sitting in office chairs. That's an awful lot of sitting. During this time your body will almost certainly have adopted some bad postural habits, especially if you haven't always had a good chair. Maybe you're starting to notice some aches and pains? And even if you're not it's likely you will in the next few years.

Could be you're a fitness fanatic however it still makes sense to minimize any damage caused by having the wrong chair. And if you don't do regular exercise you definitely need an ergonomic office chair designed to take the daily strain sitting inflicts on the body as it ages.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking all office chairs are the same. They're not, and the wrong one can cause long term damage.

Why are some chairs not suitable for people of fifty or over?
When you were in your twenties pretty much any office chair probably seemed OK. Back then you just needed somewhere to park your butt and because your body was young enough to take the strain it likely wasn't a major problem.

Over time what was once acceptable becomes something to avoid. What do you need to steer clear of? Pretty much all cheap office chairs should be avoided because quality always comes last.

Things like the foam padding, it's usually little better than packing foam grade and after a couple of months goes flat and brittle.

Chairs that don't let you adjust the tension for your body weight. Without it you'll always find yourself fighting to get your chair to do what you want and as soon as you relax it starts working against you again.

Chairs with fixed arms particularly ones having fancy curved shapes. Unless you're very lucky all they do is push your arm and shoulder muscles into the wrong position. Not to mention the discomfort to the underside of your arms from the hard plastic.

So much for what is unsuitable, what should you be looking for?

What must you have on your office chair?
The most important feature is the ability to adjust the depth of the seat. Why? Because it allows you to set the correct distance between back and seat for your leg length. With a fixed seat you will end up with what the manufacturer thinks is right for you and usually it's anything but.

Adjustable arms are essential to properly support your arm and shoulder muscles. Padded tops will make them a lot more comfortable too, so go for this if it's available.

Highly adjustable arms often include extra features like:

  • The ability to swivel the arm pads inwards and outwards to fine tune support
  • Being able to alter the side to side width, this can really help to line them up to match your shoulder width
  • Front to back movement for more accurate positioning of the arm pads

Tilt tension adjustment lets you set the chair to recline with the right pressure for your body weight. So when you lean back the chair moves safely and smoothly with you.

An ergonomically shaped chair back that either adjusts or has some form of independent lumbar adjustment to ensure your spine is properly supported.

All these essential features will help to take the pressure and strain off your body

Won't all these features cost a fortune?
It's likely that a chair with all the right features will set you back at least $400 so there is a significant cost involved. However when you look at the alternative of continuing with poor quality chairs which may save you money in the short term, what will the long term cost be?

Imagine you require medical help from say a chiropractor, you could soon end up having to spend an awful lot more. Is it really worth the risk?

Let's quickly recap on the 3 things we've covered here:

  1. Once you reach your fifties things start to change as your body ages
  2. Cheap chairs that seemed fine in your twenties no longer cut the mustard
  3. A properly featured chair provides the correct support you need

Here's where you can find a summary of the right sort of office chairs for the over fifties.


Why Spending $600 On A High-End Office Chair Is An Investment

You would have to be insane to spend $600 on an office chair. But have you ever thought that you spend as much time in your office chair as you do in your bed? And that you invest enough in your bed to ensure that you only replace it every 8 – 10 years?

If you are spending a third of your life in the office and a third of your life in bed, it makes sense to aim to be equally comfortable in both of these important places.

How much will I have to invest for a proper ergonomic office chair?
To get the true benefits of a quality high-end chair you need to budget for an outlay of $400 or more.

Humanscale freedom chair

Humanscale Freedom

And it's quite possible to spend double this amount depending on the features and finishes you go for.

If you've only ever bought cheap chairs in the past then it may require quite a mind shift to take the plunge.

However when you consider how long a real chair will last you, it all represents good long term value for money.

No more rushing out to buy another $100 chair because the last one you had just gave up the ghost.

And as soon as you have proper chair you will notice some immediate advantages.

What benefits will I gain by investing in a high-end office chair?
Because your new chair is carefully designed to give excellent support hour after hour, you'll find yourself getting more done. With a poor quality chair you tend to find as the day wears on you start feeling worn out. Things all start taking longer to complete as you shift and shuffle trying to get comfortable.

You will notice this doesn't happen in a good chair, so you are able to keep going all day and keep up your work rate. All of a sudden that initial outlay will start to make perfect sense as your productivity increases. Nonetheless you still need to select the right model

How can I be sure it's a good investment?
Just because a chair costs a lot of money doesn't mean it offers great value. If it was that simple all you would need to do is shell out your hard earned cash. You need to think about what you like and don't like about your chair.

Some will like the idea of a mesh chair like the Aeron because it allows good air circulation when you're sitting. So if you tend to sweat easily this could be a good choice for hot summer days. And yet if you are of a skinny build, you could find its firm upholstery doesn't give the comfort you need. You would likely be much better served by a well padded chair such as Steelcase's Leap chair.

It's worth spending time reading product and user's reviews to gain valuable feedback on what's likely to work best for you.

Then there's the acid test. What's that?
Before you commit to a particular chair take time to look at the warranty offered with it. This is important because it shows the manufacturer's confidence in its product. Quite simply it's how long the maker feels its chair ought to last as a minimum.

After all what chair maker would guarantee a product for twice as long as it felt it would last, warranty claims would likely cost a fortune. Look for a minimum of 5 years, many manufacturers offer a lot longer than this. Take Humanscale for example it Freedom chair carries a 15 year warranty, there's value and confidence for you.

Let's recap on what we've covered in this article

  • Working long hours in the office every day needs the right tool for the job
  • You need to budget a minimum of $400 to get a good chair
  • Working comfort and productivity will increase significantly with the right chair
  • Take the time to research what's going to be best for you
  • Apply the acid test and heed the manufacturer's confidence in its product

So, if you spend long hours daily in an office chair and don't have the right seat it's time to look beyond cost and go for value instead. After all you wouldn't sleep on a bed made of old planks would you? So why tolerate a chair that feels the like this?

Further information
Here are links to where you can find a summary of some excellent quality chairs that offer great long term value.


How To Tell If Your Office Chair Is Killing Your Productivity

If you asked office workers what most affects their productivity chances are their office chair wouldn't be at the top of the list. For many it's regarded as somewhere to park their butt as they go about their daily tasks. And yet if it isn't up to the job it can end up being a huge drain on your productivity. The thing is this isn't always obvious. In this article we're going to look at the problem in 3 stages.

  1. How your office chair can sap your productivity
  2. How to check your chair is set up correctly
  3. Why replacing your chair maybe your best option

Let's get started.

1. Is your office chair a productivity drain?

It's often not obvious that difficulty in concentrating may be due to your chair. When you have a poor chair that doesn't support you correctly it soon starts to cause discomfort. Unfortunately this lack of comfort tends to get worse as the day goes on.

Typically people find problems begin after they have been sitting for more than an hour or so. Frequently changing position in an effort to get comfortable is a give away indicator that your chair is causing problems.

So if you find that your concentration levels start falling away during the day there is a good chance your chair is the culprit. It may be that your chair isn't set up properly so begin by taking a few minutes to run through the basics.

2. Checking your chair set up

Seat height
Start with the seat height. Make sure your feet are resting on the floor and that you legs are at an open angle. A lot of people advise an angle of 90 degrees between thighs and body. However this can cause tightness so try and open up this angle to around 110 degrees it will help your circulation and muscles.

Arm height
From there move onto chair arm position. Hopefully your chair arms adjust. You need to set them so your shoulders are relaxed when your lower arms are resting on the arm pads. If your chair has fixed arms which force your shoulders into an unnatural position it would be best to remove the arms altogether. At least you could then work a bit closer to your desk and use the top to support your elbows.

Chair back
Next adjust the chair back so that it gives good support to your lower back. And if it has a tilt tension adjustment make sure the pressure is set so you can recline comfortably when you want to relax.

Seat depth
If your chair seat depth can be adjusted make sure it's set to suit your leg length with about 2 inches from seat edge to the back of your knees.

If you've done all of this and there's no improvement there's every chance your chair is worn out. Either that or it doesn't have some of the necessary adjustments mentioned above. So where does this leave you?

3. Replacing your office chair may be the only answer

When you still can't get comfortable after running through all your chair's adjustments the only solution is to replace it. And it would be a mistake to just go out and buy a cheap chair thinking it will fix things.

It may bring temporary relief, however all the old problems will rapidly return if it doesn't have the adjustment flexibility you need. Unfortunately $100 office chairs just don't have the range of adjustments or quality of build to keep you comfortable for 6 hours or more a day. You need to look for a better solution to avoid getting caught with the same problem again

Let's quickly sum up the three points we've covered:

  1. Ask yourself whether your chair is taking your mind of your work
  2. Check your chair is set up correctly
  3. Consider replacing your chair if it is worn out or unsuitable


Further reading
In this article on how to choose an ergonomic office chair we look at the essential features you need. And here's where you can find a quick summary of quality office chairs that will support you comfortably and keep you working productively.


An Ergonomic Office Chair Offers Great Benefits: How Do You Find One?

Got A "Mike Tyson" Chair?

Do you ever feel like sitting in your office chair all day is like climbing into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson?

It buffets you from pillar to post, inflicting pain on your body. No matter what you do, the longer you're in it the more it hurts.

Until by the end of the day your dying for the bell to end the final round so you can get out of it and head off home.

Maybe it's time you went out and got an ergonomic office chair.

What exactly is an ergonomic office chair?
This is actually quite a difficult question to answer. Truthfully an ergonomic office chair has no proper definition and so is actually meaningless when describing any chair. If this wasn't bad enough, there is no government or industry standard to describe such a chair.

Consequently you have to be very careful when attempting to buy one to make sure you don't get stitched up.

How can you be misled when buying a chair described as ergonomic?
All too easily I'm afraid. Because there is no proper definition it means that suppliers can use the term to describe just about anything that has a seat, back and swivel base.

You see this all the time in discount warehouses, cheap shoddy chairs with little more than bamboo springs bearing the epithet ‘ergonomic' which magically transforms a piece of junk into something apparently worth owning.

I don't think so. So, just because it says ergonomic on the wrapper guarantees nothing. Great! How do I sift the wheat from the chaff?

Solving the ergonomic chair dilemma
Let's begin by giving the term ergonomic office chair some kind of definition. Here's how I would describe such a seat.

“An ergonomic office chair is an office chair that has been carefully designed for the user to be able to work productively, efficiently and safely as well as minimizing any feeling of fatigue or discomfort.”

OK why don't we take things a stage further and consider the actual functions such a chair needs. I believe there are 5 essential functions our chair needs to be truly worthy of the title ergonomic. Here they are:

  • 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 high-end chairs actually automate back and tension adjustments, making it even easier to set up to your personal needs. And bear in, you are going to need to invest $300+ if you want of get all the advantages that an ergonomic office chair offers.

What benefits will you gain by selecting the right chair?
You will find is very easy to adjust the settings for the way you like to work. Once correctly configured you'll notice as you move, the chair moves with you to safely and comfortably support you at all times.

You will be less aware of the chair due to its superior comfort and so find you can concentrate throughout your day's work. This results in much better productivity and focus on your work.

Because the chair is designed to give you proper support, muscles don't tire nearly as quickly. This also improves blood flow helping to keep you feeling much more alert and fresh even when tackling complex problems.

You'll know when you have everything set up to match with your body because the chair will feel like it fits like a glove. And insisting on the 5 essential functions will greatly increase your chances of doing so and avoiding the wrong chair.

Making sure you don't end up with the wrong product
Let's quickly summarize the points I've covered so you don't get landed with a liability but instead find a chair that will serve you for many years to come.

Remember there is no official description of an ergonomic office chair, so maintain a healthy skepticism about any products labeled ergonomic, especially cheap chairs.

Use my definition to point you in the right direction.

Insist on getting the 5 essential functions on any chair you buy.

Remember the benefits you will gain by picking a proper ergonomic office seat and realize you need to make an investment to get the right product.

By applying these guidelines you will give yourself a great chance of finding the right chair. After all, you surely don't want another of those Mike Tyson chairs do you?

Here's a summary of some excellent ergonomic office chairs which have been carefully designed to give you great working comfort for those long hours in the office.


How To Avoid Buying A Halloween Horror Office Chair: 3 Ghoul Rules You Need To Heed

Avoid Halloween Horror Chairs

Just a few days from now it will be Halloween and families will be having parties with kids enjoying their tricks and treats. Fortunately it’s all just harmless fun and folks have a great time as the nightmares are only make believe.

If you are looking to replace your office chair you need to avoid making for real Halloween mistakes. Because if you get it wrong the ghouls will be with you every minute you sit in your new chair.

It’s actually very easy to be sucked in by what seems like a great office chair. When you are shopping in your local office supplies store chances are you may be tempted by the glitzy display of office seating. And when you sit in the sample chair it feels comfortable too. That's not surprising, when you've been wandering around for a while it’s nice to take the weight off your feet, so it likely will feel welcoming.

It’s only when you've used a chair for an hour or two that its limitations become all too clear.

In this article we’re going to take a look at 3 key ways of avoiding buying the wrong office chair

  • Buying a chair with no tension adjustment
  • Buying a chair with fixed arms
  • Buying a chair solely on price

So let’s look at the first problem.

Don’t buy a chair which lacks tension adjustment
When you spend all day working in a desk chair it’s only natural that you want to relax and recline every now and then. Many cheap chairs have no way of altering the pressure required as you lean back in them.

What you get is a preset tension based on the manufacturer’s best guess on what’s right. You might get lucky, however for many it soon becomes a nightmare.

Light framed people find themselves gripping the chair arms and straining to get the thing to go back. And as soon as you relax the damn thing flips you forward again.

Heavy built people have the opposite problem. The chair just lurches backward without warning threatening to pitch you on the floor.

So, make sure any chair you're thinking of buying let’s you adjust the tilt tension. Some automatically adjust to suit your weight but you won’t find this feature on budget chairs.

Onto the next rule.

Don’t buy a chair with fixed arms
The right arms on an office chair are important. Humans all come in different sizes and it simply isn’t possible to cater for individual preferences with a fixed arm.

You need to make sure the arms on your chair are height adjustable. That way you can set them so your lower arms are comfortably supported with you shoulders resting naturally.

Some arms have additional features like being able to move them forwards, backwards or in and out. These arms are often called highly adjustable and the added features can be useful.

And the last rule.

Never buy an office chair just because it’s cheap
More often than not cheap office chairs turn out to be a very poor bargain in the long run. Occasionally there is an opportunity to get a genuine reduction on a quality chair, maybe a discontinued range or ex showroom item. And that’s fine.

However, what you must avoid is chairs priced around $100 or less. The reason is simple. Chairs like this are made to meet a price point. The only thing on the maker’s mind is how it can cut costs to meet the price. There are a lot of things in a task chair you can’t see and this is where corners get cut.

Low quality seat foam that goes flatter than a squashed ant after a couple months use.
Poor quality steel components that quickly wear and become sloppy or break altogether.
Cheap upholstery that just doesn't last.

Buying on price alone truly is a false economy tempting as it may seem.

So to save yourself from horror chairs:

  • Make sure the chair has tension adjustment to let you relax easily when you need to
  • Fixed arms rarely give good support; make sure you can adjust the height of the arms
  • Don’t buy solely on price; it’s a false economy which you will quickly regret.

Make these part of your selection criteria and your chair won't haunt you the rest of the year.

Here's a useful video and article on the key features that make up a proper ergonomic office chair to help point you in the right direction.


What Is The Best Home Office Chair? A Bareback To Birmingham Moment

When I was about 14 years old, I used to enjoy doing a bit of woodwork. Somehow though despite my best efforts it never quite turned out as well as I hoped.

One day I was chopping out a mortise joint in a piece of timber. It was only softwood and yet it was taking some getting through. As I hammered away Don the local builder turned up to do some work at the house. Seeing me struggling he asked to look at my chisel and exclaimed: “Good grief, your chisel is so blunt you could ride bareback to Birmingham on that blade!”

Don went to the back of his van and got out one of his chisels. He gave it a couple of licks on a sharpening stone and soon I was powering through the wood. You see I just didn't have the right tool for the job. We’ll return to this later.

What is the difference between home office working and a regular office?
If you work from home full time then the difference between how you work here or a regular office will be broadly similar. Nonetheless there are some subtle distinctions.

One difference you're likely to find is that in a home office everything is a lot closer to hand. Chances are that all the equipment you use like computer, copier, shredder, phone etc. are all in the same room.

In contrast in the typical company office they may be more spread out. When you have copying to do or documents to shred the equipment well be located centrally so it involves a walk to use them.

The other difference is the likely absence of colleagues to talk to and attend meetings with.

Why is home office working potentially less healthy?
So when you think about the contrast between the two ways of working, home office working can be a lot less healthy. Why is that?

Well, with everything so close to hand you can end up getting a lot less exercise as part of your work. No corridors to trek down or conference rooms to walk to when meeting with co-workers.

This reduced level of mobility makes it even more important to select a good office chair, one that comfortably supports you and moves as you move.

It can be a big mistake to just decide on the spur of the moment that you'll nip to Staples and grab a close out bargain. That will all depend on how you work in your office at home.

How do you work in your home office?
You need to assess how you work in your home based office. Maybe you actually travel to work at your employers each day. And your home office is just somewhere you maybe spend an hour in the evening tying up loose ends or surfing the web.

In this instance the close out option is probably OK. Although if the chair you sit in at work all day is of poor quality then a better one at home will certainly help redress the absence of comfort you suffer each day.

Now, if you work full time from home either running your own business or working for an employer then you need to avoid cheap chairs altogether. The additional lack of mobility when home working we mentioned earlier most definitely needs to be compensated for with a proper ergonomic chair.

But I can’t afford to go spending $500 on an office chair
In reality you can’t afford not to. Just like my chisel, it’s all down to having the right tools for the job. Trouble is you can’t sharpen a bad chair. You have to replace it.
Let me ask you a question. What's the value of your time $30 per hour, $50 per hour, $70 per hour? Let’s say it’s $50 per hour.

So, if you were able to work more productively and comfortably for just an extra hour a week, 12 minutes a day that chair would pay for itself in 10 weeks.

And given that the lifetime of a good chair is probably 10 years the initial outlay becomes completely insignificant. Your return would be 100 times your original investment. Let’s see how to pick the right chair.

How should you choose a home office chair?
When you pick a new office chair there are 5 critical functions you need to insist on:

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

Although most chairs come with some of these functions, relatively few have all of them. Without these critical adjustments you won’t find it possible to remain comfortable in you chair for long.

Putting it all together

  • Full time home office working involves less mobility and affects you productivity
  • Realize serious home office workers need a serious chair for proper support
  • Put aside a realistic budget, the added comfort and efficiency will pay you back in spades
  • Insist on getting the 5 essential adjustments when replacing your chair

Here's where you can find a video and article on the 5 vital features of an ergonomic office chair. And here's a shortlist of qualifying ergonomic chairs that will support you comfortably and keep you productive.


How Should You Split A Tight Budget When Buying A Desk And Office Chair?

When buying hi-fi equipment the specialist I use advises to make sure to allocate a good portion of your budget for the speakers. His reasoning makes sense because the speakers are the final link in the chain. You could have the most fantastic amplifier, however if you play it through low quality speakers you will never hear its true potential.

Setting up your office follows similar principles, especially when your budget is limited.

In this article we’re going to look at the relationship between your desk and office chair and how to apportion a tight budget.

We’re covering the following 3 areas:

  • What is the function a desk?
  • What is the function of an office chair?
  • Which should you spend more on, desk or chair?

Let’s start by looking at the purpose of a desk
Essentially a desk is a convenient work surface that forms a key part of your office setup. In human terms it represents the body’s trunk and it is what your equipment rests on.

It holds the stuff you need to interact with to complete your work. A desk is a fixture for holding your key equipment like your computer, keyboard, mouse, files etc. This is its function.

It’s obviously desirable for it to look good, have pleasing aesthetic lines and be able to handle cables and wires neatly. Nonetheless, its function is largely rudimentary.

If you had to, you could actually get by with a sheet of chipboard supported on a pair of oil drums provided the worktop was the right height and had no nasty sharp edges. Of course it would look awful and I don't suggest for a moment you would do this. My point is that if you are on a tight budget a very basic desk is all you need to perform your work. Where does your chair come into things?

What is the function of an office chair?
Returning to the analogy with your body, your chair represents your heart. Whereas your desk is unchanging, your chair is continually on the move as it supports your body throughout the day.

As you move it moves with you and as a result forms a much more active part of your work set up. Imagine for a moment trying to work in a chair which was bolted to the floor, set to a fixed height and had a fixed back and fixed arms. It wouldn’t be very long before you found it very uncomfortable to continue working. Consequently how you allocate your budget needs careful thought.

Which should you spend more on, desk or chair?
When you are working to a very tight budget, it’s far more important to spend the lion’s share of your money on a good ergonomic office chair. You need something that is going to support you and be comfortable when working under pressure.

Of course it’s tempting to plump for a funky looking desk with a fancy curved top and grab a cool looking chair from IKEA. Whilst it might all look great it won’t be long before you're finding it all uncomfortable to work at because of lack of support.

Much the best option is to go for the best seat you can afford, even if it does look a bit boring. If you have a serious workload to complete each day, comfort is much the best option. And that starts with getting the right chair.

So just to recap what we've covered here:

  • Your desk is a convenient surface that holds your essential work items
  • Your office chair is the heart of your work area and provides support and comfort
  • On a tight budget always allocate enough for a good ergonomic office chair

Just as with a hi-fi system the speakers deliver the end result. So too does your task chair when it comes to comfort and getting your jobs done when working long hours in the office.

Here's where you can read an article on the 5 essential features you should look for in an ergonomic office chair.


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.


The Basics Of Sitting Properly In Your Office Chair: How To Develop Good Habits

I was passing an antique shop downtown when I spotted some photos from the Victorian age. And interestingly they all had something in common. I was amazed. It seemed so obvious what was different between that age and our age. Back then every sat ramrod straight on their chairs.

And we just slouch. So why are we such slouchers?

What makes us disregard the way we sit?
Sitting properly is really all about understanding the ground rules of maintaining a good posture throughout your working day. The thing is we're so busy that most of us give little thought to whether we are or aren't sitting correctly. We tend to throw ourselves into our chair and work away at what we are doing and before long our body starts to protest.

The lousy posture we’re adopting is quickly signalled as our body sends us wake up calls in the form of pain. And as nobody likes pain it’s time to acknowledge change is needed and start sitting correctly. Why is sitting badly so prevalent these days?

Why don't we sit properly?
Apart from maybe being told at school to sit up properly, most of us have never been taught how to sit in the right way. As a result we tend to drop into our chairs without any thought about the need to address our work in the correct manner.

This type of unstructured sitting where we just let our body follow the path of least resistance is actually so much easier to do. Basically we’ve learned a bad habit and learned it well. The problem is it soon catches up with us because sitting poorly is unhealthy.

What happens when you don’t sit properly?
Sitting badly places enormous stresses on the body. When you back is curved forwards and rounded it opens up the disks in the back and puts your spine and surrounding muscles under pressure.

From your body’s point of view it makes it work overtime trying to support an unhealthy posture. It soon tires and its natural response is then to produce pain, the alarm signal that change is needed. If you try and ignore it the pain often spreads from maybe your lower back into the shoulders and neck as well.

All this means it’s time to unlearn these bad habits and start replacing them with some good ones, it’s actually pretty straightforward to do.

How do you sit properly?
You need to begin by making sure your seat is set to the right height. When correctly set your feet should be firmly on the floor and the angle between your thighs and your upper body should be between 90 and 110 degrees.

Next, sit with your bottom placed at the back of the seat of your chair. At the same time making sure that your chair’s back is giving good support to your lower back. When it’s properly positioned it will have the effect of keeping your back upright, which in turn tends to relieve pressure on your shoulders and neck.

And if you find the back doesn’t give you proper support you probably need to replace it with a ergonomic office chair. As a stop gap measure you may find a lumbar roll will provide you with the necessary support.

Lastly, and this is the most difficult part, keep your chin tucked in towards your breastbone. This has the effect of lengthening your spine and keeping your back properly aligned. The reason it’s the most difficult part is most of us have spent years doing the exact opposite craning our necks forward instead. Consequently, you will need to persevere with this one, but it will be worth it.

Putting it all together
Here's a quick summary of the key points I covered in this article:

  • Remember that sitting consists of some basic ground rules
  • Unstructured sitting following the line of least resistance is not good
  • Be aware of the stresses and strains poor sitting puts on your body
  • Never ignore pain, it’s a wake up call for change
  • Learn and apply good sitting habits and think about changing your office chair if it prevents you from sitting properly

If you follow these guidelines and adopt healthy sitting habits, in time your back will straighten up and become like those healthy Victorians.

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