Why Buying A Branded Office Chair Makes Sense: Beware Of Deception By Description

Brands are powerful in office chairs, just like they are in many types of product. However it's important you don't get suckered into buying the wrong thing.

When you shop at the supermarket for your favorite brands you'll often see the supermarkets own version side by side with the real thing. And if you're not careful you can end up buying the look alike because they made it look almost identical.

This happens with chairs too, the only difference is you won't see the genuine article and copy sitting side by side. Even so you still need to take care to make sure you don't get misled.

How chair names and descriptions can be misleading
Sometimes unscrupulous vendors will give their products very similar sounding names to the branded chair or use words like ‘type' or ‘style' to create the illusion that you're getting the same quality as the real thing. They're trying to take advantage of the branded product's reputation. You need to be careful and watch out for these sorts of tricks.

One of the commonest terms you see used with office chairs is ergonomic. The reason it's used so freely is it gives the impression of quality and comfort. And yet there is no laid down definition of what an ergonomic office chair is. Consequently it gets added to the description of loads of really poor chairs. And because people assume it bestows magical properties on any chair which includes the description ‘ergonomic' they take it at face value and end up buying and regretting it.

This must be very frustrating for those manufacturers who do take the trouble to produce a chair that is good quality and comfortable and worthy of being described as ergonomic. So be careful of chairs labeled ergonomic. Whilst many of them are great chairs a lot aren't. Sticking with well known brands makes sense.

How do office chairs gain brand recognition?
Any supplier hoping to develop an office chair into a respected brand isn't going to do so by turning out a poor product. Creating a brand that's going to last and become popular means it's got to be well received by potential buyers. This is best achieved by offering a great chair that performs well and offers long term value for money.

Early movers who are amongst the first to buy an as yet unproven product are soon going to shout up if things aren't right. With the Internet and the popularity of social sites like Twitter and Facebook anything that isn't what it's cracked up to be will soon be discredited.

On the other hand if the product is excellent those same channels will greatly speed up its acceptance and conversion into a brand that can be trusted. This is why the major players take so much care to do everything they can to get things right. By getting broad acceptance for a chair half the job of selling it is done.

Why buying a branded office chair is a good idea
Building a successful brand can take years so any supplier who has done so will want to make sure they don't risk jeopardizing it. Look at one of the best known brand names in office seating the Aeron chair. Launched in 1994 it's still one of the most popular chairs on the market.

miller aeron

Herman Miller Aeron

It wasn't always like this though. Did you know when it was first developed Herman Miller sounded out the market and the feedback was pretty negative. However Miller bit the bullet and introduced it anyway and it soon became accepted. With over a million Aerons sold worldwide it stands to reason it must have a good bit going for it.

Major suppliers often spend years and millions of dollars to make sure that their new brand will perform as people expect. Steelcase's took 4 years to develop and test its Leap chair to make sure everything was right about it

Other companies like Humanscale, Knoll, HÅG and Neutral Posture also take great care of their brands to make sure their users are happy.

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

  • Beware of look alike products with similar names
  • Recognize that ‘ergonomic' when applied to an office chair means very little
  • Brand recognition is rarely built around a poor product
  • Buying a brand name ensures a good level of quality

Remember just like supermarkets some suppliers will try and create their version of a brand, usually at a fraction of the quality and price. Here's where you can find more about some of the most popular office chair brands from the likes of Herman Miller, Steelcase, Humanscale, Knoll, HÅG and Neutral Posture.


What Is The Best Office Chair For Short People? Fixing The Discomfort Dilemma

When you need to buy a new pair of shoes chances are you know pretty much what size you need to purchase to make sure you get a good fit. Generally speaking it’s likely you will find new shoes will be the same size each time, so it’s easy to find comfortable footwear.

Why is the right chair important for short people?
Buying an office chair is really little different to shopping for shoes. Just as you wouldn’t buy a pair of size 10 shoes when you take a 6, you need to make sure that the chair you choose is a good fit.

There's a problem though. You see office chairs aren't the same as shoes they don't tend to come in set sizes. They might be offered with low, medium or high backs. However that's more of a feature rather than a good fit. In fact, apart from the Aeron, which does come in 3 different sizes to cater for different body shapes it tends to be, one size fits all.

Average built people often get by as chair manufacturers target the typical sized person whatever that is. However, if you're short built chances are buying a one size fits all chair will only lead to disappointment and discomfort. Nonetheless with a little careful planning, it is possible to get a chair designed to suit your build.

What essential features do short people need?
When shopping for a new chair there are usually 2 major problems smaller framed people encounter and need to get right.

First, the majority of chairs have a fixed seat and so the seat depth can't be adjusted. This often presents a major challenge for those with a shorter leg length. Frequently they find that they end up sitting on the edge of the seat because the seat is too deep.

Fortunately there is a simple answer to this problem and what’s needed is to make sure the chairs you consider have a sliding seat adjustment. That way you get to set the seat’s depth to the proper position for comfortable working. Once you have the seat depth right your back is in contact with the back of the seat and so properly supported.

Second, short built people often find standard seat height adjustment ranges don't work for them. Frequently the seat doesn't go low enough and so it’s not possible to place your feet on the floor. This soon makes working uncomfortable.

To get around this problem what is needed is to replace the standard gas lift with a smaller strut. Most good seating manufacturers offer alternative gas lift struts.

Here's a quick tip for making sure you get the right size. Slip off your shoes, stand up and measure from the floor to the inside of your knee joint. Use that dimension to make sure the seat height can adjust at least an inch above and below it and you should be able to get your feet square and comfortable on the floor.

Whilst a change of gas lift won’t add much to the cost of a chair, unfortunately chairs with sliding seat adjusters do cost more, starting around the $300 level. It would be a mistake to buy a chair without these 2 features if you want to escape discomfort. So much for essential features, what should you be wary of?

What features should be avoided?
Although this may seem obvious many people tend to buy chairs on looks. Often something big and bold looks impressive and yet for shorter built people this can only result in disastrous discomfort. So resist buying chairs that merely look great. A good fit is what matters if you want to be comfortable.

Avoid chairs that don’t allow you to adjust the tilt tension. This is the setting that controls the amount of body weight needed to move the chair back. You want to be able to recline in a relaxed way and not feel you have to wrestle with your chair’s back.

Steer clear of fixed arms, they rarely suit the correct height to support your arms and shoulders comfortably. It’s much better to go for adjustable arms or even no arms when your budget is tight. Many chairs allow you to fit them at a later date. So lets see if we can shortlist some good options for seats for shorter folk.

Which chairs will work well for you?
Although you probably don't like the idea you have to realize that to get the right chair for your needs you probably need to spend between $300 and $600 and maybe more. Ouch! That's likely a lot more than you anticipated. Even so if you want to gain working comfort this is the sort of investment you need to be making.

Norwegian manufacturer HAG makes some excellent chairs to suit short people. HAG was the first company to offer sliding seat adjustment and understands the importance of working comfort. Take a look at either its H04 or H05 models

Neutral Posture is another company which specializes in seating for specific people. Its 5000 series chairs come with a huge range of options to suit your needs.

Herman Miller’s Aeron chair should also work well for you. It comes in 3 sizes and it’s likely that size A will be the most suitable model. There's a handy size chart to make sure it’s the right fit. Its open mesh upholstery is great in hot weather, although it’s a firmer sitting position than a foam padded chair.

Lets quickly recap on the key points we've covered:

  • Standard office chairs rarely work well for short people
  • Make sure you can adjust the seat’s depth
  • Check the height range suits your leg length
  • Avoid buying chairs on looks
  • Budget for at least a $300 to $600 outlay
  • Go for tilt tension adjustment
  • Avoid fixed arms
  • Look for manufacturers who understand your needs

Just like buying shoes, the right chair needs to fit you properly if you want true comfort. Here's where you can find more about the suggested seats from HAG, Neutral Posture and Herman Miller.


How eco-friendly is your office chair? Help To Protect Our Planet

There was a documentary on TV last year about the scandalous way in which old computer and electronic equipment is disposed of. It showed how obsolete equipment got loaded into shipping containers and ended up in Africa, India and China.

Here unscrupulous organizations paid local people a pittance to extract valuable metals from the old equipment at great personal risk to themselves. Not only that the toxic waste it all created was frightening as the carcasses of the stripped computers were burnt and hugely harmful chemical clouds got discharged into the atmosphere.

Fortunately, big steps have been taken in recent years to help combat this sort of thing happening with office chairs.

What is an eco-friendly office chair?
An eco-friendly chair is made using materials and components specifically designed to minimize damage to the world’s infrastructure. Typically, you will find these products are made with a high percentage of recycled materials. Not only that, they are also made in such a way that over 90% of the chair will be recyclable at the end of its life.

Fortunately many of the key players in the office seating market are taking the protection of our environment very seriously. These manufacturers go to great lengths to produce chairs that have little or no harmful materials in them.

Consequently when you choose an eco-friendly chair you have the peace of mind that you aren't creating an environmental problem at sometime in the future. How do chair components cause problems to the environment?

Which common office chair components aren’t eco-friendly?
Office chairs that are manufactured irresponsibly actually contain a surprising number of harmful components. The foam used in a lot of chairs is particularly nasty especially when it’s combined with hazardous glues that many suppliers still use.

PVC is a very common chair component that has a harmful effect on our surroundings. Another is chrome where the actual plating process creates some pretty noxious by products.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the case that the most harmful materials are also the cheapest to produce. And so the incentive to be more responsible is often hampered by the desire to remain competitive.

This is particularly true of cheap chairs, which are invariably made to meet a price point and so it becomes a case of anything goes. Regrettably, the only thing that goes is any chance of using safe planet enhancing components. Fortunately the more responsible firms rise above this and are prepared to take a stand and eliminate the harmful stuff wherever possible. In doing so will the performance of their chairs suffer as a result?

Will eco-friendly components affect my sitting comfort?
The good news about using eco-friendly components is they don't in any way compromise on user comfort. In fact, it’s fair to say they actually enhance the user experience and performance of their chairs.

The reason this is possible is because many manufacturers have taken the trouble to develop entirely new ways of making components. As a result instead of just churning out the same old stuff, they have looked at how to do things differently.

And by eliminating traditionally harmful parts they have made it possible to not only be more user friendly but also enhancing the way you work at the same time.

As a result of this drive to produce safer products new materials are now being used in a new and innovative way. In fact many of them didn’t even exist a decade ago. This is all very well, but how do I know the claims made by manufacturers are genuine?

How will I know it’s eco-friendly?
Fortunately there are strict rules for claiming that a product is environmentally friendly requiring certification for qualifying products.

Greenguard is an independent organization and certificates products for the effect they have on indoor air quality.

It all sounds a bit bizarre how can an office chair possibly affect the indoor working environment? Well, we all spend a huge amount of time sitting in offices and air becomes stale as a result. The danger arises when harmful chemicals are released into the air as products made from known problem materials are used.

Unfortunately, it’s a hidden danger and so many don't take it seriously as they can’t see or feel any adverse effects. It’s the long-term cumulative effect that matters.

Once a qualifying chair reaches the end of its life instead of it being pitched into a landfill dump, over 90% of the chair gets re-used. And to make sure that everything is above board there is an ISO standard for it. ISO 14025-EPD is a standard that makes sure products comply with a strict set of rules on end of product life.

So, if a chair claims to be environmentally safe, don't just take the supplier’s word for it. Check out what certification it has to back up its claims.

How you can help to protect yourself and the planet

  • Many chair manufacturers are making eco-friendly seats and deserve your support
  • Recognize that a lot of cheap chairs are made using harmful chemicals and components
  • New materials and ways of making things are continually improving safety and environmental responsibility
  • Look for certification as proof that claims about product performance stand up

As more and more people make the effort to buy environmentally friendly seating, hopefully it will reduce the opportunity for irresponsible people to damage the planet like the computer recyclers.

Here's where you can find more on 3 great chairs from HÅG, Steelcase and Herman Miller that really can make a difference through eco-friendliness. They are also great chairs to work in too.


Who Knew Sitting In An Office Chair All Day Could Be So Exhausting?

In a recent Tweet on Twitter by @AdamBarkerAuthor he posed the subject of this Blog by asking – Who knew sitting in an office chair all day could be so exhausting?

And it struck me how true this is for so many people who spend long hours everyday in an office chair. And yet at the same time it goes against conventional wisdom because when we feel tired and exhausted often our only wish is to sit down to rest and relax.

So How Can Sitting Cause Exhaustion?

There are a number of reasons why we can feel exhausted after sitting all day in our computer chair, so let’s examine them.

Lack of movement is a major culprit. It’s really easy to become engrossed in what you're doing. What happens is we end up in the same position for extended periods and that's not good because the human body wasn’t designed to operate in this way.

Working too long without a break is another exhausting and damaging habit. Maybe you have a tight deadline to meet and so you push yourself too hard and finish up becoming tired out because you didn’t pace yourself.

Sitting in a poor posture all day is a surefire way to wear yourself out. Often we know we are sitting poorly and still we don’t take steps to correct things and those poor aching muscles and limbs end up fatigued craving rejuvenation.

Lack of comfort caused by a poor chair can be particularly strenuous for our bodies. As the day goes on we end up becoming worn out by the constant absence of being able to get comfortable.

How Can We Combat Sitting Exhaustion?

Movement and variation of your sitting position is a great way of keeping the body toned and alert. In fact many better quality chair manufacturers such as HÅG design their chairs to encourage natural movement. So as you move the chair goes with you and provides comfortable support throughout the day.

Getting out of your chair regularly during the day helps a lot to combat sitting fatigue. Changing posture is a great boost for the body’s muscles and helps take the strain off overworked areas and gets blood pumping back to recharge them.

Doing exercises at regular intervals during the workday will further help to keep your body toned and mind alert. These needn’t be anything complicated even simple stretches and neck and shoulder routines are quick and easy to do. And it you don’t have the best of chairs you will find these simple exercises will certainly help reduce tiredness and discomfort.

Finally, let’s summarize the causes of sitting exhaustion and how best to fight it.

Causes Of Exhaustion

  • Minimal movement while sitting and working
  • Working too long without taking a break
  • Sitting in a poor posture
  • Lack of comfort due to a poor chair

Fighting Exhaustion

  • Moving and varying position while working
  • Getting up out of your chair frequently
  • Performing simple exercises in the office

And if your chair is worn out, here’s where you can find a quick summary of some quality office chairs that will help reduce sitting exhaustion.


Is Your Office Chair Eco Friendly? How You Can Help The Environment

On the face of it office chairs don't appear to be the most eco friendly products. This is certainly true of mass produced budget office seats where the manufacturer's and supplier’s energy is spent working out how they can reduce costs.

They are much more concerned with getting products to fit a price bracket and more often than not this means cutting corners.

Such products tend to contain nasty foams, glues, PVC and chrome or involve processes known to be highly environmentally unfriendly and low cost and so attractive to them.

And yet there are a number of highly responsible manufacturers who go to great lengths to make their chairs as eco friendly as possible.

A good example is HÅG of Norway who takes the environment very seriously and always produces comprehensive data on the eco friendliness its products.

Take its Futu chair which only uses 7 different materials, not only that 33% come from recycled materials and the finished product is 97% recyclable.

The majority of its products are Greenguard and ISO 14025-EPD certified so you know that they are truly friendly as these certificates aren't issued lightly, it must do what it says on the box.

Herman Miller is another manufacturer who takes the environment seriously, its Embody chair uses 42% recycled materials and is 95% recyclable and carries a Greenguard certificate.

Humanscale is yet another company whose products are highly eco friendly both its Freedom and Liberty chairs are Greenguard certified and are at least 90% recyclable.

Hopefully this is a trend which responsible manufacturers will continue to support and make our world a better place to live in.

How Can You Tell If A Chair Is Eco Friendly?

Make sure that supplier’s claims are backed up with proof, qualifying products will carry certificates like:

You are unlikely to find qualifying chairs in low cost entry level products and this sector of the market won't change much unless forced to do so by legislation. The downside of becoming more environmentally aware is it costs more to do so, however by supporting such products you will be doing your bit to help planet earth.

And there is also another big benefit from doing so, you will find the majority of these chairs extremely comfortable and supportive in use and will give you many years of great service long after the initial outlay is forgotten.


Why HÅG’s Award Winning Futu Chair Is Now Even Better: Five Great Modifications

Futu Chair

HÅG Futu Chair

The Futu chair from HÅG won a coveted red dot design award in March 2010 and has recently been further improved, these modifications make it an even better chair.

The seat foam is now a little softer than before giving better user comfort, however it is still a high quality foam which won’t flatten with use and is guaranteed for 10 years.

Additionally the foam’s contour has been redesigned and is now a little less convex in shape making it more comfortable in use.

Another great addition is the option to include soft padding to the tops of the armpads. This small improvement will be a welcome option if you find normal armrests cause pain to the underside of your arms.

The self adjusting inBalance mechanism which automatically controls the chair’s action in harmony with the user’s body movement has been tweaked too.

It’s noticeably smoother in use and those who like to lock their seat in a preset position will find the lock function is much easier to control now.

Finally, the available upholstery fabrics have been increased to give considerably more choice of finishes.

HÅG also takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously, the chair is made from 50% recycled materials and some 97% of the chair is recyclable.

There’s an interesting article in this month’s issue of Interiors Monthly about HÅG’s Futu chair, you can find the article in the September issue of Interiors Monthly.

Here's where you can read a review of the Futu chair.


Is Your Office Chair Cutting Your Life Short?

A recent Businessweek article had a sobering title Your Office Chair Is Killing You, and will be of interest to those who sit for more than 8 hours a day, which means a lot of people.

It points out how humans aren't designed to sit for hours on end. It’s only relatively recently we have all started to spend so much time sitting and this is all starting to have some nasty side effects.

From a health perspective excessive sitting encourages conditions like hypertension, obesity and high blood pressure, which is not good.

There are additional problems because all your upper body weight is concentrated on the pelvis and spine. However when we are standing and moving our weight is distributed more evenly via our legs, knees and feet.

And as if that wasn't enough to worry about it suggests exercise won't help much either, although I still believe doing regular exercise and stretching has to be a lot better than sitting welded in the same position all day.

One of the best forms of exercise after a busy day in the office is swimming because it allows a huge range of natural exercise for the whole body to take place in a natural supportive way.

The article concludes the best idea for sitting is to perch or sit in a semi-standing position using a height adjustable desk. Sit stand desks have long been popular in Europe and are now beginning to make inroads in the US too.

There are 2 excellent office seats which work well with this way of sitting.

First is the Capisco chair from HÅG, this seat looks kind of odd and yet it is a joy to sit in with its saddle style seat helping to encourage a healthier way of sitting.
Second is the Swopper stool which is also unconventional and has a spring loaded seat helping users to sit and move more actively.

Further Reading
The Businessweek article Your Office Chair Is Killing You
Review of the HÅG Capisco chair
Review of the Swopper stool


Is Your Office Chair Like Sitting In A Boat?

A lot of office chairs are just plain big and petite and slim built people find them almost impossible to get comfortable in, for some it's like having to wear size 10 shoes when you real size is a 6, not very practical.

So why does this happen? Well there are 2 reasons, first people frequently buy chairs on looks and more often than not big looks good, it carries a sense of importance.

Second manufacturers try and produce seats fitting the widest spectrum of users and consequently usually make things bigger rather than smaller. I suppose it makes some sense, a small framed user can always fit into a big chair, whereas a large framed person may not be able to sit in a small chair.

You should never buy a chair which looks big and imposing unless you are the right build for such a seat. As a rule of thumb a suitable office chair should leave around an inch at each side of the seat. So, simply measure the distance across the top of your thighs when sitting and then check it against the seat width and make sure it is a good fit for you.

Some of the better quality seating manufacturers recognize the need for producing chairs specifically designed for a petite office chair user and lighter framed people.

So, if you need a more compact sized seat take a look at HÅG H04, HÅG Futu, Aeron or a Neutral Posture 5000 series as these should work well for you.

In the next post I will take a look at seating problems big and tall users face and how to resolve them.


Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 1 HÅG Seating

Following on from my post yesterday about giving your loved one a new office chair or have them buy one for you, it's time to look at what is available.

Today we look at HÅG of Norway, I call it the world's best kept office seating secret because it should be far better known than it is and has been turning out top quality chairs for years.
Truth is it is well known and respected in Europe nonetheless in the US it is often overlooked and hasn't the same reputation, don't underestimate HÅG because it produces a host of excellent products.

Follow these links to find out more about what's on offer.


Tomorrow it's the turn of the world's largest office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, catch you then.


HÅG’s New Futu Office Chair Released In US

HÅG's new Futu chair has now been officially launched in the US, it's a great product and is the culmination of 7 years of design input by this Norwegian office seating manufacturer. As more people hear about the Futu it will help to give this under appreciated manufacturer a boost in the North American market.

I've added a full review of the Futu ergonomic office chair in the review section of the site.

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