Is Your Office Chair A Halloween Nightmare? How To Avoid Another Zombie Seat

With Halloween nearly here, it's timely to ask if you're sitting on a nightmare of a chair.
There are some real ghoul chairs out there. Here are some of the things which often happen with these chairs

  • Seat foam is flat and feels like you're sitting on cold concrete
  • Arms are loose or broken
  • Back no longer reclines properly
  • Upholstery is either shiny, torn or both
  • Wheels keep dropping off
  • Seat keeps sinking
  • Everything just feels loose and worn out

We often put up with a lot, however eventually there comes the time when we say to ourselves ‘that's it, I really must do something about this.'

The thing is how do you avoid ending up with another zombie chair? Like the one in the photo I took at the weekend in a local discount warehouse?

What Not To Do

cheap leather chair

FAIL! Cheap Leather Office Chair

Don't just rush out to the nearest office supplies discounter and buy another cheap chair, because 6 months down the road those ghouls and zombies will be back, and well before next Halloween.

Never buy a chair on price alone, get the functions right first, and then look at price, more on this later.

Don't be fooled by looks, far eastern manufacturers have perfected making junk look a million dollars into an art form.

Just because it's got shiny chrome legs and leather upholstery doesn't mean it has any quality at all.

Next, there's that wonderful misused word ‘ergonomic' which you see bandied about so much these days. Realize there is no precise definition for ergonomic when applied to office seating. This means the term gets abused and becomes a marketing ploy to sell you something which is anything but ergonomic.

Here's my definition of an ergonomic office chair:

An ergonomic office chair is a seat 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.

$100 will never get you a high quality chair, products sold at this price level will always be built to a target price and corners will be cut to meet the cost, typically on the parts you can't see like the foam in the seat and the back.

What Should You Do

The first thing to recognize is that you need certain minimum features, here are the five I believe are essential.

  • Seat depth adjustment for optimal leg comfort
  • Back height adjustment to properly support your back
  • Height adjustable arms for comfort and to minimize RSI (repetitive strain injury)
  • Seat height adjustment to suit your body height and weight
  • Adjustable tilt tension allowing you to recline comfortably

Here's a video and article with more about these vital features.

Take time to read some product reviews both on this site as well as sites like Amazon.

Ask for other user's opinions in Twitter, FaceBook and similar sites

Plan to invest at least $300 to get the right quality and features you need to support you safely and comfortably.

Lastly, make sure you get a 30 day return period if you do decide to replace your computer chair whether you are buying online or in person.

You will only know if you have the right chair after you have been sitting in it for a few days. Bear in mind you will probably be adjusting settings to begin with until you get things just right for you.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is they try a new chair in a big box retailer. Of course it feels great sitting in it for a couple of minutes, especially if yours is worn out.

Realize it just isn't possible to try a chair out properly in 5 or 10 minutes, it takes days to know for certain not minutes or even hours.

Next time you're looking for a new office task chair, take your time and do the research because if you do and you get it right it won't need replacing for years.

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Clash Of The Office Furnishings Industry Titans: 2 Major Exhibitions Next Week

Next week sees two major office furnishings exhibitions, one each side of the Atlantic and both well represented with office chairs.

ON chair by Wilkhahn

The Wilkhahn ON Chair

First, Orgatec 2010 in Cologne, Germany runs from 26 – 30 October, it’s held every two years and is Europe's leading office furniture exhibition. Although it covers all facets of the office furnishings market, chairs for the office will be well represented.

Amongst the exhibitors is Wilkhahn and its funky new ON chair looks intriguing. The chair’s revolutionary support system really does move wherever you move and Das Büro magazine voted it the clear winner in an evaluation of 10 different swivel chairs. The ON and other Wilkhahn products can be seen in Hall 6.1 Stand B88/89.

Meanwhile in the US NeoCon East 2010 runs for 2 days on October 28 and 29. In all there are 250 exhibitors at the Baltimore Convention Center, covering a very wide range of Architectural Products, Floor coverings, Furniture, Lighting, Textiles and Wallcoverings.

Despite the wide variety of products office seating plays a leading role as 10% of the exhibitors are office chair companies, including major players like Haworth, Herman Miller, HON, Humanscale, Knoll and Steelcase.

So, whichever side of the pond you are, each exhibition offers an excellent opportunity to see a wide range of office seating at first hand.

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Buying An Office Chair Online Is Like Tip Toeing Through A Minefield

If you ever try buying an office chair online it can be a really overwhelming experience, depending on how you go about it here are some of the things you may find.

You visit a site selling office chairs and you are presented with a scrolling page filled with 100 different chair images and they are all shouting “Buy Me! Buy Me!” and when you get to the bottom of the page it says page 1 of 4 meaning there are 400 to choose from, just how are you supposed to make an informed choice?

Maybe you decide to try Twitter for help, surely there must be someone there who can advise you? Well yes and no, these days there are a ton of spammy tweets from suppliers carpet bombing the same message nearly every time,  hardly fills you with confidence does it?

Add to that the shed load of fake reviews through multiple Twitter accounts sure the headlines sound good – “Why You Need An Ergonomic Office Chair” so you click in hope and what do you find? Well after you wade through the AdSense ads you get to a review where the English seems like it was translated from the original Portuguese by someone whose first language clearly isn't English and so you end up baling out after the first paragraph.

What about an auction site like eBay, although there are undoubtedly bargains to be had it also is not without its problems. First there is the logistics of getting the chair from one side of the country to the other in one piece should you win it.

Second you can't be sure of the condition it is in, often the image on the auction is from the manufacturer's website and even when it is a shot of the actual item photos tend to make things look better than they are in real life, it may be immaculate or it may have 200,000 miles on the clock you won't truly know until it's on your doorstep.

One of the most abused words these days is “Ergonomic” especially when used to describe an office chair and the reason is there is no clear definition of what it means, it's little more than a concept a convenient term for implied quality. It is frequently used by suppliers to enhance often poor quality seating, making it more difficult for genuine products to be heard. Here's my take on what makes an office chair ergonomic.

So what should you do to find the right chair for you?

I believe there are 5 key features you have to have on an office chair if you insist on these it will narrow the choice down considerably.

Unless you're an occasional user $100 chairs aren't the answer, at this price there are just too many components which will be a compromise on quality to keep the cost down, you need to be starting around the $350 level and even then you may not get all the features you need.

Sites like Amazon.com and the better online seating stores have user reviews and this is a great way to gauge an idea of how good something is, however remember office seating is a very personal choice so what may be great for someone else may not work as well for you. For this reason it's best to choose a site with a rock solid 30 day return policy, this way you get a good opportunity to really test it out to see if it's right for you.

Lastly, you could always take a look at my office chair reviews section which has a quick summary with links to the full reviews of some of the better quality chairs available.

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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.

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Gobble Up The Office Chair Turkey This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and it won't be long before it has come and gone. Soon you will be enjoying a Turkey feast and maybe eating a bit more than you should before curling up in front of the TV.

Quite possibly your mind will wander and start thinking about Black Friday shopping and the weekend ahead turning to thoughts about the presents you could buy for your loved ones and what you would like to receive from them.

All too soon it will be back to work and for many that is when the other Turkey in their life may rear its ugly head.

I'm talking about the humble office chair where many of us spend literally nearly half our lives sitting, – it doesn't fall far short of the amount of time we spend sleeping in our beds.

And there's the odd thing, most of us will happily spend good money on a comfortable bed and yet when it comes to office chairs we baulk at spending serious money on one. Strange.

Sitting day in day out inevitably takes its toll on our bodies and for people who don't have a proper ergonomic office chair results in back pain, posture problems and distracting discomfort.

Cheap chairs are built around one thing – price, consequently the components used on them will always be a compromise, things like low quality foam which soon goes as flat as a pancake. They simply aren't capable of providing users with the correct level of support and comfort for any length of time, with the inevitable result that back ache quickly sets off.

As the years roll on the problem simply gets worse and often results in chronic conditions needing expensive services from a good chiropractor or back specialist.

So why not invest in a proper ergonomic office chair this Thanksgiving? It may well be the best investment for you or a loved one's comfort and support when spending those long hours slaving away at the computer.

Sure it's a fair initial outlay and yet when you appreciate it will likely last for at least 10 years or more the lucky recipient will thank you many times, it will be one present they or you will really appreciate and won't easily forget.

First, a word of caution don't rush out to your local office supply store thinking you will find what you need because they have got more Turkeys than you can shake a stick at, seriously.

Unless you are fortunate enough to have a true office seating specialist nearby the best way to get a good office chair is from an internet specialist. However it needs careful planning we've all seen those sites with pages showing hundreds of chairs, makes the eyes glaze over how do you know which one to pick?

The answer is by being selective, you see most chairs don't have the essential features needed and so can be eliminated straight away. Here is an article explaining the 5 must have features for a quality office chair.

To make things simpler in sifting turkey chairs from the real McCoy I will be adding several more Blog posts discussing suitable models and manufacturers worth looking at to steer you in the right direction. Watch out for the first of these tomorrow.

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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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Will The Embody™ Sideline The Aeron For Office Seat Supremacy?

Embody ChairEmbody™, Herman Miller's new state of the art ergonomic office chair made its inaugural appearance at Orgatec 2008 in Cologne Germany yesterday.

First impressions are the design is radically different from other office chairs, not that this is a surprise as Miller have always been at the forefront of office seating innovation.

The mighty Aeron has been around for 14 years now so I suppose we were due for something new.

With a list price around $1500 there probably won't be a stampede from folks wanting to get one, although a discounted price around the $1000 mark is probably nearer what you'll end up paying.

The Embody™ looks a like a class act and I'll be adding a full review shortly.

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Orgatec 2008 Europe’s Largest Office Furniture Exhibition Is Next Week

Cous Easy ChairEurope's premier office and facilities exhibition Orgatec will be held in Cologne running Tuesday 21st to Saturday 25th October.

The biennial event is the perfect opportunity to see all the latest innovations in office design and Europe's top manufacturers will be sure to have some great new products on show.

Although office seating is just a small aspect of the products on show, there's likely to be some great seating offerings. How about this funky easy chair from Cous?

For further details on exhibitors see Orgatec 2008

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More Thoughts For Picking The Best Upholstery For An Office Chair

In my previous post on upholstery I took a look at the most commonly used covering on office chairs, fabric. Let's move on to the others.

Leather is a very popular choice of office seating covering, you should avoid cheap leathers as they won't last and often become cracked and brittle.

Ideally select a leather hide it isn't cheap however it will give years of good service with minimal maintenance, it also has the added benefit of looking better with age as it develops a patina.

For areas where dirt and grime is a major factor you might want to think about vinyl upholstery as it is very easy to clean with water and a mild detergent. It's best to stick with a plain or lightly patterned colored pattern as suggested with fabric finishes.

So to summarize my advice on office chair upholstery

  • Black and dark grey fabrics will go with most office finishes and won't date
  • Stick to plain colors or light patterns with good durability for fabrics
  • Soil protection treatment is a good idea to preserve fabric finishes
  • For leather go for hide, it's long lasting and develops a patina with use, avoid cheap leathers
  • Vinyl is a good choice for dirty or grimy areas
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Allsteel Introduces New Ergonomic Office Chair For NEOCON 2008

Acuity chair by Allsteel

The star of the show for Allsteel at NEOCON next week, will be its new ergonomic office chair model – Acuity™

The chair is aimed at the quality end of the office seating market and is intended to compete with established products like Miller's Aeron, Steelcase’s Leap and the Humanscale Freedom.

The Acuity™ looks a class act and I plan to add a review of it shortly.

 

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