Why A Leather Office Chair Isn’t Always The Best Choice: Slip Sliding Syndrome

Many people’s idea of the perfect work seat is a leather office chair. And that’s understandable because they certainly look great. And yet there are 3 things you need to bear mind with leather office chairs that can cause you problems. I learned them the hard way, but more on that later.

In this article we’re going to look at 3 reasons why a leather office chair isn’t always the best option.

  • 1. How slip sliding causes problems with leather chairs
  • 2. Why a leather chair can create premature wear on clothes
  • 3. Why a leather chair can be bad news in hot weather

But first here’s how I found out the hard way.
Some years ago my company won a prestigious office fit out for a major company and the chief executive wanted a leather chair. As we had just taken on a new range of quality office seating we decided to supply him with the best office chair in the range in black hide leather.

The chair looked beautiful, so we were confident he would be delighted with it. He had only had the chair 2 days when he rang to complain about it and how he just couldn’t sit still in it and insisted on it being replaced. I inherited the chair and soon found out it was like sitting on a greasy pole.

Why was there a slip-sliding problem with that top end chair?
The leather on the chair was a really good quality hide and was a smooth finish, without a deep grain in it. And this is how I soon discovered why the client had had such a problem with it. Because the finish was so lustrous it offered very little friction and as a result it was difficult to hold your sitting position in it.

However, the worst part was when working at a computer because it had a forward tilt mechanism designed to place the user’s body in a slightly forward posture. It literally had the effect of forcing you out of the seat and if it wasn't for the desk edge I really think you could have ended up on the floor.

Leather offers little resistance and can make it awkward to hold a sitting position and this also leads to the next problem, shiny clothes.

How a leather chair can cause premature wear on clothes
Because many leathers have a smooth finish there is little resistance between the seat’s surface and your clothes.

Consequently you tend to move around more while working in the chair. Unfortunately this can have the effect of polishing your clothes causing them to wear a lot more quickly. If you like to wear expensive clothing to work be aware that it may not last as long with a leather chair. Summer can bring about an additional problem with leather office chairs.

Why leather can be bad news in hot weather
Although some leathers are designed to breathe in use, many aren't. And so if you work in an office that isn't air-conditioned it can add further to your discomfort because it will soon have you sweating on long hot summer days. So if you are prone to sweat easily bear in mind a leather office chair may not be a good idea.

Let’s summarize the 3 key points to bear in mind with leather office chairs.

  • 1. Smooth leathers can be difficult to sit in making it hard work to sit comfortably
  • 2. Leather often causes premature wear on clothes
  • 3. Leather in hot weather can cause embarrassing perspiration problems

And what about that top of the range leather chair I inherited? I persevered with it for a couple of weeks before giving it up as a bad job and relegating it to retirement in the warehouse.

If you're still hankering after a leather office chair because you love the idea of owning one, take a look at Humanscale’s Freedom chair in Vincenza leather hide with a breathable finish.

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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.

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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.

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How To Optimize Your Office Chair With Your Workspace: Five Quick Tips

Last week I took a look at how to adjust and set up an office chair and this week I want to take this a stage further by looking at the importance of the way your task chair interacts with your working area. These simple 5 tips will show you how to get the best out of your office work environment and help avoid bad work habits.

Optimize Your Office Chair With Your Workspace

Optimizing Your Office Chair With Your Workspace

Step 1 – Create Balance Between Your Office Chair And Your Work Area
Look on your office chair as the key element of your work environment and the way you work. It needs to be the hub of your work area to give you maximum productivity and comfort.

Step 2 – Setting Up Your Primary Working Zone
This is the area contained in an imaginary arc directly within a radius of roughly 12 inches from where you are sitting. Anything you use extensively throughout your work day should be here, things like your keyboard, mouse, pens etc.

Step 3 – Setting Up Your Secondary Working Zone
This is the space immediately beyond the primary zone extending to a 20 inch radius from your chair. It should be used for things you use from time to time during the day, maybe a phone, printer, scanner etc. Depending on what your work involves will establish the items you need to have here.

Step4 – Reposition Rarely Used Items
Depending on the size of your desk you may have space outside the primary and secondary areas for things you use infrequently, possibly a fax, laminating machine, reference books etc. Often these items don't need to be on your desk at all, so only include them when you have sufficient space to do so.

Step 5 – Check To Make Sure You Got It Right
Once you have re-arranged things into what you feel is the best position keep a check to see if you got it right. You may well find something you thought you used a lot is getting relatively little use. So for the first week or so re-access things and move and alter stuff around if it makes sense to do so.

You can download a copy of the 5 step process map here.

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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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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
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New Review Of Via’s Riva Ergonomic Chair Added

Riva Office Chair

Riva Office Chair

Although Via is probably best known for its unusual Swopper stool it also produces some excellent office chairs too.

Amongst these is the Riva ergonomic chair collection consisting of a range of well engineered sturdily built task seating.

With 3 different seat sizes and 2 well proportioned back options it will appeal to a wide spectrum of different users.

Anyone from a 5 foot tall woman up to a 6 foot plus man should be able to find an option to suit them providing comfortable and supportive seating when working long hours at a computer.

If like many office workers you find that chair arms sometimes get in the way then take a look at the swing arm option. It provides a quick and easy way to swing the arms down towards the back of the chair. This can be very useful when working up close at your workstation, or maybe doing simple stretches and exercises while sitting.

The chairs have comfortable high quality foam seat and back pads and there is also an option to fit a mesh back instead.

All in all the Riva collection offers a versatile range of quality task chairs that are keenly priced when compared with some of the more well known chair brands. The full review of the Riva can be found here.

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Why Movement and Variation is Vital for Office Workers’ Posture

If you’ve ever looked at the structure of the skeleton, or one of those spine models you see in physios’ treatment rooms, then you’ll quickly appreciate the importance of movement.

Just think of all the infinite changes in position your body is able to make. Then you’ll realize variation in movement is what it is designed for.

So when you spend long hours fixed in the same position in a poor computer chair, you’re completely going against what your body is made for, and this is not good. In reality, you do move constantly, even when sitting in a bad chair.

The problem is, it isn’t supporting you properly. Even when sleeping at night, you will likely move several times during the night. Why is it so important to move and be correctly supported when sitting?

When we’re young, it doesn’t seem too important. Our body seems to be able to quickly recover. However, as we get older, things change and recovery of posture takes longer. If you ignore it for too long, the consequences can be quite serious.

You need only observe other people to see this. I recently saw a man, probably in his 60s, who had no movement in the vertebrae in his neck. The bones were fused together and as a consequence, his head was permanently pointing downwards.

He needed to read a notice board and the only way he could do it was to lean back about 30 degrees so he could read it. Don’t let something like this happen to you.

First, pay attention to pain. It’s your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. So if you have neck pain, for instance, ask yourself why.

Chances are, you’ve been sitting in the same unhealthy posture for far too long. Get up and take a stretch, do a few simple exercises to get things moving again.

Second, if you have a crappy chair and you find pain and discomfort issues are getting worse, maybe it’s time for a change.

A good quality office chair is one of the best investments you can make for your body and healthy back support. So rather than skimping and buying another cheap task chair, think about the benefits you will gain by opting for quality. Here’s a quick summary of some excellent office chairs designed to support you properly and remain comfortable when working long hours

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Why People Overlook The Significance Of Having A Quality Office Chair

Anyone spending a large part of their job sitting in a desk chair and working at a computer needs to appreciate the importance of having a quality office chair.

And yet all too few realize why they should look beyond just dropping in and buying a new chair on their way home, especially when the one they have is so uncomfortable.

Why is this?

Price conditioning. I think one of the main reasons is we have unwittingly allowed ourselves to become conditioned by price. Likely the only time we see a task chair for sale is when shopping for stationery and stuff at the local office supplies warehouse.

There are always plenty of offers on chairs, usually sub $100 and so this sets the idea in our mind of what price they are.

Next is a lack of product awareness, nothing wrong with that we can’t all be experts in everything. So we see these glitzy chairs with their levers, shiny metal bases and often leather upholstery.

We start thinking these look great and this is just what the seller wants you to think. The only problem is they are rarely great, it’s nearly always a case of beauty being skin deep.

Price resistance. When people do come across a quality ergonomic office chair, one look at the price and the reaction is who in their right mind would pay this for an office seat?

After all it’s only for sitting on, true of course and yet if you stop to think about how long you do actually sit in your chair each day what do you get, 6, 8, 10 hours a day?

Ask yourself, would you be happy with a bed which only cost $70? Chances are if you work long hours at your computer workstation you may well spend more time in your chair than your bed. Does that start to make it important to get a proper chair? I think so.

Never tried one. Another reason for rejecting a quality office chair is most who do so have probably never sat in one and therefore aren’t in a position to make such a judgement. And I'm not talking about a quick couple of minutes in an office showroom.

It’s only by spending several hours or days that you will truly appreciate the difference between a quality seat and a budget one. It’s chalk and cheese.

Here's a useful article on the 5 essential office chair functions you must insist on next time you buy a new chair, if you want to achieve true comfort.

Summary

  • You need to get beyond price alone, quality first then the cost
  • Looks isn’t a good guide to quality, don’t be fooled by surface gloss
  • If you work long hours at your desk a quality chair is vital
  • You may well be amazed how much better you feel in a quality office chair

 

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New Ergonomic Office Chair Review and Rating

I've recently posted a new review of the Shark Task Chair from Neutral Posture it's an excellent chair that will fit virtually any size of user up to 275 lbs in weight.

It's a fully featured chair, with a wide range of options and offers great value for money. You can find the review here.

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