What Makes a Great Office Chair?

It could be argued that your chair is the most important part of your workstation setup. In fact, your seat is especially important if your job requires you to sit down for long periods of time. But what makes a great office chair, and why is it so crucial that you choose the right one?

To find out more about office chairs and what you need to look out for when it comes to choosing this piece of furniture, keep reading...

What are the best office chairs?

Office chairs are available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles, and with so many different models to choose from, it can be difficult to know that you’re selecting the best one for you. To help you make the right decision, it’s worth becoming familiar with the various types and their features.

Operator office chairs

Usually described as the ‘typical’ office chair, operator style seats are a popular choice in many workspaces. This type of chair usually has a padded, spacious seat and back section for increased comfort, making it ideal if your job requires you to sit for long periods of time. Operator style chairs normally have a range of features too, including seat height adjustability, back tilt and swivel seat functionality.

Draughtsman office chairs

Draughtsman chairs are ideal if you work at a tall surface, and they are usually available in a range of different materials, such as fabric, polyurethane plastic and vinyl. You can also choose between styles with low, medium and high backs, as well as models with gas or manual height adjustment functionality which allows you to alter the position of the chair to suit your individual requirements.

Kneeling chairs

Ergonomically designed to encourage a correct sitting position and good posture, kneeling chairs offer optimum comfort. Using a chair like this can help reduce strain on your lower back, as well as relax your joints and muscles. This style of chair has a thick, padded seat and kneeling sections, and you can choose from designs with wooden or metal frames.

Find out more about Ergonomics in the workplace.

Office stools

Office stools provide an easy transition between the sitting and standing position, making them a practical choice of seat if you tend to move around a lot. These models are often available for both short and tall work surfaces, and you should find that they feature seat height adjustability so you can alter them to suit you. Office stools usually feature supportive backrests and footrest bars to maximise comfort.

What is a good office chair for bad backs?

The truth is, using the wrong type of seat can have a huge impact on your wellbeing - especially when it comes to your back health. So, unless your office chair is just right, you may find that you feel sore and achy, and you might even notice a change in your posture. If your chair isn’t providing you with the support you need to sit correctly, you may be inclined to hunch over or slouch. In turn, this can add pressure on your lower back and lead to neck and shoulder pain.

To ensure your office chair is comfortable, supportive and allows you to sit correctly, there are a few features you may want to look out for when you’re searching for a new model...

Adjustable seat height

If your chair is at the wrong height, you might feel uncomfortable, and you could find that you end up stooping or straining yourself to view your computer screen. Ideally, you should be able to adjust your seat so that you can sit with both of your feet placed on the floor. You should also be able to alter the chair so that your forearms and wrists can rest on the office desk in front of you, as well as making sure your eyes are level with the top of the monitor.

Lumbar support

Referring to the curvature of the back section of the chair, lumbar support encourages a natural, comfortable and healthy sitting position. It also provides support to the small and middle section of your back, helping to relieve pressure on this part of your body.

Backrest tilt mechanism

To enable you to move easily within your seat, a chair with a backrest tilt mechanism is a must. This feature allows you to reposition yourself periodically, as well as giving you control over the angle of the back of the chair so you can choose whether you want to sit upright or at a slight angle.

Armrests

While they may not be absolutely necessary, armrests can be extremely useful - especially in terms of your back health. Armrests can help reduce pressure on your lower back and ease tension in your neck and shoulders too.

Swivel function

This feature provides fluid mobility, helping you to access the different areas of your workstation with complete ease, such as reaching for your telephone. Having a chair with swivel function movement means you needn’t worry about twisting your back.

How to manoeuvre an office chair for the best posture

Once you’ve sussed out which office chair is best for you, it’s important that you know how to adjust it to suit your individual requirements. For example, to ensure it’s at the right height, you could stand in front of the chair and alter it so that the highest point of the seat is just below your knee cap. You should also sit on the chair to check that you are able to keep your feet flat on the floor. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the clearance between the front edge of the seat and the back of your legs. To ensure you can sit comfortably, there should be a gap of around two inches.

In addition, you may want to adjust the backrest to make sure that you can place your lower back against it. You should also be able to sit upright with your elbows at right angles. If your chair has armrests, you should alter these to a height that suits you.

Are expensive office chairs worth it?

There’s no denying that office chairs vary in price, and it could be argued that the more expensive they are, the better the model. While it is ultimately up to you how much you spend on this part of your desk setup, it’s important to remember that it is possible to find chairs that are great value for money and tick all the right boxes. So, as long as your chair has been designed to include all of the features you need to sit comfortably throughout your working day, you can’t go too far wrong.

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