Selecting an Office Chair

Ergonomics is defined simply as ‘fitting the work to the worker’. And yet all too often, office furniture, specifically desks and chairs, may be lacking in adjustability. Features to allow this principle to be put into practice. The equipment and furniture we use is part of the “work” that should be “fitted to the worker”. How can we make this a reality for two different employees, when one is 6’1” tall and the other is 5’3” tall and they are both using the same equipment?

When we walk into an office furniture/equipment store to purchase a chair, what is the first thing we look at? Usually, and unfortunately, it’s the price! However, we should be looking at the functionality of the chair first and the adjustments that it provides to ensure it meets our individual needs (i.e. stature), then looking at price point within the options that meet our criteria.

Here are a few important features to look for to simplify the chair buying experience:

Seat Height: Ideal ergonomic setup positions the thighs parallel to the ground with a 90° bend in the knees and the feet flat on the floor. Inspect the height adjustment range to ensure the seat height fits your stature.


Backrest Height: Look for height adjustment in the backrest that allows you to align he lumbar support of the chair up or down to fit within the lower lumbar curve of your spine.


Backrest Angle: To ensure you use the backrest appropriately and avoid slouching, ergonomic guidelines say the backrest angle should be set at approximately 100-110°.


Seat Pan Depth: Ideal ergonomic setup suggests a two to three finger space between the front edge of the seat pan and the back of the legs. Measure this to ensure full support of your upper legs and prevent contact stress to the back of the lower leg which can result in “perching” on the front edge of the chair. Some chairs may come with an option to adjust the depth of the seat; this can be a great feature when one model of chair is standardized throughout an office to fit the widest range of individual heights.


Armrest Height: Armrests are not necessarily required, however, when used, they should be positioned slightly below elbow level. To ensure they adjust to the correct height, sit down, interlace your finger in front of your stomach, and flap them like a “chicken wing”. If you slightly graze the armrests, they’re just right! Other armrest features, such as the ability for the armrest caps to pivot, may be a personal preference but not a necessity.


There you have it, our quick summary on how to select your perfect office chair! Good luck!

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