When advising customers about which chair to purchase, it is important for them to remember that they will be using the chair every day, for prolonged periods of time. A good office chair will contribute to better work habits and to overall productivity. For this reason, it is not a good idea to be too frugal when it comes to the office chair.
The four main factors your customers need to consider when buying an office chair are mobility, comfort, adjustability and durability.
Parts of the chair
The backrest supports the back. For it to provide the maximum support to the lumbar region (the curve at the base of the spine), the backrest should be height adjustable and gently curved to match the natural curve of the spine.
For a chair to be considered ergonomic, a backrest should be between 30,5cm and 50cm wide. The tilt mechanism allows the backrest to maintain lumbar support.
The seat should be wide enough for a person to sit comfortably centred in the chair, with a 2,5cm space on either side, and deep enough to allow 5cm to 10cm of space between the back of the knees and the edge of the chair.
Most office chairs have a seat lift which makes the seat pan adjustable for correct positioning.
Armrests should support the arms to reduce stress from building in the shoulders, neck and the middle of the back. Customers should aim to buy a chair with adjustable armrests so they don’t interfere when the chair is pulled close to the desk or computer, not get in the way of hands and wrists.
The base of the chair should be well made in a five-star configuration to prevent tipping when someone leans back in the chair. Metal and wood bases will last longer than ones constructed out of plastic. Advise customers to select an extra-wide base for extra stability.
Most office chairs have casters. Hard casters are ideal for carpeting, while rubber-coated casters are ideal on a hardwood floor. Clients should ensure that the wheels will be alright on the type of flooring in the office.
Types of chairs
High-back (or executive) office chairs extend to the upper back, and can even support the neck and head. This relieves tension in the lower back, preventing long term strain. These chairs include features such as button-tufted back cushions, adjustable comfort controls, headrests, removable or padded arms and dual-wheel casters.
Mid-back office chairs offer support to the mid-to-upper back region and are a logical choice for cross-performance tasks. Some brands of mid-back and high back office chairs feature the pillow back style of built-in lumbar support specifically designed to relieve lower back stress.
Low-back (or task) office chairs are designed to support the lower-to-mid back region and are ideal for a range of applications. They are versatile, available in numerous styles, and can feature tilt tension control and pneumatic seat height adjustment.
There are also special chairs available for customers who are taller or larger than average. They are able to bear more weight and have a greater range of adjustability.
Did you know?
The kneeling office chair originated in Norway in the 1970s to address back problems arising from the body resting in a right-angled position when seated.
This kind of office chair has no back, and when sitting the hips shift forward, aligning the neck, spine and shoulders.
Office chairs come in an array of fabrics, in a range of different colours and patterns.
Clients who want fabric chairs should be advised to buy breathable material of a higher grade. This will be long-lasting and durable, and easier to clean. It is also advisable to get a stain-resistant coating applied to the fabric. Fabric office chairs are a convenient way to blend with the existing décor and furnishings.
Nothing says “executive” like a leather office chair. These chairs look sleek and are comfortable. Leather office chairs can have simple stitched detail to button-tufted styling, tailored leather padding to ribbed back and seat.
Remind clients that leather office chairs do require regular care and maintenance.
Vinyl office chairs can look like leather, but are more economical and easier to care for. They are available in a wide variety of styles and colours, but they are prone to cracking and are not breathable so they can cause the users to sweat. Some manufacturers provide vinyl seating with an anti-bacterial, anti-microbial coating. This makes vinyl chairs ideal for high-traffic areas.
Mesh chairs are ideal for warmer climates or people who sweat a lot. They are breathable and allow for air flow. Some types of these chairs have just a mesh back, while others have both a mesh back and seat. They make sitting for long periods of time more comfortable by allowing your customer’s back to breathe, thus promoting better circulation.
Things customers should keep in mind when choosing an office chair
- Check for ergonomic features, such as controls for adjusting the backrest and chair height;
- Check the manufacturer’s product description for the chair’s maximum weight capacity;
- Keep the type of padding in mind – the chair should be comfortable to sit in all day;
- When purchasing an executive office chair, consider buying the matching side or guest chair at the same time;
- Keep in mind adjustment controls – pneumatic office chairs are easier to use; and
- Chairs for reception area should swivel and rotate easily to allow the person using the chair easy access to the different parts of their workspace without strain or overreaching.
Many workers spend upwards of eight hours a day at their desks – and the wrong one can make them very miserable. The right desk improves productivity, creating a comfortable and ergonomic working environment. When your customers are looking to replace desks for themselves or their employees, ask them to consider these important points which will help them choose the best desk for their needs.
The first thing to ask your customer is what they will use their desk for. If the answer is mostly computer work, advise them to select a desk or workstation specifically designed for computer use. The desk should offer a space or compartment for the tower of a desktop PC, as well as built-in wiring holes or channels for electrical connections to keep cords off the floor and out of the way.
If the client’s job is paperwork-focused, they should choose a desk or workstation that has a large surface to accommodate spreadsheets, books or piles of paperwork. Workers who have to do a lot of paperwork usually require a wide range of stationery on hand, such as staplers, pens and highlighters. Ensure that a desk for this activity has ample drawer space for storage of these items.
Those customers whose jobs consist of roughly equal quantities of computer time and paperwork should consider an “L”-shaped set-up to allow for both work and meeting space. “U”-shaped desks provide even more space, but these can be very expensive.
Ask your customer to consider the work style of the person that will be using the desk. People who are messy and who spread their work out all around them will need a larger desk. Those who use a laptop and not much else will not need a big desk.
Ask your customers to consider ergonomics and space. A compact computer desk or mobile computer cart might be ideal for someone who doesn’t need a lot of space.
The desk your customer chooses should provide clearance for their legs. The standard desk is approximately 76cm from the floor. This is ideal for the average user.
When your client sits behind the desk, there should be just over a metre of space for their feet. Likewise, just under a metre should be available in between the desk and another piece of office furniture, and in front of the desk if the customer receives visitors there.
For computer-users, keyboards need to be placed at a comfortable height. Keyboards placed on traditional desks may be at too high a height and may result in significant discomfort or muscle strain for the user. Computer desks should either be equipped with a keyboard platform, or legs that can be adjusted. Be sure that any keyboard platform is large enough to hold a mouse.
Your customers should also consider reach when purchasing a desk. Any desktop equipment should be easily accessible, and there should be sufficient space so as not to overload the desktop.
If the desk has a sharp edge, consider placing a wrist pad along the edge to help prevent unnecessary pressure and pinching on the inner surface of the wrists.
Desks can be made out of a number of different materials, and your customer will need to choose based on the way they will use their desk.
Laminate is one of the most popular choices because it is both durable and good-looking. A plastic finish that is applied to a wood core, laminate is affordable, durable and can withstand more knocks, bumps and scratches than pure wood or veneer. It also comes in a wide array of colours and wood grains. Recommend a desk with a thick, high pressure laminate for long-lasting quality.
Metal or steel is the most durable choice. Although not the most professional in appearance, these kinds of desks are reasonably priced and good for long-term, heavy use or for high- traffic areas. Your customer should be able to tell the quality by the weight of the desk.
Wood or veneer is the elegant choice, usually chosen by executives. Veneer is a thin surface layer of wood glued to a more inferior base. Wood and veneer desks generally look more attractive than other types of desk, but they are typically more expensive and considerably more delicate. They are easily scuffed or damaged and are not suited to heavy use.
When your customers are looking for quality, tell them to ensure that they look at the construction of the drawers.
Metal suspension rollers show a sturdy suspension. Drawers should open and close easily while bearing weight.
Drawers should slide out to their full length, so that they are easy to access and pack.
High-quality wood drawers are assembled with an interlocking, which is stronger than drawers put together with just staples or glue. With a steel or metal desk, a good tip is to look at the drawers when they’re closed. If there is a gap where the drawer meets the desk, the desk is not set right.
Advise your customers to examine the corners and edges of a desk – there should be no fraying. Desks should also come with a warranty, which is a good indication of the quality, durability and life expectancy of the piece. Warranties can range anywhere from a year to a lifetime, depending on the price-point and quality of the desk.
Give your back a break
Standing desks are not new – Thomas Jefferson invented a six-legged “tall desk” that had an adjustable slanted top.
As we’ve all been told, sitting for hours at a time can wreak havoc on a person’s back, especially for individuals with existing back problems.
Consider giving your back a break by using a stand-up desk, where you quite literally “stand up” while working. Many users claim this work method also makes them feel more alert and productive on-the-job. Desk stools are also available to be used in conjunction with these desks.
Today’s desk is no longer the simple table with drawers of years gone by. Take advantage of the myriad of desk choices out there; many now available at relatively reasonable prices at office supply superstores. Give some thought to the considerations listed above when selecting your next work desk. It will serve as a valuable tool in establishing a comfortable, ergonomic and productive workspace.
Source: Business Knowhow
Desks at home
Advise your clients to consider a computer desk for home work spaces. They keep things neatly organised and can hide a lot of clutter. “L”-shaped desks are often a good solution if the work desk needs to share space in another room like a bedroom or family room.