It’s safe to say that most professionals, no matter their industry, would have encountered the term ‘ergonomics’ in their working life. While the awareness of this now familiar concept of ergonomics and its importance in relation to our health has gained the growing, focused attention of health researchers in the past several decades, the study of ergonomics is by no means a new human insight.
In the modern business world, it is not uncommon for workers to spend up to 30 hours a week seated in their office chairs. Extensive research in the field of ergonomics, conducted by health professionals world-wide, has shown that something as seemingly harmless as sitting can lead to serious health concerns if done so for prolonged periods in positions contrary to our ideal physiological design.
Can a chair really make us healthier? If you’re in a profession where you are seated most of your working day and you’re not already using an ergonomic chair, then the answer is yes. Switching out those lower quality office chairs, that have not been ergonomically designed, or even those makeshift office chairs, like the one from your dining table (it’s okay we’ve all been there) for a purpose-specific and well-designed one can have an accumulatively positive effect on our health and wellbeing.
Countless studies have discovered the positive impacts of ergonomic chairs on staff and have further highlighted the value of investing in quality task chairs, particularly for business owners wanting to improve the job satisfaction and efficiencies of their employees.
Health benefits include reduced pain through adequate posture support, increased blood circulation through correct body position and reduced stress from greater comfort which leads to higher job satisfaction. Investing in quality ergonomic chairs not only improves the individual health of employees but also fiscally benefits businesses on a wider scale. Improved staff productivity from increased mental clarity gained through comfortable working conditions as well as fewer workers compensation claims and absenteeism related to injury are all value-adds to any business’ bottom line.
Key Characteristics of an Ergonomic Office Chair:
Not sure if the task chair is ergonomic or maybe you’re on the hunt for a quality chair and need some direction? Here are some tips to help you choose your perfect chair:
When choosing your office chair, remember that not all office workers are the same, and many of us require a variety of unique customisations while working at a desk. So, why should our chairs be identical?
Ergonomic office chairs should have a selection of adjustments that can be made, to tailor the height, angle, support and lumbar cushioning to suit the various needs of your body throughout the day. Office chairs should be entirely adjustable to working styles and your physiological requirements of individuals.
2. Breathable Materials
Your office chair should allow for airflow, be comfortable and not agitate the skin. The fabric of your office chair should be breathable, preventing the chair and your body from overheating and becoming uncomfortable while seated all day. Look for high-quality fabric or mesh materials for ultimate comfort.
If moving short distances around a workstation is needed for you or your employees, getting a chair with a swivel and wheels will make moving around easier. This is very important in preventing repetitive strain injuries from leaning over and repetitive reaching.
Experts suggest that office workers need to keep their arms aligned at a ninety-degree angle to avoid strain and armrests can help to facilitate this alignment. They should be adjustable to allow each user to have enough room to rest their forearms and relieve strain on wrists and shoulders or be removable for smaller or shorter workers who find the armrest obstructive for their ideal seated height.
Ergonomic Chair Types
Dynamic ergonomic chairs, such as the iconic HAG Capisco, make it easy for users to shift between sitting, standing and perching positions throughout their working day. Frequently varying positions this way allows office workers to feel energised and therefore more focused on the task at hand. Moving between low and high working positions, all the way up to a standing position, encourages more dynamic movements which aids to significantly reduce sedentary habits, the biggest health risk faced by office workers.
HAG Capisco Chair
The fully adjustable characteristics of ergonomic office chairs such as the Therapod or the cult classic Herman Miller Aeron are what make them the top picks of health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists for their clients. The clever design and quality engineering of these chairs allows them to be a completely customised to each user to achieve optimal ergonomic positioning whilst seated at their desks.
Herman Miller Aeron Chair
Auto-adjustable chairs such as the Herman Miller Cosm are intuitively and ergonomically designed to instantly respond to each users’ body, movement and posture to provide natural balance and total support. Clever engineering of this chair is setting the stage for a new age of ergonomic seating which supports hybrid office setups by providing tailored ergonomic solutions where multiple workers will use shared workstations.
Herman Miller Cosm Chair
By Wade Larkin, Managing Director of NPS Commercial Furniture.