Choosing The Best Office Chair
In today's modern workplace an office chair is not optional, it is essential. The wrong chair could lead to health and safety risks, and even chronic back pain. This is why choosing the best office chair in Australia is so important, and there can be long-term health effects caused by a bad or incorrect chair.
There’s actually a quality certification system in Australia for furniture and furniture components, and the governing body for this is AFRDI.
They aim to highlight the best quality furniture and give confidence to specifiers and users with their certification model if you’re interested in purchasing a product that has this.
This guide will inform you of all the important features to consider when buying office chairs for your workplace or home.
How To Choose The Best Office Chair
Choosing the best office chair for you or your employees is so crucial for not only comfort, but for health as well. Incorrect choices in regards to the features of an office chair can cause joint, muscle, and other issues that can have lasting effects on people.
The first thing to think about is how much usage an office chair will get. Take into consideration how often people will sit down during the day; Is it mainly long periods throughout the day or shorter intervals as they are getting up quite often?
As a rule, people who spend a large proportion of their day sat at desks, on average 6+ hours a day, should consider investing in a good quality ergonomic office chair. As opposed to someone who sits for no more than 5-6 hours a day and will only use it for long periods intermittently throughout the work day.
If you fall into this category then you should invest in an ergonomic office chair. These chairs offer optimum support and comfort for extended sessions of sitting.
If, however you are going to spend 5+ hours a day on your chair we would highly recommend buying one that offers adjustable lumbar support as this can really help prevent back pain caused by bad posture.
It may not seem like much but a little bit of discomfort here or there can build up to serious back pain after prolonged use. For example, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Australians will experience chronic pain in their lifetime.
Features and Functions of Office Chairs
After you have figured out how much usage your office chairs are going to get, you need to take into consideration the features and functions of the chair. Remember, you are going to have people of different shapes and sizes with varying needs for support.
Some people may need good support for their back while others may type on a keyboard a lot and need arm rests to lean their arms on. People may be getting up and down constantly throughout the day while others could be in the same position for hours at a time.
Considering these situations and more, let’s take a look at some features than office chairs can have:
This is an obvious one as it provides customisation to suit anybody's body type. Every chair offers adjustment, but some go above and beyond with an abundance of adjustments making them completely customisable.
This is also a pretty standard feature on office chairs as it allows you to move the armrests closer or further away depending on your position. It's important to adjust them so that they are at the right height and can be rotated for increased comfortability.
The best way to determine how high or low your arms should be is by resting your hands at the side of your keyboard with palms facing down and elbows bent at 90 degrees (as if typing).
Now try leaning forward slightly from this position until one hand falls onto the surface of your desk, then bring the other arm into place and measure the distance between both hands. If you rest your arms like this while typing it means that they are straight and level with the desk which is crucial to avoid shoulder fatigue.
Most office chairs allow the seat cushion height to be adjusted but it's worth checking that the tilt control bar doesn't come into contact with the lumbar support when changed fully upright. This will mean that you can't move the seat back any further away from the desk which could have an impact on your leg room depending on how high your chair is.
This feature allows for a more customised fit by increasing or decreasing the incline angle of the backrest so it matches that of your lower back. Maintaining a proper spine alignment is crucial to avoid muscle fatigue as well as providing optimal circulation around your blood vessels. Adjusting this setting means you can take into account whether people are taller, shorter, or suffer from poor posture all together and set up the chair accordingly.
Adjustable Lumbar Support
This feature allows you to adjust the lower lumbar region of your backrest in order to provide additional support for the lower back muscle groups. The most common way to do this is by pressing a button or lever that raises a padded section vertically so it can be moved according to personal preference (some chairs allow adjustment of both front and rear parts separately). A heightened level of support will encourage good positioning while sitting as well as promote relaxation.
This feature can be particularly beneficial when using an office chair for long periods of time (5 hours+) as it will add extra support at the top end of your spine which can be helpful if you suffer from neck pain or stiffness. The headrest should not move when adjusting other settings so that your posture is maintained correctly when typing/moving a mouse. You should also check that the headrest is thick and padding enough to offer adequate support, especially if you suffer from neck pain or stiffness.
This setting allows you to rotate left and right in your office chair. While it's not exactly a necessity we would recommend going for a swivel function where possible as it can be particularly helpful when getting up from your chair, allowing you to simply spin around on the spot rather than having to twist your torso first.
These features refer to the wheels on your office chair and they come in a variety of different sizes. The thickness and material used will have an impact on their quality, particularly when adjusting from smooth flooring to carpeted surfaces.
Choosing The Best Office Chair Material
The material your office chair is made from can have a significant impact on personal comfort over prolonged periods, so it's worth spending some time considering what will suit your needs.
Some types of fabrics will be comfortable while others may be more durable. Style and colour shouldn't always come first, since somebody will most likely be spending a lot of time sitting in the chair. You also need to consider how often you will need a professional upholstery cleaning service to maintain the chairs and keep them hygienically clean.
Fabric tends to be softer and more comfortable when seated on for extended periods compared to leather (but not always), although care needs to be taken with this material due to how easily it can get dirty. If purchasing a fabric model ensure that it is made from durable materials such as polyester that will resist wear over time.
Vinyl is essentially imitation leather (also known as faux-leather) but it's also very durable. Vinyl can also come in a variety of colors to match the rest of your office décor, although care needs to be taken with this material due because it can accumulate a lot of dirt over time.
If you're looking for a model that will last for many years then we would strongly recommend considering a leather option. Leather is generally softer than most other upholstery materials, but does require extra maintenance over time (such as shampooing and conditioning it from time to time).
Mesh is great for keeping your back cool while seated and allows air to circulate in order to avoid you overheating. This particular material tends to be associated with a certain style of chair (although it can sometimes be used as an accent) so if personal comfort isn't too much of an issue then it may not be suitable for you.
Different Styles of Office Chairs
Ergonomic Office Chairs
Executive Office Chairs
Big and Tall Chairs
Mesh Office Chairs
Balance Ball Chairs
Active Sitting Chairs
Leaning Sit Stand Chairs
Making The Right Choice
Now that we have covered the features, functions, materials, and styles of office chairs in Australia, it's time to make an informed decision.
Based on the intended use of the chair, who will be using it and for how long, you should have a good idea of what is required. Keep in mind the choice of material and how often it will be used, as this will greatly influence how often it needs to be professionally cleaned.
Bacteria, dirt, and grime will accumulate on the chair and this can cause a range of issues. Properly maintaining these chairs will also determine their lifespan, so be sure to choose the best office chair that not only has all the required features and functions, but a material suitable for its usage.