Ergonomic Seating: A Guide to Buying Office Chairs

Practical tips to help find the perfect chair for your workplace.

Wellness, company culture, ergonomics

Every work area, whether it's a professional space, a home office, or a small desk in a kitchen or bedroom, needs an office chair. Seating has a tremendous impact on comfort and posture, factors that affect user health and productivity. Buying a chair is a big decision, but it's easy to find the right seating for any setting when you understand user requirements and available chair features.

Determine Your Needs Before Buying Office Chairs

Seating comes in sizes and styles ranging from armless stools to luxurious executive chairs. Before starting your seating search, take a look at the office environment to see who uses the chair and the type of work they do. A basic chair with backrest and seat-height adjustments may be perfect for a home office or den you only use a few hours per week, but employees who spend 8 to 10 hours per day at their computers will reap the benefits of ergonomic chairs customized to match their work habits.

Available space is also a consideration. An armless task chair looks out of place in an executive office but may be the right option for a reception area with limited room. Understand what's needed beforehand and simplify the process of buying a chair.

Look for Adjustable Seating When Buying Office Chairs

People come in many shapes and sizes, and they all have different work habits. Chairs have a broad range of positional controls that accommodate most users. Almost all office chairs have 360-degree swivel bases that enhance freedom of movement and controls that raise and lower the seat to fit users of all heights. The backrest height and angle controls and seat depth adjustments found on many ergonomic task chairs accommodate a broad range of body types and varied postures. For users who spend many hours working on a keyboard, armrests with height, width, and pivot controls can relieve shoulder and wrist fatigue and reduce the risk of stress-related injuries.

While sitting upright is best when working at a desk, a reclined position is more comfortable when reading reports, participating in meetings, or enjoying a few moments rest. Buying a chair that tilts lets users lean back and relax. Tilt tension and lock adjustments provide complete control over recline speed and position.

Chair Cushions Offer More Than Comfort

Soft padding and upholstery materials cradle the user's seat and back, but they also have ergonomic benefits.

  • Lumbar supports reinforce the natural shape of the human spine, relieving lower back stress.
  • Contoured seats with waterfall edges support the user's legs without impeding circulation.
  • Breathable fabrics and mesh office chairs allow air to circulate across the user's back and shoulders, keeping them cool while they work.
  • Padded armrests cushion elbows and forearms when users type or do paperwork.
  • Durable materials such as faux leather and treated fabrics shrug off stains and resist wear.

Buying office chairs also involves making aesthetic choices. Choosing neutral upholstery colors for home office seating can downplay the chair's presence and focus attention on other decorative elements in a bedroom or den. In a commercial setting, materials that coordinate with other furniture, wall treatments, and carpeting create a professional-looking work environment.

Choose the Right Backrest When Buying Office Chairs

Most office seating has one of three backrest styles. The small backs found on many task chairs support the lower back and allow freedom of movement. They're ideal for users who need to access file cabinets or work in offices with limited space. Many ergonomic desk chairs have mid-height backrests. People who spend long hours in the office benefit from the extra back support these products offer. Most executive chairs have high backrests that extend support to the shoulders, and some models also have headrests.

Consider Mobility When Buying a Chair

Most office seating has casters, so users can reach drawers or files without getting up. Always choose products with five equally spaced casters, often called a five-star base, to ensure seated stability. There are several types of casters available, so it's a good idea to check their compatibility with the flooring in your office. Using a chair mat provides additional protection to carpeted or hardwood floors.

To Sum It Up

There are many factors to consider when buying office chairs. Once you understand user needs and the limitations imposed by the available space, you can make an informed purchasing decision. Choose seating with adjustments and features that accommodate a variety of body types and encourage a proper seated posture to enhance efficiency and minimize the risk of stress-related injuries. The office furniture available at Staples® offers a broad range of chair styles in upholstery and finish options that match any home or office decor.