Sebastian here, with a serious subject today, one that affects anyone working in an office and those buying office furniture for their office as well. In a recent Wall Street Journal article about office chairs, author Sue Shellenbarger highlights some interesting and shocking facts about the office cubicle’s partner in crime, the office chair. We here at FastCubes knew the importance of office chairs, as we carry a full line of office chairs ourselves. But some of the statistics were surprising even for us.
Office cubicle workers spend a lot of time in their chairs, it’s no surprise. Most of them spend more time in this piece of furniture than any other, save for their bed. Or maybe you’re one of those people that work so hard your office chair IS your bed. But the point is, anything we spend this much time attached to isn’t something to be taken lightly. Millions of dollars of research has gone into “ergonomics,” which deals with how two systems interact with one another – in this case the human body and the chair. This research hopes to find how a cubicle employee can best be suited by his or her office chair, increasing comfort, productivity, and health even. Humantech, an ergonomics consulting firm states
A perfectly fitting chair has your back supported, feet planted with thigh parallel to floor, and knees at 90 degree angle. Chair height should adjust so computer monitor is just below eye level and wrists are straight when extended to the keyboard or mouse.”
Many office chairs currently in use actually have the potential to come close to this perfect fit, but employers are not doing all they can to enlighten their employees about such things. Most office chairs are complicated to the new user, and are never fully utilized to their best potential. Advanced chairs, which many employers are able to purchase for their employees thanks to bulk discounts provided by sellers, offer support for a wide range of body shapes, sizes, and positions, but are often complicated to figure out and are ignored. Companies should theoretically provide brief training on office chairs and how to use them, but many don’t.
If you are uncomfortable in your own chair as you read this, you’re not alone. In a recent survey, 86% of office works said their furniture causes discomfort. It is the most-requested chair feature, coming even before adjustability, and it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. Currently, around 10-15% of an employer’s office furniture budget is typically spent on chairs, but I submit that this number might not even be high enough. Improving ergonomics of chairs and other equipment was shown in a study to increase the productivity of a worker by an average of 17%. This means that a one-time cost now could very well pay for itself several times over in the long run.
Some employees have taken matters into their own hands, purchasing and bringing their own office chair to work. This comes with the added risk of having to protect it from would-be chair poachers, but you might find it’s worth it in the long run. Having a good chair has been proven to lower musculo-skeletal problems, and lower the rate of absences from work and errors. If you are unable to buy your own or convince your employers to do so, it’s suggested that you stand up and stretch or walk every 30 to 45 minutes to alleviate some of the effects of sitting for extended periods of time. But hopefully you can throw some of these statistics around your office and spread the word that an office chair just might be the best purchase you can make.