Chair Selection Hack

There seems to be a divide when it comes to chairs.

Those who know immediately after sitting that a chair is good for them.

And those that simply need more time. At first the chair could have felt great but overtime it becomes more and more uncomfortable. These people might feel a lot of regret that they bought a really expensive chair that ‘doesn’t fit them like a glove’ (aka just sucks).

So, which category do you fall into?

I hope that this post helps to clarify your approach to finding a comfortable chair. I get a lot of questions about chairs. Really I do. In fact, it’s probably the most frequently asked question that I get. And, it’s no surprise why. Firstly, chairs are expensive and choosing the wrong chair can be very costly to you. Secondly, trying to be productive while sitting in an uncomfortable chair can really take a toll on your body. For that reason in today’s post I’m going to share with you:

One Easy Chair Selection Hack That Everyone Should Use

First things first. In any chair that you are looking to use it MUST have ergonomic features (like lower back support) that are adjustable. To find out about what features you should be looking for in an ‘ergonomic’ chair, you can check out this post. Today’s post is geared to those trying to decide which chair to use between two (or more) chairs that are considered to be ergonomic. It can be very confusing and I hope to clarify this with a very simple approach.

Many chairs today feel the same. Have you ever walked into a showroom or asked to borrow your co-worker’s chair and you couldn’t really feel the difference between them? Even for chair aficionados like myself it can be difficult too. Today with the advances in chair technology including memory foam many mid-to-high end chairs can look and feel very similar. 

At least at first.

The differences in comfort may only be apparent after you try the chair for awhile.

Here’s the thing: Rarely do we put enough time to really try out each chair before we choose to use it in our workstation.

Maybe you are making a purchase for yourself from a chair showroom. Or perhaps you are choosing between a couple of chairs that are already available in your office. I know from experience that selecting the wrong chair can lead to remorse and the ‘value’ of ergonomics in the office (aka ‘I spent X dollars on this chair and my %$*&ing back still hurts!).

If you are in charge of health and safety in your organization here is one tip that can really go a long way:

When I managed the ergonomics program of a large organization I used an innovative approach when staff wanted to try out chairs. Local chair manufacturers loaned my organization popular chairs to be housed in an ‘Ergonomic Showroom’. Any staff member who needed to get a new chair would simply sign-out a chair for 2 weeks. If after 2 weeks and they were satisfied then the chair was probably ideal for them and the chair was then purchased. 

Some showrooms or chair vendors may even deliver a chair to your workstation so you can try it out.

I understand that the process that I used wouldn’t be practical in every organization. So the rest of this post is going to give you more practical advice.

Here’s the thing: The amount that you move or fidget in your chair is directly related to how uncomfortable (or comfortable) you are in it. Often people don’t even realize that they are fidgeting! It’s really good to be aware of when you are choosing or buying a chair!

Here Is How To Do It…

The one easy hack when selecting a chair is the amount of time: When trying out chairs make sure you have at least 18 minutes of sitting with each option.

Of course more time can be better. Just like in the example that I shared above when you borrow a chair to try in your workstation for a couple of weeks.

What’s cool about this time (18 minutes) is that it’s the absolute minimum requirement for you to distinguish between similar chairs. If you know immediately (or soon into this 18 minute time recommendation) that a chair won’t work for you then that’s even better… heck you just saved yourself some time. This sitting time recommendation is useful when you are planning out your day and budgeting time to dedicate in finding a new chair. You wouldn’t want to find a chair in just a few minutes. If you visit a showroom you may need to plan for an hour (or more) to find an ideal chair for YOU!

This can definitely make your decision easier… and I hope it does!

I got the information for this article from: Cascioli, V., Liu, Z., Heusch, A. & McCarthy, P. (2016). A methodology using in-chair movements as an objective measure of discomfort for the purpose of statistically distinguishing between similar seat surfaces.Applied Ergonomics. 54:100-109

One Last Thing… 

If you liked this post, please share! It helps to get the word out!! If you are interested in more ergonomics info there quick & handy FREE Checklist that outlines the simple tactics that can Jump-Start your in-house ergonomics program. Heck, this will even be valuable to you if you are only interested in your OWN workstation! You can download it here.

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Through the administration of countless assessments in both private and public sectors, Darcie has gained a wealth of knowledge and built a successful practice in the field of ergonomics. She has extensive expertise in conducting office ergonomics assessments in large scale workplaces for all different types of scenarios, from simple adjustments to incredibly complex cases. Darcie also has vast experience in delivering training presentations on the various aspects of ergonomics “best practices” in the workplace. Darcie is a Certified Professional Ergonomist through the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics, as recognized by the International Ergonomics Association. She also has a Masters of Science, specializing in ergonomics. A little known fact about Darcie is that she once scored from half, off a free kick, in a university varsity soccer (football) match!

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