As we plan the design of our office, we tend to focus on the desk and the accessories that create ambiance for the space. These items are certainly important. However, when it comes to your health and happiness, your desk chair is king. It may not be the star of the show visually, but you should invest time and effort into picking the correct one.
What can happen when you select the wrong desk chair? Back pain, neck strain, numb feet, and more. So here is a quick and simple guide to help you select the right chair for your needs.
Pretty Isn't Important
If you can find a desk chair that is both comfortable and attractive, get it. But if you have to choose between cute and comfortable, go for comfortable. There are a lot of fun options on the market right now, especially those in the Mid-Century Modern style, but if you are going to be spending four to eight hours a day in those chair, pretty is going to punish you.
Before you worry about aesthetics, look for the following.
Adjustable is best, and if you are ordering online, it is a must. If you are purchasing a chair in person, you can try it out for size to see if it places support where your body needs it.
Adjustable Arm and Seat Height
In essence, your chair should naturally support your body where it is; you should not need to place strain on your body to fit the chair. Chances are slim you are going to find a chair like is like Cinderella's slipper--perfectly made for you. This means that your ability to adjust the chair is vital. The arms should be adjusted to where they can support you as you type and the seat adjusted so that your feet can rest flat on the floor without your knees angling upward.
Your seat width needs to comfortably accommodate you without giving too much wiggle room. Larger seats may look cozy but they can place strain on your arms when using the armrests. A few inches of space on either side should be fine.
The standard here is to have about three fingers in distance between the back of your knees and the seat. When a seat is too long, it pulls you forward, placing strain on multiple parts of the body; it can also place pressure on the backs of the knees, leading to circulation problems. Seats that are too short leave you unsupported.
For many, this option is not as important, but it might be for you. Do you need to recline a bit as you work to feel comfortable? Do you prefer a stiffer chair back than most? If either of these are true, you will likely want to control the recline of your chair back.
The Right Wheels for Your Flooring
If you have carpeting, bigger wheels are better. If you have hardwood or laminate flooring, the material of the wheels matters more. Metal and hard plastic can leave scratches and gashes in your floors, so look for rubber wheels instead. If you cannot find these wheels, consider special ordering some and adding them to the chair of your choice.
Have you noticed that most desk chairs are leather--or at least imitation leather? That makes them pretty durable and certainly easy to clean. Depending on the climate where you live and your heating and cooling situation, this might be fine. Or it might be sticky and sweaty torture. Consider your needs when selecting fabric, and if you cannot find the fabric that works best for you, consider having someone you know who sews make a cover for your chair.
Finally, check to see how much cushion the chair offers. You want it to be enough that you do not feel the metal support system within the chair, but not so much that the chair is too thick. You also want cushioning that is firm, not pillowy, otherwise it won't offer the support you need?
Is there an office chair you have purchased and love? Link us to it in the comments.
Freelance writer and editor with an education background, working from home and living abroad.