Just this morning I came across a news story complaining that a number of quite expensive designer office chairs were seen being carried into Vancouver City Hall (https://globalnews.ca/news/7339783/vancouver-city-hall-furniture/) . So many opinions bubbled forth in the story’s comments.
On the one hand there was the predictable “I pay your salary!” indignation. How dare the city use my hard-earned money to make some bureaucratic bottoms comfortable while I go out and do real work? Hey, my dad was a truck driver, a furniture mover. I get this reaction. The optics are… ostentatious.
On the other hand, there were the “We must make city workers comfortable so they can take care of us!” protests. How do we expect city workers to do their jobs well when they have chronic back, neck, and joint pain and suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome? Well gee. I get that too.
When I think of the huge padded driver’s seat in my dad’s big rig (forty years ago!), I remember it was pretty cushy, with a thick, supportive back. It was designed to be comfortable, because guiding a huge pile of metal while in a sitting position all day is a physical act with physical implications.
Here we have a good picture of the two major winds that buffet when you choose office seating. Complex ergonomic design, and hence comfier, more productive employees, blows you toward those expensive designer chairs. The fear of spending your limited budget on an impressive but empty designer label blows you toward making one more surreptitious Ikea run.
The reality is, of course, more complex than that. But this complexity works in your favour. There really is no need, as there may have been years ago, to choose either healthy physical comfort and beauty or reasonable cost.
Ergonomic furniture is not new. The International Ergonomics Association (https://iea.cc) was founded in 1959, after decades of research and discussion across many countries and disciplines about how the physical details of the workplace effect the worker and the work. This means that ergonomic chairs are no longer only the expensive product of cutting-edge European furniture companies, as they might have been in the 1980s.
This also means, however, that there have been generations for companies to rip off designs and make inferior copies. Cheaply-manufactured, poorly designed “supportive” seating abounds. There is still a certain level to which you get what you pay for.
The dance necessary, then, to bring both health, beauty, and fiscal wisdom to your seating purchases involves research: knowledge of the market, knowledge of the histories and processes of manufacturers, and the latest information about how sitting work – and our changing work environments – affects the human body.
We all know work environments are changing, most likely permanently. The ergonomic chair you spent six or eight hours a day in “at the office” may have been replaced by the kitchen chair you’re making do with at home until things “go back to normal”. But let’s face it – that’s not good enough anymore. This is no longer a short-term situation.
So a purpose-built desk chair, one that adjusts in all ways possible for your sitting body, is a must for your home work space. The best one you can afford, taking into consideration that your dollars should be paying for good design and durability, not merely a designer label. All those decades of research in ergonomics attest it’s worth it. Your body will thank you for it.
If you’re fortunate enough to still work in a dedicated office space with a staff, you’ll need conference room chairs as well, around that board room table. While generally less complex than “executive” desk chairs, conference room chairs should still be able to keep the human body supported and comfortable for several hours at a time. How much you invest in these depends on how long staff will be sitting in them.
Which is also true of chairs that clients and guests in your office will occupy. These are the chairs that can afford to be the least physically supportive and perhaps most visually trendy, because folks will be spending much shorter periods of time in them. Those low-priced but funky chairs that reflect your company’s cool, young vibe? Put those in the reception area.
Who knew just buying some chairs could be this complicated? Sure, you’re up to the task, but you have lots of other tasks too. For the experts at Total Visions Interiors, your office’s seating needs are part of their life’s work. Let them do what they do best and help you make the most of your furniture budget so you and your employees are consistently healthy and productive. Contact us!