What is the best office chair?

Invisible ChairI see this question crop up from time to time in blogs and LinkedIn postings. If you are thinking about ergonomics considerations, the first response is (as usual) “it depends”.

My next observation is that anyone responding by naming a specific product is either unqualified to answer or should know better. Some might add a third category of respondent, the office chair salesman, but I would contest that they are, too often, in one or both of the first two categories!

I often draw parallels between the workplace and driving scenarios, since so many adults are drivers. Would you ask someone what is the best car? If so, you would certainly expect a barrage of further questions: What is your budget? How many seats do you need? Are you the only person to be considered or do you have family requirements? Is image important? Fuel economy? The list goes on.

Choosing a chair is a similar process so I would recommend rephrasing the question to “How do I choose an office chair? (Or study chair, or laboratory chair, or control room chair, etc.). I would then subdivide my answer again into choosing a chair for yourself and choosing a chair for your team, department or organisation.

… but that will need a few more blogs!

How do I choose an office chair (for myself)?” provides a detailed action plan.

6 Responses to What is the best office chair?

  1. […] ‘How much should I stand at work?’ is a question we are asked frequently but, like ‘What is the best office chair?’, it is one of those ‘not really the right question’ questions. Thanks to the reach and […]

  2. Gary Knipe says:

    Hi Guy

    Great discussion and you will no doubt be undated with responses. Proof in the pudding is in the eating and not only are you right in terms of the assessment process to meet individual specific need; including multi use office based scenarios, adequate training on use of chair but people must be able to evaluate and trial before they buy. People can also sit on what we perceive to be an ergonomic and sometimes very expensive chair badly; behaviour takes time to change! Supervision is a legal requirement in the workplace and should be considered in the overall risk management approach. There is a lot of science behind building a chair to meet the population need but with direction and support can we only determine suitability. Regardless of service or supplier, I must say we have not had any negative feedback following an evaluation in the workplace plus ensuring compatibility with other equipment/work surface approach. Looking forward to the key summary findings of your key question above.

    Best wishes

    Gary

    • Guy Osmond says:

      Thanks for your comments, Gary. I agree that user behaviour is a crucial part of the user/chair relationship, which is why I strongly recommend that users should receive training when the chair is delivered. See Item 11 in my subsequent blog, “How do I choose an office chair (for myself)?”. With regard to “key findings”, I have no plans to try and identify one – or even a shortlist – of best chairs because my answer will always be “it depends”. The blog I have just mentioned addresses the key processes for an individual to arrive at the “best chair for them”.

  3. […] I see the question “what is the best office chair?” online, I just want to shout “wrong question” at my screen. Unfortunately, such […]

    • Nigel Corlett says:

      Guy:

      Very good discussion. Yu had my little book, “Sitting at Work” and I do not expect that it suits everyone. But I do thnk that you might think about those who sit at desks, of which there are still many, and who are bound to have a flattened lumbar curve from a horizontal seat. Where people have to spend a large part of their work time at a desk, a seat shape which retains the lumbar curve is really essential, and no provision of aa curved backrest at the lumbar level will substitute…you cannot push a flattened lumbar spine back into a curve!
      Pity we cannot get some famous person to shout about it…favourably of course! Your photo of Einstein and the chair, when you sold some to the waxworks, was great, but he’s not available any more.
      Good wishes for 2014
      Nigel
      beencor12@yahoo.co.uk

      • Guy Osmond says:

        Thanks for your feedback, Nigel. I am delighted to have an ergonomist of your reputation responding to my thoughts! As we have discussed in the past, the office furniture market is conservative when it comes to seating and it is a commercial reality that unique or revolutionary designs can only hope to gain traction if they are promoted by enormous international manufacturers with substantial marketing budgets and the long-term determination to support a slow ROI initially. Designs from smaller participants can probably only ever expect to be niche, no matter how brilliant the design rationale or delivery!

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