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It is absolutely crucial to pick the right office chair. The decision over which to buy shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if you’re going to be spending several hours of each day sitting on the chair you end up buying. Everybody from students How To Make Sure You Get The Best Deals On Back To School Tech How To Make Sure You Get The Best Deals On Back To School Tech Going back to school can be stressful, not only because it's school but also because students often find themselves having to spend money they don't really have. After tuition and books, there's often very little... Read More to CEOs of corporations 5 Funny Videos Starring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer 5 Funny Videos Starring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer A lot of people really don't like Steve Ballmer. Perhaps because he's Mr. Microsoft, or because he was (for many years) Bill Gates' lickspittle underling. Whatever the reason, he's a figure of fun in a... Read More will face this decision at some point in their lives, and though the budgets may differ greatly, the essential elements that need to be taken into account do not.

Picking well will result in you owning a comfortable chair that will survive for many years and offer comfort, ergonomic support, and adjustable parts allowing the piece of furniture to adapt to your ever-changing needs. Picking poorly could result in you suffering a bad back or other maladies, or the need to buy a new chair in record time. It isn’t worth taking shortcuts or choosing a chair based on nothing but a funky design.

The problem is there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of office chairs to choose from. The perfect chair for everyone doesn’t exist, mainly because different people have individuals needs and wants. But there are several areas you can focus on when paring down the inordinate number of options to a handful of final choices. What follows is a short list of essential things to look for in the perfect office chair.

Adjustability

One of the reasons finding the perfect office chair is so difficult is that everyone has different requirements. The human body comes in various shapes and sizes, and therefore furniture also needs to come in various shapes and sizes. Office chairs can get past this problem by offering adjustable parts, all of which help the end user adapt the chair to suit themselves.

Being able to adjust the seat height is absolutely essential. Also important is the capacity to adjust the angle of the backrest, and (to a lesser degree) the capacity to add or remove other components such as armrests and a headrest. As a rule, the more adjustment opportunities, the better; as these give you the chance to customize your office chair until it’s absolutely perfect for you.

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Ergonomics

There is some crossover between adjustability and ergonomics, but as this is such a crucial element in finding the perfect office chair, the extra coverage is justified. It should be noted that the overall ergonomic rating of your workspace invariably involves more than just your chair, with your desk and other factors also coming into play. Thankfully, the problems associated with even the worst office desk can be overcome by the right chair.

An office chair should offer good lumbar support, which, when you sit in the chair correctly, forces your spine into the natural S-shaped curve that places the least strain on your back. Depending on personal taste, this is where a full height office chair which supports your head can also prove useful. The ultimate aim is to be sitting in a comfortable position with your body forming lots of right angles. If your office chair doesn’t provide such support then it’s clearly far from perfect.

Comfort

With all this talk of ergonomics, it’s easy to forget the importance of finding a comfortable office chair. Buying a chair that prevents you from being fatigued and hit by aches and pains is one level of comfort. But there is also a need to buy a chair with the padding and particular elements you need to be comfortable sitting in it for hours at a time.

Things to bear in mind in this regard are: how thick, soft, and luxurious the material is; how large and accommodating the frame is (especially important for those of a fuller figure); individual elements such as a headrest and armrests that you may need to feel comfortable. However comfortable your office chair is the importance of taking regular breaks away from it should be noted at this point.

Durability

It’s no use finding the perfect office chair in terms of adjustability, ergonomics, and comfort only for it to fall apart within months. So, another important factor to look for when weighing up the options in front of you is the durability of the furniture.

Two elements in particular will play a crucial part in how long an office chair will survive: the material used for the cover and the material used for the joints. Longer-lasting cover materials include leather and mesh fabric. Man-made fibers and foams, on the other hand, are liable to tear or be easily knocked out of shape. For the joints and basic structure of the chair it’s essentially metal versus plastic. Metal legs, wheels, and armrest supports will be a lot more durable than their plastic equivalents. Sadly, the durability of an office chair is closely linked to the price.

Budget

While we have left budget until last, it’s a rather crucial step in the decision-making process. Of course everybody would like to buy an office chair costing thousands of dollars, but most of us do not have the funds necessary to do so. Instead each of us has to decide on a budget and then buy the best chair we can within that budget. If you can push your spend a little higher to secure the chair that you feel will serve you best then do so.

You’ll likely already have a budget in mind, but it may be worth rethinking it if, after reading this, you change your search parameters for the perfect office chair. Remember that if you’re going to be using your chair for paid work of any kind, spending a little extra can be easily justified. The right office chair could aid your productivity, thereby potentially allowing you to earn more money.

You could save money on an office chair by building a standing desk Your Backbone Will Thank You: 6 Great Standing Desk Designs Your Backbone Will Thank You: 6 Great Standing Desk Designs Sitting can kill you or at least cause serious health issues. Unfortunately, many jobs require us to sit at our desks for many hours a day. While it's tough to change what you do for... Read More instead, but doing so presents its own unique set of challenges How To Build A Cheap Standing Desk From Ikea, And What It's Like To Use How To Build A Cheap Standing Desk From Ikea, And What It's Like To Use There's a current craze emerging for standing desks, literally desks that you stand at while working. Having spent the last five years as a self-employed freelance writer who spends most of his days sat at... Read More .

Conclusions

I have written this short guide on office chairs from the perspective of someone who works from home How To Be More Productive When Working From Home How To Be More Productive When Working From Home Is working from home (or to use the term – telecommuting) more productive than working from an office? The debate was re-ignited after Marissa Mayer's clarion call to all Yahoo employees. Just like all blah-blahs,... Read More and needs the right equipment in order to be both healthy and productive. Unfortunately it took me several years to realize the importance of a good working environment, and my back (in particular) has suffered as a result. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Buy once, and buy well.

We’d love to hear from you on your experience of choosing and buying an office chair. Did you follow the same basic guidelines as spelled out above? Is there anything else you found important when deciding which office chair to buy? If you could give one piece of advice to someone currently looking to buy an office chair what would it be? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image credits: Grafixtek, Cisc1970, Bolshakov, Steve-and-Diane, Lee Haywood, Tax Credits

  1. A. Som
    September 18, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    The absolute best office chair -- was thrown away by my girlfriend.

    'T was in Geneva Switzerland and there was a mini-sale of stuff no longer used by the US embassy. There I found a poor dilapidated baby that I knew I could bring to life. I bid my 5 Swiss Francs - about two dollars) (sealed bids in envelopes) I was notified a few days later that I could come and pick it up.

    'T was a German beauty - in its earlier life it originally sold for almost 4000 Deutche Marks - (about 1,500 US bucks.) For that money of course it could be contorted in every which direction and solid as a rock - to boot. A beauty. After some tinkering I got it back into shape but it still badly needed a working hydraulic element for vertical adjustment. That would have been 100 SF - something I just did not have.
    I went down to the repair shop's rear entrance and asked around if they had a used throw away using the same or similar element. Eventually I got what I needed in exhchange for a decent bottle of Bordeaux Chateau... which made everyone happy. They even installed it with a smile!
    A few years later I moved back to Hungary... and that was a mistake... I lost lots in the process. The gal I moved in with turned out to be an evil b... and when we split up, among the many things she distroyed was the venerable BEST office chair ever...
    However replacement babes were more easy to find than a chair of that quality!!!

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