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Tuesday, 17 August 2010

What should you consider when choosing a new chair?

A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Chair for You

I know what you're thinking- one chair is very much like another.  But, in actual fact, although some chairs may look the same, they can be worlds apart where it really matters.  Even the slightest change to a chair's design can make the world of difference; even a change to the foam or fabric used.

It is important to choose a chair that will fit your needs as a user.  It is no good having a chair that looks fantastic, but is uncomfortable to sit in for extended periods of time, giving you a bad back.  Here are a few pointers as to what you should think about when choosing a chair.

How to Narrow Down your Choices:-

What is the purpose of the chair?  What is the chair going to be used for?

This is the most important factor to consider, because it will affect the other decisions you make.  You need to decide what the chair is going to be used for.  For example, if the chair you are choosing is going to be used as reception seating, it may be one of the first things that your visitors see.  It will need to be aesthetically pleasing, because you want it to reflect your business positively.  If the chair is going to be repeatedly used within a specific environment, like an office, the chair needs to be functional and comfortable to sit in.

How long do you need the chair to last for?

It is always tempting to go for a chair that is as cheap as chips, but in the long run, the cheaper chairs will generally cost you more money, because they last a fraction of the time that a more expensive chair will last, and will be much less comfortable to sit in, often contributing to a user's back problems..  It will probably be more cost effective in the long run, to pay for a more expensive chair, which will be made out of higher quality materials and fabrics, making the chair more hard-wearing, comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. 

Is the chair for one specific user, or will it be used by lots of people?

If a chair is going to be used by more than one person, then we must remember that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, and we need the chair to cater for each individual effectively.  This makes the adjustability of a chair particularly important. 

Some people will be tall, whilst others will be small, so your chair shuld have a height adjustment feature.  A general guide to adjusting the chair and promoting good posture is that  your thighs should be horizontal to the ground while both feet are on the ground, and wrists should be straight whilst typing.

If you can't find a chair that would allow height adjustment, you may need to find a way to alter the height of the keyboard, so that you can have straight wrists whilst typing.  Your body should then be aligned properly with the chair and the floor.  Some chairs may give you the option of fitting shorter or higher gas lifts, if necessary.

There is also the issue of size.  If you have to squeeze in to the chair, then it does not fit, no matter how comfortable it may seem once you are seated.  Most chairs are designed to accommodate most sizes of people, but for those with more generous proportions, you should choose a chair with side adjustable arms.  There should be room between the armrests and your body.  A good office chair will come with adjustable armrests.

Quality armrests can help with tasks like reading and writing, as well as taking pressure and tension off the neck and shoulders.  Users with small builds can often get closer to the desk with elbow supports, or shorter arms (on the chair, not the person!)

How long on average is a person going to be sitting in the chair?

This links to the chair's purpose, and can be particularly important to your decision.  If a chair is going to be used for prolonged periods of time, then the chair needs to be comfortable, and easy to sit in.  A good ofice chair with proper back support will improve your posture, and will thus reduce back pain and stiffness.  Ergonomic chairs should have a good shape to them, and reflect the natural posture of your body.

The padding and design of a seat should also be considered carefully.  The front of the seat should have a shaped or waterfall front edge, because a straight horizontal front will cut off circulation to the rear of your knees.  A good tip is that you should be able to slide your fingers between the inside of your legs and the front edge of the seat.

Will the chair be stable enough?

As amusing as it may be for your colleagues to see you fall off your chair, it is not what you want, and you could really hurt yourself.  You should assure that the chair has the right amount of stability for its purpose.

Will the user need to be moving around?

I know how busy an office can get, and how often you find yourself moving around.  Casters on operator chairs can make a big difference within an office environment, adding extra mobility to the swivel motion of the chair, making it much easier to move around the desk.

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