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Ergonomic Office Chairs: Keeping It Simple

When selecting an ergonomic office chair, it is easy to make the common mistake of selecting the one with the most buttons and levers. Adjustment is clearly important to provide adequate support for the user but is it all becoming a little too complicated?

Modern office chair designs offer many adjustment functions as standard and it is, without doubt, beneficial to be able to adjust your office chair to suit your particular body shape or weight. Adequate support for the lumbar region, coupled with freedom of movement is essential for employee wellbeing in the workplace, preventing long-term injury. Just imagine, for a moment, that you have received your new office chair and you are presented with an instruction booklet for the following:

  • Seat height adjustment
  • Height adjustable arms
  • Sliding or pivoting arm pads
  • Arm width adjustment
  • Sliding seat to adjust seat depth
  • Back-rest height adjustment
  • Recline mechanism with tilt limiters
  • Recline resistance control
  • Lumbar support height adjustment
  • Lumbar support tension
  • Headrest height adjustment

If your chair is for your own personal use, it is not such a problem to adjust each function as it is likely that you will, after some trial and error, find the optimum settings for a well supported, comfortable seated position. Just think, however, how awkward this would be for a hot desk or call centre situation, where more than one person is using the chair on a regular basis. It, simply, would not be practical to adjust everything each time you started your working shift.

Many ergonomic chair designers have realized this and are designing office chairs with simplicity of use in mind. Herman Miller has introduced several chairs with minimal back-rest adjustment. The Sayl and Embody Chairs have very flexible back rest designs which mould to the shape of the spine, reducing the need for complicated adjustments. A great example of simplicity in design is the Humanscale Freedom Chair. It has four basic adjustments seat height, seat depth, back-rest height and arm height. The Freedom Chair recline mechanism does not have a lock as the chair is designed to encourage movement. The mechanism adjusts automatically depending on the bodyweight of the user. Even the arms are linked so that both adjust to the same height in one simple movement.

Simplicity of use is increasingly important in the modern workplace and future ergonomic chair designs will, undoubtedlyFree Reprint Articles, embrace this. Will we eventually see a fully automatic chair that recognizes the needs of the user and adjusts accordingly? I certainly hope so!

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Neil Remnant writes on behalf of Office Furniture Scene Freedom ChairHumanscale Freedom Chair

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