Back Ache.What HR managers should consider when choosing an office chair
The role of an HR Manager is to look after the welfare and wellbeing of their staff and help prevent back ache and associated problems. This can also include choosing the most appropriate and comfortable office chair.
If you have ever had to put up with a cheap, uncomfortable and non-adjustable chair you will already know the reasons why; a poor chair makes for an unhappy team member. Problems such as back ache, neck trauma and pain in the shoulders can become common-place, affecting both health and happiness. As far as the HR Manager is concerned this can equate to days off work, lengthy periods of sickness and even a decline in performance.
Things to consider
So given all of this, we can see that selecting the best office chair is crucial, but what elements should HR Managers consider before they make their final decision? They need to take time to do their research and focus on key factors. After all, having a good chair to sit in can result in increased productivity and, long-term, the success of the company.
There are really four key factors that come into play; durability, comfort, mobility and adjustability.
Three of these are all pretty easy to assess when examining a range of chairs as robustness, types of adjustments and ease of movement can be ticked off a check list. But what about comfort? This is a much harder element to judge, so we have broken this down into several key areas that HR Managers need to examine:
Backrest for back support – This is absolutely essential as the lumbar support needs to be adjustable to provide a good structure for the curve at the base of the spine to rest against and help prevent back ache. It needs to be curved to match the spine and easily adjustable to suit different heights. It should also not be too narrow; a width of anywhere between 12 – 19 inches is fine. Ideally it should also tilt so that as you move in the chair, the lumbar support follows you.
Seat – This should be sufficiently wide enough to be comfortable when you sit in it with a least a one-inch gap on either side. As far as depth is concerned, there should offer between 2 and 4 inches of space when measured from the back of the knee to the chair edge when your back is right up against the backrest and feet flat on the floor. Make sure that there is a seat lift to give correct height; when sat in the chair, your thighs should be with a gentle slop from the hips to the knees. A waterfall edge also gives better comfort while reducing pressure on the blood flow.
Armrests – should support both arms and be fully adjustable, not getting in the way when the chair is against the desk. If they are too high or low, you will end up with neck and shoulder problems.
Base – look for a five pointed star shape as this gives the most stability; metal and wood will be sturdier than plastic. Casters should be chosen for the type of floor where the chair is placed.
Finally, you should look at things like weight capacity, a nicely padded seat and back, a robust fabric or leather cover and a good pneumatic or mechanical lift for the seat. Controls should be easy to access when seated. You may need a chair that swivels if the user will be using a traditional office desk. Finally life expectancy and manufacturers guarantee are very important as these influence the true cost of the seating solution chosen.
Pay attention to all of these factors, choose a well-designed office chair and have happy staff that are comfortable all of the time – from 9 ‘til 5!
By Kieran Dowling