DATE: 07/14/2015

Decisions – we make them everyday.

Some of them are easy: Yes, I will order the Texas-sized ice tea on this hot, summer day. And some of them are hard: No, I’m not sure what kind of car I want next. Choosing the perfect office chair probably ranks somewhere In the middle.

As we’ve said before, there are few places in life where you spend more time than your desk. The average office worker spends 5 years sitting at his, or her desk, over the course of a lifetime. Like peanut butter and jelly, or yin and yang, your office desk and chair should compliment one another to create an optimal work experience.

Unfortunately, the same furniture choices that initially incite so much excitement can also be the cause of much unnecessary overwhelm. Psychologist and author Barry Schwartz calls it “The Paradox of Choice.” It’s the idea that we humans really aren’t better off with more choices; in fact, we’re actually happier with less. With this in mind, we’ve delineated 3 steps for eliminating the paradox and selecting your perfect office chair:

Step 1. Eliminate Options Based On Needs

Begin by conducting an assessment of what you actually want to get out of your chair. Once you’ve determined your unique needs, goals and requirements, you can streamline your search by only browsing items you know meet your specific criteria. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What kind of work will I be doing while seated? (ie. Typing/writing/filing/answering phones)
  • What types of physical movements will I be making? (ie. Swiveling thru a large space v. staying in one place)
  • What “height range” do I need to accommodate my desk?
  • Is it important the chair be made of “breathable” fabric?
  • Which colors do I like? Which do I dislike?
  • Is my brand more traditional or modern?

Step 2: Evaluate Options That Meet Criteria

Once you’ve made a list of everything you need in a chair, you’re ready to begin sorting through your options. If you’ll be doing work that requires lots of movement, you may want to consider a chair with a rolling base that allows you to glide from desk to filing cabinet and so on.

If you’re the owner of a multi-height desk (or are considering getting one), check out the “sit-to-stand” seating solutions, like this. And if maintaining a traditional appearance isn’t a concern, you may want to evaluate modern “active seating” options, like this. Active seating is a fairly new concept featuring chairs specifically designed to encourage the active work of your abdominal muscles. Its lack of traditional lumbar support requires the muscles to stay active, which increases blood flow and reportedly alleviates tension.

Step 3: Physically Try It Out!

Never purchase a chair based on a “pretty” picture. Always always always sit in a chair before purchasing. When seated, here are some things to consider:

  • Seat Height – Unless you’re accommodating a multi-height desk, a seat height range of 16 to 21 inches is desirable for most people. Adjust the height so that feet rest comfortably on the floor, thighs are horizontal and arms are even with the height of your desk.
  • Seat Width & Depth – Though it may seem obvious, look for a seat that is wide enough to comfortably support your body. A typical seat width is 17-20 inches. The depth, from front to back, should be enough so that you can sit comfortably against the backrest, while leaving about 2-4 inches between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. Look for an adjustable seat tilt, as well.
  • Backrest & Lumbar Support – Look for a chair with adjustable backrest and lumbar support. The lumbar is the lower portion of the spine that curves inward. Sitting in a traditional chair for long periods without lumbar support can lead to slouching and strain.
  • Seat Material – Choose material that feels good to you, since you’re going to be the one sitting in it! If you work in a warmer climate, or an office that leans on the warmer side, you may want to consider chairs made of more breathable fibers.

Keep these 3 steps in mind when choosing your next office chair and hopefully, your choice will be almost as easy as ordering that sweet tea! Ready to get started? click here to book a free consultation.