As more people work from home, correctly setting up your home office is critical for your long-term health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the right equipment, namely a comfortable office chair, desk, lighting, monitor, etc. Health experts have proven that your chair, and your sitting posture, can have a huge impact on whether you suffer from back, neck, shoulder and other health related issues. Your chair is therefore the critical item in your home office and the setup of your work area must start with your chair.
A good posture is the key to avoiding and relieving back, neck and shoulder pain.
Every office chair has some adjustment features, but which ones are important to maintain a healthy posture? In this article, I will explain which features are necessary on a home office chair so that you can make an informed decision before making your purchase.
How many hours per day will you use your home office chair?
Before selecting any chair for your home office, ask yourself this simple question:
“How many hours a day will you use your chair?”
Sitting for 1 hour a day requires a chair with fewer adjustable features. If you are sitting for 6 hours or more a day, you need a chair with more features and greater adjustability.
The more that you are able to adjust the chair, the better you can customise it to suit your specific needs.
10 Features of the most comfortable home office chairs
Here are the 10 important features you should be looking for when buying a chair for your home office:
1. Height adjustment
You should be able to adjust the height of your chair to suit your own height and the desk you will be using it at. The correct way to adjust your chair height, is to do it away from the desk. Once your chair is at the right height, move it towards your desk and comfortably rest your forearms and wrists on the desk – your elbows should now be bent at about 900. If this is not the case, you may have to adjust the height of your desk.
2. Backrest Angle Adjustment
Probably the most important feature of any chair is the level of back support. Everybody has a different shape back and each person will need support in different areas. You should be able to position the backrest of the chair in a way that suits your body shape and the way you prefer to sit while working. You must be able to change the angle between the backrest and the seat of the chair. By altering this angle from an upright 90 degrees to a more reclined position of approximately 120 degrees (for e.g. when you are talking on the phone or gaming), you activate the muscles in the lumbar region of your back. This is known as dynamic sitting.
The activation of these muscles increases the blood flow which prevents lower back pain often caused by long periods of static sitting. The chair should have a locking mechanism that allows the backrest to be locked into numerous positions. When left unlocked (free-floating), the backrest should provide continuous support to your back by remaining in contact with your back and moving with you.
Protecting your back is essential and your chair plays a CRITICAL role.
3. Mesh or Upholstered Backrest
Both mesh and upholstered backrests are popular, and really it’s a matter of personal choice. Mesh chairs are more modern and are preferred by designers for their slim design and stylish looks. A good mesh backrest moulds itself to the shape of your back and allows your body to breathe. Upholstered backrests can be uncomfortable in a hot climate, especially if you don’t have an airconditioned home office.
4. Lumbar Support or Cushion
A comfortable home office chair should include a lumbar support that can be adjusted vertically as well as horizontally (depth). The lumbar cushion should support your back in such a way that it is slightly arched and maintains it’s natural curvature. Proper lumbar support is essential to minimise strain or compression of the lumbar discs in your spine.
See our Knowledge article on what happens when you sit and how it effects your body.
5. Moulded Foam Seat
The seat must include High-Density injection moulded foam because it provides additional support, is longer lasting, and will not collapse after a short period of use. Make sure that the moulded seat foam feels comfortable and fits the profile of your bottom. Don’t buy a chair with a soft foam seat as they quickly become uncomfortable. Just like your car, a firm seat ensures that you will be more comfortable on your home office chair.
6. Seat Depth and Width
The chair seat should be wide and deep enough to let you sit comfortably between the armrests. If you are tall, look for a deeper seat, and a shorter one if you are not so tall. When you sit properly in the chair, there should be a gap of 2-3 fingers between the front edge of the seat and the inside of your knees. If a number of people of different heights are going to use the chair in your home office, consider one that has seat depth adjustment. This feature allows you to make the seat shorter or longer depending upon the height of the user.
If you have limited space in your home office, armrests may restrict your movement. However, if you do have sufficient space, consider getting a chair with armrests as they improve the overall ergonomics of your work space. Armrests offer extra support as they take some of the strain off your neck and shoulders. Only consider armrests that are height adjustable. Modern armrests may also have an adjustable arm pad that can slide forward and back and will often allow for sideways or angled adjustment.
8. Adjustment Controls
Make sure all the important adjustment controls on your home office chair can easily be reached from a seated position. This includes, seat height, armrest height, lumbar support, and backrest angle adjustment. It is always easier to get all the settings ‘exactly right’ if you are sitting on the chair.
9. Castors or wheels
Chair castors give you effortless mobility, but make sure to get the right ones for your floor. Nylon castors are suitable for carpet floors, while rubber or soft castors are suitable for hard surfaces like, tiles, wood and concrete. The castors should be at least 50mm in diameter. Larger castors improve manoeuvrability.
10. Headrest (optional)
A headrest is a good option if you need additional neck and/or head support. Headrests are also popular for gaming or relaxing in the chair, especially when the backrest has been reclined.
In their article, this is what coronavirus will do to our offices and homes, the BBC shares their view of the future of working from home. In a nutshell, working from home is here to stay and we must prepare our home office accordingly.
If you are sitting for 6 hours or more a day, you need a chair with more features and greater adjustability.