If you work in an office, your mind is probably focused on your work. Your body, meanwhile, spends most of the day firmly planted on your desk chair. Though it's easy to overlook when you're installing office furniture, the chairs you bring into the office have a measurable impact on productivity and morale. While a good chair is functional and comfortable, a great chair can get you to look forward to sitting down at your office desk each morning. Finding that great chair is a challenge, so take a few factors under consideration before you choose a model.
Back Support Matters
Sitting at a desk for a full workday is physically demanding, particularly on the lower back, so finding ergonomic chairs is crucial. Before you buy, check to see whether the chair offers firm back support. Most do, but not all offer support in quite the same way. Low-backed task chairs, for example, directly brace the lumbar region of the spine with a firm structural support that doesn't rise very high. This is great if you naturally have good posture or lean forward while you work, but a high-backed executive chair is often better if you like to lean back and rest for a bit between tasks.
Padding Varies Among Chairs
Padding is the soft stuff you sit on, and office chairs vary widely in how much they offer. Your choice in this area comes down to personal preference more than anything else. For some people, a solid wooden seat is more comfortable than a thinly padded nylon cushion. Decide whether you want padded armrests for your elbows, or unpadded sides that are usually a bit less obtrusive.
Consider Your Range of Motion
Your chair subtly sets a certain range of motion for you, and moving around is only comfortable within that range. Fixed chairs are perfectly adequate if you work in one spot all day and everything you need is within arm's reach, but it's nice to have sturdy casters underneath that let you roll from one spot to another on a polyurethane floor mat. Leaning and stretching for things is much easier in an adjustable office swivel chair, especially one that reclines when you lean against it.
Setting Your Sitting Position
Almost everyone falls into a preferred sitting position for work, though this position varies as much as people do. If you find a fixed chair that feels comfortable when you're settled into your own favorite position, it can be an excellent choice for your office. If you can't find the perfect chair, or if you share space with others, choose an adjustable chair. Adjust the height so that your feet rest flat with your thighs parallel to the floor. Leave about three finger-lengths between the back of your calves and the lip of the seat. Set the levers to the locked position when you've found the zone you like, and always adjust it back to your preferred settings before work if somebody else uses the chair while you're away.
Carefully Choose the Material
Material and upholstery matter as much as any other factor when you're choosing your chair. Nylon weave, for example, breathes while you sit and makes a good choice for mesh chairs and hotel-style work spaces. Vinyl is soft, but it can let the heat build up. Cost is a factor too. You might be very comfortable in a top-grain leather executive chair, but outfitting the entire office with them might be impractical.
Work with Other Office Furniture
It's easy to overlook aesthetics in office furniture, but public-facing workplaces have to consider whether the chairs match the rest of the decor. Jet-black and bone-white are perennial favorite colors for chairs because they complement almost any style. Wooden chairs lend themselves to creating a cozy rustic feeling. Stainless steel and chrome accents are ultramodern and very sleek-looking; these also have the advantage of being very easy to keep clean in a shared office space.