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A Buyer's Guide to Office Chairs

Office safety and productivity have something important in common: a comfortable and appropriate chair can make a huge difference in the work environment for employees. Understanding the differences in manufactures, products and styles can help you find the best chair for your workers' needs.

Chair Styles

Just like automobiles, there are makes and models of chairs that serve very different purposes in the workplace. Consider how much time and which tasks the chairs will be used for and any special features your office may require. Here are the major categories of office chairs:

  • Multishift: For most employees working at a computer desk, this adjustable chair with a back support will meet their needs. Seat height, angle, and even firmness can be adjusted for every employee's size and preference. This popular style can be purchased from most manufacturers. Specialized versions called "task chairs" may also be available.

  • Executive: For managers and supervisors who spend more time in negotiations than at a computer, a larger chair with a taller back may be needed. An executive chair is a perk for top employees and makes a professional impression on visitors to an executive office.
  • Guest chairs: For short term use when a guest joins a meeting, these lightweight chairs without wheels are high on functionality. Perfect for storing away when not in use, they are often available to complement everyday use adjustable chairs.
  • Kneeling chairs: For employees who need workspace modifications for back problems, these chairs provide knee support and encourage healthy posture at a computer.
  • Stools: For modern, collaborative workspaces, a counter height workspace is becoming more common. The higher seating and flexibility offered by a lightweight stool is perfect for ad hoc meetings or a more casual office atmosphere.

Ergonomic Safety

While sitting at a desk may not seem dangerous, repetitive motion and unhealthy postures can take a toll on worker health. The following chair manufacturers offer a range of designs to offset these positional injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or lower back strain.

  • Neutral Posture (from $708): All the chairs in this line feature 16 active adjustments to optimize worker posture for health and safety. The pressure reducing seats are an added benefit to this high-performance seating.
  • Soma Ergonomics (from $459): These two-part seats create a nature posture for employees that is responsive and dynamic throughout the work day.
  • Aeron by Herman Miller (from $689): Ground breaking in the industry, this chair combines elegant modern design elements with ergonomic features.
  • Humanscale (from $924): Made from highly responsive materials such as form-sensing mesh and a responsive recline, these chairs adapt to each employee for personalized stress reduction.
  • Steelcase Leap (from $889): This next-level adaptable chair provides separate controls for different parts of the back along with flexible materials that conform to an individual for optimal comfort and support.

Deciding on the style and comfort needs of your employees is the first step in choosing the right office chair. Consider the range of available manufactures and work with a dealer who will help you compare models until you find the best match for your budget and workplace activities.