You spend a lot of time in your office. It could be a corner of your living room, a dedicated room in your home or even a small, rented space. No matter where your office is, a key to making work enjoyable (and productive) is creating an office space that you love. Over the next few weeks I’m going to give you some ideas for starting a love affair with your office. We will cover everything from chairs to décor and a bunch of stuff in between.
Last week we talked about typing and I shared how I managed to make all of that office typing I do fun. This week’s subject? The office chair.
You may remember me sharing the story of my office chair and how purchasing a good one increased my productivity. Two years later and I’m still thrilled with my Steelcase Rally chair, and it’s still going strong. If the purchase of your office chair was somewhat of an afterthought, you may want to take the time to give it a bit more consideration.
If you’re going to love your office, you’ll need to be sure you’re comfortable in it. The right chair is a huge element in your comfort level. Just what should you be looking for when trying to choose the right office chair anyway? Here are some pointers:
- Ergonomic design. A good ergonomic chair is key to your comfort. It should have great lumbar support for your lower back muscles. Arm support is important as well, as they can help relieve pain in your back and shoulders. Height adjustment for your seat is critical, as you should be able to sit with your back against that lumbar support we talked about and have your feet flat on the floor. A seat depth adjustment is also a good idea, as the combination of seat height and seat depth can insure that you are sitting with the correct posture. Your seat should be deep enough to support your thighs while still leaving a couple of inches between the seat edge and your knees. Having the ability to tilt the seat is also a good idea, as it can allow you to change the seat angle as needed.
- Swivel and casters. Both allow you to move your chair rather than twist your body into a pretzel reaching for something on the other end of your desk.
Even in the most ergonomic chair in the world, you will need to be mindful of your own posture in the chair. If you slouch forward and/or rest your elbows on the desktop ( hey, I’m guilty of doing this too) you are going to deal with backaches, headaches and fatigue after working in front of the computer for a few hours.
What about those ‘non-traditional’ ball chairs? I used a ball as my office chair for a few years. It’s great for strengthening your core and the pretty much constant but slight adjustments you will automatically make will keep the blood flowing. There are a few things to consider if you decide to go with a ball as your office chair. First, make sure it’s the correct size. Too tall and you’ll be struggling to stay on it because your feet won’t make contact with the floor correctly. Too short and your knees will be too high and you won’t be able to maintain a good sitting posture. Second, get one with an actual ‘chair’ holder and casters. This will give you the back support you need and keep the ball from rolling around the office every time you stand up.
Now that we’ve discussed the more technical considerations of an office chair, we need to discuss the more aesthetic side to choosing a chair. After all, the visual aspects of your office matter too.
While there is nothing wrong with a plain, old black office chair, you may prefer to spice things up little. Take it from me, it’s not easy to find a great, ergonomic office chair in a color or pattern that doesn’t say ‘corporate office’. Especially if you’re shopping the re-purposed office furniture stores. (And you should be if you want to get a top of the line chair for a budget price.)
You can do what I’m considering. Re-upholster your office chair. Choose the fabric of your choice. Make it one that will wear well, so go with an upholstery fabric not one meant for clothing. It can be as subtle or flamboyant as you want. Bright pink flamingos make you happy? Or maybe you’re more of a blue pinstripe type of person. Whatever your style, you can transform your chair into something you love to look at as well as sit in.
You can approach the re-upholstery situation two ways. Find an upholsterer and have a professional do it or go the ‘DIY’ route. If do it yourself is your style, do a quick search on Pinterest and you’ll be greeted with plenty of ideas and places that give step by step instructions.
In the journey towards loving your office space, making sure your office chair is comfortable will be a big step forward. Allowing it to add a little design pizzazz as well could give you a giant leap in the right direction.