Find the perfect office chair and increase workplace well-being
We were made to move
Recent data points towards some worrying health trends among office workers. One in eight surveyed spent more than eight and a half hours seated over the course of a normal working day while 40% of those surveyed spent between two and a half and five and a half hours sitting still. It’s also been shown that those who sit still most tend to be those who also exercise less.
“The human body wasn’t designed to sit still for long periods - so for us, designing chairs that facilitate physical movement makes perfect sense.”
The health consequences of sedentary office habits are depressingly familiar. Headaches and concentration problems. Muscle tension, particularly in the shoulders and neck. Circulatory disorders. Cardiovascular complaints. These problems cause countless hours of sick leave and economic damage to businesses every year. However, these facts are no surprise to medical specialists, as the human body was quite simply not designed for long periods of sitting still.
Obviously, the default solution to this problem would be to encourage people to leave their seats as often as possible. This can be achieved in part by smart floor plans and locating coffee and rest areas or printer rooms a short walk from workstations. However, apart from the obvious productivity challenges, this is simply not logistically or practically feasible in many roles. So, what can be done?
Supporting and encouraging movement
At Kinnarps, we believe that a good office chair is ergonomic, comfortable, easy to use and sustainable. It should also be well-designed. But what does ‘well-designed’ mean in the context of addressing the health issues associated with sitting still? For us, well-designed means creating chairs that support the spine’s natural S-shape while sitting, helping maintain a correct posture. How our office chairs move and can be adjusted differs. To exemplify this, we categorise our chairs in two groups - those that support movement and those that encourage movement.
These chairs are designed to help keep the spine in its natural shape both when sitting upright and leaning back. The seat and back are movement synchronized and movement is more controlled. As variants of this, some chairs have extra functionality such as active pelvic support and automatic weight adjustment.
In these chairs, the seat and back move independently of each other. They have a wide forward seat tilt and a large open seat angle, making it easier for the user to sit more actively and encouraging movement. FreeFloat and FreeMotion functionality enable this. Among their many benefits, these functions support active sitting in different positions and encourage adjustments in foot positioning that activate blood circulation. A special benefit of FreeMotion is the permanent micro movements the seat makes, ensuring the user never stays in a fixed position.
Within the two categories we have defined - supporting and encouraging movement - there is room for adjustment on a highly individual level. This means that your perfect office chair is definitely out there. What’s equally certain is that the health benefits of these different types of chair are many. By keeping the body in motion through encouraging subtle physical movement - or if you prefer, moving when sitting still - they activate muscles and the release of discs, help keep the spine in its natural shape and encourage an open natural body position and improved blood circulation.
“Our office chairs fall into two categories - those that support movement and those that encourage movement. Within these categories, there is room for adjustment on a highly individual level.”
Identifying your perfect office chair
Which chair is best for you is a very individual matter - and as you’ve read, this is something we build into the design and functionality of our office chairs. Before making this decision, you need to consider a few points. For example, will the chair have multiple users? With the increasing use of the hybrid working model and flexible working hours and office spaces, this is an important issue. Take time to think about how the chair will be used and which functions are important for you. Once you’ve identified these, reaching a decision and finding the chair that will activate your body and increase your working efficiency is easier.
3 things to consider when choosing a task chair
1. How will the chair be used?
Will it be shared by several users? How long will you sit? What kind of work will you do?
2. Choose movement for well-being
Look for a chair with functions that encourage movement.
3. Try and feel what suits you best
Your chair should be comfortable and easy to customise to your needs. Make sure that the controls are easily accessible and intuitive.
Sit yourself healthier
When you’ve found an office chair you think is right for you, it’s important to be able to recognise and adopt the correct sitting position as this defines how your chair should be adjusted. Your feet should be on the ground with the heels directly underneath the knees. To find the right height, your knee angle should be between 90 and 100 degrees and your back should be upright. It’s worth noting that how you place your mouse, keyboard and monitor also affect your posture so consider these when trying to ‘learn’ to sit correctly. Furthermore, the right sitting posture is directly linked to having your desk at the right height. With this in mind, it’s well worth considering investing in a height adjustable desk if you don’t already have one.
"Sitting in an ergonomically correct position is great - but don’t forget that your best position is always your next position.”
How to sit ergonomically correct
- Whether standing or sitting, adjust desk height so that your elbows are at a 90-100 degree angle.
- The top of your monitor should be at the same height as your line of vision.
- Use the headrest / neckrest to provide comfortable support of the head or neck.
- When sitting, adjust chair height so that your knees are at 90-100 degree angle.
- Keep your wrists straight and parallel to the desktop rather than angled upwards.
- Ensure the lumbar support sits comfortably against your lower back.
An investment in productivity
Current trends in office working environments include activity-based working and the increasing emergence of the hybrid working model, where time is more evenly divided between home and the office. In practice, this new, more agile model places extra demands on human resources managers and others responsible for office planning and logistics. It also creates challenges when it comes to identifying and applying the solutions that best promote workplace and staff well-being. The benefits of a good office chair can make a major contribution towards this.
It’s beyond doubt that the benefits of an office chair with the right features for the user, correctly set up and used properly are more profound than improved posture and comfort. Sitting properly and comfortably reduces the incidence of sick days and time off taken to visit physiotherapists or doctors. It also increases productivity and efficiency levels. All these factors optimise economic efficiency and confirm that however you look at it, a high-quality office chair s a smart long-term investment.
We hope this article helps you come closer to finding the chair that best meets your requirements. Why not come in and test-sit? You’ll be taking the first step towards enjoying a more comfortable working day and increased workplace well-being.
Ergonomic seating and choosing the right office chair for you and your people is just a part of a holistic approach to ergonomics. Read more about how Kinnarps’ view ergonomics from a holistic perspective and how this can benefit your business.
- European Opinion Research Group. Special Eurobarometer 472 – Sport and physical activity. European Commission. 2018. https://europa.eu/eurobarometer/surveys/detail/2164
- López-Valenciano, A., Mayo, X., Liguori, G. et al. Changes in sedentary behaviour in European Union adults between 2002 and 2017. BMC Public Health. Vol. 20, no.1206, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09293-
- Chambers, April & Robertson, Michelle & Baker, Nancy. (2019). The effect of sit-stand desks on office worker behavioral and health outcomes: A scoping review. Applied Ergonomics. No.78:37-53, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2019.01.015.