We have all had periods when our backs felt older than the rest of our bodies. We ask our parents if they lied about our real ages and if our birth certificates were forged because what is this pain in my back. Backaches are inevitable when you spend hours sitting during work.
(As I was writing this, the song Backbone by KALEO came on, by the way. Coincidence? I think not!)
The average office worker, whether home office or office office, may be sitting in the wrong chair for extended periods of time. This can cause health issues and even reduce productivity. Comfort in a workspace is very important. Comfort in this context doesn’t mean hotel-room comfort or Spa session comfort. It means convenience and lack of distractions.
In an office setting, comfort is improved when you use what is called an Ergonomic Chair. The word Ergonomic might be new to a few people and sound like a complex term, but it really isn’t.
Most (if not all) modern company offices have ergonomic chairs as the primary chairs for their staff, instead of the usual traditional chairs. Of course, they have other types of furniture for relaxation like couches and the like, but those are secondary or tertiary furniture.
Well, these chairs are for your own good. So do our employers actually care about our health? Of course, they do. Sometimes.
The word ergonomics simply describes how people work in their environment. It is the relationship between people and their working environment, especially in terms of the equipment they use.
There are three types of Ergonomics: physical, cognitive and organizational. In this article, we will not delve too deeply into the intricacies of ergonomics. Instead, we would be focusing more on the chairs. For more info about the types of Ergonomics, check this link.
An ergonomic chair is a chair designed to support the human body with considerations for posture, comfort, health, and general support. These chairs are designed to be adaptable to the user’s needs due to the level of customized support that they offer.
What makes a Chair Ergonomic?
Typically, ergonomic chairs offer different levels of customization to suit the general and individual needs of users. These include:
Lumbar Support (For the lower back)
Seat arm adjustment
Seat height adjustment
All these adjustments make a user have a bunch of options to manually make their chairs convenient and comfortable for work. They even help when users want to rest a bit in-between work.
Well for starters, we get to finally have backbones to match our ages.
I know we are probably sick of hearing the term “pandemic” by now, but it was a vital period of transition in the world. Due to the pandemic, remote work became more popular and it’s still getting more popular, two years after the pandemic began. Because of this, a lot of us work from home more often than we used to.
A lot of our homes weren’t initially built for work. Some homes do have rooms dedicated for work like studies and home offices, but not all do. So, a lot of people have had to convert some spaces in their homes to workstations, including their bedrooms, dining areas, etc. Some people do not go the extra length of getting new tables and chairs for work. Even those that do, sometimes go for aesthetics rather than functionality. Besides, we all want our spaces to look good during Zoom meetings.
In essence, a number of home workspaces do not have ergonomic chairs. People use sofas, dining chairs, armchairs, egg chairs (yes, that’s a thing), and so on. Now don’t get me wrong, these chairs are comfortable and convenient to work sometimes. The problem is that they aren’t convenient for extended hours of work. We tend to want to lean forward during work to get a better view of whatever we are doing on our computers. This furniture can cause discomfort and pain with extended hours of use for work.
This is not just limited to home workspaces, but also proper office workspaces. If you are looking to start a business (or you already have one) that requires an office setting, you need to consider how best that office space would affect employee productivity, both physically and mentally.
So again, why ergonomic chairs? Why do I have to spend extra hundreds of dollars on ergonomic furniture after I’ve spent thousands already on normal furniture? Why does ergonomic rhyme with economic but I still have to spend money on it? Well, these are some benefits of ergonomic chairs for work:
The success of work relies mainly on productive workers. Yes, robots are taking a lot of our jobs, but humans are still needed. Since robots don’t need chairs (I think), human employees do most of the sitting. Extended hours of sitting inevitably leads to tiredness and lack of motivation.
Choosing and using the right work chair can greatly influence the productivity of workers. A study by Leap shows that ergonomic chairs can improve workplace productivity by 17.8%. Using ergonomic furniture can have a significant impact on work morale, happiness, and overall productivity.
I still doubt my real age sometimes because of how intense my back and neck pains get at times. My birth certificate was definitely forged.
Most office workers battle lower back pain and neck pain. It is usually because of the design of most traditional chairs we use for work. These chairs are not optimized for long sitting hours while supporting correct posture. Ergonomic chairs solve this problem by providing better general posture and relaxation features that reduce body pains.
Less Pressure in Hips:
When you sit, your hips hold the weight of your world (body) on its shoulders. Ergonomic chair users do not suffer this. Their hips don’t lie.
By providing suitable seat depth to support the hips, ergonomic chairs help to reduce the pressure on the hips.
Support for Posture:
Most chairs are not built with ergonomics in mind. When using chairs that lack basic ergonomic features, we tend to lean forward a lot because they do not have the correct back height.
Ergonomic chairs eliminate this need. They typically enhance your posture because their design supports natural posture.
Flexibility in furniture isn’t really too popular. Office furniture is used by different people, irrespective of their shapes and sizes. In a world where inclusivity is now a core part of workplace culture, ergonomic furniture outperforms other forms of furniture. They provide adjustable features required to meet the needs of each individual in an office.
Seat heights, armrests, backrests, headrests, etc., are some of the adjustable features of ergonomic chairs.
Size really does matter, so having furniture that keeps everyone in mind is important. Workers would definitely be more focused on work and comfortable.
Safety and Durability:
Ergonomic chairs have been certified as safe to use by all users.
They are also designed to last. Replacing chairs too often is expensive. Using furniture for extended periods can cause wear and tear. Ergonomic chairs are sturdy and designed to be durable.
Comfort is one thing. Style is another. How our workstations look typically motivates us. Nobody wants to work with ugly furniture. Plus we also want to show off our workspaces. Ergonomic chairs from different brands have different unique styles. Comfort, durability, and style all squeezed into one product. You don’t see that everywhere. Ergonomic chairs beautify our workspaces and overall atmosphere. This helps motivate us to work more.
As you have read, ergonomics go a long way in improving productivity, health and overall wellness. You know what they say,
“Ergonomic chairs in your office space make it an enjoyable place.”
Nobody says that actually. I made it up. Either way, invest in an ergonomic chair today and you won’t regret it, I promise.
As a side note, in the spirit of “practicing what you preach”, I am using an ergonomic chair to write this article.
Another thing is to always take short breaks in-between work hours. Also alternate between sitting, standing, and stretching every hour.