Choosing a chair for your office is tricky and it’s one of those cases when comfort trumps just about everything else. But in order for an office chair to be comfortable and functional, it has to meet certain criteria. You need to know what these are and how to test a chair in order to determine whether it’s good for you or not.
Your body type can help you determine the ideal size your office chair should have. The seat pan should be deep enough to not touch the back of your knees when you sit back and the width of the seat should be at least 1” wider than your hips. And keep in mind that bigger is not necessarily better so don’t invest in a large chair if you’re petite. It’s simply not practical.
The upholstery material of an office chair dictates the comfort level. There are several options to choose from, fabric and leather being the most common ones. Mesh materials are also popular and they keep the body cool allowing air to pass through. This makes it ideal for humid countries. Leather is suitable for temperature-controlled areas.
The mechanism on an office chair controls how the seat and back move. The most popular types include the multifunctional mechanism which allows you to lock the chair into a multitude of positions (the chair tilts back from the center of the seat) and the synchro-tilt mechanism for which the seat and back are linked and tilt simultaneously, offering less adjustably and being less ergonomic.
Less common types include the dynamic mechanism (the seat moves forward and down when you recline), the knee tilt mechanism (the chair tilts from just under the knee) and the task mechanism, the most basic of all (adjustments are limited and it discourages movement).
The most basic lumbar supports are only adjusted vertically by raising and lowering the chair back but the best lumbar support offers both vertical and depth adjustments.
Ideally, armrests should be adjustable. At their lowest point, they should be below thigh height. Swing back armrests allow the user to move the arm out of the way when not needed. In conclusion, armrests should be both fore-aft and width adjustable.
The base and the casters
An office chair should have a base with a minimum of five spokes. Otherwise they can tip over when reclining back. It should also have quality casters which glide freely over various floor surfaces.