I’m putting on my best serious voice today. And a different hat. In fact, for once on this blog, I’m qualified to talk on the subject. Sometimes, when I’m not dreaming of houses from faraway lands or trying to keep The 3 Little Pigs in order, I’m a physiotherapist.
Let’s talk about being comfortable in the home office and peruse some good looking and clever office furniture. But first, a little reality/honesty check. Right now, I’m reclined on the couch, feet up, laptop on my lap. Cushions are supporting my back. My only “office” item is a $10 padded board from Office Works that sits between the laptop and my lap to prevent us both from overheating. Is this OK? Yes, because I am comfortable and I’m regularly getting up to do other tasks. Dish washing interspersed with screen time works quite well.
If you tend to sit down for 10 minutes at a time for a quick scan of emails, then chances are that you will be perfectly fine with any chair that tickles your fancy. But if you work from home, blog for hours, write essays, or spend any greater length of time at a desk, then Eames chairs with those cute legs but concave back rests are not going to cut it.
Unless you happen to be Mr or Ms Average, with your every dimension matching that of the average adult, then the key to selecting a comfortable office chair is adjustability. Ideally, look for these features:
- adjustable height
- adjustable lumbar support
- tilt for seat pan and back rest
- dense foam padding on seat
- wheels (preferably at least 5)
- adjustable arm rests (good for those who like to hold up their tablets or phones for prolonged periods)
- head rest (for those who like to get lost in deep thought, while still being upright!)
Here are some chairs that have potential for both ergonomics and style:
Err. Wrong answer. Sorry, stylish + ergonomic don’t exist in this price category. Cheaper options tend to have low density seat padding and typically don’t last long. They may be suitable in the short term for lightweight children and adolescents.
1. Ergomedic. Only just scrapes into the “stylish” category since you can specify your own fabric or leather. Bonus points for being Australian made.
- Think. Available in 15 fun colours and 3 different frame finishes. (1-3 are all from Steelcase).
- Leap. You can customise the fabric and pair it with a “lounge” (footrest). Head and foot rests are extra.
- Gesture. Designed for multiple device use. Available in 11 colours.
- Muga 2. Available in various finishing options from Stylecraft.
- Liberty by Humanscale. (Known as “Freedom” in the U.S..) Add a headrest if you wish. Go all out with leather, or choose a mesh back option and you’ll sneak back into the “under $1000” range.
- Mirra. Made by Herman Miller, this chair is much cheaper in the U.S. Fresh finishes.
- Embody. I like the spiny structure on the back rest. In orange, it makes me think of giraffes.
- Norma. Less imposing than the average office chair.
- Acuity by Allsteel, looks sleek and feminine in white leather.
- Sabrina. (Australian price unverified.) Looks very cool en masse in the feature photo at the top.
NB: Sensible readers, might say that when it comes to looking after your body, style should be set aside. My standard recommendation for a chair that fits the adjustability criteria, is long-lasting and suits most adults is the Gregory Inca chair, which retails at $385. It’s not pretty.
Most people can be comfortable sitting at a standard desk. Probably you can take your pick from many of the lovely options on offer. Shorties might need to increase the height of their chair and use a foot rest to achieve a good sitting position. Some tall people may need a higher desk. There are plenty of height-adjustable desks on the market these days, or extra-height desks can be ordered from office furniture suppliers.
- Leg clearance. (Drawers in the centre of the desk can be a problem.)
- Enough depth to support both a laptop or PC AND a separate keyboard.
Standing tables or sit-to-stand tables have had a recent surge in popularity and work well for people on the move between desk tasks. They can be used in conjunction with sitting, to add variety and movement to the work day. How about this for a very cool looking height-adjustable table?
My standard trick for raising laptops and PCs, so that the top of the screen is at eye level, is to use the “Yellow Pages”. Hmmm… Stylish? No. Do they even make Yellow pages these days? I love this wooden alternative:
And for those that like to use their devices in the kitchen, living room or on the go:
Physiotherapists are great at assessing individual shapes, sizes, postures, work habits and needs. If you are not comfortable at your work station, ask a physio to give you a personal assessment and advice. (New business ideas forming as I type…. virtual assessments….)
P.S. Any furniture makers reading this: Want to collaborate on an Australian-made, stylish and body-friendly office chair for under $500?
P.P.S. For more Stylish Ergonomics take a look in my Pinterest file.