Ergonomic Office Furniture: A Chair is Just a Chair…Or Is It?

You may think that a chair is a simple and straightforward device. It’s a place to rest your body in a seated position so that you can get to work. However, differences in the design of chairs that may initially seem minor can actually be extraordinarily significant due to the amount of time we spend each day in an office chair.

According to, studies around the world suggest that the average person is seated 7.7 hours daily. If that sounds like a lot, it’s a conservative estimate: other research suggests that we sit as much as 15 hours per day.

In fact, sitting itself is a threat to health: a 2012 study found that life expectancy is reduced by two years among people who sit for more than three hours each day. Office breaks to stand and move around are essential. Additionally, strong ergonomic office furniture is critical to help counteract the negative impacts of a sedentary lifestyle.

Questions when choosing an office chair

Here are three questions to guide your decision-making when you look at ergonomic office furniture:

Is the seat appropriately sized for your body?

The pan of the seat should leave you an inch of room on each side when you sit down.

“The seat pan should not be too long for your legs,” advised Cornell University’s ergonomic research group. “Otherwise it will either catch you behind the knees or it will prevent you from leaning fully back against the lumbar support.”

Can you raise and lower the pan?

Being able to customize office furniture to your situation is a key component of ergonomics. You want to be able to raise and lower the chair’s pan. Generally, you can adjust height while you are seated using a pneumatic lever.

The Cornell team explained that an ergonomic chair should allow the typical user to plant their feet on the ground with their knees at right angles – without having to use a footrest (too high) or additional cushioning on the seat (too low).

Is the lumbar backrest adjustable and comfortable?

If you really want to optimize your sitting posture through wise office furniture choices, you want a chair with a cushioned lower-back support for the lumbar spine. Ideally the support will be adjustable so that you can place it in the ideal position for your body.

“A lumbar support cushion properly placed behind the small of the back can help to accentuate lumbar support,” noted the National Institutes of Health. “The backrest should also have angle, in-out, and height adjustments to achieve proper spinal alignment.”

Meeting the needs of people & business

Do you need ergonomic office furniture for your workplace? We can guide you through the selection process. At Beaux Arts Group, we create distinctive, high-performance workplace interiors that address the dynamic needs of our clients.