Have a Seat: Choosing the Perfect Ergonomic Chair

A recent article in Business 2 Community argues that designing office spaces in an ergonomic manner improves productivity. This perspective coincides with research performed by the National Research Council (NRC) in 2001: the data showed that 1 million Americans have chronic musculoskeletal conditions that arise from their working environments and generate a substantial amount of sick days. In fact, the total nationwide bill for repetitive strain disorders is approximately $50 billion per year.

Experts agree that an organization can significantly impact employee health by selecting office furniture that reduces the amount of pressure on the body:

"Scientifically based prevention efforts can be effective in the workplace, substantially reducing the risk of job-related musculoskeletal disorders."

– Jeremiah A. Barondess, President, New York Academy of Medicine

How to select the best ergonomic chair – seven considerations

The peer-reviewed medical website lists seven features that should be part of your decision-making process when choosing a desk chair:


  1. Seat level – You need to be able to raise and lower the chair as simply as possible so that it best suits the individual using the workstation. The seat should typically be approximately 18 inches high. With the thighs at a right angle, the feet should rest solidly on the floor.
  2. Seat width and depth – Ideally the seat will be approximately 18 inches wide for the average employee. Its depth should allow one's back to be flush with the back of the ergonomic chair. The knees should be about 3 inches from the seat.
  3. Lumbar cushion – You want the chair to support the lumbar section of the spine, which is located in the lower back. You should be able to modify the lumbar support section of the chair – changing its depth and height – to achieve optimal support.
  4. Back – Look for a desk chair that has a back approximately 16 inches wide. If the back and the seat are two separate components, you want to be able to customize both the angle and elevation. If the seat and back are combined into one component, you should be able to change the angle and lock it into place.
  5. Fabric – The fabric of the chair should be designed for comfort, thick enough to protect the body throughout the day.
  6. Armrests – You should also be able to change the position of the armrests on your desk chair. Your shoulders should be at ease, with your arms naturally resting on the supports. Note that employees should only use the armrests when taking breaks from typing.
  7. Swivel – The chair should be capable of swiveling so that it's easy to access the full width of the workstation.


Office furniture that works for you

Beyond the above recommendations from Spine-Health, it helps to work with an organization that specializes in ergonomic solutions. Since the founding of Beaux-Arts Group in 1987, we have established ourselves as industry leaders in the field. Our synergistic strategies incorporate the latest innovations in ergonomic technology.