Did you know a study in the May 2019 Journal Applied Ergonomics found that the average worker had 5 adjustments to their office chair? The problem is that 53% of them were only aware of two or less and 73% had used two or less. With more people working from home that problem is getting worse.
The Covid-19 caused shelter-in-place has forced many to work from home where attention to ergonomics can be secondary. I have heard of many dining tables becoming workstations. Since the chair is such a critical part of a workstation, perhaps some basic requirements to a good chair would be useful.
- Lumbar support: the lumbar spine is the area above the buttocks and below the ribs. Since people come in so many different shapes and sizes this must be adjustable so that if fits you appropriately. You should feel it push into your lumbar area so that you are able to easily maintain the lumbar lordosis. The lordosis is the inward curve of the lumbar spine. The better supported the lordosis the less work your muscles will need to do to hold you upright.
- Adjustability: good chairs have approximately 5 adjustments with some chairs having over 10. Some essential adjustments would be armrest height and width, seatback height, and seat height. A harder to find but very helpful adjustment is a tilting seatpan (the part we sit on). When you tilt the front of the seatpan so that your hips are higher than your knees it is easier to maintain your lumbar lordosis(curve in your lower back).
- Fabric: prior chair recommendations regarding material were for breathable fabric due to heat build up with prolonged sitting. While that is important, we also need to take the ability to clean into consideration especially if you share the chair with others.
- Swivel base: You want the chair to rotate so that you do not have to twist your lower back or neck.
With more people working from home the quality of home workspace ergonomics is becoming much more important. I am seeing more injuries from bad home workspaces, so re-evaluating your workspace now can help prevent injury and improve productivity.