Buyers of office chairs for a workforce have a great range of job roles – it might be the Office Manager, Facilities Manager, or even the CEO or MD. Larger organisations increasingly have Change Management teams and will likely embrace a collective decision-making process between Estates and Facilities, Health and Safety and Procurement when buying chairs for the office.
What do they all have in common? They tend to appreciate a helping hand in navigating the office chair market – and advice on getting the best return on investment. I spoke to Scott Bottomer, Head Seating Specialist in the Posturite Seating Projects team, to get the sitting-down lowdown:
Do buyers sometimes find the wide choice of office seating confusing?
Scott: "Absolutely – and understandably so! There are a lot of office chairs out there and each model is made to sound like the pinnacle of seating innovation in its marketing material.
It's fair to say that chair specifications never tell the whole story.
- Not all mesh back chairs are the same.
- Not all back support is provided by an inflatable lumbar.
- Not all tilt mechanisms operate in the same way, nor do they deliver comparable benefits.
Without having a previous understanding of these chair terms, knowing what you are getting can be really tricky. That's why it helps to gain some insight from the office chair experts.
We provide consultancy on office chair buying and we help businesses with the chair selection process and implementing new task seating. Posturite is independent – we work with a huge range of seating manufacturers – which allows us to be objective with our thoughts and recommendations.
Leaning on us with all the market knowledge can really cut the time and cost of shortlisting, trialling, and deciding on the right office chairs for your business. This is the added value."
How does the right choice of office chairs save money?
Scott: "It's all about return on investment. Typically, the cheaper the unit price of an office chair, the less cost saving benefits are received in the medium to long term. Hitting on the right chair initially saves on ongoing procurement, delivery, and disposal costs.
Vitally, the right chair provides functional and ergonomic benefits to staff that can help boost employee wellbeing, reduce sickness absence (from back, shoulder and neck pain for example), increase productivity, and improve staff retention. All of which should really be factored into the cost of seating for a business.
Together, we can look at office chair buying factors including:
- The build quality and warranty length of the chair.
- Which features does the chair have?
- Is it a fit for your people?
- Is it suitable for the task and the environment?
- Is the chair adaptable to fit people with specific needs?
- The likelihood of needing to buy 'specialist chairs' afterwards?
- What is the cost to procure, deliver, and ethically dispose?
Can business clients see and try out office chairs from Posturite?
Scott: "Yes, for project and multiple chair purchases. First of all we have a discussion about your requirements and budget, and we then narrow down the options and create a shortlist of suitable office chairs which are the most appropriate that the market has to offer. You'll see photos, full specifications, a comparison matrix and hear our insider knowledge to help you choose.
Chair design is important of course, and we'll discuss aesthetics and how the office furniture can elevate your workspace interior to spark creativity and convey prestige.
We can then arrange for trial chair models to be sent to your workplace – either for you and your employees to spend some time with, test out and rate on a questionnaire – or as a qualitative focus group involving key decision makers.
We then review the results, and let you know the winning and losing chairs!
If you'd like to visit the chair showrooms – that's possible too."
Is it a good idea to have the same chairs for the whole workforce?
Scott: "Well, we can find an excellent DSE task chair for '8 hour spaces' suitable for a very large percentage of an organisation. This is absolutely possible. But in my opinion, no, one single chair type will not be appropriate for the entire workforce. How appropriate a chair is depends on too many factors to expect a single chair option to be the optimal choice for all environments, roles and individuals.
I'd recommend selecting a chair model that has adaptable features that allow you to keep the base model the same, whilst having the ability to make small tweaks where needed. An example would be the ability to have a coccyx cut out seat pad added to an RH Logic chair."
What is a 'DSE task chair'?
Scott: "A 'DSE task chair' is essentially for carrying out work at a computer, since 'DSE' stands for display screen equipment. 'Task chairs' are more commonly referred to outside the industry as simply 'office chairs'. Task chairs are required to meet certain criteria within a space to ensure they are compliant with the minimum standards within HSE Guidance for DSE workstations and company standards."
What does it mean to 'consider both human and environmental factors' when deciding on office chairs?
Scott: "I help clients consider human factors including:
- The size of users
- The health requirements of users
- The expectations of users
- The likelihood of users to set the chair up appropriately
- The culture
I also evaluate the environmental factors affecting office chair choice:
- The tasks to be carried out in a space
- The usage time in a space
- Whether it's a Single User or Multi User space
- Whether contamination resistance will be required and how the chairs and flooring will be cleaned
- The height of existing desks
These are all wrapped up in the discipline of ergonomics, and we describe Posturite as being an 'ergonomics company'. We're led by a highly experienced consultant in this field, Katharine Metters.
We can also provide an independent ergonomist's review of the office chairs in addition to the seating specialist's review – and this can provide a huge amount of additional value. The ergonomist provides an objective view as to how a chair interacts with a user as well as a comparison of how a chair compares to alternatives on the market. He or she can give an objective view of the chairs that are currently being used in a space and if they have adjustments which encourage healthy working positions. Will a new chair model help address common musculoskeletal issues?"
Are businesses evaluating the environmental impact of their office furniture choices?
Scott: "Definitely! This is very much the buzz in the industry. If office furniture sustainability is a key priority for you as a buyer, ask your office chair consultant to report on all these environmental factors:
- Recycled and recyclable materials
- Life expectancy
- Warranty length
- Making bulk purchases rather than small top up orders that require multiple deliveries
- Upcycling chairs where appropriate
- Ethical disposal (Zero Landfill) practices at end of life
Can I get an office chair to match our brand colour?
Scott: "Yes, we will do our very best to source a specific fabric colour if you wish. We can discuss all available chair modifications."
How do Posturite's office furniture specialists help hybrid working organisations?
Scott: "For hybrid working, I'm being asked to consult on full office refits, workplace collaboration spaces, reworked meeting spaces, hot-desking spaces and of course homeworking spaces. At Posturite we can recommend superb seating for all of these environments. It's such an interesting year of change for the workplace!
Employees that simply come into the office for 'touch down' or collaborative work might find the optimal chair in those spaces to be more autonomous, with fewer adjustable features. Whereas an employee with a fixed eight-hour or 24-hour usage workstation would benefit from a chair with more tailorable adjustments."
What are office furniture buyers looking for above all?
Scott: "The office chair buyers I meet are looking for chairs which:
- Promote the health and wellbeing of the user
- Add to the sustainability objectives of the organisation
- Provide beneficial ROI in the medium to long term
- Have great functionality for our innovative new workspaces."
Keen to receive office chair recommendations? Contact Posturite's Seating Projects team. Buyers can access competitive business pricing and flexible payment options for office furniture by creating a Posturite business account.