Office chairs play an important role in the modern workplace. While most people know their purpose and function, there are probably things you don’t know about them that may surprise you.
Office chairs generally see a lot of use in their lifetime. According to the National Post, the average office worker sits about 10 hours a day. Assuming an employee works 262 days a year, his or her office chair would be used for a total of 2,620 hours. For this reason, manufacturers must carefully design their chairs to withstand constant daily use.
The good news is that office chairs generally last a certain amount of time, even when used for 10 hours a day. A report published by Baylor University indicates that the average office chair lasts seven to eight years, after which it should be repaired or replaced. Other sources are even more optimistic, citing a full decade as the average life expectancy of the chair. Whether it’s seven years or 10 years, office chairs offer a lot of use when properly maintained.
Charles Darwin is a pioneer of the modern office chair
Although best known for his revolutionary contributions to science, the English biologist Charles Darwin helped create the modern office chair.
As explained by Gizmodo , Darwin was a workaholic who spent countless hours collecting plant and animal specimens. And like any hard-working individual, he needed to rest from time to time. However, because he lived in the 19th century, the chairs of the time were only designed with fixed legs. Darwin wanted to be able to slide and move while sitting, so he modified a chair to include wheels on the legs.
Today, wheels – also known as casters – are a common feature of office chairs. Like Darwin’s rudimentary design, they allow workers to move around without having to stand up. Office chair castors are usually made of soft or hard materials. Soft casters work best on hardwood, laminate, tile and linoleum floors, while hard casters work best on carpet floors.
German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck popularized the office chair
Although Darwin is widely credited with inventing the rolling design of the modern office chair, it was German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck who popularised the design.
By the mid-19th century – at a time when railways were developing – workplace culture was changing to an environment more akin to an office. Companies found themselves hiring additional receptionists and administrative staff, many of whom served for long periods of time. German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was intrigued by the office chair, seeing it as a revolutionary new tool for the workplace. He saw the practical and real value of the office chair and, not surprisingly, wanted to share it with others.
Thus, Bismarck took the liberty of ordering hundreds of office chairs tailor-made for his Parliament. This introduced Members of the German Parliament, as well as the public, to the office chair; thus popularizing the now common office furniture. Without Bismarck and his desire to furnish the Parliament, the office chair might not have gained notoriety at the time.
Bismarck is considered by many historians to be a political genius. In addition to popularizing the office chair, he went on to create the world’s first welfare state.
The good office chair can protect itself from injury
Office chairs offer more than just comfort. They protect workers from physical injury.
Sitting for long periods of time can have a negative impact on the body, resulting in muscle pain, joint stiffness, aches, sprains and more. One such injury that is generally associated with sitting is coccydynia. It is not, however, a specific injury or disease. On the contrary, coccydynia is a catch-all term used to describe any injury or condition involving pain in the region of the coccyx (tailbone).
In addition, the right office chair can protect against back injuries such as back strain. As you may know, the lumbar spine is an area of the lower back where the spine begins to bend inward. Here, the vertebrae are supported by ligaments, tendons and muscles. When these support structures are stressed beyond their limits, it creates a painful condition known as lumbar tension. In today’s digital professions, we are often required to work long hours in a seated position. Comfort is a priority for your back
Fortunately, many office chairs – except for entry-level office chairs – are designed with extra support for the lumbar backrest. The extra material creates a support area for the worker’s lower back, reducing the risk of lower back strain and similar injuries in the lower back.
Office chairs are designed with an emphasis on ergonomics.
Office chairs are now designed with an emphasis on ergonomics, which means that they are optimised specifically for human use.
Ergonomics became a hot topic in the 1970s, when employers recognized the importance of designing workplaces to meet the needs of the human worker. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were widespread in the workplace in the 1970s. In response, employers began to design their workplaces to minimize worker stress and create a safer environment.
This led, for example, to a redesign of the office chair. Ergonomic office chairs are designed with strict specifications to ensure the greatest comfort and support for the worker. They usually contain adjustable armrests, an adjustable seat, lower back support and a soft seat cushion.
Office Chairs Affect Worker Productivity
In addition to protecting against injuries, good office chairs can also improve worker productivity. This is, of course, something that all employers and managers can benefit from.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers who work eight hours a day are typically productive for only two hours and 53 minutes. When they’re not working, they can surf the Internet, update their Facebook status, gossip, play games on their smartphones or simply “zonk.
However, you can encourage higher productivity in your workplace by investing in high-quality office chairs. According to a study cited by the University of Southern California (USC), employees are 17.5% more productive when they work in an ergonomic setting. A separate study cited by USC researchers suggests that workers are 17.7% more productive when given a highly adjustable office chair.
The Rise of Mesh Back Office Chairs
When shopping for new office chairs, you’ll probably notice that many are designed with a mesh backrest. Rather than having a solid material like leather or polyester padded with cotton, they have an open fabric through which air circulates. The actual seat cushion is usually still solid. However, the back contains an open mesh material.
High quality office chairs are a smart investment
Some business owners are reluctant to buy new office chairs, seeing them as an unnecessary expense that will hurt their finances. However, this could not be further from the truth.
While buying new office chairs requires money, it is a smart investment that pays off in the long run. As mentioned earlier, high quality office chairs can protect workers from injury and promote higher levels of productivity. For this reason, the purchase of new office chairs is usually a smart financial investment that saves business owners and office managers money.
Like desks, filing cabinets and other office furniture, office chairs are also generally a tax-deductible expense. Assuming you use them strictly for business purposes, you can generally write them off as an expense on your taxes. Whether you buy a new office chair or 20, you can write them off on your taxes. Remember to keep your receipts for accounting purposes.