Achieving a healthy workspace is one of the most pressing challenges the global workforce faces today.
According to a study by Rand Corporation, workplace wellness has become a whopping 6 billion dollar industry in the United States as employers have started offering programs to improve the health and well-being of their employees.
Similarly, a survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health revealed that about 90% of employees are offering wellness incentives, financial rewards, or prizes to employees who work towards staying in shape.
Recently, CNN Money reported that employees are shelling out 28% more for workplace health benefits than just three years ago.
Among many other things these companies pour their dollars into, the office chairs and desks are the most important because companies realize ergonomic workstations are the key to their employees’ health and productivity. However, meeting this goal has presented a number of challenges to employers.
Customizing the workstation including the office chair and desk for each and every employee is a monumental task. On any given day, almost in every office, it’s pretty common to find both short and lanky people struggling with their office chairs to get it right for them.
While diminutive workers will find it hard for their feet to touch the floor, their taller counterpart will have their knees awkwardly extended beyond the front edge of their chairs. Even if the office chairs have adjustment features, they may not be adequate to properly fit the specific build of each and every employee.
Office Chair Seating Posture – Best Practices for Short People
In the present scenario, it has become all the more important for employees to inform and educate themselves about the correct seating postures while working.
The best seating posture on your office chair consists of the following practices:
You should rest your feet comfortably and squarely on the floor while seated, with thighs fully supported and approximately parallel to the floor.
Your back should be completely supported by the office chair. Make sure the angle formed by the thighs and the torso is approximately between 90 to 105 degrees. This can be achieved if you are using an office chair with lumbar support.
You should be able to reline frequently to relax your back and neck. In order words, the office chair should allow you to tilt back although you shouldn’t use this feature too frequently.
Amazon offers a great range of office chairs for smaller people.
Challenges of Smaller Folks at Work
Smaller people tend to let their legs dangle while seated on office chairs, which often leads to pain and numbness in the thighs and the backs of the knees. This happens because they find the seat to be too deep for them. This can be avoided by using chairs that have seats with slide adjustment features and allow the user to slide forward and backward to adjust the depth of the seat.
Sometimes, they inch forward to the edge of the seat to relieve the pressure on their thighs and allow their feet to reach the floor comfortably. However, this forces them to move away from the backrest ultimately leading to slumped postures which are unhealthy and almost flatten the lumbar area of the spine from its normal concave curvature. As a result, they experience back pain in the long run. To avoid this, ergonomists recommend using office chairs that have gas lift struts to let you adjust the height of the chair as per your preferences.
Survey by Herman Miller
According to a survey by Herman Miller, an average-sized man in North America is 5 feet and 9 inches tall and weighs about 171 pounds. Moreover, their average popliteal height is around 17 inches.
The survey says approximately 50% of the 150 million laborers in the US are in white-collar jobs, which demand a lot of time their office time spent on office chairs. Around 25% of those workers engaged in sedentary jobs are sitting on an office chair that’s clearly not well-fitting and could potentially lead to several ailments including back pains. However, some companies address this issue by ordering chairs from different furniture manufacturers.
Why Many Office Chairs are Fundamentally Flawed
The surge in the demand for office furniture has encouraged many furniture manufacturers to churn out office chairs without considering the fundamental ergonomics. While most chairs offer the standard adjustment features, they still miss the sliding seat adjustment and gas lift strut feature – both play a key role in helping you maintain a healthy posture while working. For example, many standard office chairs won’t allow you to adjust the height of the seat lower than 16 inches.
Therefore, experts suggest you should be extra careful while choosing the office chair.
From the furniture manufacturers’ perspective, it’s usually a challenge to ensure all their office chairs address the specific ergonomics of each and every user with a typical build. It’s a trade-off between building the best quality ergonomic office chairs and offering them within a competitive price range.
Why Merely Buying Office Chairs Won’t Help
If you think merely buying the best office chair is the only way to address the workspace health issues, think again.
As per a Herman Miller study, professional companies stress educating their employees on the adjustment functionalities of the chairs at work to make them equipped with the knowledge in order to make necessary changes to their sitting posture while at work. The study revealed that the work group that received a new chair along with the training was able to ensure better workplace health than the other group of workers that were given a new chair with no training at all.