Comfort in Office Seating: A Neglected Criterion?

Affordability and durability may be your top criteria for office seating… but what role does comfort play in determining what office seating to buy for the workplace? In today’s cost-conscious world, most people look at the price tag before they check how easy each chair is on the user… but it’s important to remember that comfort levels have very real effects on your bottom line.

Consider what happens when comfort is taken entirely out of the picture. We’ve talked about musculo-skeletal disorders (MSDs) before – these injuries are the cumulative effects of repetitive actions done in the workplace. Over time, if such actions aren’t mediated by a more comfortable workplace, an MSD may be in the worker’s future – leaving the employer vulnerable to workers’ compensation claims.

Dollars and Cents of MSD

Charles Jeffress, the former assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health in the U.S. Department of Labor, breaks the cost of MSDs down: “Nearly two million workers suffer work-related musculoskeletal disorders every year, and about 600,000 lose time from work as a result,” Jeffress said in 2000. (read more)

Materials For Office Seating – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Executives can choose from a variety of materials for their office seating requirements. Traditional fabric chairs are quickly being supplanted by classier materials like leather, or more exotic materials, from simple vinyl upholstery to space-age mesh office seating.

But why choose one material over the other? What advantages and disadvantages do mesh, leather, and vinyl have over each other? If you’re graduating from fabric office chairs, what material should you choose?

Mesh Office Chairs – Breathability and Comfort Go Together

Mesh Office Seating – Good. Mesh office chairs are designed with one purpose in mind – to allow air to circulate between areas “covered” by the user, the seat and the back. This provides a high level of comfort, and prevents sweat and odor build-up (as moisture is allowed to evaporate through the office seating).

Mesh office chairs are known to stay fresh, even after years of heavy use. If you work in a humid environment, or even a normal one, mesh office seating can be your most comfortable alternative.

Mesh Office Seating – Bad. The relative novelty of mesh office seating and the limitations of the material constrict the types of design available for mesh office chairs. Unfortunately, all other material types boast of more designs and colors than do mesh office chairs.

Mesh Office Seating – Ugly. Finding the perfect balance between comfort and durability is an even bigger challenge where mesh chairs are concerned. As we’ve explained in an earlier article, mesh chair users are stuck between the compromise that designers have to strike: soft mesh is more comfortable, but sags quicker; stiff mesh is less comfortable, but lasts longer.

More after the jump. (read more)