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)

The Unique Challenge of Call Center Office Seating.

Given the intensive, 24-hour nature of the profession, call center professionals demand office seating that can stand up well through multiple shifts, these shifts adding up to continuous use day in and day out without rest. In short, call center office seating must endure intensive use, far more intensive than you’d get from a nine-to-five job.

Not only should call center office seating survive these multiple shifts, they ought to stay comfortable through long hours of usage. That’s a tall order for an intensive-use chair.

Finally, the call center office seating must be economical enough so that buying them in bulk remains an attractive proposition.

Let’s look at each of these properties in turn – durability, comfort, cost, and a few other items – and examine how these should affect your choice of call center office seating.

Durability is essential in call center office seating, for good reason: few other office chairs undergo the kind of punishment that call center seats endure.

Call center office seating must be specially reinforced, or otherwise constructed to stronger specifications, to comfortably seat a succession of users who will use them for longer than the usual 40 hours a week.

The U.S. government is a major buyer of intensive use chairs, and the Fed’s General Services Administration has set standards for selecting such office seating. Buyers refer to Federal Standard 834A to decide how to test chairs that are acceptable for government-issue intensive use environments (DOCX file) which, like call center office seating, requires constant use over 24 hours a day.

Any chair that survives Federal Standard 834A (or its old name, FNEW 83-269E) ought to be all right by any call center’s book.

Comfort is a key requirement for call center office seating. After all, call center workers are expected to rest their posteriors in them, for hours on end, dealing with numerous demands like generating sales and consulting with customers.

These chairs must also be easy to adjust for multiple users on different shifts, and may need to be specially reinforced to accommodate users weighing more than 250 pounds.

Therefore, ergonomics are a big issue for call center office seating experts. Because call center telemarketers must sit for long hours at their chairs, they need to be comfortable with their seating positions, to avoid productivity-draining comfort breaks and long-term possibility of injury, and reduce attrition in the medium term.

As Dr. Leonard B. Kruk of Office Visions Consulting puts it, “Call centers are often characterized as ‘high stress.’ This type of environment often leads to high employee turnover when ergonomics are ignored.” Workplace stress and its expensive ramifications, concludes Kruk, can be addressed by attending “to those conditions that have a negative impact on a worker’s well-being.”

Cost is a matter of some debate -for some supply managers, no price is too small for happy telemarketers, while others may balk at high prices for call center office seating.

Luckily, the market has that concern well in hand – supply managers may choose from a wide variety of intensive-use chairs rated for continuous use, with prices that suit most reasonable budgets (the Concorde Executive chair, for example, falls in the lower middle of the cost range).

In conclusion, the “challenge” of finding good call center office seating is not much of a challenge after all – if you know the right things to look for, plenty of office seating suppliers out there will have what your supply manager needs.