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How much does an office chair really cost you?
Most people think all office chairs are similar and have the same qualities - you just need your employees to sit down and work, right? Wrong! This is definitely not the case. Find out what the real cost of an office chair is in this article.
Office chairs aren’t all the same - there’s hundreds of ways, both big and small, they can differ; from the the design, to the material, ergonomics and even how customisable they are.
The higher the quality of the chair, the higher the price point, but do you know how much your office chairs are really costing your business - and if they are ergonomic and promoting staff wellness? Firstly, it’s important to know what ergonomics mean and why it increases productivity levels.
In one of our recent articles, we stated:
“Ergonomics aims to create safe, comfortable and productive workspaces by bringing human abilities and limitations into the design of a workspace, including the individual’s body size, strength, skill, speed, sensory abilities (vision, hearing), and even attitudes.’ This translates into creating a workspace that suits your unique body type and measurements. Studies show that a poorly designed workspace drastically increases your risk of developing musculoskeletal complications that affect your quality of life. Your workspace should therefore be comfortable to avoid developing aches and pains that hinder your productivity.”

Given the above, it makes much more sense to buy an ergonomic chair than a traditional chair that normally leads to back pain, absenteeism, decreased productivity and premature death.

Absenteeism explained

According to Initial Hygiene South Africa, a leading hygiene services brand, “absenteeism costs the South African economy around R12 -R16 billion per year. This equates to around 15% of employees being absent on any given day. When one looks at it this way, one can understand why absenteeism is possibly the single most expensive problem affecting business both locally and internationally. Some researchers estimate that South African businesses are losing as much as 17% of their payroll every year due to absenteeism.”

Most of your employees are chair-bound for seven to eight hours per day. That’s a lot of hours sitting in a chair! This leads to increased aches and pains and ultimately… absenteeism - every employer’s worst nightmare.

The case of back pain

When comparing traditional seating options to ergonomic chairs, the former almost always fails to give you a maximum amount of comfort. The worst part is that you can’t adjust the lumbar support, which will definitely lead to increased back pain. Rosi Incorporated, an office system provider in the United States says, “annual losses of over $81 billion dollars are being reported just due to pain. That’s a staggering amount considering much of that could be prevented by re-examining your office ergonomics. Using poorly designed office chairs causes stress to the whole body, as you have to constantly compensate for lack of support.” Converted, that’s about R10 billion lost each year!

The common causes of back pain, as The Ergonomic Physio, a team of workplace ergonomic consultants, explain are:

A slouched posture - you move towards the front of your chair, slide forward and slouch back into your backrest, due to no or little back support.

Leaning forward - When you lean forward, you tend to pull more forward as you want to be closer to your workspace, however over time your muscles fatigue, leading to increased pains and aches.

Why decreased productivity occurs

Being comfortable in the workplace leads to increased productivity levels. If you’re experiencing discomfort, however, it becomes impossible to focus on your job. If you can’t concentrate at work, your productivity levels will decrease substantially.

A study by Topaz Furniture suggests: “An adjustable chair combined with ergonomic training can actually lead to a reduction in orthopaedic damage. Further research has found that employee productivity can be increased by as much as 17.5% simply by providing them with the right chair and training.”

Ergonomics, Quality and Style: Is your office chair a hit or miss

So, what can companies do to help?

The answer lies in purchasing ergonomic chairs! It’s in furniture and how this affects your staff and your overall bottom line. We suggest looking at more ergonomic seating and focus on the wellbeing of your staff.

The benefits of ergonomic chairs include:

Increased productivity;

Increased quality of work;

Reduced back pain and neck problems;

Reduced pressure on the hips;

Comfortability and user-friendliness;

Adjustable seating options.

It has been a long time since the world found a new chair. But in the apartments and dens of mostly young men and women, across from the soon-to-be-upgraded PC and multiple screens, there is one, introduced in the past decade and a half: the gaming chair, built for stress-free full-body support when the keyboard and heavy-duty mouse come out. It’s wheeled like an office chair, but it’s also something else. Although both types support the spine, with seats and armrests intended to keep knees and elbows at the optimal ergonomic 90-degree angle when playing or working at a desk, gaming chairs generally accommodate a greater range of movement. Many of the seatbacks can recline to 135 degrees, for cockpit-like play, while the armrests can be adjusted front to back, side to side and angled toward or awry from the body. They also typically come with adjustable pillows to support the lumbar and neck. Is a gaming chair sports equipment? Is it an office chair? Is it personal billboard? The answer is all of the above, and the boundaries are collapsing. The pandemic has rewritten the rules of work space vs. play space, and that changes where we spend our time and where we spend our furniture money. The New York Times reported that Amazon saw a 300 percent increase in the sales of gaming chairs during the early months of the pandemic, and a market analysis by Technavio estimates 12 percent year-over-year growth for 2020. It’s also spurred major growth in the video-game industry itself, with an estimated $159.3 billion in global revenue this year and double-digit growth in time spent playing. The $1500 that a gaming chair can cost is a reasonable amount to spend on a sofa. When socializing means logging into Discord, or Twitch, or Counter-Strike, why not get comfortable as you face the screen? To invest in what you are actually doing — where you are actually sitting — might seem like capitulation but is also self-care. These chairs first appeared in public view with the rise of professional video gaming, via streamed broadcasts of competitive e-sports. Lately, though, in a pandemic when most nonessential workers are essentially streaming from home, it’s hard not to notice how often they pop up behind the heads of friends and acquaintances who you’ve never realized were enthusiasts. For professional gamers, the chair has long been a billboard — real estate for hire, with the distinctive markings of the chair manufacturer hovering around the player’s head and shoulders. Everyday gamers, streaming, Steam-ing, Twitch-ing, YouTube-ing and otherwise riding out the pandemic from behind their battle stations are the stars of their own nightly shows.

The first mass-market gaming chair, by most accounts, was introduced by DXRacer in 2006, when the company pivoted from its primary business manufacturing luxury car seats. (That’s not a wild leap. The game controller is held a bit like a steering wheel, and many games are racing simulations.) That early model created the outline for generations of chairs to follow, with a head-high backrest, defined shoulder support, adjustable armrests and the option of a deep recline. The look suggested the need for speed, despite the fact that gamers were physically going nowhere.

And that aesthetic stuck — black body with brightly colored piping, seats with bulging muscles, synthetic materials, all indicating an affinity with the physiques and materials of physical sports. (Meanwhile Recaro, a maker of luxury sports-car seats that also sells them as office chairs, added a line with “extremely sportive appearance” in 2017, i.e., a headrest that looks like headlights.) What sets one chair apart from the next are relatively subtle differences in the silhouette up top, as well as different logos on the headrest.

The last big chair innovation before this was Herman Miller’s Aeron, designed by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf in 1992, with its flared back and immediately identifiable mesh. When the curator Heng Zhi put up the “Seats of Power” exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum in 2018, Herman Miller’s earlier Eames Executive Office Chair made it into the show but a gaming chair didn’t, despite the fact that the latter precisely fit its criteria for media saturation and identity formation. Since then office chairs have gotten lighter and lighter in appearance, with spine-like structures and performance webbing. Gaming chairs went the other direction, with padded, faux-leather seats that cup the body and extend all the way up into headrests. Just as our enforced at-home time this summer began to crest, Herman Miller introduced its first line of gaming chairs in July, in partnership with Logitech. Herman Miller had the workplace history, and Logitech the tech cred: Its wireless keyboard and mouse are prized for their supportive contours and easy controls. The top-of-the-line Herman Miller x Logitech G Embody has a shoulder-high back, minimalist lines, and comes for the first time in black, the better to match most existing PC gaming set-ups. HM also produced versions of the Aeron and Sayl chairs in gamer-friendly colors.