As a Canadian Certified Professional Ergonomist and workplace improvement expert at ERGO Inc., Rachel Mitchell knew the value of a good office chair long before she joined a Staples Advisory Council focused on promoting well-designed workplaces, both in conventional and work from home settings. “Chairs are not rocket science”, says Mitchell, “but I’ve been doing this for twenty years and I spend a surprising amount of time with people who find a chair uncomfortable because they haven’t figured out what all the levers do.“
Seeing people find the sweet spot for sitting is especially satisfying, she says, because a more ergonomic position can give an immediate boost to productivity and feelings of well-being. And it needn’t necessarily be complicated.
Rachel Mitchell explains the value of the ergonomic home office
“People are familiar with ergonomics in chairs and desks and things, but I actually spend more time in heavy industry/assembly lines. Then there’s what some people refer to as human factors. How you design, say, cockpits in fighter planes – both so that people can reach things but also to assist in things like decision making. It’s very heavily used in the nuclear industry, and in the design of any kind of control panels”, says Mitchell.
“On a super simple level, if you are uncomfortable in your chair and are shifting around or distracted, maybe you miss something or transpose a zero. If we design a works station – including a chair – that considers both your physical and cognitive abilities, we should be able to optimize your performance.”
Below are a few home office seating tips from Ms. Mitchell, which I went through on the chair shown below, which was sent to me from Staples. The adjustable, stylish, and sturdy airCentric 3 ($600/three sizes) is the result of their recent partnership with gry mattr by Joe Mimran and seating manufacturer ergoCentric.
- Sit so that your thighs are parallel with the floor. A marble placed on top of one should not roll off. Shorties like me often have to raise our feet to accomplish this. In a pinch, we can use a package of legal-size paper or a box, but really hunny, don’t you think we deserve a footrest? Editor’s Note. Do they make vibrating ones? Or ones with warm wax that you can sink your feet in? If not, in should speak to the Around the House legal team about securing a patent for above.
- Tilt the seat pan almost to the horizontal—between 90 and 110 degrees at the hip. Make sure your thighs and body weight is evenly supported. The most pronounced curve of the chair fit into the curve of your lower back—about belt level at the tiniest part of your waist. “You don’t want to be ramrod straight because then you have to hold up half your body weight, which sits above the waist,” says Mitchell.
- If you work from home, don’t forget to switch positions throughout the day. Lean back a bit when you’re on a casual call. Straighten up for Zoom meetings. Get up from your workspace and move around periodically.
- Adjust arm rests so that hands just skim the keyboard having to lift your shoulders.