A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Perfect Office Chair

When it comes to outfitting your office space, selecting the right task chair is crucial for comfort, productivity, and overall well-being. However, navigating the terminology surrounding task chairs can be daunting, with various terms like “desk chair,” “operator’s chair,” and “office chair” often used interchangeably. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll demystify task chair terminology to help you make an informed decision when choosing the perfect seating solution for your workspace.

Understanding Task Chairs:

Before diving into the terminology, let’s establish what a task chair is. A task chair is a type of office chair specifically designed for use at a desk or workstation. Unlike executive chairs or conference room chairs, which prioritise aesthetics and formal meetings, task chairs are engineered for comfort and ergonomic support during extended periods of seated work.

Overall, task chairs are engineered to support prolonged use in office settings by prioritising ergonomic design, comfort features, durability, adjustability, and versatility. By investing in high-quality task chairs, organisations can provide their employees with comfortable and supportive seating solutions that promote productivity, well-being, and long-term health in the modern workplace.

Key Features and Terminology:

Now, let’s delve further into the key features and terminology associated with task chairs:

Ergonomics:  Ergonomics refers to the science of designing products, including chairs, to maximise comfort, efficiency, and safety for users. In the context of task chairs, ergonomic features include adjustable seat height, lumbar support, armrests, and recline functionality to accommodate various body types and preferences.

Adjustability: Adjustable task chairs allow users to customise their seating experience for optimal comfort and support. Common adjustable features include seat height, seat depth, armrest height and width, lumbar support, and recline tension. Look for task chairs with intuitive adjustment mechanisms that are easy to use and provide a wide range of customisation options.

Body Balance Mechanism: The body balance mechanism (often known as a synchronized mechanism) enables the chair to move dynamically with the user’s body, promoting active sitting and enhancing blood circulation. This mechanism allows the chair to adapt to the user’s movements, providing continuous support and comfort throughout the workday.

Back Rake Mechanism: The back rake mechanism allows users to adjust the angle of the backrest relative to the seat pan, providing customized lumbar support and recline options. This feature allows users to find the optimal seating position for comfort and ergonomic alignment, reducing strain on the spine and promoting relaxation.

Material and Durability: Task chairs are available in a variety of materials, including mesh, fabric, leather, and vinyl. Each material offers unique benefits in terms of breathability, comfort, and aesthetics. 

  • Mesh Back Task Chairs: Mesh backs are highly breathable, allowing air to circulate freely and preventing heat buildup, which can be especially beneficial during long work sessions. They provide excellent support while conforming to the user’s body shape, promoting comfort and ergonomic alignment. Mesh also tends to be lightweight and easy to clean, making it a practical choice for busy office environments. While mesh offers breathability and flexibility, it may lack the plush cushioning of other materials, potentially leading to discomfort for some users, especially those who prefer a more padded feel. Additionally, mesh backs may be less durable than solid materials and can be prone to sagging or stretching over time.

    Fabric Back Task Chairs: Fabric backs come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and textures, allowing for customisation to match the aesthetic of your workspace. They offer moderate breathability and comfort, providing a softer feel compared to mesh. Fabric chairs are often more affordable than leather or mesh options, making them a budget-friendly choice for many offices. Naturally, fabric backs are less breathable than mesh, leading to heat buildup and potential discomfort, particularly in warm environments or during prolonged sitting. They can also be more prone to staining and wear over time, requiring regular maintenance and cleaning to preserve their appearance.

  • Leather Back Task Chairs: Leather backs exude a sense of luxury and sophistication, making them a popular choice for executive and high-end office environments. Leather offers exceptional durability and longevity, as well as easy maintenance and cleaning, with spills and stains easily wiped away. Leather chairs also provide a plush, supportive feel, molding to the user’s body over time for personalized comfort. Leather task chairs can be less breathable than mesh or fabric options, leading to potential discomfort, particularly in warmer climates or during extended sitting periods. Leather chairs also tend to be more expensive than other materials, making them a higher investment upfront.

Vinyl Back Task Chair: Vinyl backs offer a cost-effective alternative to leather, providing a similar aesthetic without the higher price tag. They are easy to clean and maintain, with spills and stains wiping away effortlessly. Vinyl chairs also offer durability and resistance to wear and tear, making them suitable for high-traffic environments or shared workspaces. While vinyl chairs offer many of the benefits of leather at a lower cost, they may lack the luxurious feel and natural texture of genuine leather. Additionally, vinyl can be less breathable than other materials, potentially leading to discomfort, particularly during prolonged sitting or in warmer environments.

Seat Cushioning: Seat cushioning plays a crucial role in comfort and pressure distribution. Look for task chairs with high-density foam or memory foam padding for optimal support and durability. Additionally, breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics can help regulate temperature and prevent discomfort, especially during long work sessions. Some high-performance task chairs may feature a mesh seat at a premium. 

Waterfall Seat: A waterfall seat design features a curved front edge that slopes downward, reducing pressure on the thighs and promoting better circulation. This ergonomic feature helps alleviate discomfort and fatigue, particularly during prolonged sitting sessions.

Recline Mechanism: A recline mechanism allows users to tilt the backrest backward for increased comfort and relaxation. Look for task chairs with a synchronized tilt mechanism that maintains proper alignment between the seat and backrest during recline, promoting ergonomic support and reducing pressure on the spine.

Lumbar Support: Lumbar support refers to the curved area of the lower back, and proper support in this region is essential for preventing discomfort and promoting good posture. Task chairs with built-in lumbar support or adjustable lumbar pads provide additional support to the lower back, reducing strain and fatigue during prolonged sitting.

Seat Tilt Mechanism: A seat tilt mechanism allows users to tilt the entire seat pan forward or backward, promoting dynamic sitting and relieving pressure on the spine. This feature enables users to adjust their seating position to reduce discomfort and maintain optimal posture throughout the workday.

Seat Lock: A seat lock mechanism allows users to lock the seat in a fixed position, providing stability and support when desired. This feature is useful for tasks that require focused attention or precision, allowing users to maintain a consistent seating position without unwanted movement.

Swivel Base: A swivel base allows the chair to rotate 360 degrees, providing ease of movement and accessibility to surrounding work areas. Look for task chairs with a sturdy swivel base and smooth-glide castors for effortless mobility on various floor surfaces.

Castor Types: Soft castors are ideal for hard floors, providing smooth movement and floor protection. Hard castors are best suited for carpeted floors, offering durability and easy maneuverability. Glides are stationary feet that provide stability on surfaces where rolling is not needed, such as hardwood floors or uneven surfaces. Choose the option that suits your floor type and mobility needs best.

Seat Slide: Seat slide allows users to adjust the depth of the seat pan, accommodating different leg lengths and promoting proper thigh support. This feature is particularly beneficial for users with longer or shorter legs, ensuring optimal comfort and ergonomic alignment.

Headrests: Headrests provide additional support and comfort for the neck and head, reducing strain and promoting relaxation during extended periods of sitting. Look for task chairs with adjustable headrests that can be positioned to suit individual preferences and neck contours.

Armrests: Task chairs may come with various armrest options, including no arms, 2D (height-adjustable), 3D (height and width-adjustable), and 4D (height, width, depth, and pivot-adjustable) arms. Adjustable armrests allow users to find the optimal position for arm support, reducing strain on the shoulders and promoting proper posture.

Tested Furniture and BS EN Accreditations

When selecting a task chair, it’s essential to choose furniture that has undergone rigorous testing and meets industry standards for safety, durability, and performance. Look for task chairs that comply with relevant BS EN (British Standards European Norms) accreditations, such as BSEN 5459-2: 2000 + A2: 2008 for office furniture, which specifies requirements for strength, durability, and safety of office work chairs. Additionally, consider BS EN ISO 9241, 1999, part 5 for workstation layout and postural requirements, which provides guidelines for ergonomic design and layout of workstations to promote user comfort and productivity.

office task chair fabrics

Chair Fabrics

Martindale cycles, also known as the Martindale rub test, are a standardised method used to assess the durability and abrasion resistance of fabrics, particularly in upholstery applications such as task chairs. The test involves rubbing a piece of worsted wool fabric against the sample fabric in a circular motion using a mechanical arm. The number of cycles completed before visible wear or damage occurs provides a measure of the fabric’s durability.

When selecting task chair fabrics, it’s essential to consider their Martindale cycle rating to ensure they can withstand the rigors of daily use in a busy office environment. Higher Martindale cycle ratings indicate greater durability and resistance to abrasion, making them suitable for high-traffic areas and long-term use.

By familiarising yourself with these key features and terminology when selecting a task chair, you can ensure that you choose a seating solution that promotes comfort, productivity, and overall well-being in your workspace. Whether you prioritize adjustability, ergonomic support, or durability, investing in. 

Recommended Task Chairs

Office task chair
Actualize Task Chair
Being Me Task Chair
Do Task Chair
Equity Task Chair
Flo Ergonomic Task Chair
World Task Chair

Or see our full list of task chairs available.

If you would like to speak to a Flexiform representative about your task chair requirements, please contact sales@flexiform.co.uk.