As workplace design becomes more sophisticated and inclusive, architects, designers and project managers alike are continuing to learn more about the science behind ergonomic seating. The true objective of an ergonomic seating is to provide not only the proper function, but to ensure all important aspects surrounding user comfort and is not just limited to work chairs but applies to other office chairs and lounges. People who are more comfortable in their seats, are more likely to be able to contribute to workplace productivity for longer durations. Seating that fails to provide effective support and adjustability can significantly increase spinal stresses, resulting in discomfort, increased risk for injury – which can in turn cause a spike in sick days and impact the overall bottom line of an organization.
Here are some of the most important factors to consider when looking to integrate ergonomic seating solutions into the workplace:
How important is cushioning? Very. For instance, contrary to popular belief, a thicker seat cushion does not necessarily equal comfort. While thicker foam may feel softer at first, it could lead to discomfort after extended use. Foam quality and density for instance, should actually be considered critical factors when designing ergonomic seating. Manufacturers of ergonomic seating solutions, will determine the appropriate foam density by using an IFD (initial force deflection) measurement. Proper IFD varies based on the type of foam used, thickness and contouring. In short, long-term comfort is accomplished through the quality and density of the cushioning in your workplace seating.
For project managers and / or interior designers looking to create a truly ergonomic workplace, it’s also crucial to consider the actual design of the seating solutions you are considering for integration. The contours, depth and height of both the seat and back must support the user while at the same time encouraging proper movement. As explored in Universal Design, the best seating can cater for a broad range of user sizes, preferences and needs.
Taking these factors into consideration, should have everyone in your organization – sitting quite comfortably!