How long should an office chair be used for?

2022-08-17 20:49:54 admin

How long should an office chair be used for?

This excellent question from a recent discussion group has sparked a lot of questions, and in my opinion, it's a great blog topic!

The short answer is of course "it depends".

The next "rule of thumb" (and incomplete) answer is "maybe up to 7 or 8 years for chairs with a standard 5 year warranty, and 12-15 years for chairs with a 10 year or longer warranty" .These life expectancy estimates are not directly related to the duration of the warranty, but rather to the quality of the product on which such warranty is based. If your attention span is short, you can obviously stop reading the (sort of) answers to the questions here, but there are a number of factors that can significantly affect a product's durability and survival.

First, these indicative expectations may apply to most products for general office use, but there will always be some that won't keep their distance. Like a pair of shoes, office chairs experience varying degrees of wear and tear, even if the condition appears the same. Chairs used in desk-wheel environments, in particular, will not be given the same sense of ownership and resulting sense of responsibility as chairs that the same person uses throughout their lifetime.

Another important consideration is that events within the enterprise are likely to make the actual life expectancy of the seats irrelevant. Office relocations, lease expirations, natural attrition, and smart work programs may drive replacement and renovation projects more directly than a product's actual life cycle.

If you're buying a new chair...

Have a holistic view of the process.

In addition to the obvious issues of price, availability, comfort, ergonomics, design, etc., check out the warranty period for the product you're considering. As mentioned, the warranty should be at least 5 years (for normal office use), but at least 10 years is the norm for better quality products. Also, please check the warranty conditions. What is covered? Is there any routine maintenance required to ensure the warranty is still valid? Keep in mind that more expensive fabrics may actually be lighter and therefore less durable.

Consider end-of-life disposal. Cradle-to-cradle design may be your top priority, but seriously consider refurbishment options. If the manufacturer offers rebuild/rework services, this can significantly extend the life of the product and may be more in line with your sustainability (and budget) criteria than discarding and starting over.

Are you sure you know how much you need? Monitoring the use of furniture assets has become more difficult as smart work procedures evolve. You may need less than you think, and if that's the case, you can have more buying flexibility within your budget.

Never underestimate the importance of ergonomic considerations in chair specifications. The better the ergonomic certificate of the product, the more likely the user is to buy it. And, if they like their chair, they are more likely to take care of it and report problems promptly. It's also reasonable to assume that ergonomically designed seats at the cutting edge are often made better and stronger (but the corollary doesn't necessarily apply!).

If you're looking at chairs you already own...

What warranty came with the purchase and are they still under warranty? Do you have a regular maintenance plan? If not, your original supplier should be able to provide one after an inventory review, or, if this is an issue, the manufacturer will be able to refer you to a reputable carrier. They should be able to train your own people to do any maintenance if you want.

Your DSE assessment cycle should have uncovered instances where chairs need to be repaired or replaced, and tracking the incidence and nature of such instances will give you a good indication of the general condition of the property. Many manufacturers provide serial numbers under the seat, so at the very least, your supplier should easily identify the purchase date. Our own chairs come with a 5 digit alphanumeric warranty sticker identifying the date of purchase, exact specification and customer order number.

Check with your original supplier or manufacturer to see if refurbishment is available for the product you own. A full rework may require returning the chair to a distributor or manufacturer, but depending on the quantity and available space at your location, components like the seat and backrest can often be replaced in the field.

the most important is……

Don't forget to train your staff. Making sure your employees know how to adjust their chairs (and why) will not only improve their posture and resulting productivity, but regular adjustments will keep chair components functional and identify faults and breakages in a timely manner. In addition to user training at installation, intranet links, handouts and regular reminders from your team of DSE assessors or suppliers are essential.

What did I miss? This is a big topic, so as always I welcome other ideas and contributions.