How to Set Up an Office Chair


The office chair is possibly more of a determining factor in how much work gets done than the computer, fax or phone line. An uncomfortable office chair can be a distraction, and a chair that is not set up correctly can cause potential injury to your body and lost work time. You can set up an office chair quickly and easily, but you have to know the basics of how to do it so your chair is an asset and not a liability to the effectiveness of your work environment. It doesn't matter what model office chair you own; the principles are the same.

Assemble your chair if needed. Some chairs come pre-assembled, but the back rest and seat are set in their lowest position. Some chairs require assembly. Follow the instructions included with your chair, and use the tools provided with it. If you did not receive tools with your chair, all you will need is a small socket set to attach the wheel base to the seat. Every other part, including the casters and the back support, will be put in place by hand.

Set the seat height of the office chair. You should sit so your feet are flat on the floor and your thighs are at a 90-degree angle to your hips. On some chairs you must turn the seat clockwise to raise it and counterclockwise to lower it. Other models will have a lever that you must push and hold down while you adjust the seat height. Your office chair may also have a large knob under the seat; turn this counterclockwise to loosen the bolt holding the seat in place, move the seat to the correct height and turn the knob clockwise until it is hand tight.

Sit in the office chair, and note where the back support touches your back. Some office chairs have a small and slightly curved back, and others have a larger, full height back (but also with a slight outward curve on the side your back is against). This curve is called the lumbar support. You will want the lumbar support positioned just below your shoulder blades. As you sit in the chair notice if the backrest needs to be moved up or down. Stand up and make the adjustment. On some chairs there will again be a lever to push down while you raise or lower the backrest. On other chairs there will be a knob; turn the knob counterclockwise until you can move the backrest, put it in position and tighten the knob by turning it clockwise.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once you have set up an office chair, show the person who is using it how to make adjustments to the chair, and explain the basics of ergonomic positioning. This way each worker can fine tune the position of his chair rather than you devoting more of your day to doing it.
  • Improper posture and support while sitting can lead to back pain and loss of circulation. Make sure your office chair is set to be as ergonomically comfortable as possible for your work environment.

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