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The Best in Ergonomic Chairs

It's not just a luxury--ergonomic office furniture is key to keeping you and your employees healthy and productive.

Office furniture is more than just a place to set your monitor and coffee mug. It's your home for a good chunk of the workday. Comfort isn't a luxury; it's an important contributor to your health and productivity. Ergonomic desks and chairs help you and your employees ward off repetitive-motion and other work-related injuries.

Look for adjustable-height chairs that provide support for the lower and upper back. Desks and workstations also need to accommodate monitors and keyboards at the proper height (most brand-name furnishings will).

The La-Z-Boy brand, for example, may not connote a busy workplace. But La-Z-Boy has learned something designing all those high-end recliners and over-stuffed chairs, and it now incorporates that technology into a line of business chairs. The $802 Sintas Managerial Series Mid-Back Chair not only looks distinguished, but also features a sinuous spring suspension for back comfort and lumbar support.

HON is another well-known brand producing a wide range of office furniture. The F3 chair has adjustable seat height, tension and depth; adjustable arms; and responsive seat motion and back-flex capabilities. It's available through HON direct dealers for about $700.

Unlike the famous Herman Miller Aeron chair, not every chair comes in different sizes, so adjustability is a very important feature. It's hard to top the leather Jobri Ergonomic Task Chair in this department. Here's the list: pneumatic chair height control, seat depth and angle adjustment, dual back height adjustment, height- and width-adjustable arms, and high back tilt adjustment. It comes equipped with a lot of paddles under the seat to handle all the adjustments and Tempur material (of mattress fame) for a cushy fit.

The Staples/Sealy Posturepedic Valencia Chair is also made with form-fitting memory foam material. Leather styling makes it fitting for an executive, but the $180 price tag makes it fairly affordable. The waterfall-style seat with adjustable lumbar support is designed to promote better leg circulation.

On the other end of the price spectrum, you'll find some of Herman Miller's advanced designs. The loaded version of the Mirra chair features a customizable ergonomic design that is available in a variety of colors. For $799, the Mirra incorporates an elastic mesh-style TriFlex back that conforms to the user, a wide tilt range and elastomeric suspension seat. Its futuristic design complements a modern office style.

There's more to ergonomics than chairs. The Biomorph X02 desk with keyboard work surface is height-adjustable, and the retractable keyboard work surface below the main desk is adjustable for both height and angle. If you're looking to furnish an entire office, adjustable desks are a smart solution for meeting the varied ergonomic requirements of your employees.

How do you know which chair or desk is right for you? The best way to find out is to take a seat. Visit your local office furniture retailer or direct dealer to try out chairs and desks. Look for easy adjustability and comfort in chairs. No one size fits all; it can be a very personal choice. Check desks for quality materials that can handle the rigors of everyday use over a long period of time. If they're also adjustable, give it a try to see how the mechanism works. Ergonomic furniture doesn't come cheap, but it makes up for the cost with work productivity gains and employee satisfaction.

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This article was originally published in the February 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sitting Pretty.

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