My job means I have to sit at my computer all day, 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 46 weeks a year. That’s 1610 hours a year and 1/3 of my whole day (given that I also sleep about 8 hours so am not conscious I’m in my chair A LOT).
I work from home which is great as it means I can get up and do back stretches every hour or so and not get strange looks when I start rolling around on the floor. Working from home also gives me some freedom in terms of what my workstation looks like and up until now I’ve taken the traditional route of office desk and standard office chair. However my chair broke recently and so now I need to replace it, I currently have a few ideas on what my replacement might be...
- Standard chair - This is the 'safe' choice, it's "just a chair", I'm not suggesting that particular chair, but just something like it. The chair I am replacing is similar to this one and I'm pretty sure that sitting in it for as long as I do has given me the occasional lower back pain and stiff shoulder that I get. I have seen an osteopath a few times and he also said he thought the chair was to blame.
- Fancy chair - I quite like the look of a non-standard chair, something that supports me and allows me to move properly. The trouble here is that these kind of chairs cost more than the standard. I know that paying for an osteopath to fix problems after they’ve happened rather than spending the money to get a better chair that meant I wouldn't need to see the osteopath is daft... but a decent ergonomic chair is hundreds and I just don’t have that lying around spare.
- Ball Chair - If I went this route I could use the 35 hours a week as exercise time and strengthen my core muscles. It would make it hard to slouch or chill out in the chair while reading documentation though and I'm not sure I could easily transition to something as radical as this. I have talked to people who use these and they’ve said that a few hours at a time is fine, but not a full day. So if I were to get up every hour and move around this is still maybe an option.
- Poang - This would be unusual and I would need to get a new desk to keep things at the right level. But it would be a comfy chair, all my joints would be 'open', greater than 90 degrees. Plus I already have a spare Poang. Given that I work from home why not make myself comfy and sitting upright all day is not how I’d spend a day if I wasn’t working. Getting rid of my desk and going a bit minimalist might be good.
My employer has said they would pay £100 for a chair but I cannot top that up with my own money as it blurs the question of ownership and complicates things for tax. Sadly £100 doesn't go very far, I can just about get a 'standard' chair for that money, the Ball chair is also within budget. I own a spare Poang... so really it the comes down to the question of whether I want to spend £150 - £600 of my own money on a chair that I'll use for work.
Looking into quality chairs I quickly ran into the Herman Miller chairs, these have been highlighted in Investing in a Quality Programming Chair and in The Real Pain of Software Development \part 2\ Phil Haack says that he likes the Neutral Posture chair – again not cheap options.
Of course most of this assumes the traditional desk and chair what about Wild Workstations for Telecommuters? With my Poang I’m getting close to the SurfChair, it’s not quite as luxurious as a La-Z Boy but it looks very comfy and like my posture is being considered which, long term, is very important.
Does anyone have any long term experience in working in an unusual workstation setup? I've been using the Poang for a few days and it feels nice, but will I be setting myself up for problems later down the line? My back has been an issue and the standard chairs do little for me - but would the SurfChair be a step too far?
I've been using the Poang for a while now and my lower back is painful. Last weekend I bent down to pick up a child's jacket from the floor and... owch! I'm still not recovered from that and I wonder whether the unusual seating is the major culprit. I'm pretty active, do yoga and taichi regularly - but 7+ hours a day in a bad chair is clearly not doing me any favours.