Steelcase Survey: Most Office Workers in Pain Due to Office Chairs


If you are sitting in an office chair right now, there’s a good chance you’re working in pain. Alarmingly, 80 percent of respondents to a recent survey say their office chairs caused numbness or tingling in their hands.

The online study, conducted by Nielsen on behalf of Steelcase, the Grand Rapids-based furniture maker, and Staples, the office supply chain, also found that 88 percent of small business owners (2-24 employees) reported that non-ergonomic office chairs impacted their employees’ productivity.

With the average office worker spending 5.4 hours per day sitting in an office, pain is common. Thirty-one percent of business owners said they often experience pain or discomfort in their lower backs due to their office chair; 19 percent experience pain in their neck; and 17 percent reported experiencing mid-back pain. Additionally, 13 percent of respondents said their chair is so uncomfortable it prevents them from doing their job.

“As the survey reveals, many small business employees are sitting in pain, especially as they work with new technologies, which cause new postures,” says Allan Smith vice president of global marketing for Steelcase.

The federal agency OSHA recommends that office chairs allow for adjustable height to keep both feet flat on the floor. In addition, a worker should be able to sit in contact with the backrest at all times in varied postures, with even pressure on the lower and upper back.

Over half of business owners surveyed said they wished their chairs had adjustable lower back support, while a little more than 30 percent of respondents said the wished their chairs had adjustable seat heights or adjustable arm rests.

“Workers today require an ergonomic sitting experience designed for the new ways in which we work. When workers have access to high-performance seating they can remain attentive, engaged, and achieve their highest potential,” Smith says.