Executive Office Chairs
Watch any office-centred movie or TV show, and you’ll notice the Executive Office Chair as a reflection of the power and authority of the person in charge. From Mad Men to Wall Street, executives show their power with ornately furnished offices and a large, commanding executive office chair, which they sit upon as they would a throne. With their tall backs, premium upholstery (traditionally black leather) and sturdy fixtures, executive office chairs make the statement that the person sitting in it is in charge, even if they don’t say a word.
Even if you don’t feel the need for a power statement or to assert your authority, an executive office chair is extremely comfortable to sit in. With its thick cushioning, sturdy arm rests and cushioned headrest, it’s the perfect seat to take when caught up in endless meetings.
What is an Executive Office Chair
In order to define an executive office chair, we must first define an executive. In the context of a business, an executive is one of the people responsible for running or making decisions for an organization to help it grow and succeed. The exact nature of the role depends on the position and the organization. Often, an organization will have multiple executives who are in charge of the strategic direction of various parts of the company – business development, finance, technology, marketing, etc.
Due to the nature of their roles in guiding the company and the people who work in their departments, executives tend to spend more time in meetings and discussions. It’s important, then, that they have comfortable chairs that will support their body throughout the day, especially when they’re faced with back-to-back meetings that run long, and even grabbing a quick snack is difficult.
Executive office chairs were designed for these long days. Tall-backed and comfortable, these chairs provide additional support for the entire upper body. They usually come with a headrest as well, to support the head during conference calls or when reading through reports.
Executive office chairs aren’t limited to people in executive roles or who want to project an image of authority. Their high back and premium quality give additional comfort to any office worker, and are especially helpful for tall people who could benefit from the additional space and back support.
What’s the Difference between an Executive Office Chair and an Office Chair?
When people think about an “office chair”, they’re usually thinking of task chairs. These are personal chairs office workers sit on for most of their workday, usually at a desk or a personal workstation. Because task chairs are meant to act as support for long stretches at a time – sometimes an entire 8-Task chairs usually come with multiple adjustments to allow the person sitting in them to make them as customized and comfortable as possible to support sitting at a desk, and are usually compact to fit in smaller workspaces.
Executive office chairs, on the other hand, tend to be housed in larger personal offices so can be larger and more spacious. Because they’re a reflection of the power of the person sitting on them, they are made with premium material such as leather or bonded leather, and have higher backrests and often headrests since the person using them would spend more time sitting back in them rather than upright while typing or writing. They also have more formal design touches such as leather or faux-leather armrests.
Why Buy an Executive Office Chair
Executive office chairs are often purchased for people with senior roles in the company, for both symbolic and practical reasons. Symbolically, the larger, premium build of an executive office chair reflects the power and authority of the person in it. It makes an impression not only on other employees of the company, but on visitors and clients as well. An executive office chair suggests success.
It’s also functional. Because senior level executives don’t tend to spend as much time right in front of their desks, writing or typing away, they benefit more from the high backs and headrests of executive office chairs that give comfort and support when leaning back on them. This helps improve seated posture to lower the risk of aches, pains and back problems.
Because of their larger proportions, executive office chairs are also appropriate for taller people or people who enjoy having a more spacious seat. The high backrest supports the entire back, as opposed to task chairs which often have midbacks.
Like task chairs, executive office chairs come with many adjustment options to personalize their fit. And because of their premium build and material, they tend to be of higher quality and would last longer than simpler task chairs.
How to Choose an Executive Office Chair
Choosing an executive office chair isn’t too different from choosing a task chair or personal office chair. Fit and comfort are most important. Often, the person who’ll be sitting in an executive office chair won’t be the one purchasing it, so it’s important to get information on the chair to see if it’ll be a suitable fit.
The dimensions of the chair – especially seat depth and with – will be key in the comfort of the chair. A chair that is too small will obviously be uncomfortable to sit in, but a chair that is too large can lead to its own issues such as imbalanced posture if the person using it has to lean to use the armrests, or if the seat is too deep and puts undue pressure on the back of the knees and legs.
The weight capacity of a chair is based on standard sitting for 40 hours a week. Some executive chairs, because of their sturdier build, can handle heavier weights than standard task chairs, which may be desirable from those who need the extra support.
A rub rating is a number that reflects the number of times the material of a chair seat can handle a person sitting down and getting up before it starts to fray. The higher the number, the longer the upholstery will last. This is probably a more important metric for chairs that have to accommodate people getting up and sitting down a lot, but perhaps not as important when the person using it will be sitting in it for long periods at a time.
To find a chair that’ll provide all-day comfort for whoever will be sitting in it, find one with adjustments the user can tweak to adjust the fit to their body. Executive chairs generally don’t come with as many adjustments such as seat tilt and arm width/depth as task chairs, but they do come with important features such as height adjustment and back tilt, as well as other ergonomic features such as wheels, armrests and headrests.
The Ergonomics of Executive Office Chairs
Although executive office chairs don’t tend to have as many adjustments as task chairs do, they still have many ergonomic features.
A backrest supports the natural curve of the spine, especially if it comes with adjustable lumbar support. It takes the pressure off the back, allowing someone to sit with proper posture longer. Ergonomic executive office chairs tend to have a high back that leads into a head rest, which gives full back support when sitting or leaning back.
A headrest on an ergonomic executive office chair supports the back of the head and the upper neck. While headrests aren’t meant to be used while actively engaged in deskwork, they reduce tension in the shoulders and upper torso when performing tasks that don’t require a lot of head movement, such as reading, taking a call or engaging in a virtual meeting – all tasks that are part of a busy executive’s day.
For someone who needs to sit in a fixed position for long periods of time, such an executive during long virtual meetings, arm rests provide support and ease tension that could otherwise build in the neck and shoulders.
Ergonomic executive office chairs have adjustable seat heights, which allows the user to modify the height of the chair relative to the floor and to the desk. It’s important that the person sitting in the chair is able to rest their feet flat on the floor or a footrest, so their leg muscles aren’t working all day to support their lower body.
Wheels and the Ability to Swivel
An ergonomic executive office chair’s wheels and ability to swivel both help users with manoeuvrability, making it easier to reach different points of their desks and office without having to strain themselves. This is especially relevant if there is a particular part of the office they need to reach for regularly, such as telephone at the side of a desk, or reference books behind the desk.
How to Maintain an Executive Office Chair
Executive office chairs tend to be made of higher quality and more premium material than regular task chairs, but it doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. Pay attention to the weight capacity and rub ratings of the chair to know what to expect.
Most executive office chairs are upholstered in real, faux or bonded leather. Whatever the material, it’s subject to daily wear so maintenance and frequent care will go a long way in preserving the look and comfort of the material.
We recommend dusting or vacuuming the chair on a regular basis. Using a duster, dry cloth, or handheld vacuum will keep dirt from attaching itself to the material over time. Leaving it too long could lead to sticky or caked on dirt and dust that’s not only an eyesore, but difficult to remove.
We also recommend wiping down the seat on a weekly basis to prevent the buildup of body oils that naturally occur when sitting. It’s important to avoid harsh chemicals as they can deteriorate the material and the treatments applied to the material during the manufacturing process.
Use leather conditioner twice a year keeps the leather malleable and prevents breaks and cracks. Conditioner can also achieve give the seat a polished look and keeps the leather looking new and well cared for.
Specific Types of Executive Office Chairs
Executive office chairs all tend to have a similar look, but there are some subsets of executive chairs people have shown particular interest in:
Luxury Executive Office Chair
For the executive who will settle for nothing but the best, a luxury executive office chair is the way to go. These chairs use the most premium of materials and have a more ornate look. Some even come with a tufted seat or back.
Leather Executive Office Chair
Many executive office chairs are upholstered in real leather, faux leather or bonded leather for a premium look and feel. Regardless of the material, it’s important to maintain the material so it can stay comfortable and looking new for as long as possible.
Modern Executive Office Chair
Classic executive office chairs have a similar look, and furniture designers have attempted to update the look with modern or mid-century aesthetic influences. Some even look like they’d fit right in on the bridge of a starship. It’s important to balance form with function, though, and ensure that the design still takes ergonomics into consideration.
High Back Executive Office Chair
Most executive office chairs come with high backs to provide full support for the spine. Some executive chairs with midbacks exist, but they’re more for people in senior roles who do more actual deskwork than taking countless meetings, or spend less time in their own chair than boardroom chairs.
Ergonomic Executive Office Chair
We discussed the features that make an ergonomic executive chair above, but to summarize, look for chairs with:
- A high back
- Adjustable seat height
- Wheels and the ability to swivel
Designer Executive Office Chair
From Herman Miller to Knoll, visionary designers have made their mark on office furniture. Some originals are more works of art than everyday functional objects. As with all chairs that will be used for long periods of time, it’s important to balance form and function, and find a chair that’ll both start conversation, and be comfortable to sit in all day.