The Addition of Plants in the Modern Office- Treat them Green to keep them Keen

The case for biophilic design
Expansive empirical, psychological, and physiological evidence shows that the simple addition of greenery in workplaces- and even home or remote offices too- has positive benefits for the employees and people that work within them. The addition of plants in your working environment could be the cost-effective and  environmentally friendly mood-boosting office refurbishment you were after- without the costly interior designer fee.


Biophilic design at GVA offices, London. Photo courtesy of

Without a doubt, humans respond positively to the natural environment, both aesthetically and affectively. The introduction of biophilic design- plants to previously plant-absent workspaces in numerous studies demonstrated significant reductions in tension and hostility, fatigue, ill-health as well as increased memory retention in small sample groups when every employee could see a plant from their desk. Additionally, workplaces incorporating biophilic design are more attractive to job applicants and can make current employees feel more relaxed.

Plants also offer a functional role in the office space by absorbing sounds, carbon dioxide, and other chemicals to make the air clearer for humans to breathe- so much so that a study found that the introduction of plants to an office environments reduced carbon dioxide levels by 10% in air-conditioned offices, and by 25% in non-air-conditioned workspaces.

So, how can we add plants to our office?
Sometimes it is not as simple as scattering a handful of pot plants around the office. Particularly for corporate environments or very small workspaces, large pots and hanging plants may take away from overall company aesthetic or take up space that may have not been available in the first place.


The Xeno tambour and planter box from Buzz Furniture Melbourne.
The addition of planter boxes to both new and existing office storage is the most functional way to incorporate modern, biophilic design in the workplace.  Ask our expert office planning team at Buzz Furniture Melbourne about how you can add custom melamine planter or steel planter boxes to your existing storage, or how additional filing cabinets and tambour cabinets with planters can fit in with your current office layout.

To Screen or Not to Screen?

Have you ever noticed that all the trendy, coveted, and instagrammable office spaces (think Google, Adobe, Twitter, Netflix) follow a similar open theme? While keeping open office plans benefit large, affluent companies as well as businesses requiring lots of creative collaboration between staff members, the vast majority of employee tasks requires a practical working space and some degree of seclusion from noise and distraction.

A very common question we get asked when consulting on office fit-outs is whether screens or desk dividers will be required. Our answer is dependent on a few variables. These include (but are not limited to):

  • How big is your office space?
  • Is there much foot traffic in your office?
  • What are your employee’s tasks and responsibilities?
  • Do they need to collaborate with each other?
  • Do they use the phone often or sit with clients?

Basically, the more privacy or ‘quiet’ the employee needs, the greater the requirement for screens. Screens are useful in partitioning large office areas to create an isolated working space in the larger workplace. They are also useful in creating a ‘dedicated office space’ for tasks that require concentration, privacy, and individual organisation.

Desk dividers are also useful in adding colour to office spaces that can reflect your brand or brighten the mood in a dull area. Employees are also more motivated when they are able to personalise their own workstations. Additionally, the creation of a private space allows workers to place all their equipment and paperwork in one place which limits traffic flow in the office. Screens also have the added benefit of extra storage attachments such as monitor arms, shelves, and trays that can  help maintain a clean and tidy office environment.

Do you think you need screens in addition to your current office furniture? The team at Buzz HQ are experts in creating screens for any workplace environment, regardless of size or budget. Give us a call on 1300 113 771 or email to chat with us.

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De-Mystifying How We Quantify Space:  From USF to RSF, and Everything Else In Between

When beginning any workplace design project, a common question we hear our clients ask is how much space do we have to work with?  This is a deceptively simple question.  When an organization signs a lease for new space, the agreement usually states multiple square footage totals.  But when it comes time to design a space, the difference between what the client pays for in a lease and what they have available for use comes into play.  Sometimes this difference is misunderstood.  Here, we try to boil it down for easy understanding.

The Basics
First, there is the Rentable Square Foot (RSF) total, which specifies how much space the tenant leases from the landlord.  This total includes the area that the tenant will occupy.  It also includes the tenant’s share of building common areas such as lobbies, stairwells, and core spaces.

Second, there is the Usable Square Foot (USF) total, which indicates the amount of space the client occupies.  The difference between RSF and USF is called the Loss Factor.  Loss Factor rates are market and landlord specific.  In the New York City commercial market, a standard loss factor of 27% is the norm.  This means for a 100,000 square foot space, the tenant pays for 27,000 square feet of building common area, which leaves 73,000 USF for the tenant’s space.  Yet nearby in New Jersey suburban sites, 18% loss factors are more common.  So the same 100,000 RSF lease will yield 82,000 USF of tenant space.

RSF & USF calculation formulas are fairly consistent as defined by the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) industry standard.  While these may be US ways of gauging space hey may also be useful for the Australian office environment. In New York City for example, the standards vary slightly, as landlords instead follow formulas set by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) rather than BOMA.

While RSF & USF numbers are helpful in the design process and for establishing an apples-to-apples formula for benchmarking space, there is a third way to look at space that is a bit more precise than the real estate industry’s definitions of RSF & USF.  This methodology is an approach generally followed by architects and interior designers.  While RSF & USF are definitions used in lease terms, architects use a number that defines the amount of plannable space.  Another way of saying it, it’s the actual area that can be used for planning, designing, and placing people.  We call this Plannable Square Feet (PSF).  An alternate definition that is sometimes used is Carpetable Square Feet (CSF).

A plannable or carpetable square foot total represents the true programmable area of a floor plate.  It’s the amount of space available for workstations, offices, conference rooms, and amenity areas.  It also includes area for support spaces such as storage closets, mailrooms, file areas, and copy areas (pretty much everything that’s not part of the building core).

Finally, it also includes circulation.  The percentage of the plannable area devoted to circulation is often referred to as the Efficiency Factor.  In the U.S. and Australialia, many typical corporate clients with open office layouts devote about 30% of their plannable area to circulation – the space where people walk and the areas between desks.  Some work areas are more dense (or efficient) and may only use about 25% for circulation.  In less expensive markets where space is cheaper and where density isn’t a huge driver, circulation factors of 35% to 40% are not uncommon.  Typical circulation rates and benchmark efficiency factors vary when planning specialized work environments like media broadcast spaces, studio spaces, lab buildings, conferencing centers, or other work environments with a high proportion of enclosed office spaces or specialized settings.
Plannable or carpetable areas exclude bathrooms located in the building core, egress stairs, elevators, vertical shafts, MEP rooms, elevator lobbies, and electrical/telephone closets.

Making Metrics Work for Your Organization
Once you understand the basics of RSF, USF, and plannable space, the next factor you’ll want to consider are some metrics.  Organizations typically consider how their space relates to their headcount.  In other words, how many people does any given space support?  One of the most common metrics used by architects is USF per seat.  The calculation is a simple dividing of the total USF of a space by the seat count. In a setting where every person is assigned a seat (1:1 ratio of seats per people), this is relatively intuitive to grasp.  In a hypothetical 100,000 USF office with 667 seats (and 667 people), you arrive at 150 USF per seat.

However some settings are designed to support mobility and desk sharing.  In these cases, not everyone gets an assigned seat.  So the appropriate metric would be USF per person.  The calculation would divide the total USF by the number of people the space supports.  Imagine this hypothetical 100,000 USF office supported 900 people with 667 seats (sharing ratio of 1 seat for every 1.35 people).  You would still get 150 USF per seat (100,000 divided by 667).  But the USF per person would be 111.

The USF per person and USF per seat metrics are usually based on counts of desk seats (typically defined as workstations, cubicles, benching seats, and enclosed offices).  But every floor plan includes a mix of collaborative seats found in meeting rooms and open areas.  A useful metric to consider is the ratio of desk seats to collaborative seats.
We all know that most people don’t sit in the same seat all day long.  People meet in conference rooms, brainstorm in open meetings areas, and meet colleagues for coffee in social areas.  Clients often ask us how many collaborative seats they need.  A useful metric is to look at the ratio between the number of collaborative seats to the number of desk seats.  In amenity rich tech company offices, creative company offices, or offices that support high ratios of mobility and desk sharing, the ratio of collaborative seats to desk seats is around 1:1.  In a more traditional office where with 100% assigned seats, the ratio is often closer to 0.5 or 0.6 meeting seats for every 1 desk seat.

Some Rules of Thumb
The following table summarizes planning trends by industry.  The averages shown below are based on projects designed by a world leading Architectural firms also specialising on interiors as well as the experience gained by Buzz Furniture over the last 10 years


Clients often ask us related questions.  We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions below to help clarify some of the common inquiries about space planning metrics
What are the main differences between USF and RSF, based on the BOMA standard
What are the main differences between USF and RSF, based on the REBNY standard

What are the major differences in how BOMA and REBNY define space?

If I am programming a space for my organization, how do I know how much space I can actually plan?
When you’re done, considering the conundrum of plannable space . Visit us at or Contact Buzz Furniture to help you create the space you need.

Breaking it Down: Breakout Area 101

Breakout areas are considered by ergonomic office specialists as ‘smart spaces’. They are spaces within a workplace that is separate from the normal working area and can be used to eat lunch, relax, work, or have informal meetings. More importantly for employers, breakout areas complies with various work and safety laws requiring staff take frequent breaks from their desks and computer screens- you can view these at the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Basically, breakout areas enhance the workplace experience by allowing employees a change of scenery with which they can still work productively. In the long run, this can prove to be very beneficial for their well-being. Contrary to popular belief, breakout areas are not only reserved for large-scale corporate companies with cash to burn- small to medium companies also find great benefit in designating small space for their employees to take a break from their screen.


Breakout area in Motorola, Chicago

Great breakout areas do not need to be expensive or hard to maintain. A few canteen or multipurpose chairs, tub chairs, and a sofa can give employees lots of choices depending on whether they would like to work, eat, or relax. These chairs can also act as an imaginary line between the breakout area and the working office space, rather than paying for partitions. Another great idea many offices are implementing is considering putting in a hot drinks machine- a good coffee machine not only minimises wasted time by employees going on coffee runs, it also saves everyone in the office a great deal of money on their daily caffeine hit.

Click on the items below to view some budget-friendly soft seating breakout furniture:

Breakout areas are a great way to increase employee productivity, generate interest in your workplace, and encourage employee interaction.

Do you need help with planning a breakout area for your office space but have time, budget, or space constraints? Contact us now on 1300 113 771 or to speak to an ergonomic office specialist and book in a free consult at your workplace.

The Secrets of Great Office Design

Intelligent management understand that workspaces are a business tool. An office environment reflects and reinforces a business’s core values, through the placement of different teams and functions and design elements that reflect culture, brand, and values. These are immediately obvious to the naked eye.
We’ve seen a trend towards open office layouts, precisely becuase openness, transparency, and collaboration are some of the attributes leading brands strive for today. Sometimes these designs work well; however, research shows that the collaborative trend may be over-kill. Increasingly, people are rediscovering the value of quiet and focus and asking for spaces where they can concentrate.
In fact, collaboration and quiet are two ends of a continuum with a range of in-between work modes — each with an optimal setting. The best way to identify these is to identify everyday work patters and micro-moments that correspond to office design decisions.
This is easier said than done, however. To get everyone speaking the same spatial language, we HLW INTERNATIONAL created a Collaboration and Quiet index consisting of several attributes that can more accurately enable people to match a desired way of working with a physical space: location, enclosure, exposure, technology, temporality, perspective, and size.
To better understand how these work, try the exercise below on your own or with your team. Pick an example of a work activity that happens regularly, like a daily or weekly standing meeting. Using the continuum below, try to identify the ideals for your particular situation (they will likely fall somewhere between the two extremes on either end). For the attribute “location,” for example, you could ask your team: Is the meeting best facilitated if it’s held in an open central meeting room or near where other people are likely to gather? Or is it best conducted to the team’s work area and away from where you are likely to encounter others?
When you’re done, consider all your answers collectively — this can help you identify the type of space you want to create beyond the easy answer “more collaborative space”. Contact Buzz Furniture to help you create the space you need.
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How to Arrange Office Furniture: Our Top Tips


Arranging furniture is easier than it may seem. Simply keep this checklist in mind before you begin:
Step 1: Keep the entryway clear
Step 2: Create visual balance
Step 3: Don’t take up all of your wall space
Step 4: Be conscious of traffic flow

That sounds easy enough, but what does it all mean? Not only will arranging your office furniture in the right way make the space look better, but creating a more open and airy space will actually help you feel better while you work and can even do its part to help reduce stress. Learn more about how to follow these tips below. 
Keep the Entryway Clear

​Keep the Entryway Clear

Your entryway should have as few pieces of furniture near it as possible. Place visually heavy objects such as your desk and bookshelves away from the door to create the illusion of having more space. This places large items away from your eyes when you first walk into the room, giving you a better view of the entire space. Try to keep as few things near the entryway as possible so that you don’t visually shrink the space or interrupt the flow of traffic.

Create Visual Balance
Distribute visual weight throughout the room to make the space feel balanced. In other words, don’t put all of your casegoods in one corner of the room and leave the other end of the room with a big, blank wall and no furniture at all. Visual balance can be created not only by furniture, but by décor as well. If you’ve got your desk and bookcases at one end of the room, then try hanging some large statement art on the opposite wall to achieve that balance.

Don’t Take Up All of Your Wall Space
This step may be tricky if you’re working with a smaller space, but, if possible, try to avoid pushing all of your furniture up against the walls. To make better use of the space and give the room more fluidity, place your desk in the middle of the room. If you have a desk that must be placed against a wall, then put your guest chairs out in the open instead. The right amount of open wall space will make the room seem larger than a space that is overly cluttered.

Be Conscious of Traffic Flow
This step may be tricky if you’re working with a smaller space, but, if possible, try to avoid pushing all of your furniture up against the walls. To make better use of the space and give the room more fluidity, place your desk in the middle of the room. If you have a desk that must be placed against a wall, then put your guest chairs out in the open instead. The right amount of open wall space will make the room seem larger than a space that is overly cluttered.

Want more furniture arrangement tips? call us our furniture experts at 1300 113 771 to learn more about our Free consultation in your office space.  

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January 25th, 2017

Why Care for the Office Chair?

Making sure employees are comfortable while they are at work should be a high priority for employers, as happy employees are generally more productive. In fact, a recent study at the University of Warwick found that happy employees were actually 12% more productive than neutral employees. Additionally, unhappy employees were 10% LESS productive than neutral employees. The researchers found that the companies that invested in employee satisfaction and support often ended up with happier workers. You can read about this study here.

If you have ever seen pictures of Google headquarters, you will notice the inside of these buildings often look like an elaborate adult playground. This is because this company is one of many that understands that it is not just financial incentives that create productive employees. The environment that the employees work in are also ultra-conducive and encourage better work performance. Although employers have very little control over the moods of their employees, there is a good deal they can do to make their workers feel comfortable. A way this can be achieved is by providing the right office furniture.


Inside Google Dublin, Ireland.

At Buzz Furniture in Melbourne, we understand that not all companies are created the same. Employers may not have the time, space, or budget to create their dream office spaces. That’s why we have a great collection of durable and functional office furniture choices that help employers achieve the desired goals of their workplace without the outrageous expenses seen dished out in large-scale progressive companies.

In this article, we explain why employers need to consider how their office chairs can affect the productivity of their employees, and the variety of office chairs available that can cater for varying roles and workers in busy office environments.

Mesh vs. Fabric Office Chairs

Office chairs are probably considered one of the most important furnishings that influence the productivity of employees. Employers are quickly realising that the benefits of good ergonomic office chairs far outweigh the quick-fix, budget-friendly options that can be purchased in generic home and office furniture stores. When considering ergonomic office chairs for their workplace, employers generally have an option between mesh and fabric chairs, and should consider these points before purchasing:

1. Ventilation
Ventilation is an important point to consider- particularly when the working environment can get quite hot or there is minimal temperature regulation in the office. These workplaces should consider purchasing ergonomic office chairs with mesh backs. The mesh design enables airflow across the employee’s back, which helps to keep them cool as they sit and work. Workplaces that can be kept cool also have the option of fully upholstered and moulded chairs, which can offer more comfort- particularly for extended periods of sitting.

Mesh chairs offer considerably better ventilation than fabric chairs, which enables airflow across the employee’s back. Buzz Furniture’s Edison, Monroe, and Washington (pictured left to right) mesh chairs are great examples of good quality mesh office chairs.

2. Maintenance and Durability
For workplaces that have a high turnover of staff, or several staff using the same chairs, a mesh ergonomic chair should be considered as they are easy to clean for the next person to use. Additionally, they are not too impacted by sweat, or food and drink and can be easily wiped away. Upholstered and moulded office chairs can often soak up sweat, and require a much more thorough cleaning process which can be costly to employers- particularly for large-scale offices. Good quality mesh chairs are also surprisingly durable, and have little issue with fading, tears, or flattening of padding. This makes workplaces with mesh office chairs look ‘fresher’ for longer periods of time.

Many offices with long-term staff or employees with their own office desk opt for upholstered chairs as they offer greater comfort and often greater back support than their mesh counterparts. Moulded chairs with memory foam also have the benefit of fitting to its user exactly, reducing pressure points and aiding circulation. High quality ergonomic office chairs, regardless of whether they are mesh or fabric will also come with long-term warranties that guarantee the quality and durability of their product.

 Buzz Furniture has plenty of office chairs that offer extended warranties to guarantee the quality of our products and our confidence in them. These include the Emerson, Galen, and Faulkner office chairs (pictured left to right).
3. Style and Choice
Mesh and fabric chairs offer different profiles. Mesh chairs offer a minimalist, modern appearance, and fabric chairs less so. However, fabric chairs offer an unlimited selection of colours, which is appealing to companies who are looking for a specific colour scheme in their furniture rather than the limited colour palette offered with mesh chairs. Particularly for certain materials (such as corduroy or suede), or custom colours to suit a company’s brand, fabric is definitely the way to go. On the other hand, mesh chairs offer a variety of styles, and tend to look more “cutting edge” and minimalist than their fabric counterparts which can create a great first impression for employees, clients, and office guests.
Choosing the right office chair goes a long way in helping to identify your brand and how you want other people to identify with your business. In this example, the Buzz Furniture Frankie chair ties together an industrial boardroom with a quirky pallet frame.
4. Support
Both good quality ergonomic fabric and mesh office chairs offer support for the employees that sit in them. Most mesh chairs are ergonomically shaped in a way that forces employees to sit with good posture and prevent back soreness that can negatively affect work performance. Good ergonomic mesh chairs also come highly adjustable, which allows employees to customise their chairs to fit their seating preferences no matter the dimensions of the user.
High adjustability of office chairs is essential to any aspiring ergonomic workplace. Pictured left to right are the Hume, Cook, and Emile fabric chairs offered by Buzz Furniture in Melbourne.

Good office chairs keep employees comfortable why they work, which helps increase productivity. Chosen appropriately, office chairs enhance the look of an office which can raise workplace morale and make work a more enjoyable place to be, especially if the office chair can be particularly customised to its user for great comfort over longer sitting periods.

It is therefore important for employers to do the right research before purchasing office chairs. Gone are the days when it was a simple matter of walking into a generic furniture store! The increase in the importance of ergonomics and employee morale in the workplace has placed more pressure on employers to choose high quality chairs that satisfy employees and their job roles.

Stay tuned for our next article, where we run through important features of office chairs that employers should consider when determining what works best for their workplace and the employees working within them.

Got questions or are thinking about choosing the right office chair for you? You can email us at or call us directly on 1300 113 771.

Ergonomic Essentials Part 4: How to Create an Ergonomic Job Design and Workstation Layout

In our final installment of ‘Ergonomic Essentials’ by Buzz Furniture in Melbourne, we discuss the benefits of considering other areas that can be made conducive to workplace productiveness that are less considered, apart from the typical ‘chairs’ and ‘desks’ that come to mind when thinking of the word ‘ergonomic’. Believe it or not, the arrangement of items on office desks and workstations such as placement of the monitor, keyboard, mouse documents and other items and positively or negatively affect work performance.


Regardless of whether you work with a desktop, laptop, or tablet, keeping the screen at optimal height and viewing distance helps to reduce or prevent eye strain and muscle tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. It is all too common for office workers to develop rounded shoulders when screens are badly placed, which can result in increased risk of shoulder impingement and unnecessary pain or tension in the upper body. Some factors that are important to consider when arranging monitors includes:

  • Screen height:  The top line of text (not the top of your monitor) should be at eye level. It an adjustable monitor arm is not available to you, you can place books or other stable materials underneath your monitor to bring the top of the screen to eye level. For busy and collaborative workplaces or offices where many people share the same workstation or desk, adjustable monitor arms should be strongly considered as monitor height can be adjusted very easily.
  • Viewing distance: Optimal distance between your eyes and the screen is considered optimal at about arm’s length. When viewing the monitor at this distance, ears should be in line with the shoulders rather than in front or behind as this can place unnecessary stress on the neck and upper back muscles.
  • Prescription eyewear: Consideration of how prescription eyewear may affect comfort when working at an office desk is often overlooked. Ophthalmologists and optometrists can prescribe lenses made specifically for computer use or as bifocal or multifocal glasses. They often require basic work information such as measurements from your eyes to the monitor screen, work documents, and keyboard. Other information they may need includes the size of your screen, a description of your job tasks, description of the programs you use, and type of lighting.
  • Dual monitors: Dual monitor workstations should be handled similarly to single monitor desks. Both monitors should be at the same optimal height as for a single monitor, and both should be no closer than arm’s length away from the eyes to avoid unnecessary neck rotation. The main-use monitor should be positioned directly in front of your line of vision, with the second monitor right next to the main monitor. If both monitors are used equally, place them side by side and adjust your body keyboard, and mouse so your body and neck are straight.


Keyboards that are adjusted optimally should allow you to keep your wrists straight while typing. For most people, this means simply moving the keyboard up or down the desk, or raising or lowering your chair so that you can hold your wrists straight while touching the middle row of keys. Slight adjustments can also be made to the keyboard angle by folding the legs on the underside of the keyboard.

Sore wrists can develop from unconsciously dropping your palms or wrists while typing. This can be assisted with palm or wrist supports during rest periods from typing. Note they are only beneficial to wrist health if they are used as rests occasionally when you stop typing or mousing. The wrist support should be of similar thickness to the keyboard and narrow in depth so it only touches the palm and not the wrist.


Wrist or palm supports should be made of a soft, smooth and rounded material to help in reducing wrist pain and tension.

A range of alternative keyboards are also available. These keyboards can be split, angled, or have alternative keyboard arrangements that are thought to reduce discomfort when typing.

This split-style keyboard by Microsoft allows you to keep your wrists in a more natural position and prevent overuse injuries.

The Mouse and other Tracking Devices

The mouse and other tracking devices (such as a stylus) should be able to be used when your wrists are straight, shoulders are relaxed, and elbows are by your sides. Discomfort in the hand or wrist may also be improved by increasing the pointer speed of the mouse.


Documents that are poorly placed can cause muscle discomfort or eye strain. This is because you may have to hold your head in an awkward posture for long periods to read the document, or repeatedly move your head in different directions between the computer screen and the document.

For jobs that require high volumes of moving between screen and documents such as data input roles, document holders should be strongly considered by the employer as that allow the documents to be placed correctly at eye level and right next to or directly underneath the monitor screen.


Document holders can be an effective way to reduce muscle discomfort or eye strain.

As we have explained, how you arrange your keyboard, monitor, mouse, and other work materials at your office desk can directly affect your comfort and ultimately your health. Carefully considering the placement of your workstation items and how they can be modified can be a fantastic start to creating a productive, ergonomic workplace.
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Ergonomic Essentials Part 3: Finding the most Beneficial Workstations and Desks that Work for your Business

In Part 3 of Ergonomics Essentials by Buzz Furniture in Melbourne, we talk about why workstations are an important consideration for businesses when thinking about an office fit-out or design. The right workstation or desk can dictate how you want your employees to work, and influence how they interact with each other. Office workstations can also play a role in impacting employee productivity and health.

Computer-based workstations should have height, depth, and work surfaces that suit its user and the type of work the user performs. Features to consider when choosing a workstation include:

  • Desk space that accommodates all necessary equipment to work and does not compromise posture or vision when completing tasks
  • Desk height so that legs are able to be positioned comfortably under the desk and arms can rest at a 90 degree angle

This image, taken from Worksafe BC demonstrates recommended angles and positions of joints when sitting at a computer workstation.

What is a height adjustable desk?

Height adjustability is a highly desirable workstation feature and all height adjustable workstations need to be able to be easily adjustable. Sit/ stand desks allow the desk top area to be used in either the seated or standing position, which can be raised or lowered without any disruption to the placement of the equipment or desk items.

Many businesses consider the option of having a proportion of workstations that can be used for both sitting and standing work, which is especially important for work that is highly sedentary or requires sitting or standing for long periods of time. Height adjustable desks are also beneficial for employees that are either very tall or very short, as they can adjust the workstation to best suit their needs also.

Is a height adjustable desk better than a normal desk?

Height adjustable and standing desks seem to be the token item of a modern office. Many start-up businesses claiming the well-being of their employees use standing desks as part of their layout. On top of that, large companies are also getting in on the action.

For example, Google offers standing desks as part of its wellness program, where any employee can choose whether or not they work at a standing desk. Facebook also has more than 250 employees that use standing desks, and maintain that standing desks keep a high energy level in the office, keeping employees feeling active all day long.

An experiment conducted by a small start-up in Latvia found that height adjustable desks did in fact boost work productivity, as opposed to just being a Silicon Valley fad. Height adjustable desks not only boosted productivity by 10%, but those who chose to use the desk for sitting found those desks were much more comfortable as it was customisable to individual height.

Staff included in the experiment also found height adjustable desks played a role in increasing energy and concentration levels, decreased headaches throughout the day and also helped some quit smoking. You can read the full article from Business Insider here.

So overall, it seems that there are added health benefits of a standing desk over a normal non-adjustable sitting one. Particularly for the fact that height adjustable desks can be perfectly adjusted for seated employees, rather than causing office workers long term issues from having to adapt around the height of a generic desk. Buzz Furniture offers both manual and electric height adjustable desks and workstations, you can find them in the desking section of our online store.

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Ergonomics Essentials Part 2: How to Find your Perfect Ergonomic Office Chair

In Part 2 of Ergonomics Essentials by Buzz Furniture in Melbourne, we go through the ins and outs of how to find the perfect ergonomic office chair for you. As mentioned in Part 1, ergonomics in office furniture simply involves matching office equipment to the user and the task to the worker. Ergonomic furniture has the ultimate aim of providing a more comfortable, safer, and more efficient working environment.

Why is an ergonomic office chair so important?

It is quite common for the humble office chair to be overlooked. For example, during the whole 6 years of my studies at university, I sat on the same cheap office chair. This chair was heavy to move around, half the wheels stopped working, and the the height adjustment on the seat did not lock properly so I often found myself craning my neck to see my laptop screen as my chair sunk slowly to its lowest height.

I upgraded this chair after my studies, but it wasn’t until I began to be interested in office furniture that I started learning about all the long-term damage that spending all those hours in that dingy chair could have done. For example, I developed a constant sore lower back from leaning forward constantly to reach my desk as the wheels on my chair were broken.

I also developed a very stiff neck (which I can still crack ferociously at will to this day) from craning my head forward into my laptop screen. Not only that, both the cheap quality and the style of the foam padding in the seat would make my buttocks sore after long periods of sitting, as well as cut off the circulation below my knees so that I would constantly cramp or get a dead leg after a long work period.

While this example is somewhat extreme and businesses tend to have more expendable income than a university student, it is still surprising to see that the ‘any chair will do’ mentality still exists in many workplaces today. If you think about it, the office chair could very well be the most used single piece of furniture that you use every day, for a lot of people even more than their own bed. And people invest a lot of money in their beds. In fact, the major American office furniture company Herman Miller observed and catalogued the movements of 40 random office workers and found that they spent approximately 93% of their time sitting in an office chair[1].

Features of an Ergonomic Office Chair

The term ‘ergonomics’ derives from the Greek words: Ergon (‘work’) and Nomics (‘natural law’). This term suggests that ergonomic office furniture might then consider a range of factors that help the ‘natural’ workings of things so that performance is increased. Ergonomic considerations include:

  • Physical factors such as ambient conditions and physical objects
  • Biological factors like body dimensions and capabilities, and physiological processes
  • Psychological factors such as mental workload, information processing, motivation, and training
  • Work factors such as job demands and job design
  • Organisational factors like organisational climate and management regimes

Because of the enormous variety of factors that an office chair has to account for, the ideal ergonomic office chair should be adjustable in a variety of ways. Features might include:

  • Adjustable seat height
  • Lumbar support on backrest
  • Adjustable backrest height
  • Adjustable backrest tilt
  • Adjustable seat pan tilt
  • Rounded front edge of seat
  • Adjustment controls that are easy to operate from the seated position
  • Seat pan depth adjustment
  • Five-point base
  • Comfortable cushioning and covering on the seat and backrest

While stock standard ergonomic chairs suits the majority of users, there will be times when employees require even more specialised seating. Buzz Furniture Melbourne accommodates for a range of custom adjustments and specific seating features. These might include:

  • Seat pans with greater/ smaller depths for taller/ shorter workers
  • Seat pans with greater widths for workers with wider hips
  • Seat height adjustments with greater height for very tall workers
  • Chairs designed to tolerate high loading for large or heavy workers
  • Chairs designed for greater than 8 hr shift use


The type or ergonomic chair you purchase should reflect how it is going to be used. Pictured (from left) are Buzz Furniture’s Buffett, Newton, Kant and Hume chairs. All are fully ergonomic.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at different parts of an office chair, specifically and back and armrests. Worksafe Queensland has a great guide for ergonomic chairs, which you can read in detail here.

The Backrest

The backrest of any office chair should be able to support the upper and lower back and be height adjustable. This is so the lumbar support on the backrest fits well against the natural curvature of the lower back.

Backrests can also be tilt adjustable, so that they can move forwards and backwards. It has been determined that an angle of 100 to 120 degrees between the trunk and thighs encourages better spinal posture. This angle can be achieved by adjusting both the backrest angle as well as the seat pan tilt if this is available.

Highly sedentary jobs might benefit from ‘free-floating’ back support mechanisms that are incorporated into the backrest. This allows the backrest to move through a pre-set range as the worker’s back moves. The user can then move through a range of acceptable postures while still remaining in a supported seated position.

The Armrest

Most office chairs can be purchased with or without armrests. When buying new chairs, consideration should be given to the design and actual need for armrests. Armrests offer foreatm support and help employees to rise and lower themselves into the chair. Forearms should be able to rest comfortably on the armrests, with the shoulders relaxed.

When purchasing chairs with armrests, buyers should be ensuring that the armrests are height adjustable and can be turned inwards and outwards. There are certain situations when armrests do not encourage ergonomics and should either not be purchased with the chair or removed from an office chair. These situations include:

  • If they prevent the user from getting close to the desk and at a comfortable distance from the keyboard and screen.
  • If they interfere with using input devices such as a keyboard or mouse
  • If they prevent the user from turning or getting up from the chair easily
  • If they are not adjustable
  • If they result in the back bending sideways when leaning on the armrest, which means that the armrests are too low for the user.

Researchers at Herman Miller found that office workers made on average 53 changes in their posture per hour at their chair, as well as over 180 changes in their arm position per hour. While this sounds like a lot, you have to take into account that when making a phone call for example, people will play with something on their desk, or doodle on a notepad. When writing or typing they can lean on an elbow, lean forwards and backwards in their chair. In meetings, people often fidget, squirm, twist, or turn.

And even though you may have not considered it, people sitting in office chairs use various conscious and unconscious strategues to shift activity away from their tiring muscles. Have you ever shaken out your hands, changed to doing another task, or started stretching because you were tired of being in the same position? Or better still, have you suddenly felt the urge to get up from your chair and get a coffee, or make some photocopies?

Needless to say, there are almost an infinite number of ergonomic office chairs on the market for buyers to choose from. When considering a chair change, purchasers should look to good office furniture companies when seeking professional advice. This way the right range of chairs can be selected that suit your company’s budget, tasks, and style. At Buzz Furniture, all our clients get the option of trialing our great range of ergonomic chairs when deciding on the right one. Simply discuss with us what you would like, and we drop off the chair sample at your office so you and your staff can trial the chair properly before it is purchased. You can contact us at

A blog that aims to inspire the creative conceptualisation of amazing workspaces.