I wasn’t even sure I’d write a Day in the Life post about work. What would I write? “I sit at my desk. I type, I mouse. Occasionally I go to a meeting.”
(Of course there’s more to my work than typing and mousing. But if you were interested in the process of software development you’d probably be reading one of these books, not this blog ;)
When I get to my office, my cubicle has a different chair than everyone else. Why? Because mine is custom-ordered, extra-wide, and armless. It was purchased for me last fall, after the standard chairs went from a “too narrow but not bad” to seriously irritating my injured leg. We are talking not only increased limping but pretty serious pain. I tried adjusting it – including removing the arms – but it was still problematic. I couldn’t seem to sit on the thing without the bottom edge cutting into my pulled muscle.
So one Friday I explained to our HR person, as matter-of-factly as I could, that the chair was a problem. HR person’s reaction was wonderful – no “Let’s try adjusting it again”, for which I was grateful.
Now, when I was recovering from RSI issues at a Fortune 100 company in 1993, one of the staff ergonomics specialists visited my office to help configure my workstation correctly. The specialist immediately ordered me a high-end, expensive, ultra-configurable BodyBilt chair that came with a 13-page owner’s manual.
I no longer work at Fortune 100 company. This is good in some ways, but the ergonomics specialists are a thing of the past, not to mention budgets that support BodyBilt chairs :) The HR person asked if I would be willing to do some research and identify a model of chair that would work, starting with the Staples and Office Depot catalogs in the office. I agreed, and suggested I could also stop by the local stores over the weekend to actually try a few chairs.
- I tried a lot of chairs
- I got an idea of the seat width I needed
- I figured out the general seat depth (from back to the front edge) I needed
- I got an overall sense of which adjustments I really needed (seat height, seat tilt, back tilt)
- None of the office furniture chairs in the area had a seat wide enough for me
- So seat width ended up being a guess AND
- I had to order a chair without trying it
- I realized arms could be great or a serious problem – and it’s hard to tell without “trying them on”
In the end, I picked an extra-wide task chair rather similar to this one, rated for 500lb persons. I’ve been rather happy with it.