Wall Street Journal Online: Goodmans Workplace Strategist, Stephanie Fanger, on Finding the Just-Right-Chair
Very tall and very short people are used to feeling conspicuous. But there's a place where they would rather have a little more attention: the office chair.
Most chairs are designed for the 5th to the 95th percentile of the population—people who are closer to average in size. That leaves roughly 4 million white-collar workers on the unlucky extremes of the bell curve—too small for their chair, with legs dangling, or too big for their chair, with knees bent up toward the chin.
Mostly, they suffer in silence. It is awkward to ask for a special chair—especially one that could cost hundreds of dollars. And many very tall or very short people are so used to "not being comfortable, ever," in standard-sized cars, airplanes and beds that they resign themselves to taking what they get, says Michael Kelly, a research fellow at office-furniture maker Herman Miller Inc.
Still, a growing number of well-fitting chairs are available for people at the extremes, and more employers are tuning in to their needs. If you're very tall or very short, ergonomists say, it helps to understand your particular pain points, and how to fine-tune your chair or ask for help.