Nice Chairs and Cheap Desks

Recently I was over at a friend’s new office. As expected, the office had fresh paint, carpet, and new furniture. Only there was a common, and serious, furniture mistake: nice desks and cheap chairs. Wrong. Chairs should be nice and desks should be cheap.

Whether it’s an old door turned into a desk (Amazon.com style) or something simple from IKEA, as long as the desk is sturdy, that’s all that matters (yes, Geek Desks are cool). Desks should be cheap and sturdy, nothing more. Now, on the other hand, chairs should be nice. Sitting on something for hours on end really affects productivity. Lumbar support, backs independent of the base (so you don’t lean back and have the bottom of the chair go with you), and adjustable arm rest heights are key. Used Herman Miller Aerons and Knoll Generation chairs come to mind in the ~$500 range (new are much more expensive).

Entrepreneurs would do well to invest in nice chairs and save money with cheap desks.

What else? What are some more thoughts on nice chairs and cheap desks for startups?

9 thoughts on “Nice Chairs and Cheap Desks

  1. I couldn’t agree with this more. After years and many hours per days of back issues due to cheap, unsupportive chairs I finally purchased a Herman Miller Embody (it was specifically designed to folks that work at computers all day) chair and it has made all the difference in the world in a week. There are more than plenty used Aeron chairs on craigslist.

  2. Not to mention you’ll probably go through 4-6 cheap Office Depot|Max chairs during the warranty period of a single Herman Miller chair, making the expensive chair not-so-expensive after all. I bought an Embody a few years ago that developed a minor issue. Even though I bought it online, Herman Miller had CWC out to my home office to fix it for me on-site ASAP, free of charge to me.

  3. Totally agree.

    When you are a startup, you spend hours, sometimes it feels like 24hrs a day in your chair planning your business, phoning prospects and trying to keep on top of your accounts. Also, when you’re a little further along the line and have a sales team, the more uncomfortable they are, the more likely it is you’ll find them at the coffee machine moaning about the uncomfortable chairs!

    Would you spend 90% on a bed frame and 10% on a cheap mattress to sleep on? Put simply… No.. You sleep on the mattress not the frame! Same principal for chairs!

  4. Totally agree!! We’ve used the same desks for many, many years as we bought timeless desks that never show their age, but if my employees are distracted by back pain or uncomfortable chairs – productivity, morale and attitude is negatively impacted! High quality adjustable chairs are a must!

  5. Hi David,

    I agree completely. Ideally, you would like to have both a great desk and chair combination. One offers visual appeal, which might fuel some people’s creativity. The other offers comfort and can prevent health problems down the road. If the option were between a nice desk and chair, personally, the decision would be for the chair because I spend a significant amount of time seated. My desk is always covered with projects, thus I am unable to appreciate the desk anymore than it allows me to get my work done.

    That being said, I believe visuals within the office environment will help significantly with the stress one may encounter on a daily basis. Even the priceless paintings that employee parents bring into work can make a difference than a blank wall. A blank wall would make the mind wander and in such a stressful environment, the focus can be negative. These paintings or drawings will make you remember your own kids or the time when you were a kid and the crazy and fun adventures you were part of.

  6. This is such an interesting and amazing piece of information! I actually totally agree (like everyone else here). I say this from experience. I have a school with 160 chairs and 40 tables. The tables are now, virtually as good as the day I bought them 8 years ago. The chairs I have had to replace 4 times in 8 years. I have to say I bought cheap chairs at the beginning, and as I have upgraded the chairs, I have gone for a more expensive model every time. Now I think I have the perfect chair – durable, comfortable, attractive and a good price for what it is.

    These little gems of information are so valuable! (Especially when you are a business owner and every cent counts)

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