The true cost of your office chair - the importance of life-cycle analysis

Your office or factory chair has a life-cycle. This analysis will help you choose a chair that doesn’t end up costing you more than you expected.  

A life-cycle cost analysis of an office or factory chair is important so you can see the total cost of ownership, and so understand why investing in a good quality chair is more economical in the long run.

People tend to buy office furniture, including chairs, at reasonable prices but spend more than what the chair is worth on repairing, replacing, refurbishing and renovating. Purchasing an inexpensive office chair usually results in long-term costs, making it a budget burden.

Whole Building Design Guide defines a life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) as “a tool to determine the most cost-effective option among different competing alternatives to purchase, own, operate, maintain and, finally, dispose of an object or process, when each is equally appropriate to be implemented on technical grounds.”

A life-cycle costing analysis should include:

  • The original cost
  • The cost of using the chair
  • The cost of maintenance
  • The cost to dispose of the product

The true cost of ownership of an office chair includes not only the initial price of the chair but also freight fees, taxes, any specific packaging required, delivery, assembly and installation. This is why having a life-cycle costing analysis is important because it is clearly more than just the price tag on the chair.

The life expectancy of your office chair is a big part of the life-cycle costing analysis.  There are a number of factors apart from the warranty on the chair that affects its lifespan.

  • The environment or workspace where the chair will be affects the type of chair you will purchase.
  • Is the chair made of the right material to last in your work environment?
  • Will the chair need to be cleaned often because of your work environment?

It’s most likely that a great office chair will have a life expectancy of five years. More expensive chairs with materials that are longer lasting are expected to last up to 12 years. If you go with a cheaper office chair you can expect for it to last less than five years, and you’re likely to pay more than the actual price of an expensive office chair in the long run.

The monthly cost of the chair is actually more important than the actual price.

If you decide to buy an office chair from a generic large retail store for R2000 and it is only guaranteed to last you 6 months, your monthly cost will be higher than a Karo office chair that is R3000 and guaranteed to last 60 months (5 years).

Another element of the life-cycle costing analysis of your office chair is the impact of how your employees will actually use the chairs. The cost of using a chair is the most critical part of a life-cycle cost costing analysis, is often the most forgotten as it is hard to measure, and yet this metric will affect the bottom line of your company the most. More traditional chairs can lead to health issues such as back and neck problems and increased fatigue. These preventable health issues could lead to potential medical costs, more employee absenteeism and loss of productivity. Basing your purchasing decision on the initial cost alone will have serious consequences on the health of your employees.

When your office chair has reached the end of its life expectancy, you will come across additional costs to dispose of it. Your old office chair may be recycled, but this will still cost you as you need to find the right place to get it recycled and delivered to the facility. If you purchase an inexpensive chair, the disposal cost will be more frequent due to a lower lifespan and higher churn rate on the chair.

Purchasing a good quality ergonomic chair should not be seen as a cost to the company, but rather as an investment.