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After working for some time in my company I started having some back/neck pain. Nothing too much at first, but after more time it got worse. After some googling I came to the conclusion that my office chair was not ideal for me, and I asked my manager if it's possible to get a new chair, to which he replied "No". I also tried speaking with managers from different departments, but they either gave me a faint smile indicating "no" or told me to speak with my manager. I tried to solve my problem on my own by bringing my gymnastic ball to work. Sadly it didn't work; I can't sit 8 hours a day on it for 5 days.

I can feel my productivity slipping and my posture getting worse every day.

Is there something I could do that would convince my manager to buy me a new chair?

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    Does your organization have some sort of ergonomics coordinator/ program? Depending on exactly what you asked your manager (a title saying "hints" doesn't imply that this was a well thought-out conversation), you could potentially have another conversation potentially with documentation from your physician. On the other hand, if the office chair you want is a couple hundred bucks, buying your own seems like a lot less effort. – Justin Cave Nov 3 '15 at 13:10
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    This is very related - workplace.stackexchange.com/q/9399/2322 - the top answer there is REALLY good. – enderland Nov 3 '15 at 13:10
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    @Mike I'm from Lithuania. I will try to look into what you mentioned : ) – Stralos Nov 3 '15 at 14:25
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    When I've been denied a request like this I usually follow up with a question about if I can simply bring my own [whatever] in. Just make sure it's clearly labelled and get a written confirmation from the manager that they recognize that the equipment belongs to you. – NotMe Nov 3 '15 at 18:07
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    As a professional Aeron char user (It's amazing) I ++ this question."Ergonomics programs" are just guff about how you should move your keyboard around and how your pain using inferior equipment is actually your fault for using it wrong. You won't get anything off them. Companies are in general loathed to spend money on existing employees. I emphasis existing because I think this would be trivial to demand during the hiring process, I'll try it out next time and report back. – Nathan Cooper Nov 3 '15 at 22:28
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I have made several requests for special equipment over the years, some granted and some not. Here's what I did to (as far as I can tell) maximize the chances of success:

  1. Ask. I can't tell if you've asked outright or just hinted at it, but don't rely on hints.

  2. Explain why. Your chair is causing you pain; this isn't just a preference. Be prepared to explain how you know it's the chair and not some other aspect of your setup, but you probably won't need this detail.

  3. Do the leg-work. Don't just say you want a new chair; come with a few options of chairs that have the feature you need that your current chair lacks. (For me, being able to lock the back of the chair in place, so if I lean back I meet resistance rather than my chair just falling back, is important. Our chairs didn't have that.)

  4. Be budget-minded, but use mainstream vendors. If your company is going to buy it, then if they have any financial/accounting processes at all (they're not just a few guys in a garage) they're probably going to need to obtain it new from a known vendor. That used chair you found on Craigslist for $10 might not actually line up with their processes (but see below).

  5. If your boss can't help you, try HR. HR probably has processes (and perhaps budgets) for this separate from what your own department has. And if the problem is such that there's mandatory compliance in your locale, they'll be more familiar with those rules than your manager is.

Finally, if they say no, just buy it yourself. Label it as your property and take it with you when you leave. (Some employers have strong opinions about design/appearance, so it's a good idea to ask first.) The $100 I spent on a chair at my last workplace was more than worth it, weighed against 8+ hours per day for years. If you actually can solve your problem for $10 on Craigslist, just do it and save your management requests for things that are more expensive.

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    In the US there are laws if your office/work environment is causing you discomfort. Start by asking HR on how to file a workmans comp complaint for your back pain. Then once your doctor has identified that it's your chair take his 'prescription' back to HR and inform them they need to order you the chair your Dr. recommended. They cannot refuse this. HR may be more willing to work with you than your boss, whose budget for whatever is more important than a new chair for you. – Bill Leeper Nov 3 '15 at 17:46
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    @BillLeeper (1) sounds like you should post an answer. :-) (2) You can do all that, but that's a really big stick to wave. I've had reasonable success without going as far as obtaining doctor's notes and filing workman's-comp claims. (3) Good point about using HR; I'll add that in. – Monica Cellio Nov 3 '15 at 18:17
  • Excellent list, I would add: If your company does have an ergonomics coordinator/program, get help from them. If they don't consider going to a PT and have the PT help you with exercises AND tips for correct sitting posture. You may help yourself by adjusting your desk and monitor. Finally, as a fellow sufferer of back pain - bad chairs are not worth it. Bring you own chair. Label it clearly as personal property. Bring it with you if you change jobs. – Ida Nov 3 '15 at 20:45
  • Regarding the last item about bringing one in you bought yourself - I've done this for many things in the workplace however I'd stress that you should get permission first. Also, assuming they let you, it should be clearly labelled as your property. – NotMe Oct 17 '17 at 14:14
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Problem One: you got your personal health information off the googles internet pipes. Go to a doctor or chiro. Bring a note from said doctor to your HR dept.

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Interestingly I ran into this problem recently myself. My neck / shoulder started to hurt badly and after going to the doctor they asked me questions and it was found that when I sat down, I leaned a little to view the monitor at my new setup. With that said, I rearranged my desk and take extra effort to make sure I am not leaning. It has helped and I don't feel as sore.

3

I'm in the UK but I found doing some basic physio exercises and a cheap foam lower back support helped me a lot. Although it was neck pain it came from having weak core muscles/bad posture and strengthening this helped massively.

Apparently my poor posture was causing tension in my neck area and my slumped sitting position caused compression in the back.

If you can't afford a trip to a real physio a lot of the advice can be googled online. It's a lot cheaper than buying your own chair anyway.

EDIT

The link I used previously is dead as pointed out by Ciwan. If you google 'Lumbar Cushion' you can find similar products.

  • That link is dead – J86 Oct 23 '17 at 13:22

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