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Why graduating from budget IKEA office chairs to Alterseat’s ergonomic designs is worth it

I’m quite a nerd about ergonomics after my poor posture led to a case of carpal tunnel syndrome pre-MCO. 

Despite adding a foot stool, monitor stand, and more, to ramp up the ergonomics of my workspace, one thing that I was stuck with was the office’s budget-friendly IKEA chairs. They got the job done, but they weren’t the most ergonomic or comfortable for sitting at long intervals. 

After two years of WFH, we renovated our office to upgrade the entire space in terms of layout, interior design, team workspaces, etc.

Malaysian office furniture manufacturer Alterseat graciously sponsored our new seats, which are the brand’s KCE-170 Ergonomic Chair specifically, and furnished us with two Smart Desks (2022 version). 

These offerings are part of their expanding product line, following the steady growth Alterseat has seen since we last featured them in 2020.

A little history

Alterseat was founded by Benedick Chen (Ben), who was just 20 years old when he started a factory of his own to manufacture office chairs in 2017. Having no formal education in running a business, Ben relied on the knowledge and experiences he’d gained working in his father’s factory.

Interestingly, despite allowing customers to customise their furniture, that only made up 5% of their orders back then.

Eventually, the team realised that customisable products didn’t make for a scalable business model, and stopped doing that altogether.

That’s telling of how well the brand’s products already fit into general customer demands, and their widened range has only added to the variety available.

In my experience as a vertically-challenged (read: short) person though, ergonomic furniture hasn’t always suited me. So, how did Alterseat’s furniture fare for me?

KCE-170 Ergonomic Chair

The KCE-170 Ergonomic Chairs have a heavy-duty nylon body and breathable mesh in black.

Priced at RM579.90 each, they have adjustable features that you’d be hard-pressed to find in other regular office chairs.

Apart from the usual seat height adjustment for chairs, the KCE-170 also allows me to move certain elements of the chair to maximise my comfort.

To properly support my neck, I can move the height and angle of the KCE-170’s headrest. 

There is also a sturdy plastic band on the chair’s back to adjust the height for lumbar (lower back) support.

KCE-170 chairs have adjustable armrests that can be positioned higher or lower, and slid in and out to reach the most optimal relaxed position for my shoulders and wrists.

The seat itself is made from cushy yet firm high-density polythene moulded foam. Unexpectedly, the material is pretty cooling even after prolonged hours of sitting, so embarrassing butt sweat stains and imprints were never an issue.

Furthermore, its wheels are extremely silent and smooth, further emphasising the solid build of the chair.

So far so good, but my shortness brought on some challenges (to no fault of the chair). Therefore one feature that I underutilise is its reclinable back.

However, those with longer torsos and stronger cores may find leaning back in this position rather relaxing.

I’m no expert, but I am aware that proper ergonomics calls for the back of your knees to hover away from the edge of the seat. This is so your knees can be at a 90-degree angle for your feet to touch the ground (or a footstool).

If I were to properly sit with my back flushed against the chair, my legs would dangle, so I still require a seat cushion to push me forward into the right sitting posture. But just like the chair’s reclinable back, this wasn’t an issue for my taller colleagues.

Look how fitting the KCE-170 is for someone who’s vertically typical

It would be great if the seat portion could slide in and out, depending on the length of one’s thighs. Incidentally, it is actually a feature that’s available on Alterseat’s CG PRIME Gold Standard Ergonomic Chair model for RM1,419.90.

Tips for maximising your sitting comfort

  • Adjust the neck, arm, and lumbar positions to suit your height and personal comfort;
  • Alterseat has a range of chairs varying depending on features and price points, so choose a chair based on your budget and needs;
  • Use a foot stool to prevent legs dangling from the ground if you’re short.

Smart Desk (2022 version)

Alterseat’s 2022 version of its Smart Desk costs RM2,199.90. It comes in Congo Dark Brown with a Black Base, and Oak Polar White with a White Base, the latter of which we got to match the lighter interior design of our office. 

We got two smart desks from Alterseat which were placed in two private offices, used by my colleagues Sarah and Rikco, respectively. 

Other brands in the market usually offer smart desks that come in smaller sizes measuring 120cm x 75cm to fit into most rooms, along with bigger options.

Alterseat only has one size for their Smart Desk measuring 150cm x 70cm. While it may come off as too large to some, the size is actually a huge advantage to those who like to multitask.

While a large table, it still fits into the room with plenty of space to spare

Take Sarah for example. Being a multitasker, she appreciates that the large desk opens up more space for her to eat, do paperwork, computer work, and have some decor to brighten up her desk. 

She even added a desk treadmill to her setup to have a light walk while working. On a more sluggish day, it helps boost her mood and productivity. Eating while working at her desk was also no issue, as the size of the table was spacious enough to move items around in a way that fits neatly.

I took Sarah’s treadmill for a spin and it revealed that I’m pretty out of shape

Rikco, on the other hand, loves desk clutter, and needless to say, the extensive space accommodates it.

Rikco appreciates the huge desk to indulge in his clutter

This appears to fit into Alterseat’s claim that this table size was most preferred by customers, hence their decision to only manufacture the Smart Desk in one size.

With extra space on its sides, you can hang organisers like hooks and trays

The large desk space also allows for multiple desk organisers as add-ons to personalise your workspace.

Able to accommodate up to 130kg of weight, the Smart Desk is extremely sturdy even for those who have elaborate desktop setups. The dual-motor electronic gears move seamlessly during adjusting, as they’ve undergone multiple pressure tests at the factory. 

The “M” sign on the far right is to lock in the height for each number

With three settings, you can programme your preferred heights of the Smart Desk for unique use cases. For Rikco, he’s got settings for a more laid back, and relaxed sitting posture; one for an upright sitting posture; and another for standing.

Otherwise, you could take inspiration from Sarah who’s got a setting for her proper sitting posture, one that’s a little higher for when she’s eating (to avoid spillage), and another while she’s walking on her treadmill. 

Both Rikco and Sarah didn’t necessarily have strict schedules for when they’d sit or stand while using the Smart Desk. More importantly, they both appreciated the option to switch up their postures while stretching out muscles in their rooms.

There is a table cutout on the left of the desk to string your cables through. But if you’re someone who’s more organised and prefer to have your cables tucked away, Alterseat also provides the option to add a cable management box to the table.

Because the Smart Desk is automated, it needs to be placed against or close to a wall with a power socket, which may likely be its only limiting factor if your space lacks plug points. Extension cords should alleviate this issue.

Tips for maximising your smart desk:

  • Programme the table’s height to fit varying postures. For example, sitting, eating, and standing;
  • Get a cable management box and desk organisers to keep clutter out of sight;
  • Take advantage of the table’s large space to personalise your most conducive workspace;
  • Build your dream desktop setup with multiple monitors and don’t worry about stability while the table is switching between height positions.

The ergonomic setup of my dreams

Thanks Alterseat for decking out our office with new ergonomic chairs!

Having used Alterseat’s KCE-170 Ergonomic Chair for a week now, and the Smart Desk periodically, I can safely claim that it’s the ergonomic office setup of my dreams.

The privilege of switching up working positions can alleviate musculoskeletal aches and pains that tend to come up after a long workday.

I sincerely hope that an ergonomic office chair and smart desk setup can be the future norm in any workspace, whether at the office or at home. 

From my experience, Alterseat’s products have certainly hit a sweet spot for me.

  • Learn more about Alterseat here.
  • Read other reviews we’ve written here.

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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