Procurement of Office Chairs Part 2

Office chair 2

Moving on in my life, I decided to jump to a new role as Fuel and Coal Procurement manager in an energy company. The Main office was in the US and had a mayor footstep in power generation. They had a little international business in Central and South America, something around 5% of the total business. I took on the role of procurement manager of the sourcing of oil and coal for five power plants in Guatemala and El Salvador. As I came in I had inherited my desk and office chair. Nothing fancy that barely did the job, but I did not complain, I was the new guy.

After a year and a half of long hours of sitting in a commercial chair not built for long hours or anything of the like, it broke. The wheel base came apart from the sitting portion. I immediately reported the chair in order for it to be replaced.

The international business was run by a president figure that had very little knowledge of power generation and business in all. He came from Argentina and took on the role, basically because no one wanted it. As you can imagine his team was not a bright bunch either. The facilities management for the corporate office was delegated to the treasurer….go figure…… He had this wild idea that the less you spend on people workspace the better. Anyway, I reported the broken chair. As you can imagine, the facilities manager/treasurer decided to buy a chair well under basic specification. I would not want to imply that you have to spend money on a chair to be a good chair. He spend good money on a very deficient chair. It seems it was done in a garage shop from scrap material. Had no adjustments whatsoever!!

I decided that this chair was not fit for the purpose and returned it the same afternoon. Next day I heard that in the main meeting room, a space that could fit about 20 to 30 people and that doubles as lunch room, a very intense meeting was occurring. I was called into this meeting. This usually happened when a lack of planning on the commercial team created a chaos of out of stock fuel. This happened more often than it should and it ended up in me searching for additional fuel in a hurry.

To my surprise I saw the new dysfunctional chair in the middle of the room, and everybody around it. The president was mad as hell. He kicked the chair and Yelled “What is wrong with this chair” me not knowing what got the boss that mad, gave a straight forward answer from what I learned in my previous experience with ergonomics and office chairs (Part 1):

Well it does not have a back lumbar support, Adjustable armrest height, sitting height adjustment and under the knee round padding. Those four are the basics that an office chair should have. It is a proven fact that this improves health and productivity.  

The president kicked the chair again and yell, give him my office chair and go buy a new one that works! As expected everybody was shocked at the reaction. I still am trying to understand why he would react like that. I asked some of the people that where at the meeting before me if they could explain. All I got was a comment that the president got the indication that I rejected the chair as if it was not good enough for me or something like that. We all went to lunch after that and I just thought, oh well I guess they are getting me a more suitable chair soon.

When I came back from lunch, the president chair was at my desk. WHAT!!! He was serious?! I did not want to sit on that chair, it gave me really bad vibes…..But at the end I sat down and everyone wanted to pass by my office to see if it was true! It was a leather high chair, really nice, but still not built for productivity, built for showing a power position. I kept my comments to myself this time. Sat there for a week or so and got a new chair with the basic four adjustments. Weird reaction; to this day I still don´t understand how I ended up with the “presidential Chair”.

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