Since you’re here, you’re probably on the lookout for a new office chair. If you're dying to click on the latest designs, hold up for a second and read on.
From durability to health benefits, we've devised a foolproof guide to help you work out which is best for you.
There's more to it than picking an office chair you like, so let's get started with the basics.
What to look for in an Office Chair:
‘Best’ is a pretty subjective term. The best chair for you might not be the most expensive, or even the best reviewed.
First off, you’ll need to decide which type of chair you want. We’ve provided a quick guide at the bottom of the article, so have a look if you’re not sure. If you already have a rough idea, you can narrow it down further by choosing which of the sections below is most important for you.
It’s easy to spout about the qualities of ergonomics, but it’s likely you already have an idea of what you want. Even so, here’s a few of the main factors to take into account before you rush to buy.
Ideally, the chair should allow users to adjust the seat height, lumbar support, armrests, head rests and various other elements to fit perfectly. Of course, that sounds like an expensive chair already, and budget tends to dictate what we prioritise.
Even so, the best office chair is the one that fits you. When you’re sitting in a chair, your feet should either be flat on the floor or on a foot rest. A perfectly adjustable chair that can't go up high or low enough for you probably won’t be a good fit in the long run.
Chairs specifically for petite users and big and tall consumers are more expensive than a standard ergonomic chair but may be necessary. No matter your size, you need to be comfortable.
As a taller man, it’s horrible when that dreaded pain starts creeping up my knees, causing me to get up and walk it off for a couple of minutes. It’s sometimes hard to sit in an office chair that isn't mine, and the cheaper options often end up hurting faster.
Durability should be high on your list of priorities when making your choice. In essence, a $300 office chair that lasts for a decade is a better deal than the $50 chair that falls apart within a year.
Regardless, it’s an expensive mistake if you decide you don’t like it six months down the line, and that’s why research is important. We also have a variety of reviews on a wide range of chairs, from the best recliners to massage chairs.
Expensive chairs will usually have decent warranty, but be sure to check the manufacturer's website for more details.
As with most consumer items, budget is generally king when it comes to choosing which is right for you. If you’re not sure what to get, we have guides for different price ranges.
As noted above, you're likely to save money in the long run if you get an expensive chair with good durability. On the other hand, you can't draw blood from a stone, so try to stick to your price range if possible.
It's arguably better to wait until you can afford a mid-tier chair. There's a law of diminishing returns when you get to the higher tiers of pricing, but mid-range options should have most of the key features above.
Choose something that’s both comfortable and practical if you can. Above all, it’s best to be malleable in terms of which chair you end up going for, and always keep in mind how much space you have available.
Lastly, a good chair can help to keep you healthy, so let’s go through some of the long-term benefits.
What do Health Experts say?
An extensive study by the Global Burden of Disease found that lower back pain caused “more disability globally than any other condition”. There were a number of socioeconomic factors in play, but that’s a worrying factoid for employers and workers alike.
Any good chair will provide lumbar support, but it’s about more than lower back pain.
It’s fairly obvious that the health benefits of a good office chair start with proper ergonomics. When someone can comfortably sit for hours, their productivity is going to be higher.
They're also less likely to develop back pain, leg cramps or repetitive stress injuries because their body is properly supported.
The Journal of Safety Research reported in 2008 that improving the ergonomics of the chairs used in an office could improve productivity by up to 17%.
Someone in a chair that doesn’t fit them will have to hunch over to see the computer screen, shift regularly to avoid aches and pains or develops problems like a stick neck that alters their body language and impacts their health.
Conversely, seats that are too long will cause back and leg strain because you can’t gain the benefit of the back rest.
The best office chair for someone with circulatory problems in their legs is one with a waterfall design that cannot put pressure on the back of the legs or knees.
According to the Journal of Safety and Research study cited above, workers experienced fewer musculoskeletal disorders, lower absenteeism and fewer errors when given good ergonomic office chairs.
A pregnant woman with an ergonomic chair may be able to work later into her pregnancy and miss less time overall, whilst avoiding unnecessary back pain.
The Various Types of Office Chair:
Also known as passive chairs, these are designed for those sitting around a conference table. They are usually minimally adjustable but highly comfortable, especially if you’re in a relaxed sitting position. They are intended to be exactly that so that your chair isn’t a distraction from the meeting.
However, the ergonomics of this type of chair are terrible if you need to work on a computer for eight hours per day.
These are chairs designed to be used by multiple users and support a specific task. Many task chairs are ergonomic chairs, but not all are. For example, drafting chairs that let someone sit in front of a drafting table and usually come with a foot support are rarely ergonomic.
These are the highly adjustable chairs to suit any user within very broad limits. These chairs are typically intended to support users who work at a desk for eight or more hours a day. Kneeling chairs can be classified as a type of ergonomic chair designed for those with problems with circulation.
These are designed for maximum style and comfort. Their hallmarks are; thicker padding for the seats and armrests, more expensive upholstery, and features the executive’s subordinates don’t get.
Executive chairs may or may not be ergonomic chairs, though they are always more adjustable than your basic office chair.
These are more basic seats that are placed opposite the executive’s chair. They provide basic, comfortable seating for a short meeting. However, their design does not properly support someone who needs to sit in front of a computer all day.
These are more basic than guest chairs. The emphasis is minimalist design and stackability. These are the chairs they put in the cafeteria so they can stack them up to for space, or pull out of storage when there will be an all-hands meeting. They only have legs, a seat and a back.
You know what a stool is.
The Best Office Chair for Your Budget
Whatever your budget, we've hand picked some of the best chairs available. If you have a rough idea of what you’re going to spend on your new chair, here’s a guide with five of the best sorted by price range.
BestOffice Mid Back Mesh Ergonomic Office Chair
At the lower end of the scale, BestOffice have a solid office chair that offers some ergonomic support. It’s competitively priced, so you're definitely getting value for money.
Of the many chairs you can find for under $100, it’s worth going for one that will keep your back and arms supported properly. So while it’s not the most attractive looking chair, it is very functional. There are a number of more aesthetically pleasing chairs available at a similar price, but it's not a good idea to sacrifice comfort for good looks.
We’ve chosen this chair because it’s more comfortable when being used for extended periods of time, and it’s more durable than your average cheaper office chair. For under $60, it’s a bargain.
Amazon also have a decent range of own brand chairs at a similar price, although a lack of ergonomic support at the low end means you might have to pay a little extra to get something comparable.
Ergonomic support at a cut price
Spring tilt control for basic movement
Sturdier than similarly priced chairs
Open air mesh back
Bestseller on Amazon
Doesn’t compare to more expensive ergonomic chairs on the market
Not the best looking chair, but worth it for the ergonomic tradeoff
HERCULES Series Black Leather Executive Swivel Chair
Built in lumbar support
HON Ignition Series Mid-Back Work Chair - Black
Extended warranty, more information here
Sleek and comfortable
Herman Miller Embody Chair
Twelve years worth of enhanced warranty
Everybody deserves to sit in a nice chair, and it's important to choose wisely. If you’re planning on spending extended periods in the chair, comfort is king, so make sure to get the right type that fits you perfectly.
It’s easier to make the right choice the first time, so do your research, and don’t skimp on pricing if possible. If you are planning on cheaping out, there are always exceptions to the rule about pricing. (But they’re often few and far between.)
So get the best fitting chair within your price range, and you're unlikely to go wrong.