Off the charts in terms of comfort and ergonomics. Aesthetically pleasing and highly adjustable.
Armrests can swing inward and get in the way. Assembly instructions not clear.
Great value. No assembly problems and stylish details.
Extremely limited adjustments. Not beneficial for those with preexisting back pain.
Less than a third of the price of the top models but still has 90% of the features and makes no compromises on quality and comfort.
While not quite as adjustable as the Ergohuman and the Leap, it is the most ergonomic chair for below $600.
Ultramodern design. Has a neck rest. Lots and lots of available adjustments. Comfortable if you tweak it just right.
Takes a while to find the right position. Mixed reviews on the lumbar support. Hard to assemble.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
If you’re a white collar professional, you likely spend most of your day sitting in a chair. Assuming a sedentary pose for long stretches of time is neither comfortable nor conducive to productivity.
As such, it’s critical that you find the right chair. A quality-made, ergonomically designed chair can enhance your wellbeing, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
If you’re ready to buy an office chair now, please see the top of this page for our favorite five.
If you’d like to learn more about our testing process and office chairs in general, please continue reading this shopping guide.
As the name suggests, office chairs are traditionally seen in a workplace environment. However, they're also great for home use if you sit at a desk to use your computer. But why should you use an office chair rather than any old dining chair or folding chair you can find? Let's find out.
Office chairs are padded and therefore more comfortable
This is especially important if you’ll be sitting in the chair for extended periods of time.
An office chair supports your back in a way that encourages good posture
This lessens your chance of developing back pain from sitting all day.
Many office chairs offer height adjustability
This allows both taller and shorter users to sit at the correct height, thereby increasing comfort and decreasing the chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome or other types of repetitive strain injury (RSI).
A comfortable office chair can help enhance your productivity and wellbeing
People tend to be work more efficiently when they're sitting comfortably. And because you’re sitting with good posture and not straining your back or joints, your sense of wellbeing is enhanced.
Which type of upholstery would you like your office chair to have? Let’s take a look at the options.
Some office chairs have “traditional” upholstery consisting of cloth or leather (or synthetic leather) stretched over foam padding.
Some office chairs feature a stretched synthetic mesh material over a rigid frame.
Some office chairs split the difference between these two styles with an upholstered seat and mesh back.
Over the course of a long work day, you may find the extra padding on a traditionally upholstered chair to be comforting. You might also prefer a traditionally upholstered chair because you like the adhesive qualities of cloth or leather.
Mesh chairs deliver two notable benefits: improved airflow and durability. You won't overheat or sweat excessively in a mesh chair. Furthermore, the material is thought to withstand constant use better than the traditional foam inserts found in upholstery.
The Ergohuman offers plenteous features, including an adjustable lumbar support, adjustable armrests, and a neck rest. You can move them from left to right, front and back, and up and down. Although a nice feature, some testers felt the Ergohuman’s lumbar support wasn’t firm enough. Most of our testers didn’t use the neck rest while working, but when casually lounging in the chair, they found it quite comfortable.
Some office chairs include a significant number of adjustable features; others assume a “bare bones” style with no adjustable features whatsoever. You may be content with a simpler chair, but then again, you may wish to optimize the ergonomics of your workspace.
Adjustable features that some workers find particularly comfortable include the following:
Adjustable lumbar support
But it’s not just about the number of features a chair has. Customers tend to prefer features that are easy to use, and we don’t blame them.
Although assembly isn’t usually the top concern when it comes to choosing an office chair, it’s still something to consider. Some chairs arrive fully assembled and can be used immediately. Others require more than an hour to put together.
In this day and age, more people are becoming concerned with the "green" credentials of the products they buy. If sustainability is important to you, you should consider products that disclose the origin of their materials and where they will go after you're done with them.
We spoke with Dr. Natasha Withers, a family medicine physician in Manhattan, who suggested we look for chairs with adjustable support features that help maintain the spine’s natural curve. At her suggestion, we paid special attention to each chair's lumbar (lower back) support.
Some office chair features are negotiable, but at BestReviews, we don’t believe that comfort should be one of them.
You could buy a chair with an abundance of exciting attachments, but if it’s not comfortable, those attachments won't matter.
Comfort can be subjective, however. Some people like a firm chair, whereas others like to sink in as far as possible. Therefore, it can take a degree of trial and error to find the most comfortable chair for you.
Think about what comfort means to you, and check out manufacturer specifications and customer reviews to see if the office chair you're considering matches your idea of what's comfortable.
Dr. Withers suggests that workers position their computer screen at eye level, keep their feet flat on the floor, and extend their arms forward while typing. Workers should frequently get up and move around, as sitting in a chair for long periods can be detrimental to health.
Office chairs range in price from under one hundred dollars to over one thousand dollars. But does a higher price equal higher quality?
At the lower end of the spectrum, you can find comfortable, well-made office chairs between $150 and $200. These basic chairs usually don't offer the bells and whistles that some other products do.
Mid-range office chairs sell for anywhere from $300 to $500. In this price range, expect a chair with easier and more comprehensive adjustment, better lumbar support, and increased comfort overall.
Expect to pay $800 to $1,000 for a high-end office chair with a large number of features affecting comfort, support, and adjustability, as well as exceptional build quality.
All five BestReviews testers liked the feel of the AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair. It’s easy to use and comfortable to sit on for hours at a stretch. The only significant complaint our testers voiced was the chair’s back height. It sits low on the user’s back, and there’s no neck rest. Some owners also complain that the backrest isn't large enough for meaningful support. Indeed, this is a “mid-back” chair, so if you’re taller than six feet, it may not fit your body. Notably, the owners who most appreciate this product are those who don’t have any preexisting back pain.
To maximize comfort while sitting in an office chair, follow these postural tips:
Make sure you're positioned properly and your chair is adjusted correctly. Sit as close to your desk as you can with your hands resting on your work surface and your upper arms in line with your spine. Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle, as should your knees with your feet on the floor. If they're not, make the necessary adjustments.
Use a footstool to keep your knees at the correct angle if your seat or desk are too high.
Try to keep the angle between your back and thighs at 95 to 105 degrees. That way, you're not compressing your abdomen.
Providing quality office chairs for employees is worth the extra expense, as it can result in increased productivity and fewer days off sick.
Having adjustable armrests can greatly improve the comfort of your office chair, especially if you're taller or shorter than average.
Serious injuries could occur without warning if a chair manufacturer’s stated height and weight limits are disregarded.
If you're going for a high-tech theme in your workspace, mesh tends to be the favored choice. However, traditional padded chairs are just as comfortable as mesh, if not more so.
Some people prefer no-frills chairs that don't require much — if any — adjusting, but we think having at least a few points of adjustability can greatly increase comfort.
Most office chairs come with all the tools you need to assemble them, but it's worth checking to make sure you have what you need before you get start putting your chair together.
Lovers of the traditionally upholstered chair are generally not as concerned about breathability as they are the feeling of comfort and security they experience while sitting.
Q. Are there office chairs available for people who are shorter, taller, or heavier than average?
A. Yes. Office furniture manufacturers frequently offer special models designed specifically for petite and/or larger users. However, you might need to consult a catalog or online store to find them. The office chairs displayed in brick-and-mortar stores typically conform to the “average” consumer who stands between 5’1” and 6’1” and weighs no more than 250 pounds.
Q. My office floor is covered with plush carpeting from wall to wall. My chair sinks into that carpeting all the time, making it nearly impossible for me to move freely in my cubicle. What are my options?
A. Many office chairs feature omnidirectional caster wheels for improved mobility, but these wheels are designed primarily for bare floors or low-pile carpeting. Thick, padded carpeting or shag carpeting can bog down the wheels, impeding mobility.
If you work on thick carpeting, consider a glider chair with smooth metal feet for added mobility. You may not be able to push away from your desk and coast to the copy machine with a glider, but a glider won’t dig into your plush or padded carpeting, either.
Q. Do I really need all of those adjustment knobs and other controls on my office chair?
A. The answer to that question is, “It depends.” The default height and recline settings on a new office chair may serve your needs adequately. But workers who spend countless hours in front of a computer screen often appreciate the freedom to adjust their seating. You might not think about how often you lean back in your office chair, for example. But if the chair’s recline angle were too steep for comfort, you’d definitely notice it.
Q. I’m an office manager, and I need to order an entire set of office chairs for our new branch. Should I order a dozen of the same model or discuss this with our employees first?
A. This is a challenging situation, since each approach has both advantages and disadvantages. You might be able to get a discount on a bulk order of the same chair model, but then again, office chairs aren’t “one-size-fits-all” products. Some employees may have special needs that a standard office chair does not address, such as increased lumbar support or weight capacity.
One possible solution: you could order a complete set of highly rated office chairs at a bulk discount but then swap them out for alternatives upon request.
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