No matter if you work at a traditional or home office, your computer chair is a crucial component of your comfort and productivity. A poor fit may lead to health concerns, whereas the right desk chair can help you stay content and focused throughout the workday.
Accordingly, choosing an office chair is a significant decision, with real implications for your daily well-being. And with so many kinds of office chairs to consider, searching for the right product can feel daunting at first.
Evaluate your office chair options, review which factors to assess and which types of chairs to consider for your office furniture. Once you’re done reading, you’ll have information to help make a smart purchase. See if you don’t work better once you choose the perfect seat. To learn how to do exactly that, keep reading.
Buying an Office Chair: Key Factors to Consider
The ability to modify the seat height of your office desk chair can be essential to keeping you comfortable even during long hours. Ideally, your seat should be adjusted so that your thighs are roughly level with your hips (or slightly lower than them), limiting the risk of hip and back strain.
If your chair is too high, you may find yourself scooting forward to keep your feet on the ground, which could result in poor posture. If your chair is too low, your knees will be higher than your hips, potentially creating stress on your lower back.
An adjustable height chair allows you (and anyone else who sits in it) to pick the appropriate level for long-term comfort. If you do seek out a chair with height controls, just make sure they’re easy to use and durable enough to rely on over time.
The angle of your seat back is another important dimension of chair selection. And because any chair you buy probably won’t be perfectly suited to your body right out of the box, the ability to adjust the tilt of the back of your chair is a major benefit.
According to experts, a “slightly reclined” posture may help in protecting your spine while sitting at your desk. Therefore, you’ll want to look for a chair that allows you to tilt back just a bit so that the back of your chair is at a 100 or 110-degree angle to your seat. Some chairs offer just a couple options for reclining (if any at all), so it might be wise to do some specific research on tilt controls before making your purchase.
Clearly, you need a chair large enough to accommodate your body. Pick a seat that’s too narrow, and you could feel constrained on a daily basis. On the other hand, a roomy fit isn’t ideal either. A very deep chair could cause some individuals to hunch forward, while too wide a seat could make it uncomfortable to use your chair’s armrests.
To find a happy medium, you’ll need to check the length and width of the seat for any chair you’re considering. There are also big & tall options available. Once you know the dimensions of the desk chair in question, see how those numbers compare to colleagues’ chairs or other seats you find comfortable.
Studies suggest that armrests, on an office chair with adjustable arms, can be an important source of support, preventing discomfort not just in your forearms, but also in your neck and shoulders. But because workers’ bodies differ so much, simply having armrests on your chair is no guarantee of a good fit. If adjustable arms are positioned too high, for example, you might experience related tension in your shoulder muscles. If they’re too low, you could encounter discomfort in your forearms and wrists.
Thankfully, many desk chairs permit you to adjust the height of your armrests to correspond to your preferred forearm position. Generally, experts recommend positioning your arms so that your wrists are roughly level with your keyboard, rather than flexing up or down to let you reach the keys. Additionally, some chairs enable you to adjust the armrest width or angle for even more customized comfort.
Materials and Padding
Office chairs vary widely in their upholstery and construction, so you’ll have plenty of alternatives to evaluate. Mesh back chairs offer a breathable feel, keeping your back nicely ventilated. Leather or faux leather chairs provide a slick, luxurious look sure to impress co-workers and clients. Certain chairs are distinctly firm, while others provide softer cushioning.
As you consider these possibilities, it's important to prioritize sustainable comfort over first impressions. Though a chair may look or feel great, it may not provide the ergonomic support your body needs over many working hours. Soft chairs, for example, can make it difficult not to slouch. So even if you love the feeling of sinking into a plush seat, you should probably look for more substantive support.
Office chairs with wheels offer valuable convenience, whether you’re moving around your own desk or scooting over to consult with a colleague. Additionally, many swivel office chairs permit you to pivot in your seat, shifting the direction you’re facing. When you don’t want to move in these ways, you can typically “lock” your seat in place to maintain stability.
The key consideration here is quality: Are the moving parts in your chair tough enough to survive daily use? Broken casters or wheels can be frustrating, as is a chair that constantly pivots when you’d prefer it to stay in one place. To gauge the durability of the chairs you’re considering, it might be helpful to read through customer reviews.
The lumbar region is a crucial section of the spine, running roughly between the hips and chest. Though these five lower back vertebrae are the largest and strongest in your body, they still need plenty of support on a daily basis – particularly if you’ve had issues in this area previously.
Because lower back body strains are quite common among professionals, many office chairs are designated as lumbar support chairs due to specific design to provide lumbar protection. As always, however, it's important to consider these options in light of your own body and needs. In some chairs, the seatback is molded specifically to encourage a healthy, “s-shaped” spinal posture, rather than slouching. Others might prefer to buy a seat with a more neutral back, then add lumbar support for the office chair with their own lumbar support cushion.
Other Ergonomic Features
The term “ergonomic” refers to the scientific improvement of workplace conditions, and many chairs possess distinctive features rooted in physiological research. For example, an office chair with a headrest can help reduce stress on the neck and shoulders. Others divide the seat back into multiple parts so that the upper and lower back receive different kinds of support. If you have specific medical concerns or simply want more support than what a standard chair might offer, it’s worth considering these ergonomic office chair options.
Office Chair Options: Six Types to Choose From
Task chairs are the classic office chair category: They’re intended to slide neatly under a wide variety of desks, allowing workers to accomplish the “tasks” they’re assigned over the course of a typical day. Common features include wheels, high backs, and armrests (though some models are armless). Tasks chairs come in a wide array of materials and offer differing degrees of support. While some types can be expensive, savvy shoppers can find great task chairs at surprisingly affordable prices.
Ergonomic chairs resemble task chairs in their basic components: Most are mobile, with high backs and armrests. But these products take support extremely seriously, with advanced design features intended to promote good posture and minimize physical distress. Some include headrests, whereas others have separate components to help support your lower and upper back. A common theme is customization: You’ll have plenty of opportunities to adjust the chair to fit your own body. Many are mesh chairs, but there are also leather-like ergonomic chair options.
Used by architects and other visually-oriented professionals, drafting chairs offer more elevation than the typical office swivel chair. From this higher vantage point, you’re in a great position to survey drawings, blueprints, and other visual media. Many drafting chairs lack armrests, allowing you freedom of movement when drawing. Some also include rings where you can place your feet, so you can sit comfortably even when you’re high off the ground.
If you’re going to spend hours working at your desk, you deserve a chair built for your body. Big and tall computer chairs are suited specifically to individuals with larger body types so that you’re not stuck making do with a poor fit. Even if you’ve grown accustomed to working in cramped quarters, a big and tall chair could radically improve your experience at work. Just check the exact measurements before making a purchase to ensure that the dimensions will work for you.
Some office chairs aren’t intended for constant use by workers. A set of comfortable reception chairs can really set visitors at ease, while an accent chair can make an executive’s office the perfect place for small meetings. If you’re looking for the right blend of professionalism and comfort, this category of modern office chairs is worth considering. Upgrading could help you make a great first impression on all your guests.
When conference room meetings or events demand flexible seating options, armless stackable or folding chairs can be a good bet. But while these chairs won’t be installed on a permanent basis, they don’t have to be uncomfortable or unattractive. From sleek modern looks to impressive padding, you might find these options more appealing than you imagined.
Though seat cushions can help reduce pressure on your glutes, they may be especially helpful in relieving back discomfort. They do so by helping to support your spine from its base and encouraging better posture. Some models conform to the shape of your body over time, while others provide a firm feel. They can be combined with a compatible backrest to assist facilitating comprehensive spinal support.
Much like seat cushions, backrests offer differing degrees of firmness to help keep your spine in an optimal position. They typically attach to your high back or mid-back chair through straps, allowing you to make adjustments tailored to your seat and body shape. Some backrests cater to the whole back, whereas others are designed to support the lumbar region specifically. No matter which kind you choose, however, give some thought to materials. A firm mesh backrest could keep you cool, but a memory foam option might be more adaptable to your body.
Though you may not associate back discomfort with your feet, switching up your footing could help to improve your posture. Sometimes, the arrangement of your chair, desk, and computer simply make it difficult to achieve an ideal sitting position while your feet are on the floor. Footrests are designed to prevent dangling legs and slouching, with adjustable heights and angles to suit any sitter. Some even come with extra features, such as massage rollers for your fatigued feet.
Though not directly related to support, chair mats can help prevent damage to your office floors and make maneuvering around your desk a lot easier. Check out our guide for buying one well-suited to your work area.
With the advice in this guide, you’re well prepared to choose a great office chair. But there’s one more crucial piece of the shopping process: Getting a great price. Whether you shop online or at a retail location, look for industry-best value and a vast selection.
About the Author
Carly Johnson pairs SEO expertise with a knack for narrative and specializes in crafting copy for content marketing projects.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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