How to Choose Your Perfect Office Chair

October 31, 2023

At first glance, an office chair may not seem to be the most important piece of furniture in a room. However, many people spend long periods of time each day seated in front of a computer in their workplace or home office.

Choosing an office chair that helps support better posture, provides ventilation, and allows for adjustments as the user moves through various positions is integral to making sure the chair remains a supportive and comfortable.

We go over a few styles and attributes of popular office chairs and include a decision-making chart at the end of this article to help you find the right one for your needs.

Considerations for Your Office Chair

In the early days of computing, most people just used whatever chair was nearest and handiest. As technology makes up so much of work and life in the digital age, sitting in an appropriate desk chair during all that screen time is now more important than ever.

Computer chairs come with a wide scope of features.

  • Height: High-back chairs allow for back support, while mid-back chairs permit more range of motion.
  • Upholstery: Leather-like, breathable mesh, mahogany, nylon, and fabric are just a few choices, with some having many layers of cushioning for added comfort.
  • Style: Managerial chairs have armrests and easy mobility. Executive chairs provide slightly more curvature and further cushioning for the back of the legs.
  • Color: From multiple shades of brown, silver, black, gray, white, and even red, there’s a computer chair to be found for any office color scheme.

With the average person spending over seven hours in front of a screen each day, having the right chair is more than just an aesthetic choice.

Executive Ergonomic Chairs

Manager's Ergonomic Chairs

Task Ergonomic Chair

Explore Ergonomic Chair Design

With some organizations having full-time ergonomics specialists on staff to help with employee comfort, ergonomic computer chairs have been thrust into the limelight and continue to represent the forefront of intelligent office design.

Early-boom Silicon Valley companies understood that health and safety considerations for employees were every bit as important as the work being done; the length of time a worker could be expected to do that work was as important as any financial or personal detail.

So, what makes a chair ergonomic? Besides providing support, comfort, and adjusting to the sitter’s needs, an ergonomic chair allows dynamic sitting positions to adapt to the user’s movements. Offered in a variety of mesh and fabric options, ergonomic office chairs — along with standing desk chairs — lead the trend toward greater comfort in the workplace. You can even find ergonomic models of drafting chairs. Chair accessories with lumbar support for office chairs can also be added for extra comfort.

Active Chairs Can Keep Your Body Moving

While some might find it a bit counterintuitive to seek a “standing desk chair,” sitting still for long periods isn’t beneficial to the body. Standing desk chairs address the need for a worker to have a place to hover between sitting and standing. Active chairs have become popular in recent years and can be height-adjusted to whichever degree of standing a user may need, from a simple lean to a full sit.

Active seating extends beyond the standing desk chair to balance boards and balance ball chairs. As more companies incorporate remote work options, careful thought about designing a healthier workspace becomes more imperative.

Gaming Chairs Help Generate High Scores

While high-powered handheld technology has meant that video games can easily travel anywhere with their players, a serious gamer can often be found at home desiring an equally serious chair. Gaming chairs differ from standard office chairs in that they’re designed to extend the stamina of a player who may need to recline for an extended period of time. Hallmarks of this design include an especially high, reclining backrest and a thickly padded seat, often encased by a variety of soft fabrics.

Typically equipped with wheels and sometimes mobile armrests (to promote the unusual frames of movement common to seated gaming), gaming chairs come in a range of colors. Variations exist with rocking capability, some with a “racing” design, while others focus entirely on ergonomics.

As the gaming industry grows, the right gaming chair becomes an important decision faced by serious gamers.

Mesh Chairs Mean Modern

As interior design trends reflect open floor plans and modern, sleek profiles, mesh office chairs have enjoyed a heyday of popularity. Their slim, minimalist look lends a bit of edge to any office appearance. The breathable mesh back may provide air ventilation to help keep cool and dry, which can lead to less upkeep and cleaning.

Choosing a mesh office chair involves looking at a number of factors unique to their particular design. Their flexibility and distinct ergonomics make them appealing options for workers who want something more resistant to wear and tear. Offering flexibility through adjustable back support and reclining capabilities, the mesh office chair is favored by many for its ability to morph throughout the day based on the user’s need.

Mesh chairs offer the bonus of being among the more cost-effective and high-quality seating options on the market.

Sitting in the Big Chair

The phrase “big chair” has long been a euphemism for CEOs and powerful company leaders. Today, it’s aimed at serving those who simply have longer legs or more need for space.

Manufacturers have begun to recognize that all bodies are different, and the office chair industry has responded with a plethora of big and tall office chair options.

Sitting in a chair that may not suit a given body type can result in discomfort, a distraction from work, and general lethargy. In addition to greater weight capacities, some big and tall office chairs now include unique cushioning, increased seat depth, and bonded leather backs for more lanky forms.

Longer, lower adjustable armrests provide arm and shoulder support for taller people, and proportional high- and mid-back chairs support the back for those with lengthier torsos.

Folding Chairs Aren’t Just for the Company Picnic Anymore

All folding chairs aren’t created equally, nor are they just for informal family gatherings. Today, folding chairs can come equipped with helpful armrests, padded seats for long-term sitting, and rolling casters that lend a great deal of versatility to their daily use in the workplace. They can also be stored easily without wasting valuable space in open and traditional office settings.

Traditional folding chairs can be purchased in packs of four and come in an assortment of professional colors that won’t detract or distract from any office decor. What has also evolved are the different materials folding chairs can be made from. Besides metal, options like vinyl, resin, and plastic can offer lightweight nesting and gentler support when seated for longer periods of time.

If the quantity is a concern, folding plastic chairs can be purchased in bulk of up to 40 chairs in a package. If comfort takes center stage, cushioned options come in wood, metal, and acrylic — complete with all manner of linen, vinyl, and leather seat cushion designs.

What’s the Right Chair for You?

Just as no two people are the same, each body requires something different from furniture that can be expected to see daily usage. Productivity, efficiency, and overall comfort all depend on the chair a person chooses to perform a task — whether that’s winning a digital game or composing a spreadsheet.

There are many intelligent office chair options. Choosing the right one simply means deciding what elements of work or play are most important for overall well-being and maximum function in that space.

Work through the decision-making chart below to figure out the right chair for your needs. You might be surprised at the style you end up with.

About the Author 

Dana Miller is a freelance writer with focal interests in music journalism, Eastern medicine, and STEM subjects.

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.

The information does not constitute a medical consultation and cannot replace medical advice. Any information should never be used as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other health care provider. There are many possible causes for physical discomfort. If you are experiencing persistent symptoms or symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with your job or personal activities, consider seeking medical assistance.