How to Choose an Office Chair

Sitting all day for work shouldn’t be a pain. Explore the what’s and why’s of
office chair options to get your best office chair yet.

Gone are the days when you were issued a chair at work and were stuck with it, like it or not. Studies in health and productivity have led us to an ergonomic era where your office chair is no longer an afterthought. And with the recent move to working from home, whether temporarily or as a lifestyle choice, comfortable seating is on our minds more than ever before. Whether you’ve been getting by on a dining chair, a folding chair or the couch, it’s time to choose the right office chair.

And therein lies the problem: How do you choose the right chair? There are so many options to start with, and then the options have options...it can be overwhelming. We’re going to break down your must-have features and what to look for when selecting this all-important piece of furniture.

Why Your Office Chair Matters

First thing’s first: Why should you bother with a souped-up and possibly pricey office chair in the first place? The reasons are tied to your overall well-being as well as your work environment. Like a bed, you’ll be spending hours on end in your office chair, so you’ll want to select one that’s durable and comfortable.

Doctors say that sitting is the new smoking, and movement is encouraged during the work day; however, for those times when you are at your desk, your chair should help you maintain proper posture, which avoids strain and fatigue. Simply put, a great office chair makes you healthier, more comfortable and more productive—you can’t put a price on that.

Considering Your Style

Your style is more than your aesthetic preferences. Think, too, about your working style and your lifestyle at large. If you’re a laser-focused worker who can tune out the world for hours, consider buying the best ergonomic adjustable chair you can afford. A more active worker who needs to jump up and down a lot, whether to chase down children or burn off extra energy, might prefer an armless chair. And those whose home offices do dual duty as a dining room table may want a supportive (and coordinated) dining chair instead of a task chair.

Functional style choices also include swivel chairs vs. static seating, and whether to go for a wheeled base. These decisions boil down to your preference, with no answer being wrong. Still, you should consider your flooring because standard casters might not perform on carpet. Some office chairs have a selection of casters to choose from, like the Aeron Chair by Herman Miller, depending on your flooring. Alternately, if you fall in love with an incompatible design, an area rug or a hard floor mat can be just the fix you need.

The style of the chair is important, of course. Perhaps you prefer a hard seat to help you focus, or maybe a luxe upholstery gets you in the mood to work. Your office chair material makeup is a subjective decision that should include how much or how little you want the chair to stand out in the space. With options from upholstered molded fiberglass to aluminum to leather and beyond, your perfect design is the one that makes you happiest.

Considering the Options

The height of your desk, countertop or table dictates the chair height you’ll need for optimal performance. Office stools are great for higher and sit-stand desks, and still offer all the bells and whistles of a standard height office chair.

Your body size is an important factor in selecting your chair, too. Smaller and larger bodies alike will be more comfortable in a proportional seat. Most office chairs have weight guidelines, and all have measurements so you can gauge for yourself whether you’ll get the right fit.

PRO TIP

Where the back of the seat hits your back is an important factor for supportive comfort. Most office chairs will hit just at or above the shoulder blades: Go higher if you like more support.

BDI TC-223 Task Chair Options

TC-223 Task Chair by BDI

When you’ve decided on your office chair style, you might find that task chairs have an overwhelming amount of adjustability options. This is good, though, because each option allows you to build your own comfort. We’ll take you through some common choices:

  • Headrest - For the sit-up-straight worker who needs a bit of neck support.
  • Breathable Fabrics - Most task chairs have some measure of breathability built in to help you work cooler.
  • Lumbar Support - Whether built into the design or an adjustable feature, this low-back area is key for good posture and minimizing back strain.
  • Arms - If you choose arms, adjustable height versions are more flexible.
  • Seat Height - This depends on your desk height and your physical height and your preferences may change throughout the day.
  • Tilt - Leaning back and/or forward in your office chair can help you focus and minimize fatigue; tilt limiters and tension control set how far you can go.

Tips

Before you start shopping, we’ve got a few more fit tips to consider. When seated in your chair, your feet should be flat on the floor, knees bent comfortably and slightly below your hips. Your tilt limiter will help here.

Elbows should remain close to your sides and at a 90-degree angle parallel with your keyboard. Ensure your chair’s arm height isn’t so high that your shoulders are tense, and not too low to make you slouch. As mentioned above, the back of the chair should reach about mid-back or higher. And when you’re using a computer, you should be looking at the center of the screen without straining your neck.

These practical tips will help you choose your best office chair ever, improving your performance and well-being. We can’t promise it’ll get you a raise...but it can’t hurt.