Skip to Main Content
Jun 2020
How to Choose the Right Type of Office Chair
 
Picking out the right office chair may seem like just another bullet point on your to-do list, but once you start weighing different options it quickly becomes apparent that this choice is anything but simple. From task chairs to 24-hour chairs, the variety of options available can be overwhelming. Each comes at a unique price point with different sets of features, and it can be confusing to understand why some chairs cost upwards of $1,000 while others are as cheap as $75.  
 
While it might be tempting to go with the first option you find online, keep in mind how much time you’ll be spending in your new chair. Those long days spent in the same position can lead to back pain, poor posture, low productivity, and even long term health issues. The right office chair can mitigate these risks while providing benefits such as increased comfort and improved focus. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your chair––and amidst a growing consensus that remote work is here to stay, it’s worth investing in a quality piece.
 
In this article, we’ll review three key criteria that you should consider before you set out to purchase an office chair: price, ergonomics, and design. Then, we’ll examine the five most popular types of office chairs and assign a rating for each category. By the end of this post, you’ll know what the right type of office chair is for you, how much you should pay for it, and what to look for to make sure you’re getting a worthy piece of furniture.
 

What to Look For

Price

Arguably the most important factor to consider, and also one of the most varied. When budgeting for an office chair, you should consider how often you’ll be using it, and whether you have plans to upgrade later on or if you’re looking for your “forever chair.” In addition, consider delivery fees and the cost of setting up the chair– for some cheaper options like Ikea, you may be faced with high delivery costs, a long wait time (for delivery, but also any customer service questions), and confusing self-assembly. More premium options are likely to include free, quick shipping and long-term warranties that will save you money down the line.
 
If you are expecting not to use your chair too frequently or plan on buying a nicer one in a few years, you should budget between $75-$200 for this purchase. If you are looking for a higher-quality chair that comes with all the bells and whistles, consider both the big-name players and the smaller, premium brands selling directly to consumers. You can find beautiful office chairs from the large industry retailers for upwards of $1,500, or you can find the best value chairs from smaller brands that bundle affordable prices and premium quality into a single option. Our own collection of office chairs strike this exact balance and are priced between $199-$350.  

Ergonomics

Defined as “the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products, and systems so that they fit the people who use them.” In the context of office chairs, this refers to how a chair’s design keeps you working comfortably and productively.
 
It can be tempting to purchase a chair based solely on price and looks, without digging into the details on just how well the chair functions to keep your body in good form. While a minimalist wooden design with no armrests might look nice in an Instagram post, you’ll probably regret that purchase within a few minutes of struggling to sit comfortably.
 
You can learn more about ergonomics here, but some key buzzwords to look for are “points of adjustment”, “lumbar support”, and “tilt lock.” Features such as these will help you sit for long periods of time without pain or health issues stemming from poor posture.

Design

It’s hard enough to find a comfortable chair that you can afford, let alone one that has a sleek and timeless look. Hitting on all three of these points can be difficult; it might even leave you wanting to give up on the search altogether.
 
But before throwing in the towel, it’s helpful to spend just a little time considering which aesthetic features are nice-to-haves vs which are essential to your selection. For instance, do you prefer mesh, leather, or an upholstered look? Wooden legs, or a more modern, metallic base? Consider color, as well-–options like the Branch Elevate Chair offer three seat colors, while the Ergonomic Chair offers multiple frame and seat combinations.
 
Lastly, always pay attention to the quality of materials––look for details like “double-layered mesh” and “high-density foam,” and whether the chair’s base is made of aluminum instead of plastic.
 

Types of Chairs to Consider

Ergonomic Chair

 
As the name implies, ergonomic chairs are known for their wellness-focused design that promotes good posture. In fact, over time most have become optimized specifically for the prevention of disorders like cervical spondylosis, back pain, and poor posture and blood circulation.” These chairs were invented by William Stumpf in 1976 and are, in essence, the ultimate option for folks spending long hours and working days sitting in one place, or for those suffering from severe neck or back pain.
 
They typically come equipped with multiple points of adjustment to enable enough customization so that the chair can morph to meet the demands of your own body and sitting position. Features such as the height and depth of the seat and armrests, lumbar support, and tilt lock are some of the staple elements you can expect to see. Quality ergonomic chairs that even include nylon mesh backs and aluminum bases can be found starting at $279, though they can range upwards in price to $1,500+.

Task Chair

 
Task chairs are a great option for anyone looking to boost their productivity without breaking the bank. Characterized by their simple yet functional design, task chairs can be traced back to the operator-style chairs used by stenographers, according to officeinteriors.ca. You can save some money by purchasing an armless task chair, though we’d recommend opting for one with armrests to avoid shoulder pain from sagging elbows.
 
It’s important to note that while they may not offer as many points of adjustment as an ergonomic chair, a task chair worth the money should still have a good ergonomic design that will encourage you to sit properly. Make sure to look through the reviews of task chairs that claim to be ergonomic, and read through the product descriptions to see what features they come equipped with. If you’re a college student, recent grad, or even someone purchasing chairs for a co-working space, this is a great option. Task chairs are versatile, easy to assemble, and budget-friendly––and you can typically find a high-performing option for less than $200.  

Conference Chair

 
If you’re furnishing an office and want to foster a collaborative environment, or you’re just someone who wants a clean, no-fuss chair for their desk at home, then conference chairs are an excellent choice. Unlike ergonomic or task chairs, this seating option promotes a leaning-forward posture through its lower backrest and titled seating. A good conference chair should swivel and have adjustable height so that anyone feels comfortable joining in on meetings.
 
Conference chairs tend to be available in a variety of materials, including foam, mesh, leather, or upholstery. But while leather or upholstery offer a sophisticated look, mesh may prove more breathable and low maintenance; even more, if you’re located in a hot climate, a leather chair on a hot summer day is a recipe for discomfort. While conference chairs come in a wide range of prices, you should never have to spend upwards of $400 for a quality selection.

Drafting Chair

Typically geared towards artists and designers, drafting chairs are designed to be used in conjunction with drafting tables. As a result, they’re taller than other office chairs and feature a foot ring so you can switch seamlessly from standing to sitting. They also don’t always have armrests or even a back, so don’t be alarmed when you’re browsing through options.
 
If you often stand at work, be it at a standing desk or drafting table, a drafting chair could be a good fit for you. However, keep in mind that many office chairs can substitute for a drafting chair––some people even opt for a long-legged bar stool or bistro chair instead.

Executive Chair

If you want an office chair with a stylish, fancy, some might say imposing aesthetic, then an executive chair is for you. Usually leather or upholstered, these premium chairs are geared towards, as the name implies, executives, or at least anyone who wants to sit like a boss. Some joke that executive chairs are the thrones of the modern office. They tend to have high backs, lots of cushioning, premium materials, and a higher price point, with some costing over $2,000. If you’re looking to treat yourself but still want a sleek design and a not-so-staggering price, check out Branch’s Elevate chair.

Closing Thoughts

Finding the right office chair can often leave you feeling lost. But carefully considering your budget, needs, and preferred style according to the criteria above makes the choice between different styles of chairs clearer. Each type mentioned above is designed with a distinct purpose and user in mind, and understanding which option best suits your needs lets you spend less time wading through Google and more time enjoying your healthier, more productive, back pain-free life.
 
At Branch, we offer a variety of beautiful and well-made chairs that will save you time and money. If you’re looking for more help to furnish your home office, you can browse our entire work from home collection here.