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Office Chair Buying Guide

Why are office chairs so important?

In a typical 40-hour work week, most people spend at least half of that time sitting at a desk. All of that time adds up, making the selection of the appropriate office chair an important decision.

​Companies often pay more attention to selecting a desk rather than the office chair and often more of the budget is allocated for purchasing desks. Quality seating will promote happy, healthy, and productive employees. Use this guide to determine the best type of seating for your business and employee needs. 
Ergonomic Seating Posture
Selecting the right office chair can make a significant impact on employee performance and long-term health. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in five workplace injuries in the U.S. are back-related injuries. Studies show an office chair with proper ergonomic back support will help maintain the natural curve of the spine, resulting in increased productivity and efficiency. Sitting for extended periods of time in a chair with no lower back support can result in back pain, leg problems, and other issues, like carpal tunnel. Avoid uneccesary work-related injuries and absences by understanding how to create a healthy physical working environment for employees.


Top 6 Chair Styles

Ergonomic Chairs

Ergonomic Chairs

At the most basic level, ergonomic office chairs are designed to offer maximum support for any size person and any office environment. The term "ergonomic" refers to a type of chair design that strives to reduce injuries, and can be applied to any type or style of chair. Ergonomic chairs can help prevent office-related injuries and stress from being in a seated position for extended periods of time. With many options for adjustment options and back support, ergonomic chairs keep comfort and health in mind. Read more on ergonomic seating

Executive Chair

Executive Chairs

A traditional choice, an executive chair typically features leather upholstery with a high back. Leather will not hold up as well as other fabrics for extensive use, but it does offer a formal, high-quality look that's easy to clean. Although executive chairs are often considered less comfortable than ergonomic chairs, contemporary options come in a variety of contoured shapes and materials, and are generally only distinguished by the high back. Executive chairs come in big and tall options, eco-friendly designs, U.S. General Services Administration-approved styles, and ergonomic designs. 

Task Chairs

Task Chairs

Task chairs range from lightweight and basic options to sturdy and long-lasting chairs that offer more adjustments. Generally the most basic in design, task chairs are a standard option for desk settings because they can suit a variety of needs. Mesh or foam construction provides comfortable and durable support, while swivel capabilities and adjustable heights allow for individual customization. Task chairs also include 24-hour call center chairs, which provide a more robust, durable chair for long periods of comfortable seating for high-intensity workplaces. Also choose from task chairs approved by the U.S. General Services Administration, as well as eco-friendly options, including Greenguard Certified chairs. 

Conference Chairs

Conference Chairs

Conference chairs feature low-to-mid back heights and slim profiles to accommodate viewers during presentations. With a variety of style options, conference chairs can create an impressive, uniform look for a conference room with an altered design for a conference setting. Most conference chairs offer adjustable heights and arms for optimal comfort, as well as a range of material options. Choose from conference chairs approved by the U.S. General Services Administration, and eco-friendly options, including Greenguard Certified chairs. Read more on conference room design. 

Drafting Stools

Drafting Stools

With added footrests and height adjustments, drafting stools come in a variety of styles made for working at any level. Stools with small or no backs offer optimal movement between spaces, while adjustable height stools with curved backs provide lumbar support with height options. Drafting stools can provide plenty of flexibility to fit a variety of workspace needs.

Banker's Chair

Banker's Chairs

For a traditional office style, banker's chairs offer a classic look. While the slatted wood back design doesn't provide much flexibility, most contemporary designs feature tilt mechanisms for leaning back and height adjustments. Banker's chairs are ideal for use in lobby areas or home offices, where they are used for shorter periods of time compared to an all-day, ergonomic office chair.  

Alternative Seating

Kneeling Chairs

Kneeling Chairs

The kneeling chair, built with kneepads and a seat, is thought to reduce lower back and tailbone pain and provide a more active form of seating. Similar to drafting stools, kneeling chairs can come with or without a back. Many kneeling chairs come with side grips for stability, adjustable heights and seat backs, and a variety of padding upholstery options. 

Balance Ball Chair

Balance Ball Chairs

A balance ball chair helps improve circulation and posture while sitting at a desk. With little to no back support, a balance ball encourages more movement for better health, fitness, and posture. Unlike a medicine ball or exercise ball, balance ball chairs are designed specifically for the workplace with adjustable backs and lockable caster wheels for a secure base. 

Saddle Chairs

Saddle Seat Chairs

Saddle stools offer a position that promotes good posture by taking away the ability to slump back in the chair. With the legs at a lower position, it keeps the hips open and puts the spine in a natural curve to reduce stress. Five caster wheels provide maximum support and stability, while swivel capabilities allow movement for a more active seating option.

Common Materials

Leather, Chair Material

Leather offers a high-quality look that is easy to clean, comfortable, and flexible. Top grain leather, which is the most common for high-end office chairs, has a thin and flexible consistency with a finish coat that provides a more durable, stain-resistant exterior. Bonded leather, on the other hand, uses natural leather remnants which are bonded together with polyurethane fibers for an economical option that offers even more durability. 

Vinyl Chairs

Chairs made with vinyl materials provide a durable and long lasting product with a classic, upscale look similar to leather. As a more affordable option, vinyl chairs come in most styles to meet any budget. 

Mesh, Chair Materials

A breathable material, mesh offers temperature regulation with a lightweight feel, keeping bodyheating and moisture from becoming an issue. The increased flexibility of mesh provides easy movement and comfort. As another more affordable option, mesh chairs come in a variety of styles.

Molded Foam

For added lumbar support, molded foam chairs provide plenty of cushioning for optimal back support for any body shape. Used with leather or fabric upholstery, molded foam provides shape contouring for individual comfort. 

Low, mid, high back

Chair Options and Adjustments

Big and Tall Office Chair

Low-, Mid-, and High-back Selection

Chair back height comes in three general options, low, mid, and high. For the average office set-up, mid-back would be an ideal choice to meet most people's height and desk needs. A low-back is best for conference rooms and presentations, while a high back is better suited for an executive or managerial office. Big and tall chair sizes offer additional selection with features like a high-back, higher weight capacity, and a deeper seat. 

Big and Tall Selection

The standard office chair is made for people who are up to 6 feet tall and weigh up to 250 lbs. Just as the name suggests, Big and Tall chairs are built for taller people and have a weight capacity up to 500 lbs. The seat bases are wider for maximum comfort, with much larger backs. The seat cushions are thicker with more padding. It is important to consider the measurements of Big and Tall chairs before purchasing, as the dimensions vary greatly. The lift, wheel, and tilt adjusments are all built for durability.

Tilt Control and Height Adjustment

Tilt Control and Height Adjustments

The majority of today's office chairs feature at least some customization options for chair height, armrest height, and back tilt control. Choosing a chair size depends on how many people will use it and the general size of your workspace. The height of your chair should be adjusted so your arm rests at a 90-degree angle when reaching the keyboard, and your eye level should be parallel with the center of the computer screen. If the height of the chair is not adjustable, and is too tall, use a footrest to keep your legs at a comfortable 90-degree angle. ​Generally speaking, the higher the price point, the more size customization an office chair will offer.  

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