Work in Comfort and Style With the Best Office Chairs | IGN

o one ever says they enjoy going to the office, but in reality, there are some undeniable perks you get from the corporate environment compared to working from home. Often there are free snacks, co-workers for socializing, and a significantly more ergonomic workspace than your kitchen table. Work from home for any length of time and you’ll no doubt start to miss your cushioned, adjustable office chair.

It makes sense to get a quality office chair for wherever you happen to work – whether that’s a corporate office, a rented workspace, or your own home. An ergonomic, adjustable chair can make you more comfortable and productive. There are a million chairs out there, many from well-known office furniture brands; others are from niche manufacturers or even generic alternatives.

That’s why we’ve come up with this guide to help you cut through the noise and tell you which chairs are the best for your needs. We’ve rounded up the nine best office chairs to help you get your work done. At the end of the article, you’ll also find a buying guide that highlights how to shop for a chair outside of our recommendations.

TL;DR – These are the Best Office Chairs

1. Autonomous MyoChair

Best Budget Chair

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Most inexpensive office chairs – the generic models you run across in office supply stores – are pretty sad affairs that aren’t comfortable and offer the bare minimum of adjustability. That’s why it’s great to encounter a chair like the Autonomous MyoChair, which costs well under $200, yet looks and feels like a much pricier seat.

The MyoChair has all the essentials you look for in an office chair. The mesh backrest is comfortable that distributes your weight and adds breathability. You still get a thickly padded foam seat and it’s covered with a high-quality polyester shell.  In addition, the chair has a balancing mechanism (which Autonomous emphasizes is Italian-designed) that lets you switch from upright to reclining in a single action. It also has the obligatory height and tilt controls.

And while this is a budget chair, for just $50 more than the base price, you can add a headrest and footrest, amping up the chair’s comfort factor substantially.

2. Humanscale Freedom

Best Ergonomic Chair

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The Freedom is something of an icon among office chairs, and for good reason. It seems like an office chair, an alien designed from scratch. What you get is a chair with moving parts that work together in unexpected ways to automatically keep your body comfortable no matter what position you’re in.

The back slides up and down so you can position it appropriately for your back, regardless of the seat’s height. The same is true of the headrest, which you can slide to support your neck and head. Once configured, the seat, back, headrest, and even armrests all pivot and slide together when you lean in your chair so the whole assembly works together for maximum support.

And visually, the chair is striking. The frame is made mostly out of aluminum and, while you have a variety of options to choose from, the standard version is covered with contoured foam treated with Duron.  There are dozens of fabric and a half dozen leather choices to customize the look of the chair.

3. Secretlab Omega 2020 Series

Best Gaming Chair

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Not every office chair is all about business. While gaming chairs certainly can help you complete the TPS report, gamers put a lot of value on factors like comfort for long gaming sessions and durability to survive Pepsi and snack disasters. The Secretlab Omega 2020 Series is covered in a variation of PU leather (polyurethane leather, a kind of artificial leather) which Secretlab claims is four times more durable than regular PU leather, and greatly exceeds the industry standard for flexing and abrasion resistance.

These are great qualities for the rough handling gaming chairs often receive. Under the PU leather is Secretlab’s cold cure foam which delivers a firm and supportive, but not too hard or rigid, feel that is surprisingly comfortable. Complementing the seat is a pair of memory foam pillows you can position (or remove) as you like, and they offer welcome lumbar and neck support.

The seat is engineered with a lot of structural aluminum, including the wheelbase. In addition to the usual height adjustment, the seat tilts and reclines. In fact, it reclines from 85 to 165 degrees, which is virtually straight back. You could nap in this chair, and the side wings keep you in place. (If only this chair had a footrest.) Even the armrests are quite configurable, with controls to let them slide up and down, in and out, back and forth, and even orient them diagonally, which is rare among any kind of office chair.

It’s worth highlighting Omega’s somewhat longer-than-average five-year warranty. You get a three-year warranty out of the box, but you can score another two years by posting about it on social media. It’s not as long as Humanscale’s 15-year warranty, of course, but it’s solid coverage compared to most other office seating.

4. Boss Office Products Multi-Function LeatherPlus Drafting Stool

Best Drafting Chair

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If you have an elevated workspace like a standing desk or a traditional drafting table, you need a specialized seat to help you sidle up to it and work efficiently. Boss’s LeatherPlus Drafting Stool uses a pneumatic gas lift to adjust the seat between 26 and 29.5 inches, which puts it at the right height for higher work surfaces.

While some drafting seats are little more than backless stools, this chair has a fully padded back and fixed arms, so it’s comfortable enough for extended work sessions. The seat is upholstered in LeatherPlus, which is a bonded leather composed of a leather and polyurethane mixture. The back tilts and locks over a range of angles and there’s a fixed chrome foot-ring which makes the seat more comfortable when your feet can’t reach the floor while working at an elevated position.

No, this isn’t an especially premium experience, but that’s generally not needed with drafting chairs – and premium versions of the Boss seat cost a lot more, so this chair is a great choice for those with an elevated workspace or drafting setup.

5. Herman Miller Embody

Best Executive Chair

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You may know the iconic Herman Miller Aeron chair, but the Embody is actually the model that Herman Miller stakes its reputation on for high end, premium office seating. That’s apparent from the warranty – a generous 12 years – and the substantial weight of the chair, which tips the scales at 50 pounds. Take a quick look at the chair and you can see why it’s so heavy; there’s steel and aluminum everywhere.

More than anything else, the Embody’s signature feature is probably the backrest, which is designed to mimic the human spine, with flexible ribs that adjust to align with your back’s curve. It works in concert with the seating material itself, which is a combination of breathable foam and something Herman Miller calls a “pixelated support system,” which automatically conforms to your body’s movements and distributes your weight evenly in the seat. It all works as part of four layers of material – elastic bands that provide suspension, mattress-like coils for support, hexagonal rings that adjust to your movement, and a breathable mesh that encourages air circulation.

Combine all those elements and you get a graceful, comfortable chair that is easy on your back and bum, even after hours in the seat. Visually, it’s also stunning – those ribs in the back make it clear this is no ordinary seat. While it’s not covered in leather almost any executive will appreciate the engineering and comfort of this seat.

6. Flash Furniture Wood Mobile Ergonomic Kneeling Chair

Best Kneeling Chair

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The first modern kneeling chairs date back to the late 1970s when Norwegian designers pioneered a chair meant to reduce the lower back pain common in office workers who sit in traditional chairs all day. When configured properly, a kneeling chair distributes most of your weight onto your buttocks and shins and keeps the spine aligned in vertical position. (Tip: If your weight is concentrated on your knees, it’s a terrible kneeling chair or you’re sitting in it wrong.)

Flash Furniture’s Kneeling Chair has a simple, classical look – it’s a cross pattern of wooden supports, topped with plush, black padded cushions. It’s also mounted on casters, which makes it easy to roll around as needed, and a knob lets you vary the height.

All that sounds pretty simple, but it’s surprising how easy it is to get a kneeling chair completely wrong. Some – especially “rocking” models – end up looking like see-saws and make it hard to use the seats as stable platforms for getting actual work done. Others aren’t adjustable or have no easy way to move around. Luckily Flash Furniture’s Kneeling Chair has none of those issues.

Because this chair is made almost entirely out of wood, it does tend to wear, and you may find the need to replace it after just a couple of years – the warranty, in fact, is just two years. But keep in mind that you’re not meant to use a kneeling chair eight hours a day, and so it should last quite a while when used for only a few hours a day. And even so, it’s inexpensive enough that you can use it extensively and not feel too bad about replacing it every few years.

7. Varichair Pro Standing Desk Stool

Best Office Stool

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Let’s get this out of the way right now for all the critics out there: Yes, even people who use standing desks need some sort of chair. It’s unhealthy to work in the same position all day long, and even though many experts recommend standing, that’s not healthy for eight hours a day, either. The remedy? Get a stool. The right stool lets you sit at an elevated workspace like a standing desk, or even use it as a leaning surface, so you can get some support while working in a “mostly standing” position.

The Varichair Pro Standing Desk Stool is exactly the right tool for this job. A single adjustment – a lever for varying the height – lets you go from a low of 21 inches (which is squat enough to be used as a chair at a regular desk) to a tall 31 inches, perfect for standing desks. The chair has a wide base which gives it stability to sit on, even if you’re perched at the maximum 31-inch height, and the pedestal articulates, which means the post can tilt slightly in all directions, keeping the base firmly planted on the floor. The padded seat is covered in vinyl and weighs just 26 pounds, which makes it easy to move between desks, such as if it’s being shared among a couple of standing desks.

8. Modway Ripple Mid Back Office Chair

Best Armless Chair

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You’ve seen this chair before. A classic Midcentury Modern style, Modway’s ripple-backed office chair has an iconic look that is just as at home in a 1960’s conference room as it is today (and you can probably imagine a Bond villain spinning around in one). The effect is completed with a chrome base that posts five extended caster legs.

This chair is designed expressly for conference rooms and other environments in which arms are a liability. At home, an armless chair like this makes sense if you use your kitchen table as your workspace and want something that doubles as a nice dining chair. It even comes in a half dozen colors (including vivid greens, oranges, and golds, as well as a traditional white and black), so you can find the right color that will work with your home decor.

The Modway also includes ergonomic touches such as lumbar and height support and a 360-degree swivel. But these are inexpensive chairs, priced to make it easy to fill a room with them if needed.

9. Steelcase Gesture

Best High-End Office Chair

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Steelcase is a formidable name in high-end office seating, and the Gesture is one of its most popular models. For good reason: The Gesture is among the most comfortable and durable office chairs money can buy, competing closely with alternatives like the Herman Miller Embody and the Humanscale Freedom.

Part of the chair’s comfort comes from the way that the backrest and seat are synchronized to move together; when you lean back, for example, the seat tilts along with the backrest. The overall effect is one that keeps your body in contact with the chair to optimally distribute your weight, and keep the right contours supporting your lower back. The Gesture has adjustments you simply don’t see in most other chairs, including the seat pan, which can be slid forward and back. That ergonomic approach extends to every aspect of the chair, including the armrests, which are four-way adjustable – up and down, in and out, front to back, and diagonal.

The Gesture is so configurable, the chair almost seems bespoke. If you order it directly from the Steelcase site, you can choose the upholstery (fabric or leather), color – there are over 60 options – along with the frame color scheme, whether to include lumbar support and even if the wheels should be optimized for carpet or hard floor. Of course, choose the version with a headrest. It’s comfortable and adjustable so you can align it perfectly for your own neck and head position.

What to Look for in an Office Chair

It can be intimidating to shop for an office chair, especially since prices can quickly go stratospheric. And some brands justify their prices in part by describing their ergonomics, construction, and materials in ways that obfuscate the fact that they’re just chairs, not Mars landers.

How do you know if you’ve selected a good chair? Sit down. If it’s comfortable and you don’t get fatigued spending time in it, then by definition, it has good ergonomics. Unfortunately, trying a chair out is not always possible, unless there’s a nearby office supply store with a good selection.

If you have to evaluate chairs from a long distance, look for adjustability. In general, you’ll want a good height range so you can sit with your thighs resting parallel to the floor – you can measure that height in your existing chair before you start shopping online.

A contoured backrest that offers lumbar support is also important, as is the ability to move the backrest itself to fine-tune it to your body. Any other adjustments, like a full recline or a seat and back which moves in some sort of high-tech synchronicity, are gravy.

If you want to be really comfortable, make sure the seat is wide and deep enough for your personal bottom – and if you are a plus-sized individual, ensure the chair can carry your weight. The max load can catch you by surprise in other ways. We know someone who had bought a fairly high-end chair for his home office, and one day his wife tried sitting in his lap to see his computer screen. That exceeded the chair’s capacity and it failed catastrophically.

Don’t neglect the seat’s surface and padding. Some chairs are generously padded and covered in some sort of upholstery; others use bare webbing. Either approach can be comfortable, but it’s very much a matter of personal taste. Is the upholstery – be it a fabric, vinyl, leather, or synthetic – breathable, durable, and easy to clean?

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Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh
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