Are you sitting comfortably? If not, you could be with one of these office chairs
The best office chair can do wonders for your health and posture, all the while making your homeworking experience an altogether more comfortable one. In the early stages of the lockdown, the number of British people working from home shot up from 1.5 million to something north of ten million, and many people are beginning to accept this new change as a permanent one. So, if you haven’t already got yourself a new office chair, then now is perhaps the time to invest. Indeed, crouching over your laptop from a stiff old kitchen chair – or, worse, working from your sofa or bed – can play havoc with your back and your productivity.
It goes without saying, then, that it’s worth spending some of your saved commute money on a decent chair. You’ll find a couple of pricey ergonomic options in our rundown of the best office chairs, but we will also reveal some budget-friendly options that’ll keep your back pain-free as you work, without breaking the bank.
On the other hand, if budget is your top priority, and you can do without many of the ergonomic bells and whistles you see here, we’ve put together an alternative roundup of the best desk chairs – including static chairs from just £12.
Best office chairs: At a glance
How to choose the best office chair for you
We spoke to Paul Simons, director of office chair specialists Wellworking, to get the lowdown on the key features you want from a good office chair.
Does a good office chair have to cost a lot?
The world of office chairs is one in which you should buy the best you can afford. Pricier chairs generally give you superior ergonomics, more adjustability and longer warranties, while cheaper chairs tend to be a false economy. That said, there are occasional bargains to be had for surprisingly decent office chairs, while a few of the chairs costing several thousand pounds aren’t actually any better for sitting for long periods than those costing several hundred.
What are the key features to look out for?
- Adjustable height, back position and tilt – Adjust all three so that when your bottom is pressed against the back of the chair, your lower back is slightly arched and feels well supported and cushioned and your knees sit just below your hips while your feet are either flat on the floor or on a footrest.
- Adjustable seat depth – Make sure that when you recline in the chair, the backrest doesn’t drop away. You want the angle of the seat and the back to stay the same whether you are sitting upright or leaning back, not unlike a rocking chair.
- Armrest adjustability – Avoid chairs with arms unless they’re adjustable as they can prevent you getting close to your desk and affect your posture. Your wrists and forearms should go straight out in front of you and your keyboard should have approximately four to six inches in front where you can rest your wrists when taking a break from typing.
- Lumbar support – Make sure the backrest provides lumbar support that fits naturally into the curve of your spine. Some chairs provide ‘additional’ lumbar support, but others provide a flexible backrest that will mould around your spine.
- Free float tilt mechanism – Make sure your chair moves with you and doesn’t get stuck in a static position. We may have been told to sit up straight at school, but the best for your back is to keep moving whilst seated.
- Different size options – We are not all the same size and build so ensure the chair is the right size for you. Better quality chairs will offer a range of adjustability so that they can be tailored to your exact specifications.
Is there anything else you need to consider?
What kind of floor do you have? Get the right type of castors for your floor – hard floors, stone, carpet and so on – to prevent you sliding around when you don’t want to, or potentially damaging your floor.
How tall is your desk? Standard desks are around 710-740mm (28-29in) high, and this broadly suits most of us, but if you are a shorter or taller person make sure the desk is comfortable for your use. Ideally, set up your chair to optimise your posture and get a desk to accommodate your chair (not the other way round). For the ultimate setup, try a ‘sit-stand’ desk that allows you to both sit and stand throughout the day. Try 20 minutes standing for every 40 minutes sitting.
Screens and monitor: Your screen should be an arm’s length away, with the centre of the screen at eye level. Don’t change your chair setup – change the height of the monitor with an adjustable arm or stand.
Try it out first: Every individual has a unique anatomy and what feels fabulous to a friend or colleague may feel surprisingly uncomfortable to you, but give it time as new chairs will always feel slightly strange to start with. Remember if you buy online or over the phone you can always return it within 14 days under distance selling regulations.
Use a good supplier: They should be able to show you how to use your chair on delivery. Even the most ergonomic chair will feel uncomfortable if you’re using it incorrectly.
Check the warranty: Your chair needs to last, so ideally the warranty should last five years or more.
How we test office chairs
We test most of our office chairs at our London office, sitting in them as we go about our day-to-day work.
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. In addition to assessing how comfortable the seat and backrest are, we consider ergonomics such as the feel of the armrests, plus any additional features such as lumbar support. We also note a chair’s ease of adjustability – for example, whether it offers gas-lift height adjustment, fully adjustable arms, backrest tilt and an adequate seat depth. The breathability of materials is important, too, with mesh chairs particularly effective at ensuring you don’t end up too hot and clammy by the end of the day, as is general build quality and ease of assembly. Finally, we consider a model’s value for money.
READ NEXT: Best office chairs for back pain
Initially, it will be the hip and modern marketing that makes Slouch stand out from other office furniture brands. However, we’re pleased to report that the Slouch Task One office chair also ticks a number of boxes when it comes to ergonomics and occupational health, offering an adjustable seat depth, recline with four locking positions, and height-adjustable lumbar support. All of these make the Slouch Task One a worthy winner of the Expert Reviews Remote Working Awards 2023.
Note, though, that armrests – which can be adapted for height and depth – will add an extra £20 to the base price.
The cushioned seat and mesh backrest feel super comfortable, and the chair’s minimalist design looks smart. Available in grey or black, with a choice of five colours for the seat, you can even order free samples of the colour options before you buy.
Crucially, for all that you’re getting, £259 (or £279, if you want armrests) is an excellent price – making the Slouch Task One one of the best-value office chairs we’ve tested.
Key features – Width: 70cm (base), 50cm (seat); Seat height: 44.5 – 56.5cm; Total height: 99 – 110cm; Warranty: 2 years
2. John Lewis Gerard: Best budget office chair
Price when reviewed: £79 | Check price at John Lewis Not to put too fine a point on it, but when compared to some of the other chairs on this list, the Gerard is about as basic as swivel office chairs come. The good news is that this is reflected in the chair’s price tag. Part of John Lewis’ Anyday range of affordable furniture and homewares, this budget-friendly office chair costs just £79 – a mere fraction of some of the other options here. Because of this, the Gerad is our favourite budget office chair and winner of the Highly Commended award in our 2023 Remote Working Awards.
Adjustable features are limited to gas-lift height adjustment, and it does feel a little bit hard to sit on. But that’s not to say it’s devoid of any cushioning, and it certainly feels very solid and supportive. Note that we did notice a slight chemical smell on initially unboxing and assembling the chair, but found that this dissipated after a day or two. Putting the chair together was simple, although John Lewis does offer an assembly service for £22 – which puts up the total cost up to a still very reasonable £101.
All in all, it might not be the most advanced of the bunch, but a sub-£100 price tag makes the Gerard a great budget option. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s measurements before you buy, though; this chair is slightly on the smaller side, so it may not be suited to bigger builds.
Key features – Width: 60cm; Seat height: 45 – 55cm; Total height: 99cm; Warranty: 2 years
3. Orangebox Do Task Chair: Best mid-range ergonomic office chair
Price when reviewed: £499 | Check price at Wellworking You can throw a lot of money at an ergonomic office chair that gives you tonnes of adjustable features for the best comfort and support possible. But with the Orangebox Do, you get a comfortable mesh chair with just as much versatility, for less than half the price.
You can adjust the arms and seat depth manually, but the best thing about the Orangebox Do is its weight balancing tilting mechanism. This responds to your weight and movement while using the chair and allows it to adapt to your posture automatically, dispensing with, as Orangebox puts it, “a multitude of knobs and levers to find and struggle with”.
Key features – Width: 66cm; Seat height: 44.5 – 47.5cm; Total height: 97cm Warranty: 5 years
Also consider: Herman Miller Verus
The Verus is Herman Miller’s cheapest chair, and while it isn’t the very best in its range, if you want the brand name without spending a fortune, it’s not a bad option.
Usually costing around £480, you can often get it for much less when it’s discounted. The version we tested had a “Triflex” plastic back, which feels harder than the Sayl’s more rubbery backrest. Alternatively, you can opt for a mesh version, which should be a little softer.
Its height-adjustable armrests are very similar to those of the more expensive Sayl. On the point of adjustability, you’ve got all the necessary features, including seat height and backrest tilt with tilt limiter and forward tilt options, all of which make the Verus a very comfortable chair for working from home.
4. Sihoo M18 Ergonomic Home Office Chair: A great value fully adjustable ergonomic chair
Price when reviewed: £200 | Check price at Amazon For the price, the Sihoo M18 is a pretty impressive office chair. It has an ergonomically shaped seat and curved backrest made from a breathable mesh fabric, as well as a fair few adjustable features including headrest, arms, lumbar support and back tilt.
Sihoo, admittedly quite an obscure brand, manufactures a number of ergonomic office chairs that are available to buy on Amazon. The M57 is usually more expensive, but it doesn’t differ greatly from the M18 beyond a couple of small features such as 3D adjustable armrests.
The Sihoo M18 has gone up in price recently. But even when it’s just under the £200 price mark, you still get quite a lot for your money. It also comes available with a footrest as well as “upgraded rollerblade wheels”.
Key features – Width: 70cm; Seat height: 43 – 53cm; Total height: 130cm
5. Herman Miller Aeron (Size B): The very best office chair (if you can afford it)
Price when reviewed: £1,299 | Check price at Wellworking An icon of modern design (its inclusion in the MoMA is enough evidence of this), the Herman Miller Aeron is among the best office chairs we’ve ever tested. It offers a range of features including forward tilt and fully adjustable arms, along with essentials such as seat height and back tilt.
The mesh fabric that covers the back and seat is breathable and buoyant enough to provide decent levels of support and comfort, although some people might prefer a more cushioned model. Regardless, the Aeron is a chair that delivers in all areas. The only catch is its thousand-pound price tag. This won’t be within everyone’s home office budget, but if you do have the money you really can’t go wrong with the Aeron.
Read our full Herman Miller Aeron review
Key features – Width: 63/66.6/68cm; Seat height: 41-57cm; Total height: 97/110/119cm; Warranty: 12 years
6. Elite Team Plus: Best office chair under £200
Price when reviewed: £199 | Check price at WellworkingThe Elite Team Plus might not look particularly eye-catching, especially when compared to some of the flashy ergonomic chairs on this roundup. Indeed, as far as ergonomic design goes, it’s fairly nondescript.
However, it’s still a very comfortable and supportive chair, and you have a number of customisable features to play around with, including backrest tilt, seat angle and the all-important seat height. These are easily controlled via three clearly labelled levers underneath the right hand side of the seat.
At £180, the default Team Plus is also great value for money. Its comfortable foam seat is upholstered in quality ‘Xtreme’ fabric, with lots of colour options to choose from including ‘Diablo’ (wine red), ‘Ocean’ (dark blue) and ‘Solano’ (orange). If you’re happy to pay a bit more, you can add height-adjustable arms (£49), pump-up lumbar support (£35) and adjustable seat depth (£25) too.
Key features – Width: 69cm; Seat height: 48-59cm; Total height: 97-112cm; Warranty: 5 years
7. Herman Miller Sayl: Best designer office chair
Price when reviewed: £799 | Check price at John Lewis The Herman Miller Sayl’s unique suspension bridge inspired design makes this office chair more than a bit of a statement piece. Not only is this a stylish item of furniture; it’s also comfortable to sit in. Indeed, its rubbery backrest is very supportive and feels much nicer to sit against than first impressions would initially suggest.
As standard, the Sayl offers all the necessary adjustable features, including seat height, armrest height and backrest tilt as well as a few handy options such as forward tilt and seat depth. Wellworking’s ‘Create Your Own’ option gives you more adjustable options for you to add depending on your budget, including fully adjustable arms and additional lumbar support. Of course, there are additional costs involved here, but these are manageable.
Ultimately, if you’re looking to invest in a chair but don’t want to take a mortgage out on your new piece of office furniture, the Sayl is a fantastic option.
Read our full Herman Miller Sayl review
Key features – Width: 62cm; Seat height: 42-56cm; Total height: 86-104cm; Warranty: 12 years
8. HAG Capisco Puls 8010: A comfy, versatile and highly unusual office chair
Price when reviewed: £449 | Check price at Wellworking This unconventionally styled office chair might look uncomfortable, but in practice the Capisco Puls 8010 is something of a revelation. Where rival chairs cosset your behind with padding, the base model of the Capisco range has a tiny patch of padding encircled by a wave of ergonomically-shaped plastic. Think of it more as a saddle than a seat and you’re halfway there.
You can sit forwards or backwards, with the backrest functioning as an armrest. Beyond the key adjustments, including seat depth, tilt and adjustable backrest, the standard 200mm gas lift moves the seat from a low sitting position to a higher sit-stand position, so you can sit comfortably at a desk as well as perch at a drawing table or reception desk.
The standard model featured here is very much a starting point: the Capisco range can be customised with three heights of pneumatic lift, saddle seats, headrests, footrings and a huge range of colour and upholstery options. If you struggle to get on with traditional office chairs, a Capisco could be just the ticket.
Key features – Width: 56cm; Seat height: 48.5-66cm (200mm gaslift); Total height: 88.5-116cm; Warranty: 10 years
9. Humanscale Liberty Office Chair: Best automatically adjusting office chair for wriggly sitters
Price when reviewed: £849| Check price at John Lewis Designer Niels Diffrient has filled this smart-looking chair with an impressive range of ergonomic bells and whistles. It offers automatic, weight-sensitive recline; a tri-panel mesh backrest; and continual lumbar support – no matter what your sitting position. In other words, it’s exceptionally supportive even for those who are prone to wriggling around all day and there’s no need for pushing and pulling levers and dials because it works around you and your individual needs. We also like the minimalist aesthetic and contemporary colour options.
Key features – Width: 67.5cm; Seat height: 44.9-57.1cm; Total height: 98-110cm; Warranty: 15 years
10. HAG SoFi: Best customisable office chair
Price when reviewed: From £814 | Check price at Wellworking SoFi is one of the newer chairs on the market, and has a unique function that sets it apart. There’s an option to have ‘swing-back’ arms that can be pushed back behind the chair, ideal for hot-desk use or musicians who want to use the chair for playing in as well as an office chair, as well as those who sometimes want the luxury of resting their arms and sometimes don’t. It also comes with or without a headrest, in two different sizes, and with different fabric options, types of caster and base finishes. Built-in Norway, the SoFi is a weighty product, but is exceptionally robust and feels as if it is built to last.
Key features – Width: 60 – 72cm; Seat height: 166cm, Gaslift 39.6-54.3cm; or 20cm, Gaslift 45-64cm; Total height: 103-117cm (excluding headrest); Warranty: 10 years