As it seems that many of us will be working from home for some time yet as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, ensuring you do so in comfort and health really is a must. And the right office chair is a very big part of that.
At the office, it’s the responsibility of your employer to get you set up with the right tools for the job, but at home, it’s mainly down to you. And this isn’t a task that you should take lightly.
If you’ve tried to work at a dining table or sitting on a kitchen stool, you’ll know that they are far from ideal workspaces. It’s not their fault though, they weren’t designed for that purpose, but it just goes to show that you need products that are.
Discomfort from a poor home office seating choice is far from just an inconvenience; it can have long-term effects on your health that affect your posture and cause spinal problems, headaches, stress and more. As well as decrease motivation and productivity.
Ergonomic office chairs are designed to stop this from happening. They offer the comfort and support you need to excel at your job and because of that, they are an absolutely vital part of your home workspace.
Home Office Basics
The two pieces that are arguably most important for a home office are your desk and chair. You’ll need to plan your choices around the floor space you have to make sure you have enough space to be comfortable while working.
It’ll also be important to consider how much additional equipment you will be using in your workspace. This could be everything from a dual-monitor set-up, to a printer/copier or the need for filing cabinets.
If you’re dealing with a smaller amount of space than you’d like, then you’ll have to figure out what you can do without. Does your chair need to be able to recline? Will I need a footrest? Do I really need a large desk?
Research is Key
As with everything in life, the devil is in the details. Your quest to find the best office chair should start with understanding what makes a chair truly ergonomic, as many options may be labeled as such but in fact, offer little to no support. It can be a bit of a minefield out there.
So what does make a chair ergonomic and worth your consideration? In a lot of cases, it’ll come down the features it has and how many points of adjustability there are.
Important things to look for are areas of support, such as for the lumbar region of your back, adjustable parts like the armrests and headrest, and also the material used to upholster the chair; a breathable mesh on the back and seat pan is an excellent choice, for example.
You shouldn’t just stop at the features, though. Once you’ve identified a chair that suits your budget and you like the look of, always look at the reviews from people who have bought it and make sure you check a variety of different sources. The first-hand information they provide can help confirm or deny what the manufacturer claims about that particular chair and really help with your decision.
In any case, always do your homework and don’t rush your choice; identify suitable options and read as much about them as you can.
The real price of a cheap home office chair
To paraphrase Warren Buffet, it’s a lot better to buy a wonderful chair for a fair price than it is to buy a fair chair for a wonderful price.
Money isn’t everything and an eye-watering price tag does not necessarily guarantee the best ergonomic office chair. In the same vein, the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ is certainly often true when you’re looking at the cheapest of the cheap.
In terms of cheap ergonomic home office chairs, even the best options in the sub-$100 range are either unlikely to have quality ergonomic features or be made from materials that will last.
Instead, you should really be looking to strike the right balance between the price and features of the chair. If you have the goal of finding the best home office chair for under $150, for example, there’s a good chance that you’ll find something pretty reasonable at Staples or Amazon.
Set yourself a budget, make a list of the ergonomic features you want and do your research.
Make a list
Once you’ve got a budget you’re comfortable with, you’ll need to come up with a list of must-have features. As mentioned earlier, ergonomic features, quality materials and build quality are all important points, so let’s take a look at some of the most important things that your new home office chair should have:
Lumbar support (vital)
Whenever you sit for long periods of time, be it at work or at home, you need a chair that provides you with ergonomic lumbar support. The reason for this is pretty simple – the lumbar vertebrae are responsible for holding all of your upper body weight when you sit. Without any support, your body has to do all the work to help your spine retain its natural curve, and that puts a lot of excess strain on your spine and back muscles.
All good ergonomic office chairs are designed to have lumbar support and the best chairs have it as an adjustable feature too, so you can set it up to fit your back perfectly. In any case, this is top of the list for a reason – if you look after your back, you’ll be thankful for it in the future. And so will your back.
A good backrest (vital)
There are a few different factors that go into making a backrest a good one.
The option to recline is a useful one to have, as it means you can change your sitting position and take a load off if you feel you need to. What is arguably more important is the ability to tilt both forwards or backwards, so the back of the chair follows you as you move and provides the necessary support.
The material used to upholster the backrest is also something you should take into consideration. Breathable materials, such as mesh, help to keep you cool at hotter times of the year by helping with the airflow in both the back and seat pan. In addition, you should be looking for comfortable and smooth materials and avoiding ones that are itchy or likely to fade.
Another essential feature of an office chair, armrests provide a great deal of support for your upper body. The best armrests are adjustable and can be moved to suit your body profile exactly – so they should be able to move inwards, outwards, forwards and backwards. It’s also important to consider the build quality and look for sturdier options than won’t become wobbly or unstable over time.
A headrest (optional)
An often overlooked feature, having a headrest can be a useful addition to your office chair as it completes the chain of head-to-toe support. A headrest takes the strain off your neck and helps your spine to retain its natural curve.
While it isn’t absolutely vital, it does make your sitting experience more comfortable for long sessions.
A leg rest (optional)
Sometimes you just want to take a break, so being able to kick back and relax is a nice bonus. But a leg rest helps prevent circulation problems too when you sit for a long time. As previously mentioned though, extra space is required for both a chair that can recline a long way and a leg rest, so make sure you take that into consideration.
Good casters are a finishing touch that can be indicative of the overall quality of the chair. Regardless of how much you move around, it’s important to be able to do so freely. Look for good quality casters that will stand the test of time, support your weight accordingly and can be locked into place when the chair is stationary.