Choosing the best home office chair
A home office chair that's comfortable and good at preventing muscle strain is essential if you're sitting for long periods while working at home.
According to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, adopting a healthy posture at your desk can prevent muscle strains in your back, neck and other joints.
This guide will help you choose between the different types, from ergonomic office chairs with built-in lumbar support to prevent lower back pain, to leather chairs.
Office chair types at a glance
Office chairs come in a range of shapes and sizes. Ideally, you want a chair that suits the layout and colour scheme of your office or working space. It also needs to meet your ergonomic requirements.
Below, we've rounded up a selection of office chair types with some information on how much you should expect to pay.
Popular office chair types compared
Typical spend £100-150
Pros Promotes good posture, adjustable to various desk heights, builds core muscle strength
Cons Puts pressure on knees, getting up can feel clumsy, no backrest
Using a kneeling office chair positions your body so that your knees are below your waist. In theory, this should feel like a more natural sitting position compared with a regular desk chair.
As kneeling chairs have no back, your core and back muscles will gradually strengthen over time to keep you steady as you work. As a downside, if you already experience pain in your knees, using a kneeling chair might put unwelcome pressure on that area.
Typical spend £50-100
Pros Improves circulation in legs, builds core muscle strength
Cons Most don't have a backrest
Saddle chairs are designed to reduce pressure on your spine and lower back, encouraging an upright stance. As the name implies, you sit on a saddle chair like you would on the back of a horse. These chairs sometimes feature a split seat that encourages you to sit with your legs slightly apart.
Some saddle chairs do come with a backrest, but the majority don't. To help you stay comfortable while you're working, you can adjust the height and the tilt angle.
Typical spend £100-200
Pros Lots of variety, adjustable
Cons Premium options can be expensive
Ergonomic chairs come in all shapes and sizes. You might have seen them referred to as '24-hours chairs', 'big and tall chairs' or 'petite and small chairs'. The idea behind all these variations is the same – to improve your posture by supporting your back.
When looking for an ergonomic chair, pay close attention to the features that matter the most. Ideally, you want a chair that offers adjustable height, seat width and depth. A seat that tilts is also a bonus as this will correctly position your pelvis. Most chairs that promise an ergonomic design will have some built-in lumbar support.
Balance ball chairs
Typical spend £50-100
Pros Strengthens back muscles, relatively cheap
Cons No height adjustment, can be annoying to store when done
The use of an exercise ball in place of a regular office chair has become more popular in recent years. By balancing yourself as you work from home, you'll be improving your posture and strengthening your back muscles.
We've seen balance ball chairs specifically designed for the home office that come with a cradle to stop the ball from rolling around. You'll find that some also have a back rest for added support.
Typical spend £100-200
Pros Ideal for working at a kitchen counter, adjustable
Cons Getting on can be clumsy
Drafting chairs are designed to be used at a height greater than a standard office desk. They're a good option if you work at a raised surface such as a kitchen counter.
Most drafting chairs include a ring around the base of the chair that you rest your feet on. They usually arrive with seat backs and arm rests and, in some cases, tilt adjustment.
Leather office chairs
Typical spend £50-150
Pros Stylish, come in a range of colours
Cons You might be sacrificing an ergonomic design for looks
If you want to keep your home office looking sophisticated, investing in a leather chair will score you some style points.
The sheer number of leather office chairs available online can be overwhelming, so make sure you're buying one that provides some effective back support.
Mesh office chairs
Typical spend £50-150
Pros Breathable back, stylish, adjustable levels of support
Cons You might prefer a cushioned back
Unlike a standard office chair that offers cushioned back support, mesh is stretched across the back of the chair.
This mesh is breathable and better at conforming to the shape of your body as there's more flex to it. On some, you can control the tightness of the mesh, which is handy if you want it to feel firmer on your back.
Executive office chairs
Typical spend £100-200
Pros Sophisticated, good-quality materials, tall back
If you want to treat yourself to a lavish chair that wouldn't look out of place in a chief executive's office, this type of chair could suit nicely.
These tall-backed chairs aim to provide support across your entire upper body and are designed to be used for hours at a time. Most of them have wheels.
Six key considerations for choosing your home office chair
Before you buy, Kirsty Angerer, ergonomic consultant and member of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors recommends checking for these six features (especially the first three).
Where to buy a home office chair
If you're on the hunt for an office chair while you work from home, only hand your money over to reputable sellers.
Popular retailers that stock home office chairs include:
- stocks hundreds of ergonomic chairs that you can filter by colour. Expect to spend around £50-150
- sells leather chairs, mesh chairs and fabric chairs. Prices start around £50 and rise to £150
- thousands of options sorted by popular categories including 'executive office chair', 'high back office chair' and 'ergonomic office chair'
- has swivel chairs, stools and office chairs. Its priciest office chair with armrests, the HATTEFJÄLL, is £275
- Prices for John Lewis office chairs can soar as high as £1,500. One of its bestsellers, the Abraham Office Chair, is £300
- Hundreds of office chairs made from fabric, faux leather, mesh or plastic. Most chairs on the website land between £50 and £100
- he brand's 'executive leather chairs' come in a range of colours. Expect to pay £150 to £200
- stocks a range of executive chairs, kneeling chairs and ergonomic chairs
Popular home office chairs from major retailers
'It's a very personal choice, dependent on your height and stature, the tasks you'll be doing, how long for and the overall aesthetic you're looking for.
'You'll want to look for five adjustments on a chair for work: height adjustment, seat depth adjustment, lumbar height, adjustable armrests and recline tension.'
We don't currently test home office chairs at Which?, but our research identified Argos, eBay, Ikea, John Lewis and Wayfair as the most popular retailers selling ergonomic home office chairs.
We asked these retailers to tell us what were their most popular ergonomic home office chairs.
We ran the recommendations from those who responded past Kirsty, who shortlisted the following based on her ergonomic expertise:
3. (£179). The MARKUS shares a similar look to the JÄRVFJÄLLET (above), but there are some subtle differences. This chair has curved silver arm rests and, while the other chair has a padded fabric base, this one is made from leather.
4. (£1,299). You can tilt the back of the chair and the seat simultaneously at different ratios, which should ease some pressure on your lower back. The backrest has been designed with 'eight zones of varying tension'.
5. (£579). This ergonomic chair, designed with a weight-sensitive recline mechanism, has adjustable seat height, armrest height and depth. A non-stretch mesh on the back of the chair acts as your lumbar support.
7. (£174.99). This home office chair is available with a black, blue or red mesh back. It has an adjustable headrest, a curved seat and a knee-tilt mechanism that lets you recline the chair while keeping your feet flat on the ground.
How to sit correctly
According to the NHS website, improving your posture will effectively alleviate muscle tension. If you work from home at your desk for long periods of time, sitting correctly is crucial.
It's easy to fall into a slouching position while you're concentrating on your work, but over time this can cause muscle strain. Buying an ergonomic chair and sitting in it correctly will keep you protected.
Take a look at the graphic below for some tips on how to sit correctly.
Back support for office chair: avoiding back pain
If you don't want to buy a new ergonomic chair, you can add improved back support to a chair you already own, there are a couple of ways to get the job done to help avoid getting back pain.
Mesh lumbar back support
For as little as £10, you can get a curved mesh backrest that wraps around the back of your office chair. The mesh material will keep you cool, while the shape will relieve pressure on your spine. This is an affordable way of correcting your posture and preventing back pain – you don't always need to spend hundreds of pounds on a home office chair.
Rolled up towel
Alternatively, grab a towel from the bathroom or a pillow and position it at the base of your spine for lower back support. But note that in the long term, you'll get better results from a proper ergonomic chair.
Office chair cushions
You might find that the material of a mesh back support feels a little hard to lean against. If you'd prefer a softer surface, consider an office chair cushion. These can sit at the base of your back or underneath your legs.
Amazon stocks a wide selection of office chair cushions. These aim to relieve pressure on your spine and lower back pain by using memory foam that moulds to the shape of your back and legs. When picking the right office chair cushion for you, aim for one that has a removable, washable cover.