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Updated: 8 Feb 2022

Choosing the best home office chair

Discover the most popular home office chairs, how much you'll pay, and how to ensure back support and a healthy posture while working from home
Tom Morgan
1. 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. We'll help you find the perfect home office chair for you.

With the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus pandemic forcing many of us to work from home more often, it's important you use a home office chair that supports your body and therefore reduces aches and pains. 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. 

Our expert guide will help you choose between the different types of office chair, from ergonomic models with built-in lumbar support (to prevent lower back pain) to mesh office chairs with breathable backs. To save you a bit of research, we've also collated a selection of popular chairs from big-name retailers, including Argos, John Lewis and Wayfair.

Types of office chair

Office chair types gallery

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/working-from-home/article/home-office-guides/choosing-the-best-home-office-chair-a3xNL3D4SFUJ

Office chairs come in a range of shapes and sizes. Ideally, you want a sturdy chair that suits the layout and colour scheme of your office or working space. It also needs to meet your ergonomic requirements so you can remain comfortable through the working day.

Below, we've outlined a selection of office chair types with some details on how much you should expect to pay.

Which type of office chair is best?

Kneeling chairs

  • 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. If you're struggling for space in your home office, a kneeling chair should tuck neatly underneath your office desk.

Saddle chairs

  • 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 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. You may want to consider a saddle chair if you're regularly transitioning between sitting and standing at work.

Ergonomic chairs

4  person using ergonomic chair 487748
  • Typical spend: £100-200
  • Pros: Lots of variety, adjustable, encourages a healthy posture
  • Cons: Premium options can be expensive

Ergonomic chairs come in all shapes and sizes. You might have seen them referred to as '24-hour 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.

Posture-correcting chairs aside, there are lots of other ways to improve your working from home experience. Our guide on 10 ways to stay healthy working from home has more top tips.

Balance ball chairs

  • Typical spend: £50-100
  • Pros: Strengthens back muscles, relatively cheap
  • Cons: No height adjustment, can be annoying to store when not in use

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 improve your posture and strengthen 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. Some even have a back rest for added support.

Drafting chairs

  • 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 foot-rest ring around the base of the chair. 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
  • Cons: Expensive

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 you 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).

  1. Height The whole height of the chair needs to be adjustable to accommodate different statures and heights. 
  2. Seat depth Ideally, the seat should be deep enough to support your legs if you’re tall. Conversely, if you're short, you don't want the seat to be too deep. The front edge of the seat should be rounded over to stop it digging into your thighs and the seat cushion not so thick and soft that you sink into it.
  3. Backrest height adjustment The backrest of your chair should give firm support to the lower and middle parts of your back. Height adjustment is important, too, unless the backrest is high enough to provide complete back support.
  4. Adjustable armrests Armrests aren’t essential, but if you prefer a chair with them, make sure they’re set back from the front of the seat, or adjust to allow the chair to be drawn up close to the work surface. 
  5. Ability to unlock or lock the chair so it reclines Having a recline adjustment will allow you to move in the seat so you’re not constantly sitting in one position.
  6. Castors Ideally, your chair should have a five-castor base so you can move around freely. ‘Check whether you need carpet or hard floor castors depending on the flooring in your home,’ says Kirsty. It may also be possible to buy third-party castors for hard floors if the chair you like only comes with ones suitable for carpet (or buy a protective mat).

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.

Make sure you're shopping savvy by checking the retailer's returns policy. Our advice on online shopping has more details.

Popular retailers that stock home office chairs include:

  • Amazon stocks hundreds of ergonomic chairs that you can filter by colour. Expect to spend around £50-150
  • Argos sells leather chairs, mesh chairs and fabric chairs. Prices start around £15 (for a basic stool) and rise to around £350
  • eBay has thousands of options sorted by popular categories including 'executive office chair', 'high back office chair' and 'ergonomic office chair'
  • Ikea has swivel chairs, stools and office chairs. Its priciest office chair with armrests, the HATTEFJÄLL, is £299
  • John Lewis Prices for John Lewis office chairs can soar as high as £2,000. One of its bestsellers, the Penny Office Chair, is £99.
  • Office Furniture Online Hundreds of office chairs made from fabric, faux leather, mesh or plastic. Most chairs on the website land between £50 and £100
  • Ryman the brand's 'executive leather chairs' come in a range of colours. Expect to pay £150 to £200
  • Wayfair stocks a range of executive chairs, kneeling chairs and ergonomic chairs

Discover which retailers are rated highly by Which? members with our guide to the best and worst shops.

Popular home office chairs from major retailers

Popular home office chairs gallery

A large collection of images displayed on this page are available at https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/working-from-home/article/home-office-guides/choosing-the-best-home-office-chair-a3xNL3D4SFUJ

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.

  1. Alma High Back Ergonomic Office Chair, Argos (£135) – a modern-looking home office chair. It has a plastic frame with a fabric seatpad and plastic backrest. You can tilt, swivel and lock the chair in place.
  2. X Rocker Alpha eSports Ergonomic Office Gaming Chair, Argos (£175) – this chair has a faux leather seatpad and backrest, along with adjustable arms, lumbar support and a 'swivel and lock' mechanism.
  3. Swivel PU Leather Mesh Office Chair, eBay (£59.99) – described as a 'gaming style office chair', it’s built from faux leather and has mesh padding on the back. You have a varied choice of colours to pick from, with the full list including a vibrant lime green.
  4. Neo Executive Computer Desk Chair, eBay (£74.99) – this office chair from eBay is available in six different finishes, including a sophisticated black and an eye-catching burgundy. It's a height-adjustable chair with a reclining back and faux-leather armrests.
  5. MARKUS Office Chair, Ikea (£179) – this chair has curved silver arm rests and a rounded lumbar support cushion at the base.
  6. JÄRVFJÄLLET Office Chair with armrests, Ikea (£199) – you can adjust the headrest, the height of the chair and the tilt angle. A small lumbar cushion at the base of the chair offers some support through those long work days.
  7. Penny Office Chair, John Lewis (£99) – this popular office chair from John Lewis has a tilt mechanism that lets you adjust the backrest and seat. Once you're happy with the position, you can lock them both in place.
  8. Hinton Office Chair, John Lewis (£139) – a mesh-backed office chair with built-in lumbar support. It has armrests that flip up vertically, which means it will tuck under your desk when you're done working.
  9. High-back Mesh Desk Chair, Wayfair (£76.99) – an affordable office chair from Wayfair that has back angle adjustment, thick seat padding and fixed armrests.
  10. Ergonomic Mesh Desk Chair, Wayfair (£97.99) – take a closer look at this Wayfair chair if you're looking for effective lumbar support. This sub-£100 option uses a tilt-lock mechanism to help you get comfortable.

How to sit at a desk 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 our graphic for some tips on how to sit correctly:

Source: NHS

How to avoid back pain when sitting

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.