Ergonomics 101: Choosing the Right Ergonomics Work Chair (2021 Update)

Office Ergonomics
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Our Top Ergonomics Work Chair Picks

The following is an early 2021 update to a 2018 post on petersenpt.com. We thought in light of the new wave of home office warriors, it would be a good time to update the information and pricing in this post. We have noticed that 2020-2021 have greatly increased the price of these items. Nevertheless, we feel that ergonomic office chairs are important for the working-from-home world we currently live in. We hope you find this article useful, and if you have questions, feel free to contact us. Without further ado:

Ask any architect and they will say, “The building is only as good as the foundation it is built upon”. This principle applies to the human body. As a provider of ergonomics for over 20 years, we have worked with many different companies, and many evaluating many different jobs. The work chair is the foundation for the work environment for many people that work in front of a computer for a majority of their work day. A good ergonomics work desk chair, that is set up properly, will support proper posture and provide a safe and comfortable work environment. A poor chair will encourage poor postures that can lead to issues in the back and neck.

What should you look for in a “good” task chair for a computer workstation?

  1. Height adjustable – Make sure the chair is able to adjust to your height, not necessarily the desk height. Adjust your seat height so that your feet are able to be placed flat on the floor with a 90 degree bend at the knees with your thighs parallel to the floor. This is especially helpful when paired with a standing desk – you can alternate between standing and sitting at an ergonomic height throughout the day.
  2. Seat pan depth suited for your size (prefer adjustable) – Make sure the seat pans depth allows you to sit fully back in the seat with you back against the lumbar support in an upright position. You should have 2-3 fingers widths distance between the back of your legs and the seat pan. Make sure the seat pan is not too wide or too narrow for you to put your arms comfortably on the armrests.
  3. Adjustable armrests – The best armrests are adjustable up and down, but also in and out. This should provide light support on your forearms with your arms a 90 degree angle at the elbow.
  4. Adjustable lumbar support – The lumbar support should be able to adjust up and down so that it can be positioned to fit your back. It also should have the ability to lock in an upright position, so that you have proper support when you begin to fatigue and want to lean back into the lumbar support.

What ergonomic work chair should you choose?

The most important thing is for the chair to have the functionality to adjust to the individual. The chairs included on our list below are design primarily for people who are at least 5’2” to 6’4” and weigh less than 300lbs. If you fall outside these ranges, contact an ergonomist to help you with finding a chair to meet your needs. While we are not particular to any vendor when it comes to chairs. We have used many different chairs to meet client’s needs and there are a few that pop up as our “preferred” chairs. Below is a list based on price and the advantages/disadvantages of these selections.

$150-$350 Ergonomic Range Task Chairs

To be honest, anything less than this price point should not even be considered as a work chair. It just won’t have the features needed. You may find a good used chair for less, but make sure it has the functionality. These chairs have limited warranties, so don’t expect them to last as long as the higher priced chairs. This price range is what you will find at many office supply stores like Staples, Officemax, and even Costco.

Staples Hyken Technical Mesh Task Chair

As of this writing, this chair is currently $169.99 at Staples. Though this chair is available through other vendors, like Target and Walmart, Staples still had the best price.

Advantages / Features: Price, Adjustable Height, Arms, and Lumbar support, Mesh seat pan and lumbar support offers good breathability. The chair even features an adjustable tilt tension feature. As a side note, many people use this in lieu of a dedicated gaming chair.

Disadvantages: Armrests do not adjust in and out, seat pan depth is not adjustable, mesh in chair is not as durable as foam cushions. Durability is not as good as higher priced chairs.

OfficeMax WorkPro Quantrum 9000 Chair

As of this writing, this chair could be found for $349.99 at OfficeMax. This chair is a newer model and appears to have replaced the now discontinued WorkPro 3000.

Advantages / Features: Adjustable Height, Arms, and Lumbar support, Foam cushions offer more durability and support than mesh. Arms are width adjustable.

Disadvantages: Foam cushions not as breathable, seat pan depth is not adjustable. Durability is not as good as higher priced chairs

$400+ Ergonomic Range Task Chairs

This group is broad, they can be have more specialized in form and features, and differences in quality of materials. This area is the sweet spot when buying a good ergonomics chair. Chairs in this price range will have all the necessary features to adjust the chair to support a proper posture. Some of these types of chairs may be found in local office supply stores, but often they are carried by specialty office vendors or through online purchasing only. Look for companies that have a showroom or offer demos on these chairs to make sure the chair meets your needs and personal preference. Chair warranties are often extended up to 12 years. Quality vendors of these types of chairs are Steelcase, Knoll, and Herman Miller.

Steelcase Leap Chair

While this chair is our personal all around favorite, it is not cheap. The Steelcase Leap Office Chair can be had on the Steelcase Store for $899.

Advantages / Features: Adjustable height, seat pan depth, armrest (in and out too), lumbar support. Seat pan tilt mechanism, Multiple fabric color choices, including leather. Very good durability

Disadvantages: No mesh option for improved breathability, cushioning is thinner than in other cushion chairs, heavier and more bulky chair than others.

Steelcase Amia Chair

The Steelcase Amia Chair comes in at slightly less expensive than our top pick, at $725 on Amazon.

Advantages / Features: Adjustable height, seat pan depth, armrest (in and out too), lumbar support. Multiple fabric color choices, lighter than Leap and smaller platform

Disadvantages: No seat pan tilt, no mesh option for breathability

Herman Miller Aeron

The Aeron chair is a good mid range pick (in terms of price), and can be had for about $499. We did, however, find refurbished versions of the chair at a lower price for sale.

Advantages / Features: Adjustable height, seat pan depth, armrest (in and out too), lumbar support, seat pan tilt. Mesh for increased breathability, good-looking design

Disadvantages: Few color selections, no foam cushion option, heavier chair, mesh may give over time.

Ergonomic work chairs, in summary:

As you can see, chair prices can range between $200 to over $1000 dollars. Finding a good comfortable chair is going to be a matter of trying out a few of them! If you’ve got the budget, don’t be afraid to experiment.

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