Ergonomics 101: Choosing the Right Ergonomics Work Chair

Office Ergonomics

Our Top Ergonomics Work Chair Picks

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 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. It is important 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.
  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.

$100-$200 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 ($129.99)

Advantages: Price, Adjustable Height, Arms, and Lumbar support, Mesh seat pan and lumbar support offers good breathability.

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 3000 Series Ergonomic Chair

Advantages: 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

$200-$700 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 ($350-450) (Personal all around preference)

Advantages: Adjustable height, seat pan depth, armrest (in and out too), lumbar support. Seat pan tilt, 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 ($640)

Advantages: 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 ($500-$800)

Advantages: 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 the right chair that looks good to you and feels good for you is going to be a matter of trying out a few of them!

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