In the world of office chairs, one size does not fit all
Some employers may view a comfortable office chair as a luxury, but there's more to the story. Studies show that better chairs in the workplace can boost a company's bottom line by keeping employees more productive. From an individual worker's perspective, that can mean a more pleasant, pain-free workday.
There are three broad categories of office chairs: executive chairs, manager's chairs and task chairs. Executive chairs have higher backs, with deeper seats and plush padding than task chairs, which are more streamlined, with shorter backs. They may or may not have armrests and are designed to move around an office more easily, since they are lighter. Manager's chairs generally fall between the two in size, and can vary widely in terms of features.
Once you narrow down what kind of chair is best for your needs, you'll find there remains a dizzying number of choices. A couple of important considerations will help you narrow the field a little further -- whether you need an ergonomic chair, and what type of upholstery will work best for you.
Ergonomic office chairs can keep pain to a minimum. According to a 2010 survey by Staples Advantage, 86 percent of workers say their office furniture makes them uncomfortable. By offering a wide range of adjustable features, ergonomic chairs allow the user to tailor the chair for his or her own comfort rather than forcing the user to adapt to the chair.
Spine-Health.com recommends workers look for the following in ergonomic chairs: adjustable seat height, width and depth; adjustable lumbar support; an adjustable backrest; and padded, breathable upholstery. However, there's one major downside: Ergonomic chairs with the most features can easily top $1,000, and most experts agree that you get what you pay for in this category.
Workers who spend hours at their desk should check out mesh office chairs. Mesh office chairs have become increasingly popular because of their breathability. By keeping workers cool, mesh chairs enable them to stay comfortable for longer periods of time. Depending on quality, mesh can also be a more affordable option than certain fabrics and fine-grain leather.
Mesh is available on every type of desk chair, and several mesh chairs are ergonomic, too. Though most find mesh comfortable, some workers may miss the added padding that is often found on other chairs. Lower-end mesh chairs typically start at around $100, while high-end versions with lots of ergonomic features can cost $1,000 or more.
Leather office chairs give your office a touch of luxury. Despite the practicality of mesh, some workers prefer the plush, luxurious feel of leather. Especially common on executive chairs, leather is also sought after because it is easy to maintain. Leather typically becomes more comfortable as it ages.
But leather is less breathable than its counterparts, and may not be as comfortable in warmer environments. High-end leather chairs can cost thousands, while lower-quality and imitation leather chairs may only run $100 to $200. However, bargain leather will not have the lifespan and plush feel of more expensive versions.
ConsumerSearch has analyzed expert and customer reviews to evaluate the comfort and durability that office chairs provide. The result is our picks for the best office chairs on the market.