Tips for Choosing the Right Office Chair for You

Choosing an office chair can be daunting.  Most people are quick to tell you their favorite chair.  But how do you know if it fit your needs?  On her Facebook Page, ADHD Coach, Krickett Harrison recently asked for help choosing a chair and inspired me to write this article for you.  Hope you find it useful.

Why Should You Care about Your Office Chair?

If you spend a lot of time at your computer, your office chair is the second only to your bed in terms of affecting your physical and emotional health and your overall productivity. Having had a back injury when I was in college, I’ve been through over 15 office chairs in my search for a chair that supported my needs and I’ve learned a few things about choosing office chairs that I’ll share with you here.

What Matters Most in Choosing an Office Chair?

It’s not about the brand, or the price, it’s about paying attention to your own personal needs and preferences.  If you are a highly sensitive person like me, lots of little things matter that other people could not care less about.  I offer my personal criteria not as a “prescription” that these should matter to you, but for you to consider whether or not they make a difference to you.

I suggest first make a list of exactly what you don’t like about your current office chair and any past office chairs you didn’t like to help you start creating criteria for new office chair.  Then think about any office chairs you really liked, but be careful.

Types of Office Chairs

Office chairs that are comfortable for reading, or meeting with other people (usually called “executive office chairs” and may have really high backs with head and neck rests) are not usually supportive or comfortable for long stretches of time spent working at a computer or on a project.

Chairs for working in are usually called either computer or task chairs and usually only go as high as your mid back. 

Office Chair Features that Matter to Me

Below are some of the features that really matter to me. Because I tend to hyperfocus, having the right chair helps me get more done and avoid emotional fatigue, energy drain and back pain.

  • Sturdy easy to roll around on wheels – I also don’t use carpet in my office…in one of my past offices I  laid down a linoleum renmant from home depot to make sure my chair rolled easily.
  • Adjustable height – I have short legs and dislike having to get on tippy toes just to get into my chair.  I also need my keyboard to be at 25 – 26 inches from the floor. Being able to adjust the chair height allows me to raise the chair to use my dining table ergonomically when I have a project I need to spread out on.
  • No pressure on my shoulders – chairs that put pressure on my shoulders really aggravate my neck and shoulder muscles. I had adhesive capsulitis in my right shoulder and also carpal tunnel from my many years of computer work (I programmed on the first Apple in college and been using computers ever since!)   I wish I’d changed from an executive chair to a task chair earlier.  It makes a huge difference. 
  • Lumbar Support –  Lumbar support hits in the right place…seems most lumbar support hits my mid back instead of my actual lower back.
  • Great cushioning for both seat and back. –  I found that the aeron style mesh backs feel too hard and make my back stiffen up as if I’m leaning on a board.
  • Soft, Smooth Leather or Pleather covering.  Being a Highly Sensitive tactile person…I also can’t stand the roughish feel of mesh and other fabrics.  Many chair fabrics actually leave an imprint on and irritate / cause itching on the backs of my legs.  I also need leather or smooth pleather on my office chairs because I have cats.  Their fur doesn’t stick to leather so I don’t have to constantly use a roller to get the cat hair off.  Plus, you know how cats tend to cough up hairballs?  With leather that is super easy to clean up and NO STAINS!
  • Color and Visual appeal – One thing I have learned is that if I buy a chair in a color that doesn’t blend in with my office decor, it really annoys me.  My current office colors are light wood, red and coffee colored walls and warm brown colors.  My old black executive chair practically takes over the room and disrupts the calming energy I wanted in my space.
  • Returnable – I just got a new brown task chair that meets all these criteria.  I hope I still love it a month from now.  Once thing I’ve learning is that it takes a month at least to really break in a chair and get used to it.  Also you find out how good the cushions really are.  Any chair can be comfy for an hours…but after a 10-12 hour day (even with breaks) you really get to know how good a chair is.  There is no other way to test this than to buy one and try it for a least a week, though a month is better.  So unless you got a super cheap price or are willing to give the chair away if it doesn’t fit you, buy it from a place that makes it easy to return.
That’s my list for now. As you can see, needs assessment is the most CRITICAL phase of choosing an office chair!  : ) Take time to think through your needs and you will be a lot less likely to regret your chair.  That said…if you do end up regretting it, like I have, consider it an investment in learning about your personal criteria that will inform all your future furniture purchases.  
I’ll update this when I think of more.  Right now my photo insert on Word Press is not functioning…when I get it fixed I’ll share photos.  Till then, let me if this article was helpful to and if you have any questions related to this I’ll do my best to answer. 

Also let me know what features of office chairs you most need, like or don’t like….let’s learn together!

 p.s.  I tried to find all the typos, but most likely missed a couple…if you find one, let me know that too.  : )

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3 thoughts on “Tips for Choosing the Right Office Chair for You

  1. Thank you for your original office chair article.
    It is good and useful.

  2. After purchasing a standard leather office chair years back I’m now on the lookout for purchasing a new one, these tips have definitely given me a few things to think about, I’m thinking of looking at patterned/bright chairs as I work in a shared office space and a bit of personality won’t go a miss, which then makes it vital for a simple return policy as the prettiest chair probably won’t be the comfiest.

  3. Hi Ariane,

    I found this article/post very helpful for two main reasons: it is a great example of establishing criteria for decision making (needs assessment), and for additional considerations highly sensitive or hyper-focusing persons may have over and above the standard criteria.

    Any thoughts on adjustable chair backs or armrests? Or whether or not to have armrests? Ever tried those angled foot rests? I’m thinking they would likely get in the way though…

    I had even been considering one of those balance ball chairs or knee chairs, but after reading this, I am reminded that they would not fit my overall needs very well.

    Thank you for these great reminders and tips! I love that you are sensitive and brilliant enough to know that your frustrations are most likely another persons frustrations too. Thank you for continually putting yourself “out there” and sharing!

    Laura Z.

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