How To Choose An Office Chair

Having to choose your own office chair is a great thing to experience. You have the opportunity to get a chair that will help you feel comfortable while working and take away all that pain in you back. However, you might run into a bit of an issue. 

There are thousands of different office chairs on the market. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some of them have spaceship-like features, while others appear so simple. Which one do you pick? Yes, it’s hard, we know. 

That’s why we created an ultimate guide that will help you become an office chair guru. Here is how to choose an office chair that’s so comfortable you’ll wish to get back home with you.

Wheel Base or Not

Most office chairs come with wheels. These ones are popularly called wheel-base office chairs. But do you really need one? The wheel-base is not there for comfort but mobility and convenience. 

For instance, if you work at a small desk, whether it is a regular or wall-mounted one, you might not benefit from a wheel-base office chair like some other people.

The wheel-base comes into play when you are working at L-shaped or U-shaped desks. Moving around becomes vital here because it can boost your efficiency and productivity. 

You can simply roll away to get access to a drawer that is otherwise not possible to open, or you can roll to the printer to pick up the freshly printed papers. 

If you do choose to go with a wheel-base, beware that wheels can damage the floor, especially if it’s wooden or laminate. Consider investing in a chair mat of sorts to prevent floor damage. 

Adjustability is a Must-have

The term adjustability does sound generic, but it is a vital function of an office chair. Adjustability encompasses chair features that allow you to custom-tailor; it’s position and shape so that it reflects your personal needs. 

With the abundance of adjustability features, you will be able to improve comfort, get sufficient support for your spine and arms, and avoid health problems. The most common adjustments in office chairs are arm and height adjustment. These should cover your basic needs, but you should know that there are chairs with five and more adjustabile features.

The levers, knobs, and buttons can appear too complicated to use at the start, but they are really not. Remember, the more adjustments, the more you will get out of a desk chair. 

Some of the adjustments you should be looking for include:

  • Lumbar support
  • Arm height and width
  • Seat pan depth
  • Seat and back angle
  • Headrest
  • Tension control

Lumbar Support

Lumbar support is the most beneficial ergonomic feature an office chair can have. It is designed to provide consistent support for your lower spine and prevent health hazards associated with prolonged sitting. 

Most office chairs have lumbar support, but only a few of them have it adjustable. The chairs without it will very rarely fit perfectly and reflect the natural curve of your spine. Adjustable lumbar support, on the other hand, allows you to fit it in the natural curve of your spine. 

Some chairs will allow you to adjust it along with the height of the chair back, while others have the height of a chair back and the height of lumbar support as two independent features.

Arm Height and Width

Did you ever feel pain in your upper back and shoulders? It’s probably because you used a chair with wrongly positioned armrests. A good desk chair should have the adjustable armrests both in terms of height and width. 

Some of the models also come with armrests that can pivot away and toward your body to further increase comfort and support. If you prefer an office chair with a more slender frame, you should definitely look for these features.

Seat Pan Depth

Seat pan depth is an important ergonomic chair adjustment. It will enable you to adjust the depth of your seat. Chairs with this feature will allow you to move the seat back or away from the chair back. 

If you are tall, you will want to slide it away from the chair back; the opposite goes if you are shorter. Seat pan depth adjustability becomes even more important if two or more people are going to share the chair.

Seat and Back Angle

Seat and back angle adjustability are not common features in cheaper office chairs, yet they are vital if you want to have a versatile office chair. 

With this, you will be able to hit a sweet ergonomic spot and adjust the chair specifically to your needs.


The desk chairs with headrest (usually considered high back office chairs) either have it built in as an extension to the chair back or as a separate module. The headrest is there to provide support to your neck and head while making the sitting even more comfortable. 

It can also help you maintain constant eye level at the upper bezel of the monitor. Taking the load from your shoulder and neck muscles is important, and the headrest can take a portion of it for sure.

Tension Control

Tension control is not a must-have feature, but it can make sitting in your chair even more comfortable. If you are doing a 9-to-5 job, you should consider it. Tension control is usually installed in tilt. 

It will allow you to set the amount of resistance the chair will provide when you try to lean back. This is when the tilting feature really becomes useful because tilt without tension control is only used when you want to lean back and relax for a minute.

Swivel Base or Not

Swivel base, yes or no? Let’s keep it simple. The swivel base is a must. It doesn’t matter the line of work you are in because every now or then, you will have to reach out to grab something. And that something is not going to be right in front of you

Swivel is that mechanism that allows you to rotate freely. While it is practical to have it, it will also save your arms. People who often have to reach for office supplies and papers experience arm fatigue, and the swivel resolves this issue. 

The Materials and Cushion

The materials and cushion are the most frequently overlooked features in an office chair. They somehow slip by, and you start noticing it when your chair is making you sweat, or it becomes too uncomfortable to sit on after a while. 

Fabric is the most beneficial solution. It feels great against the skin; it’s durable and is easy to maintain. Office chair makers use it because it easily stretches over any of the cushion options. 

When it comes to cushions, you have plenty of options ranging from spongy-like solutions to memory foams. Thick foam cushion for the seat is the best overall solution. First of all, foam can be easily shaped to reflect the ergonomic needs of our behinds. 

The support the seat provides is important for good posture, and foam is the only one that’s elastic enough to provide both comfort and support. More importantly, hard seats put too much compression, restricting the blood flow in the pelvis, back, and legs. Foam seats redistribute that compression and alleviate fatigue and pain. 

Learn How to Properly Try Out a Chair

How do you know if a chair fits you? You can’t do it by looking at a picture or watching a YouTube video. Instead, you have to try it out. You don’t have to try the exact one that you are planning on buying. Look for the one with similar features in a shop near you. 

Be ready to get surprised, as not every chair will fit you well. However, trying out the chair is easy when you know a few handy tricks. 

Adjust the chair back so that it follows the natural shape of your spine while paying attention that global support falls right into your lumbar spine curve. If you can’t do it, move on to the next model. 

Test the chair height by trying to set it so that your feet rest flat on the floor. While at it, make sure to sit all the way to the back of the chair. When you do it, check whether the front seat edge is putting pressure on the back of your legs. If it does, you need a bigger chair or a chair with a better cushion.

Try to put your arms on the armrest. Do your shoulders feel relaxed? If there is still tension, try to adjust the armrests.

Ideally, the chair back should come slightly above the shoulders. While you sit, you should feel the support at both of your shoulder blades. If the chair has tension control, test it out. See if it provides enough resistance to support your weight while still providing comfort.

That’s basically all you need to know to purchase the right office chair for you. A comfortable seat stuffed with high-quality foam, appropriate lumbar, back, and arm support are the most important. Height adjustability and swivel come in at a close second place. 

Finally, it’s you that’s going to spend hours sitting in this chair. You know your needs, preferences, and the challenges that come with your job. The chair you are looking for should provide answers to all of those.

Eric Moore

Eric Moore is the owner of Overheard on Conference Calls. As a corporate veteran, he’s seen and heard it all. And when it comes to office chairs, desks, and accessories, he’s used it all. As a former office furniture sales rep, he bring his expertise to provide readers the knowledge to choose the right products for them. He also has his OSHA Ergonomics Certificate.