What is the difference between the typical chrome and bonded leather office chairs that you can pickup at a big box store, and the crazy looking “ergonomic” chairs that you find in most offices? Many people are quickly learning (and feeling) the difference as the majority of office workers across the globe are working from home on a regular basis. Suddenly, the home office chairs that were picked mostly based on looks are being pushed well beyond their limits. We’re spending even more time seated at our desks now compared to when we were in the office, because every activity is done from the same screen. Walking over to someones desk to ask a question, huddling up with your team, or moving between floors for a meeting, is all replaced with a few button clicks while seated at your desk. That is why I think that picking the right WFH office chair is more important now than ever.
What makes a good office chair?
Sometimes, it is easier to articulate what you don’t like about something after trying it, rather than attempting to figure out everything you want or need in advance. That was very much the case for me with my home office chair. After sitting in it for 8+ hours a day over the course of several weeks, I knew exactly what I didn’t like about it. I also realized what features I was missing from the expensive Herman Miller Embody office chair that I have been using at my work for many years. To be clear, the price difference between the chair that I already had in my office ($149) and the Herman Miller chairs my company use ($1,670) is significant. The good news is that you don’t have to spend an additional $1,500 to get an office chair that will let you comfortably work from home on a regular basis. Once you know what to look for, there are options for almost every budget. Here are the top things to consider when looking for an office chair:
- Adjustable Height - The chair should be adjustable to a height that allows you to comfortably place both feet flat on the ground.
- Adjustable Depth - To ensure that you’re able to sit completely back in your chair, the depth should be adjustable to allow about 2 inches of space between the back of your knees and the edge of the seat.
- Adjustable Arm Rests - The arm rests should be either easily moved out of the way, or adjustable to a height that allows you to rest your elbows at a 90 degree angle while typing. Some experts don’t recommend locking yourself into any positions while working to avoid strain, which is where it becomes useful to have the ability to move the arm rests completely out of the way. I personally like having the support, so I keep the arm rests dialed in to be almost even with my desk.
- Lumbar Support - This tends to be the thing you feel the most when moving to an ergonomic chair. Lumbar support is important to push your lower back forward to follow the natural curvature of your spine. With out it, you tend to bow in the opposite direction which will quickly lead to back pain.
- Adjustable Back - There are three key back adjustments to look for. The ability to unlock the seat back to allow a rocking motion will force you to periodically change positions, which is good for being seated long periods of time. The ability to adjust the amount of pressure it takes to recline is helpful to adjust the chair to the weight of the person sitting in it. Lastly, the ability to bring the position of the seat back forward helps keep you in an upright posture when typing.
Other factors to consider are largely specific to your needs. I opted for a chair with a headrest, because I like to recline back and watch TV in my office after hours, while intermittently working on personal projects. I also wanted a mesh back to help keep me cool, but still wanted a memory foam cushion for comfort.
I considered a few different options once I finally decided to replace my office chair. Many people on my team at work were buying the $399 Secretlab Titan gaming chair. I considered it, but ruled it out for three reasons. 1) I didn’t like the race car styling, 2) it was missing a couple of the adjustments I wanted, and 3) it wasn’t shipping for at least two months due to the current demand. Next, I considered a refurbished Herman Miller chair, but focused on the “economy” models. You can buy a Herman Miller Celle from Chairorama for the same price as the Titan chair, and it has every adjustment I listed in the previous section. The only thing it was missing for me, was the headrest. That is when I was pointed in the direction of the Autonomous ErgoChair 2 by a co-worker. This chair checked all of the boxes for me, was around $350, and was actually shipping within 30 days. I ordered the chair on May 14th, and received it on June 10th. I have only been using this chair for a day so far, but already love it. I won’t do a full review here (there are so many already out there), but will share a few pictures to show why I like this chair so far.
I was able to adjust this chair to fit me perfectly. I love being able to move the backrest forward to provide upright support.
When pulled up close to my desk, I feel well supported for typing.
Assembly was easy. I was done in 17 minutes, and took my time.
There are many chairs in this same price range that are a huge step up from your typical fixed office chair. The Autonomous ErgoChair2 is a great choice, but if focus your search on finding a chair that can be dialed in to fit your body perfectly, you’ll find that you actually enjoy using your home office more.