The Best Ergonomic Office Chairs for Every Budget

Outfit your home office or dorm with one of these supportive office chairs.

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July 27, 2021

Whether you’ve created a makeshift office or e-learning station at home or are shopping for a dorm or college apartment, we’ve all realized how important a supportive office chair is after working from home during the pandemic. Sure, your sofa could be the softest, cloud-like pile of cushions, but it’s not doing any favors for your back, neck or shoulders. The hunch is real. You need an ergonomic office chair. They may not be the most stylish (although we found some cute ones!), but they’re the most supportive for your body. If you’re new to the world of ergonomic chairs, we’ve rounded up our favorites among top-rated brands and models. Take a look at our picks below and order a chair that brings sweet relief for your pain points.

What Is an Ergonomic Chair?

Desk chair, task chair, executive chair — office chairs have a lot of names, and they can all be ergonomic. So what makes a chair ergonomic? And why are these chairs more expensive than a mattress? The word ergonomic is defined as something that is “designed to minimize physical effort and discomfort, and hence maximize efficiency.” And it’s subjective. Good ergonomics is different for each person depending on height, work setup, pain points, etc. The best way to think of ergonomics is support. For most, this means your computer setup. An ergonomic chair helps you sit up straight, and it alleviates pressure on your neck and shoulders from the dreaded hunch. An ergonomic chair is not cheap, but, just like a supportive mattress, it’s worth the investment. When shopping for an ergonomic chair, look for customizable features such as an adjustable armrest, head and neck rests, and contoured lumbar support. You definitely want to shop brands and online stores with free returns and ample return times should a chair not work for you.

Humanscale Office Chairs

One of the most popular at-home office chairs, Humanscale caught the eye of top retailers such as Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel, and the company’s chairs come with glowing reviews. The Freedom Task Chair with a headrest is definitely the most supportive, but if you’re trying to keep this under $1,000, the Diffrient World without headrest is a great option, too. (I’m writing this story while comfortably sitting in one!) The curved back does a great job of supporting shoulders and alleviating pressure, but if that $800-900 range is still too high, the new Trea chair is a great entry-level option for the brand. The lobster seat has a supportive back, though it likely won’t help with major pain points. This would be perfect for a kid’s room or teen homework station. What I love about Humanscale is how easy assembly is. You don’t even get a booklet with instructions, it's so easy. The “instructions” are printed on the shipping box. That’s it. The chair comes in two pieces and you simply snap the seat onto the rollers. Done. You're ready to roll. The highest priority needs for an ergonomic chair — especially for computer work are neck and back support, but once you get that nailed down, you can also look at foot accessories such as these rockers. These products can help relieve pain points for hips and knees, and for someone super short like me, allow you to finally touch the ground.

Steelcase Office Chairs

From Instagram ads to West Elm, Steelcase is everywhere, and Amazon shoppers agree that it's worth the buy. It’s the number-one office drafting chair on Amazon. So what makes this $800+ chair so good? It’s clunky, but it has a lot of bells and whistles, from armrests that swivel and pivot to an impressive range for reclining. This is a great option if you’re sharing a desk with a spouse or a teen and have different pain points and needs. If the Gesture is out of your budget, Steelcase has other top-rated models less than $600, such as the Cobi and the Series 1 with headrest. If you order through West Elm, you can customize the casters for either hardwood flooring or carpet.

Herman Miller Office Chairs

Yep, that Herman Miller. The brand lives on in so much more than midcentury modern seating. This line of ergonomic chairs is definitely the most expensive with models starting above $1,000 and customizations soaring past $2,000. However, a good gem is the Sayl Chair. The more economical model starts at just $545 and has a cool, futuristic back. It comes in several different colors and would be great for a dorm or teen homework station.

Budget-Friendly Ergonomic Office Chairs

If you’ve been reading this in total sticker shock, we get it. If a $500+ office chair is not in the cards, that’s OK. You’ve still got options. Wayfair is a great place to shop for ergonomic chairs on a budget because the customer reviews do not hold back. It’s a great way to see if a cheap ergonomic chair is supportive or just cheap. We’ve rounded up the best, top-rated ergonomic chairs under $300. This Keats task chair (less than $250!) is actually the most stylish desk chair we’ve seen by far with a faux cognac leather material. If you’re in the market for an ergonomic chair with a headrest, you can score one for less than $150 with this Inbox Zero task chair. The colors and materials aren’t customizable, but you can’t complain with a price like that.

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