How to choose the best office chair

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By Linsey McNeill
Home » How to choose the best office chair

It feels like every agent across the country is waiting on the edge of their seats for the Government to announce where and when we’ll be allowed to travel this summer – but talking of seats, how comfortable is yours?

Let’s face it, you’re going to need a comfy chair because once we’ve got the green light to travel again, you’re (hopefully) going to be inundated with bookings, which could keep you at your desks for hours on end.

We want you to be sitting comfortably when the time comes, so we asked John Lewis for some tips on how to choose the best office chair. Yes, that’s right, Travel Gossip isn’t too grand for this once never-knowingly-undersold national institution.

Now, you might be thinking what’s the big deal, a chair’s a chair? If so, you’ve got a lot to learn. Just like Goldilocks, we’ve found that some chairs are too soft, some are too hard and some are just right. And while having the wrong chair can give you back ache, a sore neck and joint pain, a good one will allow you to sit comfortably all day long.

We don’t want you to make a bad choice because a good office chair doesn’t come cheap. In fact, some cost more than we’re prepared to spend on a new car.

Herman Miller Aeron Office Chair, Mineral, £1,370

“You really have to think of an office chair like you would a mattress or a sofa especially if you’re going to be spending eight-plus hours a day sitting in it,” says Helen Maxfield, John Lewis Assistant Buyer, Living and Dining. “You should think of it in terms of pounds per hours used and invest in the most expensive chair that you can afford.”

Here are the questions Helen suggests you ask yourself before investing in an office chair:

Who will be using it?

An office chair needs to accommodate the size, shape and weight anyone using it.

If it’s just you, then a chair that allows a lot of adjustability will be great as you can make it just right for maximum support and comfort.

Think about not just about whether you need to adjust the height, but also the seat depth and the arms. Also, do you need a chair with a backrest or lumbar support, does it allow you to twist, and do you need one that swivels?

Also, check that the castors are suitable for the floor type. If not, you might need to buy a special mat.

If multiple people are using the chair then you want one that adjusts to the user when they sit in it, otherwise each staff member will have to faff around getting the seat just right. Humanscale chairs, like the one pictured below, will auto-adjust to each user.

Humanscale Liberty Chair, £729

How long will you be sitting for?

If you are only planning to be seated for up to a couple of hours a day, perhaps if you’re working part time, you don’t need to worry so much about the functionality and can choose a more stylish chair to suit your living space, such as the Soren Chair, below.

Soren Office Chair, £399

When working for four to six hours, you’ll need a chair that adjusts to your movements, not the sort of rigid seat that doubles as a dining chair.

If you’re going to be seated for eight hours-plus, look at ergonomic chairs that not only adjust to your movements but also provide the right level of support.

You can spend more than a grand on ergonomic chairs if you want one with all the bells and whistles, but you can buy them for much less. Below are two ergonomic chairs, both recommended by Helen; the Herman Miller Aeron is priced at £1,099, but the John Lewis Murray is much more affordable at £299.

Do you have a bad back?

An aching back is an occupational hazard for people with desk jobs, but a good chair will help with your posture and ease the pain. Helen recommends the Humanscale Diffrient World, which auto-adjusts according to your position and weight, or the Humanscale Freedom Leather, which automatically adjusts to your spine, or the Herman Miller Cosm High Back. For those with smaller budgets, John Lewis has an ergonomic Isaac chair for £279.

Are you on a tight budget? 

You don’t have to spend a fortune for a decent office chair, which will still provide you with a comfortable seat. The John Lewis Penny chair has a height-adjustable seat, plus a tilt mechanism. However, it’s only recommended for sitting for up to six hours, so if you think you’ll be stuck at your desk for longer, it’s worth investing in a better chair – or make sure you take plenty of breaks.

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