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The Ergonomics of Different Office Chair Types Explained

We all consider office chairs to be a given. We take them for granted and only notice when they are broken. They play an important part in our lives. They not only affect productivity but also directly impact our health.

There are many types of office chairs available today to suit different workplaces and occupations. We’ll be discussing the most popular types and how they perform in the ergonomics department.

Here’s a fun fact before we move on to the next item on our list. Did you know that 1849 was the first time a chair was used for office purposes? Charles Darwin is the true innovator. Darwin wanted to be able to get his specimens faster so he added wheels to his wooden armchair. This was a brilliant, but bizarre idea and many consider it the first office chair.

Office Chairs at a Glance

  • Ergonomic chairs – Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders by Sitting
  • Drafting chairs – Complements tall or standing desks
  • Executive Office Chairs – Opulent executive style chairs
  • Leather Office Chairs Made from faux, PU or real leather
  • Mesh Office Chairs– Made from mesh for maximum breathability
  • Balance Ball chairs – A short term chair to engage your core
  • Back Pain – Short term Kneeling chairs
  • Short-term chair for core strengthening and posture
  • Active Sitting chairs – Promote movement as you sit
  • Sit-Stand Chairs – Supports your body while you sit or stand
  • Tall and Big Chairs – Catering to large users with high dimensions and tall heights
  • Petite and small chairs – Catering to small users

Ergonomic chairs

HermanMiller Embody Ergonomic chair

Ergonomic chairs have been specifically designed to promote a neutral position and provide sufficient support for long hours of work. Although they may be more expensive than other office chairs, ergonomic chairs can save you more money in the long-term because many are designed to prevent conditions like cervical spondylosis and back pain.

In 1976, William Stumpf invented the Ergon ergonomic chair. It was created to provide both support and comfort, unlike other office/gaming chairs. It featured features such as height adjustment and spine support.

The prevention of neck, back and shoulder pain while sitting.

Common Features:

  • Lumbar support
  • Adjustable headrests, armrests and seat heights
  • Simple swiveling
  • Stable base
  • Back and padding
  • Sliding seat pan
  • Lock and adjustable tilt tension
  • Carpet casters made of nylon

Drawing Chairs

Modway Drafting Office Chair

Artists and architects often have to stand while working. Standing for long periods of time can have negative health effects, just as sitting too long can lead to health problems.

Drafting chairs are here to help. Drafting chairs were designed to be used with standing desks and drafting tables. They allow people who are able to stand to work to rest and sit without interrupting their work flow. The chair’s height allows you to easily move from a sitting to standing position. It will support your back, upper, and lower limbs, as well as your body weight.

This office chair is lightweight, portable, and can come with or without backs. The adjustable height allows it to be lowered so that it can be used with standard desks. They almost always include a foot ring that allows you to place your feet.

Ideal for:Employees that stand while performing their jobs to take short breaks.

Common Features:

  • Foot ring
  • Nylon casters
  • Swivel
  • Pneumatic height control

Executive Office Chairs

Gates Executive Office Chair

The executive chair is the most expensive of all office chairs. Executive office chairs are frequently used by higher-ups, as their name suggests. It is designed to appear imposing and has a high back and lots of cushioning in its back, seat and headrest.

The line between ergonomic office chairs and other types of office chair is often blurred. Executive chairs are known for their thickly padded seats and thickly padded armrests. They can also be adorned with PU or genuine leather. Many chairs come with additional features such as a massage head or recline function.

Ideal for:Company executives who want a comfortable, elegant office chair that matches their position. People who like a more comfortable sitting material will love this chair.

Common Materials:Leather, spring-cushioned memory foam padding, fine wooden for a timeless look, and superior steel for a modern look.

Common Features:

  • Real leather or PU material
  • Armrests with thick padding
  • Wood finish
  • Waterfall edge
  • Layered or contoured thick cushions

Leather Office Chairs

Zuri Leather Office Chair

A subset of the executive office chair, leather office chairs can be described as any chair with leather upholstery. These chairs are more expensive than those made of vinyl, mesh or fabric, but they exude sophistication.

There are many types of leather office chairs.

Leather – Although it doesn’t have leather components, PU leather (or faux leather) has a similar appearance and feel to real leather. These office chairs are the most affordable of the three types. They are waterproof, fade-resistant and easy to clean.

Bonded leather – Also called reconstituted leather. It is made from leather byproducts and polyurethane. Bonded leather is cheaper than genuine leather and they are more difficult to distinguish from real leather. Because it tends to tear , bonded leather is not as durable as real leather. It should not be exposed to direct sunlight, as it can dry out and fade.

Genuine Leather This office chair is the most expensive. This leather is unbeatable in terms of breathability, comfort, durability and aesthetics, but it is also the most difficult to maintain. To prevent fading, keep genuine leather chairs out of direct sunlight just like bonded leather.

It is important to maintain leather properly to avoid it becoming worn or peeling. These are the steps to clean leather.

Cleaning PU Leather chairs:

Use warm water to wet a sponge and clean the area. Use unscented soap or dish detergent if you find a stain or more stubborn grime. To remove soap residue, wipe it with a clean cloth. You can either let it dry, or you can speed up drying by wiping it with dry cloth.

Cleaning Bonded Leder Chairs:

Use a dry cloth to wipe your bonded leather office chair clean.

You can clean the surface with a damp cloth and mild detergent every now and again. Make sure to do a spot test before you use any detergent. Rinse the cloth and then wipe it again. Use a dry cloth to remove any excess water.

To extend the leather’s life expectancy and preserve its smooth texture, apply leather conditioner once or twice per year to the bonded leather.

Cleaning Genuine Leather chairs:

Regular cleaning should be done with leather cleaners that are specifically formulated for genuine leather.

To condition genuine leather chairs, use a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts linseed oils to treat them every few weeks. It is best to apply it after it has dried. Use a soft, dry cloth once the leather is dry to give it a shine.

You should treat your leather chair with leather conditioner at least twice a year, just like bonded leather. This will keep it soft and protect it from the elements.

For: Anyone who loves the softness and elegance of leather.

Mesh Office Chairs

Herman Miller Aeron Mesh

Mesh office chairs offer breathability and are a great option for those who sweat a lot. For comfort, the backrest is lined with this net-like fabric and paired with cushioned chairs. High quality mesh office chairs are designed to be ergonomically friendly. They have a waterfall edge for better blood circulation, lumbar support and lower back pain relief.

Aeron Chair is one of my favourite ergonomic mesh office chairs. The Aeron Chair was designed by Bill Stumpf and Don Chadwick in 1994. It features 8 tension zones that provide custom support for different parts of the body, while also keeping you cool. The Aeron is the first smart mesh chair in the world.

Best for: People that sweat easily or who work in hot environments.

Balance Ball chairs

Gaiam Balance Ball chair

Balance ball chairs are also known as yoga ball chairs or stability ball chairs. They consist of an inflatable ball that has a stable base. Balance ball chairs can be equipped with casters or a backrest, to replicate the look of traditional office chairs.

Balance ball chairs are a great option for those who use them for a short time (20-30 minutes):

  • Stimulates the core and leg muscles
  • Increases blood circulation
  • Increases productivity and concentration
  • Helps burn calories
  • There are also drawbacks to balance ball chairs.
  • Poor posture can result from prolonged use
  • It is easier to become fatigued over time.

If you decide to use a balance chair, the key thing is to use it in short bursts to strengthen your core and improve blood circulation. This chair is not meant to be used as a replacement for regular office chairs or for prolonged sitting.

Ideal for: A mini-workout that engages the core and promotes better blood circulation, especially when used in short bursts.

Common Features:

  • Removable, inflatable yoga ball
  • Some lockable, with wheels for mobility
  • Stability requires a sturdy frame or stand
  • Some stands include a backrest

Kneeling Chairs

Sleekform Kneeling Chair

The angled knee rest of kneeling chairs is what distinguishes them. It divides your body’s weight between your bottom and your shins. Sitting forward, you can reduce stress by focusing on your core and lowering your back.

There are two main benefits to kneeling chairs:

Reduces lumbar lordosis, which helps to ease back pain

If the inclination is +20deg, it will maintain the standing lumbar curve better than traditional office chairs

This strengthens the Psoas and core muscles, providing more support for the back

Lower back stress and spinal compression prevented

However, a kneeling chair is not meant to be used for prolonged sitting. This could lead to these issues:

  • Restricted leg movements
  • Constant pressure on the shins can cause pain and may lead to permanent damage.
  • A crooked leg can restrict circulation
  • It is difficult to get in and out of a kneeling seat.

Kneeling chairs are not recommended as a permanent replacement for ergonomic office chairs. They can cause discomfort when used for prolonged periods of time. To avoid being stuck in one place for too long, alternate between the two types.

Even if you don’t own a kneeling chair or squatting, they can be very beneficial to your health.

Short-term tasks for people with chronic back pain

Common Features:

Metal frame “x” with thickly cushioned memory seat and shin rests

Some kneeling chairs, such as the Balans, are made from wood and have a rocking base.

Casters for simple moving

A backrest is available for some kneeling chairs

Here’s a video showing the Varier Balans, a sitting chair that can be used to kneel and was designed by Hans Christian in 1979.

Saddle Chairs

Salii Split Saddle Chair

Saddle office chairs are named after equestrian saddles and encourage riding-like sitting positions. They can be used with a high desk. These chairs are higher than standard chairs and place the thighs at an angle of 135 degrees to relax the muscles and maintain the lumbar curve. This forward-sloping chair is also known to improve muscle strength, reduce back pain, and prevent musculoskeletal problems, according to several studies such as this one.

There are two types: solid and divided saddle chairs. Because they can reduce pressure on the bowels, divided saddle chairs are better for men. Some have a backrest like Joe Rogan’s chair, which he discusses on his Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

For: People suffering from chronic back pain or strain in their chest. Office workers who want to strengthen their core muscles and preserve the natural curve of their spine.

Common Features:

  • You can have one piece or a divided seat
  • Adjustments for height
  • Tilt mechanism
  • This video shows a comparison between saddle chairs and traditional office chairs.

Active Sitting chairs

CoreChair Active Sitting chair

Active chairs are chairs that allow for movement while sitting down. This is a new term. This is usually due to a unstable base or seat.

The many diseases and premature deaths that can be linked to prolonged sitting led to the creation of active chairs. Active sitting chairs are unstable and force you to move your core muscles. There are many active sitting chairs on the market.

The Core Chair is an active sitting chair with a unstable seat. Numerous studies commissioned by the company found that it has many benefits, including increased cognitive function, decreased pressure points and increased caloric burning. The Core Chair was excellent in encouraging continuous movement, as we experienced it firsthand.

Another popular example of this type is the Swopper Chair. It provides a good position for the cervical region.

Active seating chairs are also possible with stability balls such as the Zenergy. Stability balls have been shown to increase energy expenditure in the workplace, according to studies. However, they can also cause discomfort and poor posture over a prolonged period of time.

Choose an active seat chair that suits your needs. These chairs have both advantages and disadvantages and should be used with ergonomic office chairs.

Ideal for: Alternating between regular office chairs for greater movement

Sit-stand Chairs

Varidesk Leaning Chair

With standing desks, and other environments that require standing, leaning chairs are a common accessory. By supporting your bottom while you lean backwards, they allow for short breaks from standing. They are also known as sit-stand chairs and can be adjusted in height to allow you to sit fully for brief periods.

According to a European Journal of Preventive Cardiology study, standing while working can increase energy expenditure and help you burn calories. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology 2018, standing for prolonged periods of time can increase your risk of developing heart disease. What’s the alternative to sitting or standing too long?

Leaning sit-stand chairs can help you achieve optimal health by allowing you to take different types of sitting positions. You can quickly change between standing, sitting, or leaning positions. These positions can be changed by using either the adjustable tilt seat or the articulating pedestal. You can adjust the height of the chair to fit different heights or complement standing desks.

There are two types: those that have built-in antifatigue mats such as the Ergo Impact and those that don’t like VariChair. It provides a comfortable surface for you to stand on, which can reduce joint pain and fatigue from prolonged standing.

Best for: Standing Desks, Art studios and bank tellers.

Common materials: Padded seat covered in fabric, vinyl, or leather. Steel base

Tall and Big Chairs

Sadie Big and Tall Office Chair

Big and tall office chairs, as their name implies, are made for the tall and big. Their high weight capacity, which can range from 300 to 1,000 pounds, is what makes them stand out. The chair can safely carry heavy loads.

This chair has a wider range of backrests and height adjustments. It also features thicker padding and reinforced bases and armrests.

Ideal for: Tall, heavy people.

Common Features:

  • Heavy duty frame
  • Extra large and deep seats
  • Tall backrest
  • Armrests with long and wide arms

Petite and Small Chairs

Bodybilt R2406 Petite Chair

Chairs for tall and small people are not surprising if there are also chairs for them. Petite chairs have a smaller base and seat, as well as a lower gas lift to allow smaller people to rest their feet on it.

Even the ergonomic features have been modified to accommodate people of small stature. Because of the higher armrests on standard office chairs, it can be more difficult for petite workers to maintain an accurate arm alignment. Because the armrests are lower, a petite chair can solve this problem. This is true for the seat depth, lumbar support and headrest.

Ideal for: People who are small or have a small body.

Common Features:

  • For people on the smaller side, it is important to have the correct seat height and angle
  • For petite people, the proper seat width and depth should be respected
  • Adjustable lumbar support
  • Armrest heights lower
  • Gas lifts at a lower price

24-Hour Chairs

Svenstol 24-hour Office Chair

These office chairs, also known as 24-hour office chairs, are made for long work hours. These chairs stand out from other office chairs as they have to go through rigorous testing before being classified as intensive-use. There are several tests that were done, including the back tilt, back load and vertical arm load. They also have seat and base load tests and the swivel bearing fatigue testing. They are far more durable than other office chairs.

In addition to robust mechanisms and strong bases, intensive-use chair often include standard ergonomic features like adjustable height, headrests and armrests.

Ideal for: Round-the-clock areas such as hospitals, call centres, control rooms and police stations.

Common Materials: Thick padding, Soft upholstery materials like fabric, leather and mesh.

This video demonstrates the unique features of 24-hour chair.

Conference Chairs

NBF Mid Back Conference Chair

The conference room is where you can brainstorm with your team, make decisions, and entertain guests. Conference chairs have a low backrest to allow for more space and not block people’s view. Conference chairs encourage a forward-leaning position, unlike other office chairs. They tilt the seat slightly forward. This is done to encourage participation and contribution.

Ideal for:Conference Rooms, Meeting Rooms, and Boardrooms

Common Materials: Leather, fabric upholstery, memory foam padding and mesh

Common Features:

  • Height adjustable for the seat
  • Backrests for low or medium height
  • Forward leaning chair
  • Adjustable tilt tension
  • Swivel
  • Nylon casters

Reception Area Chairs

Chair for Hon’s Reception

The reception area chairs or sometimes called guest chairs are single-person stationary chairs that are used in waiting areas or reception areas. They are not designed for long-term sitting and often lack ergonomic features. You can choose from a four-leg base, a cantilever base, and a sled base for this type of chair.

Ideal for: Waiting areas, reception areas

Common Materials: Leather and fabric, vinyl, mesh

Sofas

Sofa Cyl office

A couch or sofa can hold more than two people. This type of seating is used in offices or work areas where employees are likely to be moving around to complete their tasks. This type of seating provides comfort for people who want to gather together to socialize, brainstorm, or participate in group activities.

Some sofas offer soft comfort and some have ergonomic features such as headrests or stress-resistant foams. It should be soft enough that it is comfortable, but firm enough to support your body. Your spine and pelvic strain will be caused by a sofa that causes your body to sink.

Sofas come in a variety of colors and designs. They are often designed to match the overall theme and decor of the workplace. The frame of a sofa is usually made from metal, steel, and wood. You have the option of choosing innerspring or foam for your padding. The cover can also be made of leather, fabric, vinyl, or both.

Ideal for: Private offices and waiting rooms, lounges or lobbies, as well as third spaces

Tablet Arm Chairs

Steelcase i2i Tablet Arm Chair

This chair is distinguished by its fixed or swiveling tablet. There are many sizes available. Some tablets can be used only as a writing surface, while others are large enough to hold a 17-inch laptop.

Wood or plastic are common choices for the seat and tablet of armchairs used in long training sessions or lecture areas. For those who are used in lounges and lobbies, upholstered chairs are more common. They have a padded backrest, a padded seat and an armrest that can be covered in fabric or leather. These are comfortable, but they do not have any ergonomic features that would make them suitable for long-term sitting.

Best for:Lecture, training areas, lobbybies, lounges

Armless Chairs

Mack & Milo Armless Task chair

A chair without arms is essentially a traditional office chair, but it does not have armrests. This type of chair is preferred by some people because it allows them to feel more free, especially for certain activities like playing the guitar.

Swivel office chairs with arms make it easy to reach your desk from a closer distance. The desk is where your arms will rest, so that you can maintain a neutral position for your hands, wrists, and arms. The chair’s ergonomic features are often limited to a seat height adjustment and a waterfall edge.

Short-term sitting or work areas that require you to be close to the desk or table.

Benches

Moe’s Office Bench – Moe’s Upholstered

You can place benches anywhere you want in commercial spaces, indoors or out. Benches can seat two or more people. They are designed to match the theme of the surrounding area and can withstand many years of use. They’re not designed for long sitting so don’t have a backrest.

Vinyl, fabric, and leather are all common covers for upholstered benches. Wood is used for the frame and base to give warmth, while metal frames offer a modern look.

Short-term seating is best: Often used in waiting rooms, reception areas and lounges.

Folding Chairs

Flash Furniture Hercules Folding Chair

Folding chairs are a great choice because of their portability and ease of use. Folding chairs are great for temporary seating at events and other occasions. They can be set up quickly and stored easily. Many folding chairs are made from metal or plastic. However, some chairs can be upholstered to provide more comfort.

You can choose from a variety of styles and colors for this type of chair. Folding chairs are a great seating option, but they have very few ergonomic features.

Ideal for: Short-term seating, events and anywhere else that additional seats are required

Stacking Chairs

Knoll Stacking chair

Stacking chairs can be transported and stored in a similar way to folding chairs. The design of this chair allows it to be stacked for storage space. These lightweight chairs are great for social events because they come in many different colors and designs.

Stacking chairs are more aesthetic than folding chairs. Some have ergonomic features such as a curved or flexible backrest and a gentle sloped seat edge. Sometimes, they have narrow armrests.

Short-term seating for events and other situations where temporary seating is needed.

Typical Materials: Plastics, metal, vinyl

Beam Seating

Vitra Beam Chair

Beam seating, also known as tandem seating or beam seating, is a combination of multiple chairs joined by a long bar made from metal for stability. These chairs are a great choice for areas where many people must wait for something. These include waiting rooms, receptions and airports.

Tandem chairs come in a variety of colors and styles and can be ordered in a mix of metal and plastic. Some chairs have armrests, while others have small tables attached to the beam.

Beam seating offers support and comfort. These seats have a high back, a foam cushioned seat and are covered in PU leather or high quality fabric.

Ideal for: Waiting areas, reception areas

Loveseats

Koger Chesterfield Loveseat

Two-person loveseats are couches that can be used in reception and private offices. You can buy them as a set or pair them with another loveseat to save space. You can match the colors of your room with a wide range of designs and colors.

A loveseat’s frame is typically made from metal or wood. Materials such as down, innerspring and high-density foam can be used for the cushion. You have the option of leather, vinyl, or fabric for your upholstery.

A good loveseat should not be too soft, just like sofas. Firm cushioning will support your body better, so it is better to choose firm cushioning. A loveseat made from memory foam will provide optimal support if you are looking for ergonomics.

Ideal for: Private offices, reception areas, lobby and other places where people gather to socialize.

Egg chairs

Fritz Hansen Egg Chair

An egg chair is shaped like an egg, as the name suggests. Arne Jacobsen, a Danish architect, designed the first egg chair in 1958 for the Radisson Collection hotel in Denmark. Its unique appearance is a great fit for formal and casual settings. Many other chairs have been made after it.

The egg chair’s high, curved back provides privacy and nestles the user’s body. Egg chairs are often used in work areas. They have thin armrests and a padded back and seat, as well as a stationary, stable base and a swivel. Hanging egg chairs are also available, and can be found in homes and lounges.

Ideal for:Lounges and living areas.

Common materials: The upholstery can be made from either leather or fabric, depending on whether you want a luxurious look or comfort. Some egg chairs have a hard, fiber-glass exterior.

Choosing the Best Office Chair

There are many office chairs available in today’s modern age. The setting you choose, the amount of time you will be using it and your budget are all factors that influence which one you choose. Are there any other types? Please let us know what you think in the comments section.

Eleena Wills
Hi, I’m Eleena Wills. Being a writer and blogger, I strive to provide informative and valuable articles to people. With quality, constructive, and well-researched articles, one can make informed choices. I cover a wide range of topics, from home improvement to hair styling and automotive.
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