Why Your Desk Chair Matters and the 7 Best to Boost Your Productivity

You spend eight (let’s face it, 10) hours a day in your office chair. Study after study has shown how the wrong desk chair can negatively impact your productivity and affect your health in myriad ways that are downright scary (remember when we found out sitting too long can kill you?). Sure you can switch to a standing desk, but standing all day long isn’t that good for you either. There needs to be a balance between standing and sitting for maximum productivity and health.

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Why Your Chair Matters

A bad chair doesn’t just lead to a bad back. Sitting in an unsupportive seat can lead to fatigue, musculoskeletal injuries, poor circulation, heart disease, and even depression. According to OSHA, musculoskeletal injuries are the most commonly reported type of work-related incidents. This includes things like carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back injuries, and muscle strains, which can come about from working in an awkward position for hours on end.

Over the years, countless studies have shown the right chair can have a positive impact on your productivity and health. That’s a big deal considering how increasing both can lead to increased income over a lifetime and in turn, higher income has been linked to better health. So in a way, your office chair plays a role in achieving a healthy, prosperous life. Crazy, right? Are you second-guessing that standard-issue seat you’ve been sitting in for years? You should be.

If you’re ready to embrace a new beginning, check out these seven great office and desk chairs to minimize discomfort, maximize productivity, add a dash of style, and make work life just a little bit less damaging to your health. 

Best Office Chairs

Gesture by Steelcase
Gesture by Steelcase

Steelcase is the name in office furnishings. Since 1912, the company has been at the head of the pack in creating innovative and stylish desks, seating, and storage. With the Gesture chair, the folks at Steelcase decided to reinvent the wheel. Rather than starting with the chair, they studied the way people move in this new age of technology. From leaning over your phone to resting your tablet on your knees, to staring at a computer monitor, Gesture is designed to move with you, offering maximum support.

Along with being one of the most supportive chairs on the market, Gesture can be customized to fit any style and decor. Steelcase offers over 500 fabrics in a variety of styles and colors. At a hefty starting price of $1,002, the Gesture is certainly an investment for most. However, it comes with a 12-year warranty and is so durable there’s a good chance this is the last office chair you’ll ever buy.

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Aeron Chair by Herman Miller
Aeron Chair by Herman Miller

You can thank (or blame) Herman Miller for inventing the office cubicle. Since the concept of the ergonomic office first came about, Herman Miller has been creating furnishings that are supportive and stylish. Their signature Mid-Century Modern aesthetic combines with high performance in the Aeron Chair. First launched over twenty years ago, the Aeron Chair started with the iconic shape of the Eames molded chairs and added adjustability and mobility to create the ideal office chair.

Available in three sizes, the Aeron Chair has options for adjustable arms, lumbar support, casters for easy rolling, and a cooling mesh fabric. For those fellas out there that run hot, you know a mesh fabric office chair is a must. Color options are limited but the Mineral fabric with Polished Aluminum finish is sleek and futuristic, ensuring this chair stays in fashion for the life of its 12-year warranty.  

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Capisco by HAG
Capisco by HAG

Capisco takes some getting used to. Available from Fully, the company known for the Jarvis standing desk, Capisco may look odd but it is designed to be the ideal chair for those who like to sit in untraditional ways. If you are a balancer resting on the edge of the chair at your standing desk, or a meditator sitting cross-legged, Capisco can accommodate you. Ideal for anyone of any size, it comes in three heights along with optional foot rests. Colors and fabrics are also customizable. But that’s not all there is to love about this ultra comfy seat. Fully believes in being eco-friendly so Capisco is made from 50% recycled materials and is 90% recyclable.

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Diffrient Smart by Humanscale
Diffrient Smart by Humanscale

When searching for a new office chair, look no further than the father of ergonomic seating, Niels Diffrient. One of the most awarded designers of ergonomic seating, Diffrient became famous for the designs he created in collaboration with Humanscale. His final design, the Diffrient Smart combines innovative technology with high style for the ideal office chair. Fully customizable down to the type of stitching, the Diffrient Smart features a Form-Sensing Mesh back and mechanism-free reclining.

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ReGeneration by Knoll
ReGeneration by Knoll

When Knoll teamed up with Formway Design to create their Generation line of office chairs, they had nearly perfected the ergonomic work seat. One of the first chairs to address the fact that we sit in a variety of positions throughout the day, Generation was built to move with you, providing constant back support. But Knoll didn’t think that was good enough and Formway Design went back to the drawing board to further enhance their design. The result is the Regeneration.

Regeneration features a taller back with a contour that more closely resembles the S-shape of the spine. The elastomer mesh backing has built-in lumbar support. The chair allows for 270 degrees of sitting, supporting you whether you lean back or forward. The arm supports are set back allowing you a wider range of leg positions (go ahead and manspread — it’s your chair and you can do what you want). Regeneration comes with Knoll’s 12-year warranty and a stylish array of colors to choose from.

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Sayl by Herman Miller
Sayl by Herman Miller

Herman Miller makes the list twice because, frankly, the Sayl chair is just so damn stylish. But don’t worry, it still offers great ergonomic support and at a much better price than the Aeron. The backing is made from elastomer strands and is unframed, allowing you to stretch back and move around while still getting the full support your back needs. The construction of Sayl allows you to maintain a healthy posture, supporting the natural S-shape of your spine which helps prevent fatigue. The chair was also designed using minimal materials and is nearly entirely recyclable, meaning it isn’t just stylish and supportive, it’s also eco-friendly. Not bad for less than $500.

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MARKUS Swivel Chair by Ikea
MARKUS Swivel Chair by Ikea

This may be the budget chair on the list (at just under $300), but it still gets the job done. Markus features adjustable height and tilt, built-in lumbar support, and the mesh fabric back that keeps you cool throughout the day. It comes with a 10-year warranty and has been subjected to rigorous testing to ensure it is long lasting while remaining comfortable. Available in two color options, the Markus has a stylish, extra high back that will have you feeling like you are sitting in the captain’s chair on the Starship Enterprise.

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Once you’ve settled on the right office chair for you, be sure your workspace is fully ergonomic with this handy guide from the Mayo Clinic. Body ergonomics, how you move and use your body, are also key to overall health and productivity. For information on how to identify and improve bad habits, check out the Alexander Technique – regarded as the leading method for understanding healthy body movements. Finally, check out a few workouts you can do directly at your desk to stretch yourself out and start fresh after a break. 

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