Greatest workplace chairs 2021: Tried and examined

(CNN) —  

It’s turning into more and more clear that remote work could become the new normal, so when you haven’t already, now is an efficient time to contemplate upgrading your home office. Whether or not you’re attempting to punch up an present setup or make a short lived state of affairs really feel extra everlasting, one key improve it’s best to make is swapping out that eating room chair for an precise workplace chair that received’t wreak havoc on your back.

In an effort to find which workplace chairs are literally comfy, we spent greater than a month testing 11 completely different choices various in worth, perform and magnificence. We in contrast necessary options, like again and lumbar assist, and dug into whether or not costlier choices are actually price the additional cash. In the long run, two chairs sat comfortably on the prime for us:

The Steelcase Series 1 scored among the many highest total, standing out as one of the crucial customizable, high-quality, comfy workplace chairs available on the market. At $415 (now right down to $319.99 for Black Friday, the Steelcase Sequence 1 beat out most of its pricier rivals throughout testing classes, scoring lower than a single level decrease than our highest-rated chair, the $1,036 Steelcase Leap, simply making it one of the best bang for the buck and a transparent winner for our greatest workplace chair total.

The Alera Elusion Series Multifunction Chair, priced at $174, emerged as our greatest price range decide, standing as much as (and in some instances far surpassing) workplace chairs that retail for greater than 5 occasions its worth level, notably within the consolation and adjustability classes.

Greatest total workplace chair: Steelcase Sequence 1 (beginning at $352.99;

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

On its website, Steelcase proffers a great deal of details about what makes a top quality workplace chair. The fundamentals: It ought to “flex with you — serving to you modify postures whilst you sit; match the pure contour of your again; transfer as you do,” whereas additionally permitting your arms to remain straight in your desk and your eyes stage together with your display whilst you recline. After spending 9 workdays testing three completely different Steelcase fashions, we really feel protected in saying Steelcase is aware of what it’s speaking about.

Whereas all three of the Steelcase chairs acquired excessive scores in our testing pool, the Sequence 1, Steelcase’s most inexpensive choice, blends distinctive consolation and worth higher than any chair we examined.

At first look, the chair’s aesthetic is unassuming, with easy, clear traces and a compact measurement. Compared with the opposite merchandise we examined, which generally had sharp angles, oddly elongated backrests and unnecessarily giant armrests, we discovered the Sequence 1 to be one of many better-looking workplace chairs in our pool.

However when speaking about chairs, it’s extra necessary that they’re simple in your again than in your eyes. We’re pleased to report that with the Sequence 1, Steelcase marries perform to that lovely type. After three days of sitting within the chair, we felt the seat had the right stability of cushiness and firmness. Whereas we have been initially involved that the thick, plastic lumbar adjustment would really feel stiff, it wasn’t a problem. The mesh backrest was each versatile and supportive all through the testing interval. The backrest, which has what Steelcase refers to as “Built-in Liveback Know-how,” may not look as structured as among the closely padded backrests available on the market, but it surely outperformed the cushioned backrests as a result of it strikes with you as you’re employed and shift positions.

As we realized all through the chair testing course of, backrest and seat consolation are negligible if a chair doesn’t will let you customise it to suit your particular physique. That is the place the Sequence 1 actually shines. Whereas among the different workplace chairs we examined merely provide adjustable seat heights and backrest angles, practically each facet of the Sequence 1 may be adjusted. And as an added bonus, it’s really simple to make every adjustment with minimal steering: Whereas a number of different adjustable fashions require diagrams, movies and guides for correct setup, the Sequence 1 typically strikes and conforms with the physique in a really intuitive approach.

The arm top adjusts inside a 5-inch vary to assist relieve higher again and shoulder fatigue; the arm width adjusts four inches total; arm depth can retract 2 inches to permit the consumer to get nearer to the work floor and into tight corners; seat depth adjusts inside a two-and-a-quarter-inch vary to accommodate completely different leg lengths; lumbar top adjusts over two and 1 / 4 inches; the arm caps pivot independently 40 levels inward and 40 levels outward relying in your choice; and the seat top adjusts inside a 5-inch vary. If that checklist doesn’t imply a lot to you, right here’s the underside line: This chair is extraordinarily adaptable.

At $415, this chair is lower than half the worth of a number of others we examined, but gives extra consolation and suppleness than simply about each chair we examined at any worth level, making it a transparent winner in an costly market.

Greatest price range purchase: Alera Elusion Sequence Mesh Multifunction Chair ($176.13; or $147.99, initially $179.99;

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

The $415 Steelcase Sequence 1 may present one of the best bang to your buck, but it surely’s nonetheless a reasonably hefty $415 buy. Whereas the vast majority of sub-$300 chairs we examined have been extra akin to a stack of cinder blocks than high-end workplace chairs, the Alera Elusion Sequence Mesh Multifunction Chair flaunts very good consolation and adjustability (it ranked third in that mixed class, bested solely by our greatest total and the Steelcase Leap Chair) with a really affordable $147.99 price ticket.

The Elusion was one of many comfiest chairs we examined. Its thick, cushioned seat stood as much as costlier chairs, and the breathable mesh again was certainly one of its finest options.

Whereas among the changes on this chair are simpler to make than others (although none of them as seamlessly as with the Sequence 1), the Elusion does provide all the customizations you want in a chair. All through the testing course of, it turned clear that height- and width-adjustable arms are key, and that is one other space the place the Elusion succeeded. Whereas the Elusion’s armrests are very adjustable, they’re not as simple to regulate because the Steelcase armrests. To regulate the armrest width on the Elusion, it’s important to attain beneath the seat and switch a knob till you attain your required place. The buttons for armrest top additionally really feel a bit stiffer and tougher to regulate than the mechanisms on any of the Steelcase chairs, however with a little bit of power, it’s easy sufficient to maneuver them. Whereas the Elusion wasn’t essentially the most adjustable product we tried (notably with regard to armrest angle, which was not adjustable), each the peak and the width of the armrests have been in the end extra adjustable than the armrests on among the a lot pricier rivals.

One of many least fascinating points of this chair is its meeting course of. Of all of the chairs we needed to assemble, the Elusion took the longest: a cumbersome 43 minutes (after unboxing) to get the chair arrange, not together with changes. Given the variety of chairs that arrive totally assembled, you do should commit a little bit of elbow grease to avoid wasting cash with the Elusion. The directions have been extremely imprecise and we wasted an excellent period of time attempting to connect the armrests. However provided that the meeting is only a one-time inconvenience that leads to a really comfy chair, it was not a dealbreaker, particularly at this enticing worth level

Whereas the Alera Elusion clearly has some limitations to its stage of adjustability (most notably within the armrest angle and backrest top classes), its total consolation stage makes it the most effective choices for its price ticket, even after bearing in mind the considerably prolonged meeting course of.

The testing course of for these workplace chairs lasted practically two months. We unboxed and assembled every chair, paying particular consideration to the period of time every unboxing and constructing course of took. For the chairs that required meeting, we logged the period of time it took to place every chair collectively. As soon as every chair was totally constructed, we reviewed all the adjustment supplies included and adjusted the chair to the right specs as a lot as attainable.

As soon as the chairs have been correctly assembled and adjusted, we sat in every chair for 3 consecutive 9-hour workdays in the very same workplace setup and situations each day. We rigorously famous how every chair carried out in numerous positions accommodating varied duties all through the workday (typing, writing, cellphone calls and video conferences). We additionally logged the general consolation stage after a number of days of sitting and dealing in every chair. General, we evaluated based mostly on what can be crucial to the consumer: consolation and adjustability, construct and size of the guarantee.

To find out essentially the most correct total scores for every of those three bigger classes, we broke the testing into 10 sub-categories:

Consolation and Adjustability

  • Seat consolation: We famous how the seat felt upon first sitting down, after which re-evaluated on the finish of the three-day mark.
  • Backrest consolation: We famous how the backrest felt upon first sitting down, after which re-evaluated on the finish of the three-day mark.
  • Armrest consolation: We famous how the armrests felt upon first sitting in every chair, after which re-evaluated on the finish of the three-day mark.
  • Adjustability: To judge every chair’s adjustability, we made a notice of the varied options on every chair that may very well be adjusted, ranked particular person adjustability of every characteristic on a scale of 1 to 15, then averaged these numbers to get an total adjustability rating. We analyzed adjustability on a scale of 1 to 15 for every of the next workplace chair options: Seat top, seat angle, seat depth, armrest top, armrest width, armrest angle, backrest angle, backrest top
  • Again and lumbar assist: We famous the extent of lumbar assist every chair supplied (if any) upon first sitting within the chair. We additionally analyzed the extent of again assist every chair supplied, paying particular consideration to how supportive the backrest felt in a variety of angles and chair positions. Like the opposite exams, we then re-evaluated on the finish of the three-day mark to find out a remaining rating.
  • Ease of reclining: First, we famous whether or not every chair permits the consumer to recline. Then, for the chairs that did embrace a recline perform, we ensured that every chair was adjusted to its loosest or best recline setting, then famous how simple it was to recline the chair whereas sitting in a standard place.


  • Ease of meeting: For the chairs that required some stage of meeting upon supply, we recorded the period of time it took to unbox and assemble the chair, from begin to end (not together with time spent correctly adjusting the chair).
  • High quality of chair supplies: We made a notice of our first impression of the material, armrest supplies and finishes on every chair. We paid particular consideration to how sturdy every chair appeared upon first impression (i.e. did it squeak or appear as if it might disintegrate?). We additionally made a notice of those particulars after three days of sitting in every chair.
  • General aesthetic: We assessed every chair’s total look in contrast with the opposite chairs available on the market and in our testing pool. We additionally made a notice of the number of coloration choices for upholstery, metals, plastics and different supplies used to make every chair.


  • Does it have a guaranty? We rated the size and protection of the guarantee for every chair.

We decided a most variety of factors every product might get for each class and subcategory take a look at listed above, together with a better variety of total factors for the options we recognized as being most necessary to the general workplace chair consumer expertise.

Consolation and adjustability had a most of 80 factors.

  • Consolation and assist had a most of 65 factors: seat consolation (15 factors), backrest consolation (15 factors), armrest consolation (15 factors), again and lumbar assist (15 factors) and ease of reclining (5 factors).
  • Adjustability had a most of 15 factors, taken by giving eight particular person adjustability exams a rating of 1-15 factors after which figuring out their total adjustability rating common: seat top adjustability (1-15), seat angle adjustability (1-15), seat depth adjustability (1-15), armrest top adjustability (1-15), armrest width adjustability (1-15), armrest angle adjustability (1-15), backrest angle adjustability (1-15) and backrest top adjustability (1-15).
  • Construct had a most of 15 factors: Ease of meeting (5 factors), high quality of chair supplies (5 factors) and total chair aesthetic (5 factors).
  • Guarantee had a most of 5 factors: 5-plus years (5 factors), three to 5 years (2 factors), zero to 2 years (zero factors).

Ikea Markus Chair ($229;

Whereas this was one of the crucial inexpensive chairs in our testing pool, it was additionally one of many least comfy chairs we tried. It’s nonetheless higher than a eating room chair, however its thinly cushioned seat was uncomfortable after two days, the armrests have been extremely skinny and rubbery, and the shortage of adjustability was a significant challenge. Moreover, we discovered the backrest to be unnecessarily tall, and given the chair’s lack of adjustability, it simply didn’t really feel like a match.

Herman Miller Aeron Chair ($1,395;

This was one of the crucial aesthetically pleasing chairs we tried, and it acquired a excessive rating for consolation and construct throughout the board. The primary downsides right here have been the steep price ticket and relative lack of adjustability.

Hon Ignition Chair ($309;

Whereas this chair acquired a comparatively excessive rating for adjustability, it lacked ample lumbar assist and had an uncomfortable backrest. Though the backrest angle is adjustable, it was certainly one of our lower-scoring chairs when it comes to ease of recline. Should you like to have the ability to comfortably shift forwards and backwards between sitting upright and leaning again, this may not be one of the best chair for you.

Steelcase Gesture Chair ($970.38, initially $1,036;

Steelcase chairs have been a few of our favourite merchandise we examined. The Steelcase Gesture acquired an ideal rating when it comes to construct, ease of meeting, and high quality of supplies. Its lifetime guarantee additionally gave it excessive marks, nonetheless, it merely wasn’t as comfy as the opposite Steelcase chairs we examined. Should you like a really structured, supportive backrest, this is perhaps an excellent choice for you. Should you favor a extra versatile, mesh again (and a lower cost tag), go along with the Steelcase Sequence 1.

Steelcase Leap Chair ($823.15, initially $978;

As beforehand talked about, this Steelcase chair was really the highest-rated chair in our testing pool, and it remained exceptionally comfy even after three days of use. However, regardless of it being greater than twice the worth because the Sequence 1, the one areas the Leap Chair beat it was in backrest and armrest consolation. Finally, product worth is a key think about our product advice course of, and the Leap’s a lot increased price ticket saved it from being our primary decide.

AmazonBasics Excessive-Again, Leather-based Government Chair (beginning at $135.39;

The perfect factor we will say about this chair is that it has very comfy armrests. That apart, the shortage of adjustability for the armrests (and for nearly each different facet of the chair) made it certainly one of our least favourite merchandise. This chair additionally acquired low marks when it comes to construct — it began squeaking on day one, and after three days of use, a number of of the screws fell out of the chair. Even when we concede this may very well be on account of consumer error throughout setup, nothing like this occurred some other chair we assembled, so poor high quality and meeting directions are at the least partly accountable.

Humanscale Freedom Chair ($935.20, initially $1,549 ;

This chair felt comfy and cushioned with out counting on thick, heavy padding. The general aesthetic is spectacular, plus the seat depth and backrest top have been extra adjustable than lots of the merchandise we tried. Sadly, the truth that the armrest width and angle didn’t alter as a lot as we’d have appreciated made this chair comparatively uncomfortable after three days. The default width for the armrests was far too large for our private consolation stage, even at its most slim place. Should you don’t thoughts wide-set armrests and also you’re searching for a chair with a top quality construct, this can be a strong choice.

Humanscale Diffrient World Activity Chair ($583.20, initially $898;

This was one other high-scoring chair. The mesh moved with us very simply, and total it felt extremely supportive but mild. This chair acquired an ideal rating for seat consolation and backrest consolation, and we have been impressed to notice that its “tri-panel backrest” additionally supplied distinctive lumbar assist. Its ease of recline was additionally seamless — permitting for a supportive backrest irrespective of how a lot you select to lean again. The seat depth and backrest top are each adjustable, which is a plus, however the armrests can solely be adjusted up or down. Should you assume you’ll want to regulate the width and/or angle of the armrests in your chair, you may wish to go for a Steelcase product as an alternative. Finally, regardless of its excessive rating, the armrest challenge, mixed with the truth that this chair usually prices nearly twice as a lot because the Sequence 1, have been the 2 major causes the Diffrient World Activity Chair didn’t safe a prime spot on our checklist.

Sihoo Workplace Chair ($209.99, initially $239.99;

For nearly each testing class, our notes on this chair contained some model of “not nice, however not terrible.” General, that’s how we’d should summarize this chair, too. This chair acquired very low marks for its one-year guarantee, and common scores for construct, consolation and adjustability. The seat and backrest are fairly comfy and the chair adjusts in all the major methods you’d anticipate it too, however the armrests are wide-set and include unusual divots, making them among the least comfy ones we tried.

Notice: The costs above replicate the retailer’s listed worth on the time of publication.

Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

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