The best office chairs of 2021


When you’re working from house, one key improve you need to make is swapping out that eating room chair for an precise desk chair that gained’t lead to lower back pain.

In an effort to find which workplace chairs are literally comfy, we spent greater than a month testing 12 completely different choices various in value, perform and elegance. We in contrast necessary options like ergonomic design, again and lumbar help and tilt mechanisms — and dug into whether or not costlier choices are actually price the additional cash. In the long run, two chairs sat comfortably on the high of our record:

Finest workplace chair general

The Steelcase Collection 1 stood out as one of the crucial customizable, high-quality, comfy workplace chairs in the marketplace, beating out chairs double the worth — making it one of the best bang for the buck.

Finest funds purchase

The Alera Elusion Collection Multifunction Chair emerged as our greatest funds choose, standing as much as (and in some circumstances far surpassing) workplace chairs that retail for greater than 5 occasions its value level, significantly within the consolation and adjustability classes.

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

Hayley Saltzman/CNN

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

On its website, Steelcase provides a great deal of details about what makes a top quality workplace chair. The fundamentals: It ought to “flex with you — serving to you alter postures when 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 along with your display screen when you recline. After spending 9 workdays testing three completely different Steelcase fashions, we really feel secure in saying Steelcase is aware of what it’s speaking about.

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

At first look, the mesh chair’s aesthetic is unassuming, with easy, clear strains 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 Collection 1 to be one of many better-looking workplace chairs in our pool.

However relating to chairs, it’s extra necessary that they’re straightforward in your again than in your eyes. We’re joyful to report that with the Collection 1, Steelcase marries perform to that stunning type. After three days of sitting within the chair, we felt the seat had the proper stability of cushiness and firmness (additional long-term testing over the previous yr additional helps this). 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 Expertise,” won’t look as structured as a number of the closely padded backrests in the marketplace, nevertheless it 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 can help you customise it to suit your particular physique. That is the place the Collection 1 actually shines. Whereas a number of the different workplace chairs we examined merely provide adjustable seat heights and backrest angles, almost each facet of the Collection 1 could be adjusted. And as an added bonus, it’s really straightforward to make every adjustment with minimal steerage: Whereas a number of different adjustable fashions require diagrams, movies and guides for correct setup, the Collection 1 typically strikes and conforms with the physique in a really intuitive means.

The arm peak adjusts inside a 5-inch vary to assist relieve higher again and shoulder fatigue; the arm width adjusts 4 inches general; 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 2.25-inch vary to accommodate completely different leg lengths; lumbar peak adjusts over 2.25 inches; the arm caps pivot independently 40 levels inward and 40 levels outward relying in your desire; and the seat peak adjusts inside a 5-inch vary. If that record doesn’t imply a lot to you, right here’s the underside line: This chair is extraordinarily adaptable.

This ergonomic workplace chair is lower than half the worth of a number of others we examined, but supplies extra consolation and suppleness than simply about each chair we examined at any value level, making it a transparent winner in an costly market.

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

Hayley Saltzman/CNN

PHOTO: Hayley Saltzman/CNN

The Steelcase Collection 1 would possibly present one of the best bang on your buck, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a reasonably hefty buy at round $400. Whereas nearly all of chairs beneath $200 we examined have been extra akin to a stack of cinder blocks than a high-end workplace chair, the Alera Elusion Collection Mesh Multifunction Chair provides excellent consolation and adjustability (it ranked third in that mixed class, bested solely by our greatest general workplace chair and the Steelcase Leap Chair) with a really affordable price ticket.

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

Whereas a number of the changes on this chair are simpler to make than others (although none of them work as seamlessly as with the Collection 1), the Elusion does provide the entire 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 straightforward to regulate because the Steelcase armrests. To regulate the armrest width on the Elusion, it’s important to attain under the seat and switch a knob till you attain your required place. The buttons for armrest peak 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 drive, it’s easy sufficient to maneuver them. Whereas the Elusion wasn’t probably the most adjustable product we tried (significantly 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 a number of the a lot pricier rivals.

One of many least fascinating facets 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 absolutely assembled, you do must commit a little bit of elbow grease to avoid wasting cash with the Elusion. The directions have been extremely obscure and we wasted period of time making an attempt to connect the armrests. However provided that the meeting is only a one-time inconvenience that ends in a really comfy chair, it was not a deal-breaker, particularly at this engaging value level.

Whereas the Alera Elusion clearly has some limitations to its stage of adjustability (most notably within the armrest angle and backrest peak classes), its general consolation stage makes it among the finest choices for its price ticket, even after making an allowance for the considerably prolonged meeting course of.

The testing course of for these workplace chairs lasted almost 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 absolutely constructed, we reviewed the entire adjustment supplies included and adjusted the chair to the correct specs as a lot as doable.

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 circumstances day-after-day. We fastidiously famous how every chair carried out in numerous positions accommodating varied duties all through the workday (typing, writing, telephone 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 primarily based on what could be crucial to the consumer: consolation and adjustability, construct and size of the guarantee.

To find out probably the most correct general scores for every of those three bigger classes, we broke the testing into 10 subcategories:

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 be aware 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 fifteen, then averaged these numbers to get an general adjustability rating. We analyzed adjustability on a scale of 1 to fifteen for every of the next workplace chair options: Seat peak, seat angle, seat depth, armrest peak, armrest width, armrest angle, backrest angle, backrest peak
  • Again and lumbar help: We famous the extent of lumbar help every chair offered (if any) upon first sitting within the chair. We additionally analyzed the extent of again help every chair offered, paying particular consideration to how supportive the backrest felt in a spread of angles and chair positions. Like the opposite assessments, 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 embody a recline perform, we ensured that every chair was adjusted to its loosest or best recline setting, then famous how straightforward 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 be aware 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 may disintegrate?). We additionally made a be aware of those particulars after three days of sitting in every chair.
  • General aesthetic: We assessed every chair’s general look in contrast with the opposite chairs in the marketplace and in our testing pool. We additionally made a be aware 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.

Department Ergonomic Chair ($299, initially $349;

This is likely one of the most inexpensive chairs we examined. Its largest attributes, particularly at its value level, are its easy aesthetic, its glorious 10-year guarantee and its ease of meeting. The Department chair can be comparatively adjustable — providing easy-to-adjust armrests, seat depth and lumbar help. Regardless of these positives, the Ergonomic Chair in the end didn’t outperform the Alera chair or the Steelcase Collection 1 chair in the important thing class of consolation.

The Ergonomic chair’s mesh again and armrests are comfy sufficient, and its seat, whereas much less soft than the Alera Elusion, is satisfactory. The lumbar help, nonetheless, proved to be so uncomfortable that our tester was wanting ahead to the tip of the take a look at interval. Regardless of adjusting the lumbar help to its lowest and highest heights, after which in the end consulting with certainly one of Department’s ergonomic consultants (which the model provides free to each buyer), we couldn’t discover a peak that offered help with out inflicting intense stress on the decrease again. One tester, who’s simply over 5-foot-2, was on the decrease finish of the beneficial peak necessities for this chair; one other, who’s 5-foot-5, by no means skilled lumbar discomfort whereas utilizing the product. For shorter shoppers, this chair isn’t prone to be your favourite. For others, it’s doubtless an honest possibility in the event you’re in search of one thing a little bit prettier than the Alera Elusion and extra inexpensive than the Steelcase Collection 1.

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 dearth of adjustability was a serious subject. 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 principle downsides right here have been the steep price ticket and relative lack of adjustability.

Hon Ignition 2.0 Chair ($313.86;

Whereas this chair acquired a comparatively excessive rating for adjustability, it lacked enough lumbar help and had an uncomfortable backrest. Though the backrest angle is adjustable, it was certainly one of our lower-scoring chairs by way of ease of recline. When you like to have the ability to comfortably shift backwards and forwards between sitting upright and leaning again, this won’t be one of the best chair for you.

Steelcase Gesture Chair ($1,003.83;

Steelcase chairs have been a few of our favourite merchandise we examined. The Steelcase Gesture acquired an ideal rating by way of construct, ease of meeting, and high quality of supplies. Its lifetime guarantee additionally gave it excessive marks, nevertheless it merely wasn’t as comfy as the opposite Steelcase chairs we examined. When you like a really structured, supportive backrest, this may be possibility for you. When you favor a extra versatile, mesh again (and a lower cost tag), go together with the Steelcase Collection 1.

Steelcase Leap Chair ($921.42;

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 costing greater than twice as a lot because the Collection 1, the one areas the place the Leap Chair beat it have been in backrest and armrest consolation. In the end, product worth is a key consider our product advice course of, and the Leap’s a lot greater price ticket saved it from being our primary choose.

AmazonBasics Excessive-Again, Leather-based Government Chair (not out there)

The very best factor we are able to say about this chair is that it has very comfy armrests. That apart, the dearth 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 by way of 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 attributable to consumer error throughout setup, nothing like this occurred with every other chair we assembled, so poor high quality and meeting directions are at the very least partly in charge.

Humanscale Freedom Chair ($999.20, 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 peak have been extra adjustable than most of the merchandise we tried. Sadly, the truth that the armrest width and angle didn’t regulate as a lot as we’d have favored made this chair comparatively uncomfortable after three days. The default width for the armrests was far too extensive for our private consolation stage, even at its most slim place. When you don’t thoughts wide-set armrests and also you’re in search of a chair with a top quality construct, this can be a stable possibility.

Humanscale Diffrient World Activity Chair ($623.20, initially $898;

This was one other high-scoring chair. The mesh moved with us very simply, and general 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 offered distinctive lumbar help. 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 peak are each adjustable, which is a plus, however the armrests can solely be adjusted up or down. When you assume you’ll want to regulate the width and/or angle of the armrests in your chair, you would possibly need to go for a Steelcase product as an alternative. In the end, regardless of its excessive rating, the Diffrient World Activity Chair didn’t safe a high spot on our record, primarily due to the armrest subject and the truth that this chair usually prices virtually twice as a lot because the Collection 1.

Sihoo Workplace Chair ($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 must 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 the entire principal methods you’d count on it to, however the armrests are wide-set and include unusual divots, making them a number of the least comfy ones we tried.

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

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