Best Office Chairs NZ - Ultimate Buyers Guide

When we think of an office chair, the type of chair that usually comes to mind is one that is designed for use at a desk. It will generally be a height adjustable swivel chair, with a ‘5-star base’ and castors, allowing for movement and mobility. 

With so many options to choose from, how do you go about selecting the one that is suitable for you? And what makes one particular chair more suitable or better than another? 

While choosing the right chair might seem like a confusing exercise, it needn’t be. Of course, there will be a number of considerations such as the price, style and comfort. However, it is also important to ensure that the chair that you decide to purchase is ‘fit for purpose’. It should meet your requirements rather than you needing to accommodate for the limitations of your chair. In some cases, it may mean paying a bit extra, however the long-term benefits will likely far outweigh the amount that you ‘save’.

We discuss below, the different options to assist you in selecting the chair that best suits your needs.  

Ergonomic Chairs

ergonomic office chair

Because people come in different shapes and sizes, the office chair that you choose should adjust to allow you to sit in the correct posture, and feel comfortable. 

Ergonomic Chairs should include the following features:

  • A height adjustable seat 
  • Adjustable back height 
  • Adjustable lumbar support
  • Seat and back tilt adjustments
  • A swivel base with castors
  • Other adjustments that may be required are: a seat slide (for taller users), a high back or a chair that has a head rest (for shoulder and head support) and height adjustable arms (to support the forearms).
  1. Seat height

The optimal seat height will allow you to place your feet flat on the floor, with your thighs in a horizontal position. This is particularly important when sitting at a desk with a fixed height. Chairs with a seat height that ranges from 420mm to 515mm (to the top of the seat) will be suitable for most people.

  1. Seat depth and width 

The ideal seat depth should leave between 50 and 100mm between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees. If the seat is too far forward, it may put too much pressure on the underside of your thighs. For taller users, an adjustable seat slide will provide more seat depth.

  1. Seat tilt

A seat tilt adjustment can be a useful feature as it allows for the correct positioning of the pelvis. Anterior pelvic tilt is a posture problem that can often affect those who are seated for extended periods. A seat tilt helps to keep the pelvis in a neutral position when sitting, at the correct angle in relation to the hips.

  1. Backrest Lumbar support

Lumbar support for your lower back is essential and an important feature of an ergonomic chair. Ergonomically designed chairs support the natural ‘S’ shape of the spine, which prevents slumping and reduces stress on the spine and the pelvis. An adjustable lumbar support allows users to align the curve of the back with the curve in their spine, providing support and additional comfort.

  1. Backrest tilt

An adjustable backrest allows the user to recline, enabling them to alter their position during the day. As the backrest is tilted, it reduces some of the weight from the upper body, in turn reducing the pressure on spinal disks and muscles.

  1. Swivel base with castors

A chair with a swivel base assists with manoeuvrability, making it easier to reach different areas of your work surface without having to strain and overstretch. A 360° swivel base is recommended, and if you intend to use your chair on a hard surface, opt for soft wheel castors. If your workplace/home office is carpeted, select hard wheel castors to help you navigate better.

  1. Arms

Height adjustable armrests help to reduce tension in the upper body and allow the shoulders to relax. However, they should not be used if they cause your posture to be compromised, as this could lead to shoulder, arm and wrist strain and injury.

  1. High back/Headrest

A high back chair, or one with an adjustable headrest, provides support to the back of the head and the upper neck. This helps to reduce tension in the shoulders and upper torso.

  1. Upholstery

Chairs are available in a variety of upholstery options. These include a traditional woven fabric, PU (vinyl) and leather. Mesh back chairs provide better ventilation keeping the user cool, comfortable and dry, which can help to minimise muscle fatigue. It is important to ensure that the seat has ample padding and ‘feels’ comfortable.

Home Office Chairs

home office chair

While a dining chair, kitchen stool or even the couch might be fine to work from occasionally, only a height adjustable chair will provide the comfort and the seat and back support that you really need if working from home on a daily basis. Adjustable home office chairs will provide the proper support so that stresses on your body are reduced.

Home Office Chairs should have the following features:

  • seat height adjustability
  • a backrest angle adjustment
  • adequate lumbar support
  • a swivel base with castors

Other features that you may require include a high back for neck

and shoulder support, a seat tilt adjustment and arms.  As far as the style and price are concerned, there are many options available. These include chairs offered with a fabric upholstery, a breathable mesh back and leather/imitation leather.

Often people will opt for the more traditional design (see example) as it has multiple adjustments and provides excellent comfort and support, at a reasonable price-point. 

The important things to keep in mind when purchasing a home office chair are:

  1. The intended use of the chair i.e., aside from being used as a work chair, will it also be used for study and recreation purposes?
  2. Who will be using the chair? If more than one family member, can the chair be adjusted to suit each user?
  3. Aesthetics – while this is a matter of personal taste, you may wish to give consideration to the style and colour. Will it complement your existing décor?
  4. Price – often it is tempting to buy a product based predominantly on the price. If that means compromising on the features and functionality, it is wiser in the long run to pay a bit more to get the chair that suits your requirements. After all, you will be using your chair for many years to come.

Boardroom Chairs

boardroom chair

As the name implies, boardroom chairs are used in boardrooms for the purpose of business meetings. Unlike office task chairs which are designed for everyday use in the workplace, boardroom chairs are used for short periods of time, such as weekly meetings.

For this reason, they do not have ergonomic adjustments to provide all-day support and flexibility and accommodate users of different body shapes and sizes. The lack of adjustments is therefore completely intentional.

Boardroom chairs are usually designed to include the following features:

  • seat height adjustability
  • a high back
  • fixed height lumbar support
  • fixed height arms
  • a tilt and recline adjustment
  • a swivel base on castors
  • an aesthetically pleasing design

Other features that are often available include:

  • A cast aluminium or alloy base (see image). 
  • A variety of styles and upholstery options ranging from breathable mesh backs, fabric upholstery or leather.

While boardroom chairs typically have a high-back, mid-back chairs can be selected as an alternative. Typically, mid back chairs are more commonly used around meeting tables (4-6 people).

Other options for the boardroom include skid base chairs or chairs with a cantilever base. (See examples below under Visitor chairs). While they are unable to swivel, and are not height adjustable, there are 2 reasons why these chairs might be selected for boardroom seating:

  • appearance – some prefer the design
  • the chairs are all at a uniform height whereas height adjustable boardroom chairs may end up being set by various users to different heights. 

Mesh-Back Office Chair

mesh back chair

Mesh-back chairs have gained in popularity in the last decade, particularly with designers who are looking for mesh back chairs that offers both ergonomic features and aesthetic appeal. 

Features for Mesh-Back Office Chairs:

  • Mesh is stretched across the back of a chair frame, with generally a padded fabric covered seat. While mesh-back chairs with a mesh seat are available, they are not often selected for use in a meeting room or boardroom. This is because padded seats tend to provide better comfort, at a more affordable price.
  • Comparable with a typical office chair that is offered with a padded seat and back.
  • ‘Breathability’. Because the back promotes air flow, it can help to keep you cool during the warmer months. 
  • Has a modern design 

So, which chair is better – a mesh-back chair or the more traditional office chair with a padded back and seat? Neither really, as ultimately It comes down to personal preference. Those who prefer the more modern design and the benefit afforded by a mesh back, will gravitate to a mesh-back chair. If, however, the added comfort provided by a padded back is an important factor, then the traditional office task chair is likely to be the better choice.

High-Back Chair vs Mid-Back Chair for Office

high back and mid back chairs

What are the differences between a high-back and a mid-back chair? Aside from how they both compare visually, the main differences relate to the additional back height and support provided by a high-back chair. High-back chairs are offered with either a one piece back, or a headrest that has been affixed to a mid-back chair – which in effect converts it into a high-back chair. 

While many mid back chairs might be ergonomic and provide support for the lower back, they don’t have shoulder and neck support. 

High back chairs on the other hand, are able to provide both shoulder and neck support. 

Is that really important or all that necessary? For some it might be, particularly if someone is tall or they suffer from shoulder and neck strain. High-back chairs are also more suited to users who often wish to recline in their chair, as they provide neck support.

This doesn't necessarily mean that a mid-back chair is inferior. For most users it might meet their requirements and feel about the same in terms of support and comfort. Because mid-back chairs are easier to manoeuvre, they are often preferred as an office chair. They are also offered at a lower price than a high-back chair (if comparing the same model). 

While both high-back and mid-back chairs are often used in the office or at home, midback chairs are generally specified for meeting rooms whereas high-back chairs are mostly used in boardrooms.

Whether you choose a high-back or mid-back chair, it is important to ensure that your chair can be adjusted to meet your specific requirements.

Student Chair

student chair

When we think of a student chair, it could be a classroom chair, or one that is used at home for study purposes. There are many options available and they tend to be fairly basic, low-cost chairs, purchased because the price is ‘attractive’. The downside is that they may not be ergonomic, particularly comfortable, or suitable for the person who is primarily using the chair.

When we consider that adults are usually provided with suitable office chairs in the workplace, that are able to be adjusted correctly, shouldn’t we also ensure that the student chair at home is also suitable?

While a student chair needs to be adjustable, it doesn’t need as many adjustments as an office chair which may be used for 8+ hours each day. It should however, have the following features:

  • A mid back
  • Seat height adjustment
  • Back angle adjustment
  • 5-star base with castors
  • Well- padded seat and back
  • Adjustable back height/lumbar support

A good quality study chair, with the correct adjustability, affords many benefits. Aside from enabling the user to be seated correctly, and at the same time feeling comfortable and well supported, it can help in respect to:

A good quality study chair, with the correct adjustability, affords many benefits. Aside from enabling the user to be seated correctly, and at the same time feeling comfortable and well supported, it can help in respect to:

  • Enabling the user to remain focused and concentrate
  • Support better learning outcomes
  • Averting tiredness
  • Preventing postural issues and strains

As discussed, the benefits gained by selecting a good quality ergonomic study chair far outweigh the ‘cost savings’ of purchasing a low spec, budget chair. 

Because the chair is likely to be used for many years, it needs to be adjustable to accommodate a student as they grow older. The chair is also likely to be used by different family members, so the quality and adjustability of the chair should meet their requirements as well.

Visitor Chairs for Office

visitor chair

A visitor chair, as the name suggests, is principally designed for those who are visiting your office. They are usually situated in a reception/waiting area or in front of a desk. 

There are a number of different styles to choose from; a skid base chair, a cantilever frame chair or a 4-legged chair. They are available with a padded seat and back, although visitor chairs with a padded seat and mesh-back are also quite common. Some are also available with arms. 

What then are the best options and what are the pros and cons of each style?

skid base visitor chair

 

Skid base visitor chair

Pros: A skid base moves more freely on a carpeted floor compared to a chair with 4 legs. The fully welded frame design means that the chair is robust, and in the case of the chair shown, has a 140kg weight rating.  

Cons: Some models aren’t stackable

 

cantilever visitor chair

 

Cantilever visitor chair

Pros: A cantilever frame is able to ‘flex’ which allows the user to rock slightly. Like the skid base version, it moves more freely on a carpeted floor. 

Cons: Not stackable. The frame design means that it generally isn’t quite as strong as a skid base chair, or one with 4 legs.

  

4 leg visitor chair

 

4-leg visitor chair

Pros: 

Often 4-leg chairs are able to be stacked. The frame design means that they are generally quite strong. 

Cons: 

Not as easy to move on a carpeted floor.

Because people come in different sizes and proportions, it is important to take this into account when selecting the appropriate visitor chair. For example, if larger people are likely to be using the chair, choosing one with a stronger frame design would be an important consideration. Because the arms offered with visitor chairs aren’t adjustable, this could also be an impediment for a larger person.

Visitor chairs can also be used in other areas within an office. They include training rooms and meeting rooms.

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