Not all office chairs are created equal. The difference is always in the details. Just because a chair looks sleek and modern and is “certified ergonomic” doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your personal wellness situation. Today we break down the five vital features every office chair shares to ensure your time spent sitting is done in as ergonomic a chair as possible. Understanding your chair and its features will help you operate it correctly and sit comfortably without the pain and strain associated with the wrong chair adjustments.

1. Base

Let’s start from the ground up. Your office chair’s base is the foundation for its stability. Most of today’s popular office chairs feature 5 Star rated bases, capable of providing adequate support for most people. The casters, or wheels, are an important consideration when selecting a new chair, and what type of caster you need all comes down to your office flooring.

There are two styles of casters to know: carpet and hardwood casters. I’ll let you guess which one’s for which floor, but choosing the right caster makes a big difference in the chair’s mobility. Avoid using the plastic carpet-friendly casters on a hardwood floor or tile or else you may experience unsightly marks from the hard casters. Soft rubber and nylon casters, while not industry standard, are the recommended upgrade if your office has a hard flooring surface.   

2. Cylinder

office chairThe cylinder connects the base of your chair to the position control mechanism. Think of the cylinder as the suspension and legs of your chair. High-performance chairs are all outfitted with pneumatic cylinders that directly control chair height. Why is this important? Because sitting at the correct height ensures good stability and blood flow and reduces strain throughout the workday. Be sure to avoid “fixed cylinder” chairs, as they will limit your adjustment capabilities.



3. Mechanism

The mechanism serves as the brain of your office chair because it controls all the adjustments made to the chair. Nearly all chairs on the market claim to be “ergonomically correct” in some way, but it’s important to pay close attention to the type of mechanism a chair has. Strive to find a chair with a multi-functional mechanism. This type can typically be identified by the number of paddles located underneath the seat. The more paddles, the more adjustment capabilities you’ll have.

Key mechanism features include:

  1. Adjustable Height
  2. Tilt Tension Knob
  3. Back Angle Adjustment
  4. Back Height Adjustment
  5. Seat Slider Adjustment

seat slider adjustment

Keep in mind that some of today’s most high-end seating solutions feature enclosed mechanisms that don’t require paddles. This type of chair, known as an “auto responder,” minimizes the ergonomic learning curve by reducing the need to personally adjust features to achieve the perfect sit.

4. Arms

Your everyday chair needs to be equipped with a set of adjustable arms. Fixed arm chairs have become exclusive to conference room environments, as guests in these rooms aren’t typically seated for long periods of time. Your personal office chair’s arms must adjust so that you can type at an ergonomically correct and healthy angle, reducing the risk of carpal tunnel. Height adjustable arms are now the industry standard. If you want to take your ergonomic office chair to the next level, look for chairs with width-adjustable arms and swiveling arm caps. They’re a nice feature to have!

5. Back

The chair back is your best friend. You need to rely on it when working at your desk. Avoid hunching forward to type at all costs. This is a big-time no-no. Your chair back supports the lumbar area, upper back and neck simultaneously to ensure good posture. Utilizing a chair with an adjustable back is just plain smart. This year’s most highly recommend ergonomic chairs boast height-adjustable backs that can also be set to a variety of locked settings to provide support where you need it, when you need it.

Back angle is also important. You need to set your chair to the upright position when computing at your desk. If your back is leaned too far back, you’ll be straining to type. If it’s too far forward, you’ll put added strain on your vertebrae. When computing, a 90-degree back angle is preferred.



If you’re willing to throw the budget out the window in the name of comfort, the Verte is your best bet. This luxurious auto-responding chair for the executive office features 11 torsion spring-loaded joints that take an exact impression of the spine. From the back, this chair even looks like the vertebral column of a spine. Nearly a decade in the making, no stone was left unturned when crafting this elite seating solution.

Buying an office chair is never easy, and the selection is practically limitless, but understanding what components make up your chair is easy. That being said, it all starts with educating yourself on the brands you can trust and their features. I recommend starting with Global, Eurotech and OFM.




About the Author:

Phillip Swindle is a furniture and design specialist with a passion for creating innovative work environments built for productivity and healthy living. Phillip manages e-commerce blogs specializing in home and workplace office furniture, where he regularly posts about office design products and trends.