Your office chair is something might use for years, and, in the process, rest your body on it almost as much as your bed. It makes sense to invest in a good one.
These chairs are all in the $1000 range—the headline does say “premium,” after all. But if you have a conventional desk job and a 40-hour work week, you’ll be spending 10,000 hours in your office chair in the next five years. That being the case, it’s worth putting your money into a reliable chair that feels good and helps you avoid repetitive stress and posture issues. If you’re ready to upgrade your chair, we’ve selected the best model for general users, the best for those with back problems (rather endemic for office workers), the best style-conscious pick, and the best for those who need periodic relief with a standing desk.
As much as we recommend the following picks, keep in mind that each user’s body and preferences will vary. That being the case, it would be smart to order from vendors that accept easy returns and keep your packaging intact, in case you just don’t feel your new chair is right for you. And, should you find the premium picks too far out of your budget range but still need a new chair, don’t worry. We’ve rounded up the best budget office chairs too.
The Best Overall Premium Desk Chair: Humanscale Freedom Headrest ($1169+)
This office chair doesn’t look like much at first glance—it doesn’t have the multifaceted glamour of, say, the Herman Miller Aeron. But sit in it and you’ll see that every surface and angle is engineered for maximum support and extended use comfort. The signature feature is a self-adjusting reclining motion that perfectly reacts to your body as you lean back. The armrests and headrest all branch off of the central columns, following this calibrated motion, with the former being specially articulated in this upgrade from the base model.
The arm rests on the Humanscale Freedom are of particular note, with the ability to be either removed completely or adjusted up and down to suit users from five feet tall to six-foot-four. The base model starts at a bit under $1200, with further upgrades available for different seat materials, colors for the textiles and metal elements, rolling base, and even premium stitching.
The Best Premium Office Chair For Back Support: Herman Miller Embody ($1295)
If you suffer from back issues like I do, you want to make sure an investment into a high-end chair supports more than just your butt. The Embody hugs your sacrum, lumbar and back with a dozen auto-adjusting support arms, distributing your weight evenly and stimulating blood circulation as you work.
The “dynamic matrix of pixels” (little flexible arm thingies, not electronic in any way) in the seat and back encourages proper posture even while the user is leaning back. The designers recommend setting the seat low enough to keep your feet flat on the floor at all times for the maximum benefit. The arms can be removed, and casters for standard carpet or harder surfaces are available.
Herman Miller Embody Ergonomic Office Chair | Fully Adjustable Arms and Carpet Casters | Black Rhythm
Best Stylish Premium Office Chair: Haworth Fern ($672)
For those who require trendy looks along with their super-comfy desk chair, the Haworth Fern delivers. Its lattice-like back construction is held together in a simplified central column, which both supports the user and advances a minimalist aesthetic. That’s a hard line to walk: similar offerings from other premium suppliers emphasize form over function, making their best-looking chairs suitable only for short work sessions. But the Fern’s carefully-chosen body still includes all of the features of a standard office chair while breaking down the back support into a single frameless unit covered in pliable fabric.
Users who want their chair to match their office decor will be happy to know that over a dozen different colors are available for the back and seat mesh, with various shades of black and grey applicable to the frame and trim. Models start at “just” $672, but you’ll want upgrades for the arms, extra lumbar support, and/or leather upholstery.
Best Standing Desk Chair: Hag Capisco ($799)
A chair for a standing desk might seem like something of an oxymoron, but if you don’t use a desk with an adjustable height, you’ll want some relief for hours and hours of standing. Most of the heightened options for that are little more than bar stools, omitting any kind of back support to match the ethos of the standing desk.
The Hag Capisco takes things in a different direction, embracing the constant motion of standing desks and encouraging a variety of sitting positions. With the stiff, “horned” back and saddle-style seat, the Capisco allows users to sit backwards (Commander Riker style) or lean to one side or the other while supporting their arms on the horns. Even the base and casters include tiny platforms for your feet to rest against. It’s an impressive innovation for this new niche, and one that’s definitely worth exploring if you prefer to constantly adjust your sitting position while you work. The base model lifts an extra 10.5 inches, putting it well in range of most standing desks.