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Do You Need a Premium Chair for Your Home Office?

A woman sitting in an office chair with her feet up on the desk as she looks at an iPad.
Flamingo Images/Shutterstock

If you spend eight or more hours a day working from home, you might be wondering if a high-end office chair is a worthwhile splurge. They can cost hundreds of dollars or more, so are the benefits worth the money?

When it comes to big-ticket items, like a fancy chair, you’ll likely want to weigh the pros and cons before you buy. Let’s take a look at why those fancy office chairs cost so much, and whether they’re ever worth the investment.

Why Are Office Chairs So Expensive?

That old saying “you get what you pay for” doesn’t apply to everything. In some ways, though, it can apply to office chairs.

The high-end models aren’t just designed to be comfortable and supportive—they’re also meant to last a long time. The idea is you buy one chair that’ll last for decades.

These chairs often have impressive warranties, too. This means you can have them repaired at no cost for years. Even after the warranty expires, you can still get one of these chairs repaired, rather than buying a new one. What does that look like in practice when you’re dealing with really premium chairs? When the pneumatic lift tube on his Steelcase Leaf chair failed after 16 years our Editor in Chief Jason, Steelcase didn’t just offer to send him a free replacement lift tube but a repair specialist to install it on site.

A premium office chair is like a high-end handbag: the price might be shocking, but it’s designed to be repaired and kept, not replaced.

These chairs are typically made of high-quality fabrics and parts, so they’ll continue to look and function nicely long-term. Also, since they’re meant to be repaired, it’s usually easy to find replacement parts.

Most importantly, though, these chairs are designed to offer as much comfort and back support as possible. They usually have many adjustable parts so you can change things, like the height of the armrests, to better suit your body.

Of course, office chairs aren’t priced solely on value. The same as with all premium products, you’re paying for the brand name, as well. A nice office chair can also be a status symbol that makes your home office look more upscale. Chair companies know this and charge you more for the privilege.

Are Premium Chairs Worth the Money?

High-end office chairs aren’t a must-have for every home office. Below are some things to consider that should help you decide if this splurge is right for you.

How Many Hours Will You Sit in It?

If you work from home nine hours a day, five days a week, that premium chair is probably worth it. But what if you only work from home three hours a day, a few days each week? In that case, it might not be worthwhile.

If you plan to return to working in coffee shops or a coworking space as soon as possible, it might not be viable either.

One way to decide is to calculate how many hours you’ll spend in the chair for the foreseeable future. It’s easier to justify the high cost of a premium chair if you know, realistically, how much use you’ll get out of it.

If you spread this amount over a period of years, that chair’s price might end up being just a few cents per day.

What’s Your Budget?

Naturally, if you have a tight budget for your home office, a premium chair might not be a priority. While they’re nice to have, many smaller office upgrades can make a big difference in your work-from-home comfort, too.

No matter how many people swear by their fancy office chairs, it’s probably not worth going into debt or straining your monthly budget over.

Are You Comfortable with Reselling?

Another nice thing about premium office chairs is they often retain a good resale value. You’ll likely be able to get at least some of your money back whenever you’re ready to replace it, or when you’re no longer working from home.

However, if you’re not savvy with sites like Craigslist or eBay, you might have a harder time selling that used chair for a reasonable price. If there’s any chance you’ll want to sell your chair in the future, think about how comfortable you are with the reselling process.

Are You Experiencing Discomfort or Pain?

A woman sitting at a desk, rubbing her lower back.
suriya yapin/Shutterstock

If you have back pain or other discomforts whenever you sit in your current office chair, this could be a sign you need a better one. Upscale-office-chair companies make impressive claims about their products’ abilities to reduce pressure and conform to your body.

However, many customers say these are true. You can adjust nearly every part of a high-end chair for a perfect fit. Some people have even found that a nicer chair allowed them to work longer hours, or perform better at work because they weren’t distracted by discomfort.

If your chair is so uncomfortable it’s distracting you from your work, it might be time for an upgrade. Of course, that might not be the only solution. If you’re having pain or discomfort, you should see your doctor before deciding if a new chair is worth a shot.

How Many People Will Use It?

After you adjust every dial on an upscale office chair to perfectly fit your body, it’s no longer a good fit for anyone else.

Adjusting every piece of a chair for every person who sits on it is impractical and annoying. If multiple people will be sitting on it, a premium chair might not be a wise purchase.

Are You Trying to Reduce Waste?

An office chair that lasts well over 10 years will reduce the number of chairs you buy during your career.

Of course, there are many ways to reduce waste besides buying fewer office chairs. But if you’re trying to minimize waste, this could be another plus for you.

How Much Do You Care About Appearances?

Despite all their ergonomic features, premium chairs often cost so much because they’re essentially home-office art. The most expensive models boast unique designs that make a statement and can’t be copied.

If you’re really invested in the look of your home office, a chair that’s a functional piece of art might be just what you want. Perhaps you want clients to see it during video calls, or maybe having it will make you feel better while working.

If you’re not that into furniture design, though, paying a premium for the sake of appearance probably doesn’t make much sense.

Inexpensive Alternatives

Premium office chairs can look and feel really good. Still, you’re paying a high price for comfort, a name brand, and style. If you’re not willing to pay big bucks for a chair, below are some less-expensive ways to upgrade the seating in your home office.

Shop Secondhand

As we mentioned above, premium chairs are often resold, so shopping for one secondhand is a viable option. However, keep in mind that people often sell knockoffs of name-brand chairs.

Choose your seller carefully to avoid getting duped. Failed startups that have to sell their office furniture can sometimes be a good source for a lightly used chair.

Keep in mind that the parts on premium office chairs are intended for long service and can usually be replaced. Don’t pass up a deal on a chair that costs $1,000 brand-new because it needs a $100 upholstery panel. After you buy it, you can order the replacement part.

Try a Standing Desk

No matter how good your office chair is, sitting all day isn’t good for you. Research suggests that standing desks are better for your health, and especially for back problems. An adjustable desk that allows both sitting and standing might be what you need instead of a fancy chair.

If you can’t afford an adjustable desk, try to find a workspace in your home that will allow for both sitting and standing, like a barstool at a counter.

Practice Good Posture

Expensive office chairs are meant to encourage good posture, but they aren’t a requirement. You can have good posture in any type of chair!

Maintaining good posture takes some practice, so familiarize yourself with it, and then make it a habit. You can even set “posture reminders” on your phone to periodically check how you’re sitting.

Doing some simple yoga poses can help. Some people have also found that a lumbar roll has improved their posture and comfort at the office.

For some people, a premium chair is like a luxury car: it’ll impress others, but, ultimately, it serves the same purpose as the cheaper model. For others, though, a premium chair that will provide more comfort at work is a worthwhile investment.

No one truly needs a premium office chair, but if you have the cash and think it’ll improve your work-from-home quality of life, one could be right for you.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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