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ergonomic office chairs vs executive chairs

ergonomic office chairs vs executive chairs

If you work in a desk-based role and spend most of your time each week sitting, the relationship you have with your chair is an important one. Choosing the right ergonomic office chair or executive chair is crucial for maintaining the health of your musculoskeletal system, maintaining concentration, and enjoying life outside of work (no-one likes recovering from a back or neck pain on the weekend).

Ergonomic Office Chairs vs Executive Chairs, which chair do you need? 

There’s a plethora of things to consider when shopping for chairs, so we’ve created this concise guide. The guide outlines the differences between the two popular categories: executive and ergonomic office chairs.  We’ve also highlighted the features you need to look for depending on how and where you’re planning to use the chair. 

office environment with an ergonomic chair at a desk

The low-down on ergonomic office chairs

The low-down on ergonomic office chairs

Ergonomics is the science of looking at how objects can be designed to best support easy, safe and comfortable human interaction.

The term ‘ergonomic’ is used to describe office seating that can be adjusted in multiple ways to create a supportive sitting environment for the human body.

Features of an ergonomic office chair

The technology used for ergonomic office chairs has come a long way over the last few decades and has become increasingly complex. You will come across features such as tilt mechanism, seat slide and reverse friction brake castors to name a few. Brush up your ergonomic chair vocabulary at the end of this article. 

Benefits of ergonomic office chairs

Being comfortable is just the beginning. Investing in good quality, highly adjustable ergonomic office chairs:

  • supports posture and circulation to reduce back and neck pain.
  • helps to prevent absences and lost productivity due to neck and back pain. In particular, lower back pain.
  • improves concentration and focus as there are fewer distractions due to discomfort.
  • helps to maintain good health and morale for your team.

When should ergonomic office chairs be used?

Ergonomic office chairs are a must-have for workstations which are used for several hours a day in both open and closed-plan offices and office-like environments, and call centres.

Are there any limitations?

While designs have come a long way in recent years, you’ll find limitations with ergonomic chairs in terms of looks and style as features and functionality take priority.

It’s also important to note that ergonomic office chairs aren’t a complete preventative solution for back, neck and pelvis pain. Chairs must be fitted and adjusted correctly for each person and their workstation. They also can’t make up for learning correct posture, getting up to take regular breaks, and incorporating exercise into your lifestyle.


What should I consider when buying an ergonomic office chair?

It really depends on the office environment, the level of adjustability you need and how often, or for how long, you’ll be sitting on the chair for.

At a minimum ensure that your chair has:

  • Seat height and back height adjustability
  • Arm rest adjustability
  • Lumbar support

If you work on wood, concrete, tiled or laminate floors, rubber castors with friction brakes will offer you the most comfort and safety. Also, if your working environment tends to be quite warm, mesh upholstery will remain cool and breathable throughout the day.

There is no one-size-fits-all ergonomic chair – allow team members to try chairs out and pick one that is the right size and shape for their body and meets the needs of their role and working style.

Seat Slide ERGO eDM 1
Back Tilt ERGO eDM

The ins and outs of executive chairs

What is an executive chair?

Executive chairs are a premium piece of furniture built for comfort and looks. In general, they’re bigger and more stylish but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t comfortable and supportive.

Features of an executive chair

Traditionally, executive chairs have:

  • a large, tall seat back to convey authority and support the entire upper body.
  • an elegant, streamlined design with a sturdy base and armrests, and plush yet supportive foam.
  • luxurious fabrics and trimmings such as leather and chrome plating.
  • generally fewer ergonomic features: most executive chairs will have height adjustment and free float tilt adjustment either in infinite lock or fixed lock positions.

See the glossary at the end of the article for more information on these terms. 

The benefits of executive chairs

While newer executive chairs incorporate a greater range of ergonomic features, the benefits to choosing an executive chair lean more towards aesthetics and include:

  • high-end designer look to make a positive impression on clients or investors.
  • premium finishes such as leather, chrome and polished aluminium.

When should an executive chair be used?

Executive chairs are an ideal choice if you’re looking to style up your office space, are in a leadership or senior role or need sophisticated boardroom or meeting room chairs.

Are there any limitations

As mentioned earlier, most executive chair models do not offer the full gamut of ergonomic features, and colours tend to be limited.

What should I consider when buying an executive chair?

Executive chairs are investment pieces that elevate your workplace. They need to ooze style and sophistication and should be built to last.

At a minimum ensure that your chair has:

  • Quality and comfort
  • Height adjustability
  • Style

Choose wisely when selecting your executive chair and allow the person who’ll be using the chair to try it out first.

Telstra 8 1

So, how do they compare?

We’ve summarised a handful of BFX’s most popular executive and ergonomic office chairs so you can see the features at a glance.

Our TOP Ergonomic Office Chairs

the luca office chair in black

    Luca Office Chair

  • Ergonomic features: fully ergonomic mechanism - quad level, easy seat slide feature, pronounced fixed lumbar support, high density seat and back
  • Available with or without armrests
  • Upholstery: black 5-star nylon base with either black fabric or vinyl
  • 160kg weight load capacity tested

The Valetta Pro Mesh Office Chair

    Valetta Pro Mesh Back Office Chair

  • Ergonomic features: fully ergonomic four (4) lever heavy-duty mechanism with seat slide, pronounced lumbar support moulded foam seat, mesh back and five-star base for comfort and durability
  • Available with or without armrests
  • Upholstery: black mesh back with black fabric seat

The Loxton Promesh is an excellent office chair for lower back pain

    Loxton Promesh Chair with Armrests

  • Ergonomic features: synchro mechanism to allow exact seat and back position setting, adjustable arms, 3 levers, fixed lumbar support
  • Upholstery: mesh back with a fabric seat available in a range of colours and exclusive prints
  • Off-white arm rests and 5-start castor base contrast the high black mesh back
  • Executive style chair
  • Greenguard Gold Certification
  • 135kg weight load capacity tested

Our TOP Executive Chairs

Vado Executive Ergo Chair

    Vado Executive Ergo Chair

  • Combines the best of both worlds
  • Ergonomic features: adjustable arms, a multi-system adjustment mechanism for seat tilt, height adjustable high-density foam fabric seat
  • Upholstery: mesh inner and outer back in black
  • Sleek aluminium base
  • Weight load: N/A

Wing High Back

    Wyndam High Back

  • Ergonomic features: Easy–adjust tilt tension control, premium tilt mechanism, lockable tilt, height tilt, medium or high back
  • Aluminium base in chrome or black
  • Sleek mid-century inspired curved design with fixed upholstered armrests
  • Upholstery: fabric or leather in a variety of colours
  • Weight load: 140kg Recommended Weight Capacity

Pambula Medium Back Executive Chair

    Pambula Medium Back Executive Chair

  • Ergonomic features: height adjustable with an easy to adjust multi-function mechanism, infinite tilt lock and 2 levers.
  • Fixed chrome or black armrests
  • 5-star castor base.
  • Upholstery: PU leather in black (chrome frame) or tan (black frame)
  • Ideal for conference, board and meeting rooms as well as private desks
  • Weight load: N/A


The verdict: put the labels aside - the right chair is comfortable and suits your needs

There is a lot to learn about ergonomic office chairs and executive chairs.

The most important consideration when buying is that the chair is comfortable, provides the best possible support for each person’s individual body and job function and fits in or elevates your office style.

BFX has a wide range of ergonomic office and executive chairs. We can work with you to help you choose the right chairs for you and your team. Contact our team today.


  1. Synchro-tilt mechanism: this is where the backrest and seats tilt together when you lean back at different degrees at a back to seat ratio of 2:1 so that your feet can remain on the floor when you recline, preventing unnecessary strain on your thighs. It should tilt to at least 20 degrees.
  2. High-density or injection moulded foam: good quality foams can hold their shape and withstand pressure for long periods of time allowing them to continuously support your body.
  3. Tilt tension adjustment: this knob (usually under the chair) allows you to control how much tilt you have and how much tension there is when you tilt the chair back so that it still supports your back. 
  4. Seat depth adjustment: this control protects your pelvis by allowing you to set the seat depth to ensure your back touches the seat back and the front edge sits two to three finger widths from behind your knees.
  5. Rate load / weight rating: a good ergonomic office chair will be tested and certified to ensure it can safely handle much more than the average person’s weight.
  6. Mesh or upholstered seat back: Both can be comfortable and supportive, however mesh is more breathable, while upholstery comes in a greater range of colours and patterns.
  7. Adjustable lumbar support: this section can be adjusted so it gently presses on the bottom five vertebrae to help you maintain a natural curve in your spine.
  8. Certification: look for SGS or AFRDI certifications that indicate the chair meets national and international standards for quality, safety, performance and functionality.
  9. Armrest adjustment: adjusting armrest height can alleviate pressure on the upper back and gives you room to move your upper body comfortably while giving you somewhere to rest. Some models allow you to adjust the armrests forward and backward and in and out.
  10. Gas lift height adjustment: the bare minimum for any office chair, this lever allows you to adjust the height of the chair so that the seat reaches just below your kneecaps when you’re standing up.
  11. Seat and back tilt: you should be able to tilt your seat forward to position your pelvis and lower back comfortably, or tilt the seat back so you can stretch out your back and chest for better blood circulation.
  12. Headrest: these are mostly found on gaming chairs but can help you keep your head and neck level with your screen.
  13. Back height adjustment controls: these controls are either manual (using a knob or lever) or use a ratchet system to ensure the back of the seat and lumber support are correctly aligned with your back.
  14. Infinite tilt mechanism: this is useful if you’d like to tilt the seat back to a particular angle and have it stay that way – just tilt the seat and lock it into place using a lever.
  15. Commercial-grade fabrics: if you don’t like mesh, chairs upholstered in a commercial fabric are more durable, are less likely to rip or puncture and are easier to clean.
  16. Warranty: once you find a good chair, you want it to last, so a five to ten-year warranty ensures you can return it or get replacement parts when you need it.
  17. Drafting kit: this kit gives you extra height if you like working at benches or drafting tables taking your seat from a standard 410-550mm range to 685mm-950mm with a sturdy base, metal footrest ring and an elongated gas lift cylinder.
  18. Soft tread castors: castors made of rubber (rather than hard plastic) give you traction on hard floors and prevent you from slipping or sliding around unexpectedly, making the chair safer and more comfortable.
  19. Friction and reverse friction brake castors: these prevent your chair from moving when you don’t want it to. Friction casters activate as soon as you take your weight off the chair so it stays put, while reverse friction brakes activate when you sit down to keep the chair in place.
  20. Waterfall seat edge: this is where the edge of the seat facing the knees slopes gently downward to alleviate pressure in the back of the thighs and allow for better blood circulation.


You can read about these features in depth in this blog post.

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