Grown tired with simply sitting behind your desk? Did the horror stories about sitting sickness scare you out of your office chair? Fed up with corporate vegetating, buttplunked in an Aeron or Leap? Here are some of the best office chair alternatives to spruce things up at the dull ol’ office.
1. The portable workstation: the mobile worker’s workhorse
Some lucky people need nothing but a tablet computer to do their job, and can happily keep up with their tasks from a park bench or a crowded bar. If you need space to work effectively, but you still want the freedom to work anywhere, then a fold-out ergonomic workspace might be the solution.
An all-in-one workspace such as The Edge Desk features a height-adjustable seat along with a decent-sized desktop, all designed to fold into a portable package. If your workplace encourages hot-desking, then this is a great way to ensure you always get a comfortable place to sit – instead of arriving half an hour early to nab the most comfortable chair, you can bring an entire workspace in from your car.
2. The scooting saddle stool makes one chomping at the bit to start work
Seated in Dr. Lomilomi’s rolling hydraulic saddle stool you’ll be riding high in the saddle in your office. Don’t be surprised if you’ll cause a burr under your coworkers standard office chairs as they could get a bit jealous. They might even tell you to get off your high horse.
Why you ask? Well, first off because saddle stools are designed to be extra comfortable on your spine and back.
Sitting behind a desk as if you are riding a horse may seem weird but it sure has its perks. For one, this position opens up the angle between your knees and hips to about 135° (which is 90° for an office chair).
This stimulates a more natural spine curve, thus helps reduce slouching and thus tension in the lumbar, shoulders and neck area. Which is how it helps alleviate back and leg stiffness and pain due to circulation issues and hip pressure.
You find yourself leaning forward to your screen? It’s easier on this stool. What’s more, it allows you to sit 20-30 cm higher than you would in a conventional office chair. The casters let you swiftly scoot from one desk to another while firmly seated.
A dental chair a saddle on a sow in the office you say? Heck no, this stool fits in perfectly among other office chair alternatives.
3. The uber-geeky futuristic workstation that lets you work in any position (even zero gravity position!)
Imagine a dentist’s chair on the set of Star Trek. That’s how the most sophisticated all-in-one workstations look. A chair with hydraulic lifting action and 360 degree motion allows you to tilt and readjust to find your perfect position, and a stand holds your computer at the perfect level for working.
The Altwork Station is unbelievably comfortable. You might find that you want to keep your rickety office chair for workday use, so you can save your $5000 workstation for relaxing in the evenings. Or simply never leave the office again.
4. The exercise ball chair with fixed legs
“best of both worlds, more stable than a yoga ball while more comfy and dynamic than a regular desk chair”
In essence there’s two types of yoga ball chairs used as alternatives for office seats. One with legs and those without. Which one is best depends on your specific needs and preferences. Or on where exactly it’s used in the office.
Not all employees will like using this kind of seat day in day out. However some workers think they are a godsend. And for use in the corporate meeting room they have shown to be a huge success. The ‘falling asleep in meetings rate’ dropped considerably.
The Safco Zenergy Ball Chair with its dome-shaped ball doesn’t let you bounce around the office like its legless counterpart does. Which can be a good thing if you prefer more stability.
After all, following the latest trends in ergonomic office seating is nice and all, as is watching co-workers fall off their ball for some giggles but obviously we don’t want serious accidents happening. Its benefits include better posture, increased productivity, and reduced back aches.
5. The swiveling task stool a.k.a. the unsettling instability stool that knocks you off balance (yet calms down ADHD-ers)
These types of stools are similar to bar stools, but with a single leg that flexes gently as you move. A high seat encourages you into a half-standing position with your feet flat on the floor – much better for your back than slumping in a desk chair. The whole setup is designed to engage your core muscles, and regular users report better balance and less back pain.
Manufacturers usually tout their wobbling stools as a way to encourage time-saving practices like standing meetings. Instead of booking out a meeting room and settling in for a whole afternoon of coffee-drinking, you and your colleagues pull together your high stools and brainstorm.
The wavering base means you’re too unsteady to procrastinate comfortably, so you’ve got to get on with your work. On a more serious note, click here for a slightly more positive outlook.
On the photo: the 360º swivel, pneumatic height adjustable, Pogo Task Stool. This ergonomic seat is great for flexible workplaces as it’s light-weight and portable.
6. The treadmill desk, great for sports freaks and productivity buffs alike
Perhaps the best idea is not to use a chair at all. Our increasingly sedentary jobs are damaging our health, and some experts have gone as far as to say that “sitting is the new smoking”.
Getting active during the workday isn’t just good for your health, it has also been shown to boost creativity and productivity.
The trouble is that most workers barely have time for a 5-minute bathroom break, let alone a lunchtime workout. A treadmill desk or a under desk treadmill allows you to squeeze some exercise into your day, without breaking away from your email.
The treadmill commonly runs at around 2mph, the speed of a gentle stroll around the park: it’s enough to keep you alert, but not so fast that you’ll spill your coffee.
Even if you only use it for an hour a day, that’s better than nothing, and research has shown that workers with access to a treadmill desk get more exercise even if they aren’t forced to use it.
For obvious reasons, this type of desk is best for people with low-stakes office jobs: if you’re trying to restore a Renaissance painting or interview a murder suspect, this is not the desk for you.
7. The standing desk: this ‘innovation’ is actually ages old
The standing desk sounds like a weird hipster invention, but it has a surprisingly long history. Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, and Winston Churchill are all said to have worked at standing desks.
Standing up all day is far better for your health than sitting: even when you aren’t doing anything, your muscles will be making hundreds of tiny movements every minute in order to keep you stable, meaning that you burn a handful of extra calories every hour.
One advantage of a standing desk is that it’s far cheaper than any fancy ergonomic equipment. Your boss might not want to buy you a $4,000 active-sitting chair with 4G connectivity and an inbuilt seat-warmer, but he really can’t object to you propping your computer monitor up on two shoe boxes.
8. The anti fatigue mat, not just for the office
An anti-fatigue mat has a non-slip rubber surface and shock-absorbing texture, to prevent muscle pain during long shifts on your feet. Factories, workshops, and labs use them to make life more comfortable for workers who are on their feet for hours.
For office drones, anti-fatigue mats are great to slip under a standing desk to prevent tiredness from standing up all day. Not only that, but it also gives your whole workstation a rugged, blue-collar sort of look, which is a nice counterpoint to a day spent completing meaningless admin tasks.
9. The balance board: Jetsons style office furniture (if only it could hover)
Turbocharge your standing desk with a balance board. A wobble board is unstable, and you have to constantly tense and flex your muscles in order to stay in one place. Some rock only from side to side, some move back and forth as well.
They’re large and fairly stable, so there’s minimal risk of falling off, but you’ll definitely find it more comfortable if you wear sensible shoes. Next ergo office equipment addition? A balance pole for some upper body workout? Kidding aside, these really help ward off the hazardous effects of standing for long periods of time.
10. The exercise ball, loved by health buffs, folks who can’t sit still, people with back aches, and yoga practitioners
Ever sat at your desk and wished you were at Pilates? Get that gym feeling with an exercise ball for a chair. Sitting on a squishy balance ball forces you to sit upright with your core muscles engaged: try to slump or lean forward, and you’ll end up falling onto the floor.
If you don’t think your torso is quite strong enough, you can buy a little frame that goes around the bottom of your ball to stop it rolling.
Studies have found various health effects from sitting on an exercise ball or, even better, Amazon’s best selling Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair. The additional back support makes long-duration sitting a whole lot more comfortable.
While they might have some initial challenges when used as a permanent seating option, they are far more fun than a regular office chair. Race your colleagues around the room on your yoga balls, or play human ten-pin bowling down the main corridor. Plus, they promote dynamic sitting.
11. The dressed-up sitting ball chair for when majestic grandeur is a must
Another ball chair? Yes, because the Vivora Luno, too, is a best seller and it brings something extra to the office table. You might have been wondering, what’s the difference between the Luno and the Gaiam. Well, that’s exactly the point, it’s a dressed up version of its competitors. The posh version of the self-standing ball chair so to say. A ball chair that’s dressed to kill, in other words.
If keeping up appearances is of utmost importance, a regular plastic ball chair might look out of touch in your quarters. Its sleek cover, made out of high-end artisan fabrics (felt, chenille, olefin, leatherette) and robust carry handle makes the Luno fit in the most stylish office setting.
12. The desk hammock: the poor man’s nap pod, the smart man’s office seat
Richard Branson is one of Europe’s most successful entrepreneurs, who started from almost nothing to build a chain of multi-billion-dollar businesses. When interviewed about his work habits, he doesn’t talk about getting up at 5am, inbox zero, or mindfulness: he says that he likes to work in a hammock.
Well, Branson owns his own Caribbean island, so it’s not too difficult for him. But even if you’re stuck at a desk job, it’s possible to work from a hammock. From a practical point of view it’s no more awkward than working in bed: lean on a lap tray, or build a mini hammock workstation if you’re crafty.
You can buy a special hammock (Schnap) which hooks to the underside of your desk, or you can attach a regular one – it’s safest to install two heavy-duty hooks into the wall, but you can get away with hanging it from a sturdy door frame or a very heavy piece of furniture.
This one’s probably easier for someone who works at home yet you may be able to convince your employer by telling them that concentration improves in a hammock. Just don’t inform them about the flip side: you’re likely to doze off.
13. The kneeling chair, now non-Catholics can find absolution too
The human body is designed to either stand, walk, or lie: from an evolutionary point of view, sitting is a crazy modern invention. Active sitting chairs are slightly better for you than basic office chairs, but it’s still not healthy to fold your legs at 90 degrees from your spine for long periods.
Kneeling chairs feature a sharply banked seat which tilts your weight forward and holds your pelvis in an ‘open’ position. A pair of shin rests stops you falling off. These chairs are great if you need to do a lot of close-up work, since they allow you to lean forward without bending your back.
Nagging Nancy’s might moan they’re an absolute nightmare if you often have to get up and walk around, though, since it takes seconds to disentangle your legs from the knee pads. In reality, a subtle technique is required to mount this seat. For this reasons it’s recommended to get one with casters. Especially if you tend to get up from your seat often.
14. The desk leg exerciser, give restless leg syndrome an outlet
Can’t decide on a stand, treadmill, or seated desk? Get the HOVR seated walker and combat the inactivity that’s thought to be so unhealthy. After all it’s not sitting that is bad for you, it’s being inactive. Its suspended discs can move in all planes of motion allowing your feet and legs to move independently and in all directions. I was not just kidding in the subtitle as studies show that “sitting for long periods at work can make restless legs syndrome feel worse”.
15. The under-desk leg exerciser
No more excuses to skip leg day with this under-desk elliptical trainer. No need to hit the gym right after a long tiring day at the office but head straight home feeling fresh from the light workouts you did during your computer work. Besides the time you’ll save, peddling while seated behind your desk can help you loosen stiff hips, legs, and a lower back.
Moreover, these things can actually be lifesavers if you consider the fact that sitting still for long periods reduces blood flow to your legs which may cause serious problems.
Economy class syndrome. a.k.a. deep vein thrombosis can occur in offices too, not just in cramped air planes. A New Zealand medical institute warns that the risk of a blood clot increases by 10 per cent for every hour seated.
So if you’re looking for a desk chair alternative that mitigates the ill effects of sitting yet actually don’t want to part with your trusted, comfy old chair, this might addition be the alternative for you.
The most popular office chair alternatives
used by tons people in (home) offices
16. Learniture active learning stool
Its backless design in combination with its curved base that allows for gently rocking the Learniture stool stimulates correct posture. The more you use it, the more you’re strengthening your core muscles, improving your posture even more.
If you’re looking for a non-standard office chair that’s still comfy, this stool with its hard seat is probably not for you. If you’re willing to embrace the learning curve and adopt a more Spartan way of sitting behind a desk compared to usual chairs, this might very well be the stool for you. After all, it’s one of the most popular seats in its kind.
17. Kids Kore Wobble Chair
There’s a reason wiggle seats and wobble cushions are so popular in classrooms. They provide busy bodied kids with a means to ventilate their excess energy while still staying seated behind their desks. The patented Kids Wobble Chair is probably the most popular alternative desk seat in its kind.
Kids can fidget all they want without tipping over due to its clever design. Besides rocking motions this seat allows for perching too. Let your ADHD wiggle worms channel their abundant energy with in a productive way as this flexible seating stool enhances focus and posture. Loved by both teachers and parents. Wiggle wiggle!
18. The Swopper Stool
Yes, it’s expensive but the Swopper Stool does allow you to sit in a way no other office chair does. Its clever design stimulates multidimensional movement. Make the most of active sitting by moving in horizontal, vertical, and lateral directions.
You can spin, swivel, bounce, and shift front to back and side to side. The bounce and wobble feature are adjustable to meet your personal preferences or task at hand. Of course it’s height adjustable too. Stretching your back and hips feels like you’re on a physiotherapy approved exercise machine.
It does involve a learning curve, meaning your body has to get used to sitting on it for longer periods of time which is a common thing in this kind of alternative office chairs. The seat isn’t lushly padded which you may find too firm for your taste but simply adding a cushion can solve this.
Via Seating’s well-built, ingeniously designed Swopper Stool does not only keep you moving, it has shown to considerably boost energy levels as well as ability to focus of those who use it.
Benefits of office chair alternatives
Substituting your standard office chair for something more dynamic has various benefits. There’s health benefits such as reducing the ill effects of prolonged sitting. There’s increased productivity and focus. Who doesn’t want to burn calories while doing a passive core workout when confined to their cubicle?
There’s reduced restlessness in those workers who have ants in their pants. Additionally, replacing your traditional office chair for something else, even if it’s not permanent but let’s say for limited periods during the day helps strengthen core muscles and thus improve posture. No more slouching and stiff muscles and achy bones.
What’s more is that many of the seats we’ve listed here can be used during other activities too. Think about playing the piano, watching TV, having a lunch, or while crafting.
When new, innovative seats are released we will add them here so make sure to check back in case you haven’t decided on the best desk seating for your needs.
Got a favorite desk chair alternative?
Which one would you pick? Want to add something to our overview of different types of alternative office chairs that are out there? Shout it out in the comments below.
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