Office chair vs task chair: is there really a difference?

We break down the key differences in an office chair and a task chair to help you invest in the right one for your workspace

Office chair vs Task chair

Whether you’re looking for a new chair for your home office, or you need something to sit on in your study space, investing in the right chair is crucial to your comfort and productivity. There are many things to consider when buying a good chair, from its style and size to the ergonomics and functionality. 

If you suffer from back pain, shoulder pain or hip pain, then you should pay attention to the ergonomics of a chair, right down to the armrests. Every body is unique, and the way you set up your office space will have a significant impact on your posture and the way your body feels. 

It’s also important to consider your space before simply choosing the chair you like the look of most. If a chair has all of the top-of-the-range ergonomics, but it's so large you can barely fit it through the door, then it becomes obsolete. It’s about finding the right balance between comfort and design, that will mean your chair serves you well for years to come. 

The budget you have to spend will also have a say in the type of chair you buy, and what you’ll use it for. You might be wondering what is the real difference between an office chair and a task chair? They are very similar, and the names ‘office chair’ and ‘task chair’ are often used interchangeably, however, there are a few key differences between the two that could be the deciding factor in which one you decide to invest in. 

To make things easier, we’ve broken down the details to help you compare the two and decide what’s right for you. Check out our verdict below. 

Argos Home Orion Faux Leather Ergonomic Chair review

(Image credit: Argos)

Office chair vs task chair: Ergonomics and comfort

One of the biggest differences you’ll find between an office chair and a task chair is the ergonomics. Task chairs are often designed with comfort and ergonomics in mind, so if you’re someone who suffers from back pain then you may find a task chair is kinder to your body. 

Standard office chairs will offer basic adjustable features such as a height function, back tilt and swivel base, but other than that they tend to be a fixed design. A task chair will have seat height and depth adjustment, adjustable armrests and adjustable lumbar support along with swivel and tilt functions. 

Office chairs usually come with high backrests, but don’t always have lumbar support. Task chairs come with either a mid-height back or a full height back, and can also sometimes have a separate head and neck rest. The one you choose will depend on how you like to sit, and what you find most comfortable personally, however, it is clear that a task chair with a full height back is going to provide the most comprehensive support. 

Sihoo ergonomic office chair review

(Image credit: Sihoo)

Office chair vs task chair: Design and style

The term office chair is very broad and they can come in a variety of styles, but the most common are leather office chairs and mesh office chairs. These two materials are very different, one offering a plush feel and the other offering breathability. If you’d like to find out which one is better suited to you, then you can check out our article on mesh vs leather office chairs. 

Task chairs also come in two different styles: fabric and mesh, or a mixture of both. Having a task chair with a fabric seat but a mesh back certainly adds an advantage to task chairs over standard office chairs, as you have the best of both worlds. The fabric will provide a soft place to sit while the mesh back allows for the air circulation to flow, keeping you at the optimum temperature all year round. 

Office chairs tend to be heavier and more cumbersome than task chairs, due to their fixed design, but task chairs are much more flexible and their upholstery makes their design much more lightweight. The style that you go for will ultimately depend on your office décor and whether you are more interested in style over comfort. 

Both chairs come on casters with a swivel base, however, be sure to check if the armrests are fixed or adjustable, as this could mean your chair doesn’t tuck neatly under your desk when at your preferred height, which ultimately can worsen your desk posture.

Herman Miller Mirra 2 Butterfly Office Chair review

(Image credit: Herman Miller)

Office chair vs task chair: Price

Office chairs can vary greatly in price, with some of the most basic chairs starting at around £50 and some of the more luxurious leather and mesh office chairs ranging into the hundreds. A good task chair on average starts at around £150 and varies up to the £200-£300 mark. 

You could get an office chair and a task chair for the same price, and while they both might look good from a style point of view, you’ll likely easily be able to tell the difference in comfort, so be sure to use your budget wisely. 

A good office chair or task chair will last you for many years, so consider what your budget is and how often you’ll be using it before simply opting for the cheapest design. 

Cherry Tree Furniture executive recline office chair review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Office chair vs task chair: The Verdict

Ultimately, if you are sitting at your desk all day every day, it’s clear that a task chair is going to benefit you more, due to its ergonomic design features. Task chairs are highly customisable to your body shape and promote good posture, and they look pretty smart too. But if you’re a fan of leather chairs, while they are comfortable for occasional use, you may find yourself compromising on comfort in the long run.

Since many of us are now working from home for the foreseeable future, investing in a chair that promotes good posture and provides maximum comfort should be a priority. If you’re still torn about style, you can also take a look at gaming chairs, which have a lot to offer both in terms of ergonomics and design. 

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