As the world becomes increasingly connected, more and more people are opting to work from home. It makes sense: The housing market in larger cities is becoming more dire by the day, and the average commute is now hovering around 30 minutes or more per way (and even longer if you live in a larger city).
But while ditching the 9-to-5 lifestyle and setting up shop in the comfort of your own home might sound appealing, you’re definitely going to want to maintain a professional work area. Sure, staying in touch with your coworkers is easy with tools like Slack, but maintaining your workload and sticking to your regular deadlines might take a little getting used to.
Especially in the current world climate, given the necessity of social distancing and quarantines due to COVID-19, we thought it would be worthwhile to update our guide on working from home. In one form or another, the items you see below are based on items SPY editors actually use (we’re working from home, too). From lap desk and coffee machines to Bluetooth headphones, keyboards and mice, these are the items that make the biggest difference to us.
We know that learning how to work from home can be difficult, but it’s a little easier with the right home office setup. Got a favorite work-from-home tool that changed your home office for the better? Let us know in the comments. Otherwise, take a look at our list of the 11 best items for upgrading your home-office setup and revel in your newly found productivity.
1. Invest in a Comfortable Ergonomic Chair
You’re going to be sitting for most of the day, and your butt deserves a chair that’s worth sitting in for hours at a time. With the right office chair, you will be more comfortable and productive than just typing away at the kitchen table (or worse, working on the couch) while your lower back bears the brunt of your support. A fancy office chair might seem like an extravagance for your home office, but it can make a huge difference. Seriously, couches and kitchen tables weren’t designed for maximum productivity.
This Sihoo office chair comes in two fab colors and offers just the right mix of comfort and support without making you want to pop those pants off and turn on Netflix. Its adjustable lumbar pillow helps provide superior neck support, and the mesh backrest is sure to help you feel at ease without forcing your shoulders to sink in. It’s also fully adjustable and looks great in any space.
2. Add a Printer-Scanner Combo to the Mix
Sure, your local print shop offers printing services for a relatively small fee, but who wants to drive to their nearest printer at midnight when they can just scan their reports at home instead? This Canon laser printer is a great low-budget model and features a sleek LCD touch screen for easy navigation — even in the dark. It can print up to 30 pages per minute and supports most mobile solutions. Best of all, it’s small enough to keep under your desk. Even if you only need to print or scan a few documents a month, the time (and effort) saved in printing from home is well worth the investment.
3. Increase Your Productivity With a Second Monitor
Did you know that the average American now spends most of their time staring at glowing rectangles? Now just imagine spending most of that time looking at your teeny tiny laptop screen. If you’re working from your home office setup and you still haven’t invested in an actual desktop monitor, then your eyes are going to be in a world of hurt. Because switching between multiple tabs on a single screen is enough to send most home office workers into a tizzy, consider adding a monitor like this 24-inch ViewSonic to the mix. It offers an impressive HD (1920 x 1080p) resolution and works with both Mac and PC models. All you need to do is find a compatible HDMI cord and you’re good to go. Apple users working on newer MacBook models can use this HDMI to Lightning Cable adapter from Apple.
4. Add the Right Type of Light to Your Workspace
Now that you’re transitioning to the world of working from home, you’re probably going to start keeping some pretty random hours. If you often find yourself working outside the normal 9-to-5 office hours, you’re going to want to work in a space that’s not too dark but at the same time isn’t overly bright. This low-key desk lamp comes with three touch-sensitive brightness levels and can clip onto almost any surface, which means you can shine a light while working on the porch, in the kitchen or even in bed. And, of course, it’s perfect for your new home office setup. This portable lamp also comes with a USB charger, so you won’t have to worry about replacing the light every three weeks.
5. Cut Down on Coffee Breaks By Brewing at Home
A recent study by Amerisleep found that Millennials, on average, spend more than $2,000 a year on coffee. While taking a break to grab that afternoon latte might be a perfectly good reason to leave the house every day, those little expenses quickly add up. When your morning pour over leaves you thirsty for more, a reliable (and surprisingly economical) espresso maker like the Nespresso De’Longhi offers the perfect afternoon pick-me-up. The one-touch design lets you brew a flavorful cup in a matter of minutes, which is sure to help your daily productivity. In fact, you’ll not only feel more energized, you’ll also find more reasons to stay at home — and thus stay closer to the work at hand.
6. Shoes to Walk Around In
House shoes, really? Yes, really. While house slippers may seem like the last thing you need when working from home, slippers actually go a long way into making your WFH experience that much nicer. For starters, these Wool Loungers by Allbirds are both handsome and functional. You can wear them with socks or barefoot, and their wool construction makes it easy for you to slip them on and off without bothering with laces. They’re also surprisingly sturdy, handling trips to the market just as easily as they handle trips to the fridge or the trash out back.
The loungers come in an array of attractive and subdued colors, so matching your aesthetic is pretty easy. Don’t panic when you find yourself wearing them all day long; that’s what they’re there for.
7. A Keyboard that Moves With You
The beauty (and curse) of working from home is the flexibility. You can work in boxers on your bed, wear a full suit on your couch or slip into sweats while working at your desk. But if you truly want that flexibility, you’ll need a keyboard that can easily transition along with you. For that reason, we feel it a must to have a Bluetooth keyboard on hand.
Forget the ability to change colors or the universal comparability across platforms and operating systems. We love this keyboard from Arteck because it’s compact and light. This keyboard is a hair shorter than 10 inches across and weighs in at less than half a pound. And, sure, you lose the number pad, but if you’re not in a number-heavy job, it’s a welcome omission.
8. A Mouse that Moves Too
In the same vein as the keyboard, we also love having a Bluetooth mouse on hand when working from home. With the right mouse, you’ll never get tripped up by your trackpad again. But outside of the general sense of flexibility that comes with a Bluetooth mouse, we love the lack of wires. No more do you need to stuff and twist bunches of wires into corners and spaces in your desk or kitchen table setup. With the freedom of a Bluetooth mouse, you connect to your laptop via Bluetooth and get to work.
The one downside, of course, is you will have to recharge your mouse every so often. But, thanks to rapid charging which will fill up the tank completely after only an hour and a half, that’s not the most painful process. And it still beats dealing with those pesky wires.
9. Stop Working at the Dinner Table
If you’ve spent much time on Instagram lately, it may seem like all of your friends have turned their ironing board into a WFH station. Yet this are better options.
This home office desk from Coavas is compact, good-looking and affordable. It’s comprised of wood and metal and measures 39.4 x 19.7 x 29.5 inches, making it a fairly compact yet suitable workspace. In other words, there’s enough room for that lamp, extra monitor, keyboard and mouse you picked up, but it’s not so big you’ll have to rearrange your furniture. Our favorite part though? The easy assembly. This desk comes fully assembled, all you have to do is flip up the wooden top, lock it in place and start working.
10. For When You Want to Ditch the Desk
A desk is a great option, and there’s certainly something to be said about having a designated workspace. But if you already have a dedicated office or desk, or don’t have room for more furniture, then you might want to consider a lap desk like the one below. Sometimes it feels nicer to work in bed or on the couch, and with this nifty and affordable lap desk, you can do just that.
The surface is a hardy one, and made of MDF so it won’t snap on you. And for extra comfort and balance, a cushion is fitted to the bottom so you can easily balance your laptop on your legs. As an added bonus, the heat from your laptop won’t come through the MDF/cushion combo, preventing you from overheating while cranking through your workday.
11. Peace and Quiet at the Flip of a Switch
For those who live at home, working from home can get lonely, but finding quiet is easy. You don’t have to tell any kids or roommates to keep their lips zipped while you work. However, that’s not the case for everyone, which is why we heavily recommend picking up a pair of Bluetooth headphones if you need some silence.
In nearly every list we’ve included them in, Sony’s WH1000XM3 noise-canceling headphones have reached our top spot. Why? Because they’re just that good. With 30 hours of playtime on a single charge, a handsome design, smart voice assistant support and incredible digital noise-canceling capabilities, these really are the best headphones you can get. Sure, they’re a little pricey, but these headphones can easily transition from working from home to walking around to generally enjoying music. If you’re going to invest in a quality piece of technology, this should be your first stop.
12. Buy an Affordable Bluetooth Headset
If you need to conduct a lot of calls, stop relying on your computer or mobile phone’s speaker and microphone. This affordable Bluetooth headset makes it easy to take calls wirelessly. The Voyager Legend has almost 12,000 ratings on Amazon, plus 82% four and a stellar 4.2-star rating. Go completely hands-free with user-friendly voice recognition technology that lets you say “answer” or “ignore” to accept incoming calls. Noise-canceling technology ensures that you can hear everything, while the microphone ensures that you never have to repeat yourself. In short, the Voyager Legend is a reliable and affordable Bluetooth headset that’s perfect for your new work from home setup.
13. Liven Up Your Workspace With a Plant Friend
Stuck inside in the era of social distancing and WFH? Then this little plant is the perfect final touch to your new home office setup. This easy-to-care-for plant is great for gardening beginners who always seem to kill their plants. The ZZ plant (officially known as Zamioculcas zamiifolia) is a tropical plant with waxy leaves. It will help purify the air in your home or apartment and add a touch of life to your home office.