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If you’re working from home, you’re going to need tools to make your place feel more like an office. It’s easy to lose focus if you don’t create the right work space.
For Shirley Lam, the founder and owner of the pet lifestyle site, Perro & Me, it’s all about building a little bit of structure. Lam, who runs the thriving online business out of her house in Vancouver, says it’s important to get in the mindset that you’re going to work. “Set your daily schedule in your calendar and stick to it as you would at the office,” she says. “And get dressed for work — do your hair, put on makeup and look office-appropriate, even if it’s just your home office.”
Another tip: “Set up a dedicated spot as your work space so that you can take breaks and walk away from it,” Lam says. A bonus: “if you need to FaceTime with your client or vendor, you’re now well-dressed and have a tidy ‘office background’ ready-to-go.”
We’ve rounded up some of the best furniture and tech accessories to get, to make your home office feel like an actual place of business. I’ve tested many of these products myself and as someone who lives in a New York City apartment, where space is limited, I can confidently attest that these picks will work even if you live in a cramped space.
Whether you’re a freelancer or self-quarantining, here’s what to get to keep you organized, focused, and ready to tackle your daily to-do list from the confines (and comforts) of home.
1. A Bluetooth Keyboard
Cable clutter was one of my most frequent distractions, which is I why I recommend that everyone gets a Bluetooth keyboard. There are no dongles to connect to your computer or batteries to keep track of — this keyboard is rechargeable via MicroUSB.
I’ve used Anker’s keyboards for years because they’re extremely reliable. I’ve never experienced any delay between when I hit a key, and when it appears on screen, or other types of flakiness. Most importantly, the keys feel really nice to type on; there’s enough key travel to create a satisfying feeling while writing, even for extended periods of time.
What we like: this wireless keyboard is about one-third smaller than a traditional computer keyboard, and it’s easy to install, as it’s compatible with virtually all operating systems and devices.
2. A Bluetooth Mouse
The perfect complement to Anker’s bluetooth keyboard is Logitech’s Bluetooth mouse — it’s so good I’ve bought three of them, so I never have to use a computer without one. The mouse is fairly small, and feels really smooth on a mousepad or desk.
The scroll wheel has a nice clicky feeling that keeps me from scrolling too fast, which is a feature I didn’t know I needed until I experienced it. But this mouse’s key feature is its versatility.
By installing Logitech’s app (available for Mac and Windows), you can customize its six buttons — left click, right click, Windows, scroll wheel left, scroll wheel right, scroll wheel down — to run different actions. These actions vary based on your operating system, but I have mine set to move between web pages, or show all of my open windows to help me find the screen I need.
These little timesavers have added up over the past couple of years, and I rely on them to streamline the way I work. If you put a few minutes into unlocking this mouse’s full potential, you’ll never want to go back to wired mice again.
3. A Wireless All-in-One Printer
We live in a wireless world, but it’s still convenient to have a printer at home. I’ve used this one by Brother for the past year and a half, and I’ve been impressed at how many times it’s come in handy. It’s an all-in-one printer, which means it can print, scan, and copy documents, and it has WiFi built in, so you can use all of its functions from a computer, tablet, or phone without having to connect it with a cable. Whether you’re printing presentations or a boarding pass, you can’t beat the convenience of having a printer at home.
The wireless functionality has allowed me to keep this printer off of my desk, where space is limited, and under my bed, where it’s out of sight. A couple of other niceties: the MFC-J995DW is really fast, so I never have to wait long, even if I’m printing large documents, and it can print double-sided, which cuts down on the amount of paper I use.
Note: If you’re looking for a compact all-in-one printer, and can sacrifice picture printing quality and ink efficiency, we recommend this HP DeskJet printer, which has most of the same features, but costs $89.99.
4. A Large, High-Resolution Monitor
Working from home generally means you’re using a laptop with a 13 or 15-inch screen, which lets you see — and do — far less than a large, high-resolution monitor. When I use a laptop, I connect it to his 28-inch 4K monitor from BenQ.
I chose this monitor above all the rest for a few reasons. First, text, photos, and videos look really clear on its high-resolution screen, which is important since I have to stare at it for up to 10 hours. Second, it’s big enough that I’m able to keep two full-sized windows open at the same time, which makes it easier to take notes while watching a presentation, or keeping Slack visible at all times. Not having to minimize windows, or switch between different desktops will change your game.
This monitor is also a good choice ergonomically. The screen can be tilted, swiveled, and raised or lowered, so you can move it around into a position that feels comfortable to you and your eyeline.
5. A Monitor Stand With a Built-In Hub
Satechi’s monitor stand pulls double duty, and has become an invaluable part of my home office setup. It lifts my computer monitor an inch and a half off my desk, which makes it more comfortable to view, and it has an array of ports, so I’m not constantly plugging and unplugging accessories from my computer.
Its built-in hub connects to a computer using a built-in cable, and can be plugged into a USB-C or USB-A port. Once it’s connected, the hub gives you three USB-A ports, one USB-C port, an SD Card slot, MicroSD card slot, and a headphone jack. These ports all face towards you, so you can quickly connect a flash drive or memory card at any time.
Many of these ports have vanished from modern laptops, which makes the hub in this stand more of a necessity than a nice-to-have.
Note: If you want a monitor stand without a hub, we recommend this one from AmazonBasics, which can raise your display 4.25 inches off your desk, and costs just $21.99.
6. Smart Lightbulbs
Creating the right ambiance in a room is highly conducive to getting work done, which is why I invested in a set of Philips’ Hue lightbulbs. The smart bulbs connect to my WiFi network, and are controllable from my phone. The lights in my office don’t have a dimmer switch, but I can make these bulbs brighter or darker with one swipe. I use an iPhone, but Philips has an app for Android users, too.
There are many types of Philips Hue bulbs, but I recommend the White Ambiance for your home office. You can’t turn these bulbs crazy colors, but you can change their warmth to make it easier on your eyes. The amber color has made working late into the night a lot easier.
7. A Set of Bookshelf Speakers
Many people need to listen to music to work; I’m one of them, which is why I like Edifier’s R2000DB desktop speakers, and recommend them to anyone who works remotely. They have a modern, classy look that’ll make your home office look more professional, but more importantly, they sound great.
They have a five-inch bass driver and one-inch tweeter, which create a surprising amount of depth, and EQ controls on the back help you dial in the sound based on your preferences. They have two sets of line=in ports, an optical out port, and Bluetooth support, so you can stream music to them wirelessly.
Speakers in a home office can seem like a hotbed for distraction, but I’ve found listening to music I’m familiar with to help me keep focused. There’s just enough stimulation to keep me from looking for something else to look at or do, but not enough to splinter my attention from the task at hand.
Plus, once I’m done working, I’ve got a great pair of speakers to listen to.
Note: Edifier’s R1280 speakers don’t have the same level of audio fidelity or the connectivity options as the pair I use, but they’re a great choice for $99.99.
8. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
If you’re new to working from home, any sound you’re not used to can catch your attention. Speakers are a great way to drown them out, but if you live with someone, or don’t want to disturb the neighbors, it’s worth picking up a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.
I’ve used this pair from Sony for a couple of years, and they check all of my boxes (they even made our list of Best Headphones for 2020). They’re over-ear headphones that feel comfortable to wear for hours at a time, and sound excellent even when their noise-cancellation mode is turned on.
Most importantly, they block out an insane amount of outside noise, so I can stay laser focused on my work. There is a transparency mode, which lets you use the headphones’ built-in mic to stream ambient noise from your home, just in case you’re waiting for a phone call or the door to ring, but I keep mine on noise-cancelling all the time.
If you get distracted every time someone closes a door or the floor creeks, these headphones can make a big difference.
9. A Powerful WiFi Router
If you’re working from home, it means your entire day relies on a strong internet connection. I didn’t want to take any chances, so I upgraded to a router from eero, and haven’t looked back.
The puck-shaped router connects to the cable modem from your ISP (internet service provider), and creates a strong wireless network that extends up to 1,750 square feet. My experience with eero has been extremely positive, my internet connection has been rock solid, and I don’t experience slow downs if someone is streaming a movie in the other room.
The main reason I recommend this router to people who work from home is its ease of use. You set it up and control it through an app (iOS or Android). If there’s a problem, the app explains what the issue is in plain language, which makes it easier to fix. Nobody wants to burn half a work day waiting for someone from the cable company, or tech support. An eero router saves you the hassle.
10. A Sturdy Desk
A good desk is the centerpiece of a home office. I’ve used a few, but the one I’ve settled on is this writing desk from Wayfair. It’s 30 x 47. 2 x 23.6 inches, which is big enough for a computer, monitor, speakers, and a few other accessories, but small enough not to completely take over a room.
The reason I like this desk it because it’s extremely sturdy. It doesn’t wobble if I accidentally bump into it, and the manufactured wood has a textured finish that feels soft to the touch. If you’re building a home office space from the ground up, this is a solid foundation.
11. A Comfortable Chair
I spent years working from home on a seat from my kitchen table before I finally upgraded to an office chair, and I regretted not making the move sooner. Comfort is key when working from home; sitting in an uncomfortable seat can lead to bad posture, and leave you feeling more run down at the end of the day.
This is a high-back chair, which means it’ll reach up to about your shoulders when you sit down. Its back, seat, and arm rests are amply padded with bonded black leather, and it feels comfortable to sit on for an entire work day.
Another reason I like this chair is its flexibility. It can be raised and lowered between 41.34 and 45.08 inches, and can fully swivel. The five wheels it rests on are very smooth, and produce very little noise when you’re rolling around. Trust me, if you only make one upgrade to your working from home setup, this should be it.
12. ErgoFoam Adjustable Foot Rest
Prop your feet up while you work with this plush yet supportive foot rest from ErgoFoam. As its name suggests, this versatile foot stool and ankle rest uses a soft and cushy foam material rather than hard plastic or wood. The foam cradles your feet for a more comfortable and natural positioning, while the velvet cover is gentle against your skin. A grippy bottom prevents it from slipping; flip it over and it becomes a foot rocker, for even more ways to relax while you’re working.
The ErgoFoam has an adjustable base that can add or remove height, depending on your preferred sitting style; the cover is removable for easy cleaning as well.