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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 the most important tech accessories that will 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 why I recommend everyone gets a Bluetooth keyboard. I recommend this one from Satechi because it has backlit keys, which is extremely rare for a totally wireless keyboard. You can connect it to three devices using the Bluetooth pairing buttons above the number pad.
Satechi’s keyboard can be recharged using a USB-C cable (included), so you don’t have to worry about keeping a stock of batteries. After using this keyboard for myself I’m impressed by the way its keys feel, its fast response time, and the overall build quality.
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 mouse pad 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 Standing Desk
Some studies have shown that sitting for eight hours a day can lead to some pretty nasty physical side effects, and while there isn’t a consensus around this it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Flexispot’s E9 is a standing desk that lets you adjust its height between 28.7 inches and 48.4 inches. This wide range ensures you’ll find the level for your comfort. You can change its position by pressing the up and down arrows on a panel on the right side of the desk. You can also save specific heights into the panel’s memory for easy access.
The E9 is 48 inches long and 24 inches wide, and can hold up to 110 pounds, so you’ll have no problem fitting your computer and other accessories on top of it. If you’ve never used a standing desk before, we recommend you get a cushioned mat to make it easier on your feet.
4. A Comfortable Chair
When you do choose to sit, make sure you’re doing it in a comfortable chair. My go-to desk chair is this High Backed model from AmazonBasics.
You can adjust its height between roughly 41.3 and 45.1 inches, and swivel it a full 360-degrees. The seat rests on wheels, so you can easily move around, too.
This office chair had a generous amount of padding, and its slightly curved back encourages you to sit up straight. The arm rests are also comfortable, even during long computer sessions.
If you’ve been settling for a rigid chair from your kitchen table, this will be the biggest upgrade to your home office setup by far.
5. A Large, High-Resolution Monitor
Plugging your computer into an external monitor is one of the best ways to improve your productivity because it significantly expands your digital workspace.
Asus’s 28-Inch display has a maximum resolution of 4K, so text, images, and videos will look extremely clear. This monitor has a large screen, but its bezels (rims) are fairly small and its stand is small, so it won’t take up as much space on your desk.
The VP28UQG supports AMD FreeSync, a technology that helps it keep up with fast action when gaming, and ASUS’s “Eye Care” feature, which slowly reduces the amount of blue light it emits. This display has two HDMI ports and one DisplayPort input, so you can hook it up to your computer with space left over for a game console.
You can’t adjust the positioning of the monitor very much, but you can attach it to a different stand (we recommend this one from Mount-It!) to improve its ergonomics. If you want to take comfort a step further, I recommend Mount It!’s desk mount, which gives you complete control over your display’s position.
6. A Multi-Port Hub
Anker’s USB-C hub allows you to connect all of your accessories to your computer at once, and easily disconnect all of them when you’re done.
The hub can be connected to one of your computer’s USB-C ports and features: two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, an SD Card slot, a Micro SD Card slot, an Ethernet jack, and an HDMI port.
Plugging this hub into your PC or Mac will enable you to use your laptop with an external display, camera memory card, printer, flash drive, and cable modem at the same time. It even supports 85W power transfer, which means it can charge your laptop’s battery while connected.
7. Smart Light Bulbs
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 light bulbs. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
My recommendation is Shure’s AONIC 50 headphones, which are the best-sounding pair I’ve ever tested. They use large, 50mm drivers that Shure spent years researching, and are tuned to optimize audio quality. Over-ear headphones are a lot bigger and heavier than earbuds, but the AONIC 50s have enough padding on the ear cups and around the band that I never really noticed.
You can activate the headphones’ noise cancellation by flipping a switch on the right ear cup, and adjust its sensitivity inside Shure’s PLAY app (iOS and Android). There are two levels of noise cancellation: normal and max, and 11 levels of “transparency,” which allows you to specify how many outside sounds you’d like filtered into the headphones through its microphones.
Transparency mode is worth tweaking if you wear these headphones outside, where it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings, but using the noise cancellation modes is a better choice for your home office. If you get distracted every time someone closes a door or the floor creeks, these headphones can make a big difference.
10. A Powerful WiFi Router
If you’re working from home, it means your entire day relies on a strong internet connection. I’ve had the opportunity to try several modern routers, but Linksys’ Velop MX5 has consistently come out on top.
The tall, white router connects to the cable modem from your ISP (internet service provider), and creates a strong wireless network that extends up to 3,000 sq. ft. (feet). The router supports Wi-Fi 6, the latest version of the wireless standard that’s faster, farther reaching, and more secure. Most tech isn’t built with Wi-Fi 6 yet, but all of your current devices will connect seamlessly.
I’m recommending this router because of its rock-solid dependability, and its ease of use. I’ve never experienced any slowdown, even when over a dozen devices were connected and being actively used. Keep in mind the speeds you get will depend on the plan you’ve selected with your ISP — a fast router cannot improve a slow connection. Setting up the router took about five minutes in Linksys’ app (iOS and Android), which can also be used to diagnose Wi-Fi problems, see which devices are on your network, or set per-device parental controls.
11. An HD Webcam
A good webcam is the key to coming off well on a video call, and this one from AUKEY covers all the right bases. It can record and stream video in 1080P (Full HD), so the people you’re communicating with will see you clearly, and its built-in microphones can pick up stereo sound while automatically reducing background noise.
The webcam can be folded over the front of your laptop’s display, or propped up on a tripod if you’d like to get your computer’s screen out of the way. It connects to your machine via a USB-A cable attached to the webcam itself, so you don’t have to worry about losing it. AUKEY’s webcam is compatible with both MacOS and Windows, works with every major video conferencing service, and doesn’t require any additional software to run.
12. An LED Light
Video conferencing has become a lot more common recently, which means you have to consider the lighting situation in your room.
Lume Cube’s video conferencing kit contains a mini LED panel with a suction cup attachment, which you can stick onto the back of your monitor or laptop lid. The included light diffuser will keep the LEDs from hurting your eyes when the light panel is on.
You can change the LED panels brightness and color temperature by using a switch on its side. A mini LED screen will show the LED panel’s brightness level and battery life, so you’ll have a good sense of how long you can use it before needing to plug it in.
I’ve used this accessory myself, and it works really effectively. The quality of my video is noticeably better, and I don’t have to rely on sunlight or overhead lighting during video calls.
13. A Dedicated Microphone
Razer’s Seiren X USB Microphone is a worth addition to your home office if any part of your job requires talking to other people. Like a webcam, a dedicated microphone will allow the people you’re speaking with to hear you a lot more clearly than they would have through the one built into your computer. This one uses a supercardioid pickup pattern, which Razer says picks up sound from a tighter angle, while blocking out most other sounds.
This microphone is only 8.43-inches tall, and rests on a stand that can be bent to angle the mic up toward your mouth. It has a mute button and volume knob on the front that allow you to make audio adjustments on the fly, and a MicroUSB port on the bottom, which allows you to hook it up to a computer. The Seiren X is compatible with both MacOS and Windows, will work with all of your apps, and doesn’t require additional software to run.