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Office work may not be very physically demanding, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take comfort and ergonomics into consideration.
An aching back from a hard chair, or RSI (repetitive strain injury), can have lasting damage on your body, and splinter your focus while you work. Unfortunately, these issues are easy to brush aside until they become more serious, which can take several years.
To help you become more proactive about making your workspace more comfortable we’ve found 10 accessories that can help you avoid these common problems, whether you’re constantly looking down to check your phone, or feel wrist pain after full day of typing.
We’ve made sure that all of our picks are accessible with any type of computer or phone, so you don’t have to worry about them becoming less useful if you switch from one platform for another. Many of these tools could also fit easily into a backpack to accommodate hybrid work situations.
Making little adjustments can have a larger impact than you might realize.
1. Knodel Desk Pad
If you’re going to spend all day typing, you should rest your arms and wrists on something more comfortable than wood or hard plastic. Knodel’s desk pad is made out of polyurethane and leather, which is soft to the touch, and easy to clean. The pad is 31.5 x 15.7 inches, so it’ll fit comfortably on most desks, and comes in six colors, which will add vibrancy to your work environment.
2. Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard
One of the most chronic problems that office workers suffer from is RSI (repetitive strain injury), which occurs when muscles are strained from overuse or misuse. Typing can cause RSI in fingers and wrists because many keyboards are compact, and require you to type with your wrists angled upward. Your fingers don’t get a lot of room to move, and you have to lift each finger the same distance to hit each key.
According to England’s NHS (National Health Service), one way to help prevent computer-related RSI is to use is to use an ergonomic keyboard, and we like Microsoft’s Sculpt. It has a large, padded wrist rest, with a tilted “split” design, so your fingers are spread further apart, and tilted at a more natural angle. The keyboard’s shape was also designed to make keys easier to hit without having to lift your fingers very much. These minor differences add up, so if you’re starting to feel hand strain during or after work, you should look into this solution.
3. Microsoft Ergonomic Mouse
Microsoft’s Bluetooth Ergonomic Mouse is a complement to its keyboard, and aims to solve similar issues. The mouse is shaped so your whole hand can fit on top of it instead of hovering over the buttons. It has a gentle curve that makes it easy to hold, and a thumb rest on the left side.
Two programmable buttons above the thumb rest can be assigned to common actions (think going back and forward between webpages), to reduce the amount of times you have to raise your index and pointer finger. If there’s one downside to this mouse, it’s that you do have to physically plug it into your computer via USB, but that’s a small price to pay for its added comfort.
4. Anker PowerWave 2 Wireless Charger
The average person picks up their phone 58 times per day, which not only wastes time, but can also strain your wrist and neck as you lift the phone up, and look down. Anker’s PowerWave II Wireless Charging Stand fixes that by tilting your phone upward at a comfortable angle, so you can simply glance up to check a message or start a video call.
Ergonomics aside, this wireless charger can also refill your phone’s battery at up to 15W, which is the maximum wireless charging speed for Android phones and iPhones.
5. Fluidstance Raise+
A monitor riser can help prevent neck strain caused by looking downward at a screen for several hours each day. It may seem superfluous, but keeping your display at eye level can make a big difference in how you feel. This is doubly true if you use two displays at once.
If you’d like to make this home-office upgrade, we recommend Fluidstance’s new Raise+. This monitor stand is 36-inches long, which is more than enough space for your external display, and other accessories like an external hard drive or soundbar. More importantly it’s 4.75-inches tall, so your computer’s display will be elevated nearly half a foot.
Fluidstance bundles the Raise+ with a 8,000mAh external battery pack with two USB-A ports, one Micro USB port, and a USB-C port. The power bank sits in one of the two perfectly-shaped wells on either side the monitor stand. This makes the feature accessible to both right and left-handed people.
6. Amazon Basics High-Back Desk Chair
As someone who worked in an uncomfortable chair for far too long, I can speak to the importance of having a comfortable place to sit. I’m a fan of high-back chairs because they cradle your entire back. I’ve had Amazon Basics’ High-Back Bonded Leather Office Chair in my setup for several years, and never looked back.
It has more than enough padding on the seat, back, and arms for me to feel comfortable without allowing me to sink in. Its six wheels are remarkably smooth, which makes turning and moving around easy when necessary. The arms aren’t adjustable, but you can raise and lower the seat to the appropriate height for your desk.
If you have control over the chair you work in, I recommend that you strongly consider making this upgrade.
7. ComfiLife Anti Fatigue Floor Mat
Several studies cited by the MAYO Clinic have linked sitting at a desk all day with causing everything from higher blood pressure to obesity, which is why many people have started using standing desks. But standing all day can fatigue your feet and knees, even on carpeting (I speak from experience), so you’ll want a thick, padded mat.
This mat from ComfiLife is 0.75 inches thick, and has a core layer of foam, which allows it to conform to your feet. A non-slip bottom layer keeps the mat from moving while you stretch your feet, or walk on or off of it. ComfiLife’s mat is available in three sizes and 13 colors, so you can find one that fits your current office setup and the vibe of the room.
8. Gamma Ray Blue Light Blocking Glasses
The science isn’t totally out, but many institutions, including Harvard’s Medical School have linked the “blue light” emitted by computer, phone, and TV screens with worse sleep and eye fatigue. Blue light sets off a trigger in our brain that it’s time to stay alert, which is fine when it’s coming from the sun, but less-so when it’s coming from our screens.
Gamma Ray’s Blue Light Blocking Glasses are tinted amber, which reduces the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes. Everything will have a slightly rosier tint, so this is not an accessory for photo or video editors whose work requires 100% color accuracy, but most people won’t really notice. I’ve worn blue light reduction glasses before, and while they’re not a foolproof cure all to the effects of looking at a screen, they reduced the eye strain I felt at the end of a work day dramatically.
9. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX
Earbuds are an incredible convenience, but if you’re optimizing your workspace for comfort, you’ll want a good pair of over-ear headphones.The latest audiophile-friendly pair that’s crossed our desk is Bang & Olufen’s Beoplay HX.
The company put a huge focus on comfort when designing these headphones, paying particular attention to the clamping force (how hard the headband squeezes the earcups onto the sides of your head). This is something you may not have considered when buying a pair of headphones, but the difference was immediately apparent when putting the HXs on for the first time.
Comfort aside, the headphones sound very good. Lorde’s vocals come through clearly on Solar Power, the guitars on Warren Zevon’s Poor, Poor Pitiful Me sound menacing, and it’s easy to hear the string section on the 2019 mix of The Beatles’ Golden Slumbers. These are a small handful of highlights from my time with the Beoplay HXs, but your library should receive a sonic upgrade if you’ve never tried a premium pair of over-ear headphones.
10. Gaiam Balance Disc Wobble Cushion
Sitting with bad posture can have a serious impact on your health, but it’s easy to stop focusing on it when you get deep into your work. Enter Gaiam’s Balance Disc.
The air-filled, circular cushion sits on your chair and slightly throws off your balance. This sounds like a bad thing, but it means you have to actively focus on sitting up straight because you’ll instantly feel when you’re tilting left and right. This device was designed to help you work your core while you’re sitting down, and to help relieve stress by giving you a little game to play while you’re working.
One important note: You do have to fully inflate this cushion the first time you use it, which means you’ll need an air pump, too. Want something just for comfort and posture without the ab workout? Try this $30 ergonomic seat cushion instead.