If your job qualifies as an “office job,” it’s very likely that you’ve been doing it mostly or entirely in one place this past year and a half: your home office.
Many of us had home offices before the pandemic. Some were actual, you know, offices dedicated to business and business only. Others were a bit more casual: couches, kitchen tables, cramped bedrooms. Either way, we’ve had to make significant and sometimes rushed investments to turn them into the kinds of places we feel comfortable spending most of our waking time.
And, yeah, places that enable us to work productively. That.
Some of these investments have benefits beyond the home office, like smart home solutions that lower energy bills and make life more convenient. Others are really all about workaday comfort and productivity.
Even as life gets back to almost normal, most office-dwellers are likely to spend more time working at home from here on out, thanks to increased scheduling flexibility and relaxed remote-work policies. So it’s not too late to invest in a space that helps you perform at your very best.
Here’s a list of what to buy — and why — for your home workspace.
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A Smart Thermostat or Home Hub (Somewhere Nearby)
A smart thermostat won’t just keep you comfortable during the workday. It could also help trim the cost of working from home, now that you’re actually around to use heat, air conditioning, and electricity during the workday. Consider upgrading to a smart home hub if you have other automated systems serving your home office or other parts of your home, like smart lights and smart speakers.
An Ultrawide Monitor (Or Two)
It’s time to join the rest of the working world and rock the two-monitor setup.
Or not. A single ultrawide monitor works just fine for most people. But you do need more width than the average off-the-shelf monitor can provide. It’ll cost less than you think, too; it’s the computer that’ll set you back. More on that later.
A Standing Desk
By now, you’re well aware of the benefits of using a standing desk. If you’re resistant to buying one, it’s probably on account of the cost.
The solution: invest in a hybrid standing desk that adjusts from sitting to standing position effortlessly, with multiple stops along the way. Yes, it will cost more up front, but it will change your working life.
A Wireless Mouse
Wait, you’re still using a wired mouse? What is this, 1999?
Stop. Stop right now. Well, buy a wireless mouse first. Then set your old wired mouse aside for good.
Want a change of scenery on your porch or patio? Working through lunch at your kitchen table? Heading to the coffee shop for an afternoon of social work? You get the idea. A wireless mouse dramatically improves flexibility and mobility during the workday.
An Ergonomic Keyboard (Preferably Wireless)
Your keyboard can and should go wireless as well. While you’re making a change, invest in an ergonomic keyboard that’s padded and shaped to ease the burden on your wrists and fingers.
A Videoconferencing Bar
If you’re still taking lots of video meetings from your home office, your computer’s built-in camera won’t do. Nor will the awkward external camera with a clip that barely clings to your monitor.
You need a videoconferencing bar that builds a super-sturdy attachment into a state-of-the-art camera with automatic focus and excellent audio quality. Your boss will appreciate it, too.
A Mute Button
A mute button for your audio, not your chatty coworkers’, unfortunately. Nevertheless, something that’s just short of essential if you hope to maintain a flawless record of video-conferencing etiquette.
This handy button rests atop your desk (or wherever you want it) and allows you to cut your meeting audio with one tap of a finger. Plus, it alerts your “coworkers” (that is, your kids and other cohabitants) when you’re really not available.
A Laptop That Actually Lasts
…And is powerful enough to replace your tower computer (desktop) once and for all. Because it’s not entirely clear that you actually need a desktop computer anymore. Spend a little more for a better model and you could delay the next laptop purchase long enough to justify the expense.
If you’re not the only person working or studying from the general vicinity of your home office, noise-canceling headphones are not optional. They’re the only way to reliably drown out distraction and buckle down, whether you choose to pipe music through them or maintain meditative silence. Oh, and good noise-canceling headphones should improve meeting audio as well.
A Wireless Print/Scan Device
Yet another wire to cut while adding a bit of convenience to your life. Even if you don’t need to print that often, you’ll appreciate the convenience of a high-res scanner within arm’s reach of your workstation. Most still come with the copy function, too.
Give Your Home Office a Tech Makeover That Lasts
For the most part, these home office tech aids aren’t the sorts of gadgets you’d look at twice in the electronics or furniture aisle, with the possible exception of the mute button — although you have to admit that’s a cool one.
What makes these bits of home office tech so interesting is the fact that they’re so, well, normal. Anyone who’s been confined to a home office for eight hours (or longer) a day for the past year and a half can see themselves wanting (and actually using) each and every one.
Even as capacity restrictions lift and the working world gets back to something approaching normal, these tools and others like them will enhance the work-from-home experience for those who remain remote, whether part- or full-time.
And, let’s face it: There’s a good chance you’ll remain remote for some time longer, whether by choice or necessity. Why not invest in a home office setup that you actually want to walk into each morning?