Adjusting to the New Normal
Working from home is the new normal for many people. According to a nationwide survey conducted by a Stanford University economist, 42 percent of the U.S. labor force now works from home on a full-time basis. And when (or if) the pandemic subsides, most of these employees will continue working from home either full or part time.
If you’re among the ranks of those working from home, you may be grappling with how best to set up your office to take advantage of the more relaxed environment without getting so comfy that you fall asleep. And because you may not have quite as much room at home as you’d like, you probably also need to make the most of limited space so you can work both efficiently and effectively.
Here, we’ve rounded up 18 great work-from-home items that are sure to enhance your comfort and productivity.
Adjustable-Height Standing Desk
Sitting is the new smoking. According to an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, sitting for a long time can lead to not only weight gain, but also diabetes, poor heart health, depression, dementia, and several types of cancer. An adjustable-height standing desk can help you fight against these health dangers by letting you work while sitting or standing up. The FlexiSpot Electric Height-Adjustable Desk can be raised from 28 to 47.6 inches at the push of a button. The desk also has three programmable memory presets, so you don’t have to remember your last setting. It’s spacious and sturdy, with a large desktop space (55 inches by 28 inches) and steel legs that can support up to 154 pounds. Available on Amazon.
Good, Cushy Chair
One benefit of working from home is the ability to choose your own chair. You’re no longer limited to a boring, basic black office option made of mesh and plastic. If you’re looking for a companion chair for your adjustable-height standing desk, you might want to opt for something like the stylish, ergonomically designed SOHO Soft Pad Drafting Chair. Made of leatherette upholstery and a steel frame, it cushions your back and behind, and can hold up to 400 pounds. The chair is also versatile: The seat height can be adjusted from 24.5 to 33 inches, the armrest can be adjusted from 30 to 38.5 inches (or you can use it without the arms), and the seat can tilt back and be locked at the desired degree of tilt. The chair comes in a variety of colors, including camel/brown, blue, dark brown, dark gray, gray, and black leatherette as well as dark blue and dark gray fabric. Available on Amazon.
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Now that you’re working from home, you may be tired of staring at your tiny laptop screen. If you’d like something a little bigger, the good news is that you can get an external computer monitor without spending a lot of money. The reasonably priced AUZAI 24-inch Computer Monitor, for instance, can save your eyes, your posture, and your pocketbook. The 1080p FHD LED flicker-free monitor has a 75Hz refresh rate. The 178-degree viewing angle and slim frame on the top and sides, combined with an anti-glare LED-backlit panel, ensure a comfortable viewing experience. The monitor has both HDMI and VGA ports, so it works with most laptops and PCs, and it includes VESA mounting so you can put it on a desk arm or even affix it to the wall. Available on Amazon.
Adjustable Desk Converter
Suppose you already have a perfectly good desk and don’t want to buy a new one, but you’d like to get the benefits of an adjustable-height standing desk. An adjustable desk converter can help you achieve the same result. For example, the VariDesk Pro Plus 36-inch Desk Converter can be placed on top of your existing desk and adjusted to 11 different height settings that can raise it a total of 17½ inches off your desk. And because the desk converter is 36 inches wide, it provides plenty of room to hold a laptop, two monitors, and other office essentials. There’s also a lower tier for your keyboard. No assembly required—just take it out of the box and put it on top of your desk. The spring-assisted handle on either side makes the desk converter easy to raise or lower, and it can hold up to 35 pounds. Available on Amazon.
Wireless Illuminated Keyboard
Just as an external monitor can make for a better viewing experience, a separate keyboard can provide a more comfortable typing experience. The Logitech MX Keys Advanced Wireless Illuminated Keyboard is designed to provide comfort when you’re typing for long periods of time. The indented keys fit the shape of your fingertips for more natural and accurate typing, and the matte coating helps your fingers glide over the surface. The keyboard is also illuminated—but only when it senses your fingers. When you leave the desk, the backlighting fades to help save power. The full-size keyboard, which includes a number pad, can last up to 10 days on a single USB-C charge, and it can last up to five months if you turn off the backlighting. It’s compatible with Mac, Windows, and several other operating systems. Available on Amazon.
Ergonomic Wireless Mouse
Muscle fatigue is a common complaint when using computer mice. Wield your mouse in comfort with an ergonomic product like the Logitech MX Vertical Wireless Mouse. Its natural handshake position (a 57-degree angle), natural grip, premium scroll wheel, and textured thumb area are all designed to improve your posture and performance. High-precision sensors require four times less hand motion, which in turn can reduce muscle fatigue and wrist pressure. A single charge lasts for four months, and a 60-second charge lasts for three hours. The mouse can be used with Windows and Mac computers, and can switch between three devices. Available on Amazon.
Related: 15 Home Office Essentials You Didn't Know You Needed
Vertical Desktop Stand
If you’re using an external computer monitor, you don’t need your laptop taking up valuable real estate on your desk. The Twelve South BookArc Vertical Desktop Stand allows you to close your laptop and move it out of the way. It not only makes your desk less cluttered, but you no longer have to worry about spilling drinks and food on your laptop. The vertical stand holds your laptop securely, leaving the ports easily accessible, and the cable-catch feature keeps your cords neatly off the floor. The vertical stand is designed for MacBooks and comes in Space Grey or Silver. Available on Amazon.
Another option for maximizing your screen real estate is setting up a second monitor to be used alongside your laptop. A portable monitor is ideal for this application. The Lepow Z1 Gamut Portable Monitor has a 15.6-inch FHD 1080p IPS screen and a 60Hz refresh rate. It includes dual speakers, a headphone jack, a mini HDMI port, and a Type-C port. The monitor can be viewed in landscape or portrait mode and has a smart cover made of polyurethane leather that not only protects the device but can also be used as a monitor stand. The lightweight portable monitor (1.7 pounds) is compatible with laptops, PCs, tablets, phones, and even gaming consoles. Available on Amazon.
XL Air Fryer
Two potential pitfalls of working from home are eating too much unhealthy food and spending too much time on household chores like cooking. Enter the air fryer, an appliance that saves time and reduces fat. The Chefman 8-Quart TurboFry Air Fryer uses little to no oil to make your meals a lot healthier, and because the basket is so large, you can air-fry enough food for the whole family. The four presets make it super easy to cook meat, fish, chicken, and fries, but you can also air-fry veggies, pizza, and even leftovers. The stainless steel air fryer also has a nonstick interior and is dishwasher safe, so you can quickly clean up and get back to work. Available on Amazon.
Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer
If you like to multitask at work, you may find yourself using your smartphone for Zoom meetings while also working on your laptop or desktop. Or perhaps you really don’t want people looking at your office setup, so you tend to move to another area of the home during video calls. But when you do, you realize that holding your phone can be a hassle, and most phone stands position the phone at an awkward angle. The 3-Axis Smartphone Gimbal Stabilizer is actually designed to be used when creating videos, so it holds your phone at the perfect angle and eliminates shaking—even if you’re walking around the house or running errands. You can hold the gimbal stabilizer in your hand, or open the legs to create a tripod and set it down. Available on Amazon.
Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones
There’s one thing that everyone working from home needs: a peaceful and quiet environment. If your work setting isn’t naturally quiet, the Sennheiser HD 450BT Wireless Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones can put an end to those annoying sounds so you can concentrate. The combination of active noise-cancellation technology and a closed ear design effectively shuts out distractions. The headphones also provide excellent sound, whether you’re listening to a podcast or your favorite tune, and the 30-hour battery means you can use these wireless headphones for several days without charging. They’re compatible with Google Assistant and Siri, and there’s even a Sennheiser app that allows you to customize your listening experience and view your battery status. Available on Amazon.
Related: 11 Ideas for Working Remotely When You Don’t Have a Home Office
Multitasking Desk Lamp
There’s probably not a lot of space on your desk, so it’s important to have desk accessories that can do double—or even triple—duty. The LumiCharge LED Smart Adjustable Desk Lamp has three hues (white, soft white, and soft yellow) and 10 levels of brightness. The light sits on an adjustable arm that can move up and down, and rotate left and right. The lamp incorporates an LED display that includes the time, month/date/day, and temperature, and offers multiple alarm options. In addition, you can set the night light to switch on when it detects motion. If that’s not enough, the desk lamp also has a Qi-compatible charging dock, so it can be used with iPhone, Android, and other phone types. The lamp comes in silver and black. Available on Amazon.
Wireless ANC Earbuds
If you don’t like over-ear headphones, you can still achieve a level of active noise cancellation with earbuds. The JLab Audio Epic Air ANC True Wireless Earbuds have three noise-control modes to help you create the best working environment. One charge yields at least 12 hours of play time in each earbud, and when you use the charging case, you can get an additional 36 hours of play time. The earbuds can also be used for phone calls. Each earbud has two mics: One picks up and eliminates noise, while the other picks up your voice to make it clear to callers. Among other helpful functions, the wear detect sensor pauses your music when you take one earbud out of your ear, and the JLab app lets you customize settings or use the presets. Available on Amazon.
When you’re working from home, it’s tempting to take a break to wash dishes, load the washing machine, or clean the house. The Neato Robotics D4 Laser-Guided Smart Robot Vacuum is a beginner-friendly robot vac that does its work while you’re doing yours. You can even schedule it to clean your carpet and hard flooring on certain days or at certain times using the Neato app on your phone, Google Home, Apple Watch, or Amazon Echo. After creating a map, the laser smart robot vacuum will suck up everything in its path, including pet hair, but it will clean only in the zones that you have specified. If you set no-go lines (for example, the kid’s room), the robot vacuum will avoid those areas. With a combo brush and a D-shaped design, it can reach around and under furniture, and clean close up against walls and in corners. One charge lasts for 75 minutes. Who knows? After a few laps through the house, your new smart vac might just become your favorite officemate. Available on Amazon.
Even though you’re working from home, sometimes you still need to go out, and you may as well be stylish and comfortable when you do. The Solo New York Reade Vintage Leather Backpack is made of full-grain leather, so it won’t tear up in a few months. It has a padded back and straps, and a padded 15.6-inch zippered laptop compartment, so it will cushion not only your tech, but also your shoulders and back. The lined interior has a quick-access pocket, and there’s an organizer section to carry books, magazines, and other essentials. The backpack comes in black and espresso, and at 16.25 inches by 13 inches by 7 inches, it’s neither too big nor too small. Available on Amazon.
When you’re working from home every day, the occasional power outage is inevitable. Whether the electricity quits because of a storm, vehicle accident, or some other calamity, if you’re in the middle of a big project, you may not have time to wait for the power to be restored. That’s when a solar generator can be a lifesaver. The Jackery Explorer 240 Solar Generator can power your laptop for two charges, your tablet for 7.5 charges, a light (like a Tansoren 4-pack) for 21 hours, or a phone for 24 charges. And because the generator is solar powered, you can recharge it using the included solar charger (which is foldable and portable, and weighs only 3.3 pounds), or with a wall outlet, car outlet, or another generator. Available on Amazon.
Staring at a computer screen all day, whatever its size, isn’t good for your eyes. Taking breaks helps, but you still end up spending many hours each day gazing at screens, whether on your computer or your phone. Felix Gray Nash Blue Light Blocking Glasses help to stop eye strain caused by screen time. Set in handcrafted Italian acetate frames, these lenses are designed to eliminate glare and filter the harmful blue light that can cause headaches and disrupt sleep, and may lead to macular degeneration. The glasses have an anti-reflective coating that reduces 99 percent of the glare that comes from computer screens and filters 90 percent of the high-energy blue light. The glasses come in a variety of frame colors, including Black, Artichoke, Whiskey Tortoise, and Graphite. Available on Amazon.
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Muscle Massage Gun
Even if you have the right desk, chair, keyboard, mouse, and other ergonomically correct work-from-home wonder products, your muscles can sometimes still get tense and achy. The AEVO Muscle Massage Gun comes with six massage heads, including a ball massage head for large muscle groups; a pinpoint massage head for deep-tissue massage; an A-shaped massage head for medium to large muscle groups; a flat massage head for large muscle groups; a U-shaped massage gun for the neck, spine, and Achilles tendon; and a D-shaped massage head for relaxing the legs, arms, and chest. The ergonomically designed massage gun fits well in your hand and is small enough to carry in a backpack or gym bag. Available on Amazon.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!