To help you stay comfortable and productive, we’ve compiled a list of true home office essentials.
1. ComputerFew people can work from home without a laptop or desktop computer. Whereas you may be able to perform some tasks with a tablet, you are often going to be limited. For instance, processor power is lower, storage is smaller, and typing is more difficult. There’s also the fact that you cannot use a mouse, some types of software are unavailable, and you can’t have multiple monitors.
If you’re like most people, you’ll probably prefer a laptop to a desktop computer. This gives you the freedom to move elsewhere in your house if you become bored of staring at the same wall in front of you. In fact, a laptop may be a necessity if you sometimes need to work at another place, such as back at the company office or at a client’s workplace.
Budget OptionFor decent hardware at a good price, a top choice is the HP Chromebook 15. It has a long battery life — meaning you don’t need to worry about keeping it plugged in all the time — and 4 GB of memory, which is sufficient for most people.
High-Range OptionFor a high-range laptop, most people turn to Apple. The MacBook Pro is a favorite among professionals. It costs more than twice as much as the Chromebook above, but it gives you many more (and better) features. For instance, it comes with up to 32 GB of memory, some of the highest-quality graphics you’ll find with any laptop, and a Touch Bar that offers shortcuts according to what you’re doing.
2. DeskWhen you start out working from home, you may decide to sit on the couch or even spread everything out on your bed. However, you’ll quickly find this becomes both inconvenient and uncomfortable. It’s impossible to maintain good posture sitting on the couch all day — you’ll be hunched over and tense — and working on your bed is worse still.
There’s no need for a desk to be anything fancy. If you just use a laptop and perhaps some papers, you’ll just need space enough for those. It can also be motivating to have a personal item like a plant or a photo of your dog — although these are not essential! If you do need more materials to work, find a desk with drawers or shelves.
Budget OptionIt doesn’t get any simpler than the Seville Classics Ergonomic Table. The surface is large enough for your laptop, phone, and perhaps a notebook, but not much else. You’ll be able to find somewhere to fit this desk even if you have extremely limited space. Plus, the wheels allow you to move to a different location with ease and the desk has an adjustable height, allowing you to switch from sitting to standing in a moment.
High-Range OptionIf you like the traditional look of a solid wooden desk and you need plenty of workspace, you may like to opt for something like the Bush Furniture Cabot L-Shaped Computer Desk. It comes in Espresso Oak, Heather Gray, Harvest Cherry, and White. There’s a storage cabinet with fluted glass, a file drawer, a box drawer, and an open storage space.
3. Desk ChairNo desk is complete without a comfortable desk chair. That goes for standing desks, too. If you’re working a full day, you’ll find it too tiring to stay standing for the entire time — standing for hours on end is something you need to build up to gradually. Plus, it’s no good going for a kitchen chair when you get tired; that will undo all your hard work improving your posture and could even mean you injure yourself.
Think carefully about what kind of chair you’d find most comfortable. Do you want armrests? Do you need to move around? Would you prefer an ergonomic stool? Whatever you pick, you should be able to adjust the chair to a height that allows you to keep your feet flat on the floor and your arms at a 90-degree angle.
Budget OptionIt’s important to invest a decent amount in your chair. However, there are still plenty of budget options to choose from. A top option is this basic ergonomic office chair from BestOffice. The cheapest model is in black, but if you want a snazzy home office and don’t mind paying a little extra, you may like vivid blue, green, orange, red, or pink.
High-Range OptionIf you work long hours and are concerned about your health, it may be worthwhile making your desk chair one of your biggest investments. For instance, the Nouhaus Ergo3D has an adjustable armrest, lumbar support, and super-lounge tilt. Plus, the soft mesh allows air to circulate, preventing the unpleasant sensation of a sweaty back.
4. HeadphonesWhether you are taking calls, face many distractions at home, live next to a busy street, or just want to stay motivated by listening to music, headphones are essential. The best options are those with noise cancelation and a decent microphone. This will allow you to hear everyone and ensure that everyone can hear you at virtual meetings.
Budget OptionIf you’re looking to spend just enough for decent sound and a microphone, your best bet is to choose earbuds rather than a proper headset. There are various options under $20, including the MuveAcoustics Drive. These earbuds are stereo (which is important for music), have active noise cancellation, and work with any device.
High-Range OptionMany of the top headsets are for gaming. These are just as suitable for working — although some come in bright colors, which may look strange in a video call. The Razer Kraken Gaming Headset, though, comes in pure black. It works for both Windows and Mac computers, has a retractable isolating microphone, and offers immersive 7.1 surround sound.
5. Fast WiFiTo have a virtual meeting without your connection dropping — and even just operate online without long load times — you need a decent internet connection. If your connection is too slow, there are a few things you can do.
To start, consider purchasing a better plan, especially if it’s been several years since you last updated. You may still be paying for 3 Mbps, which is unlikely to be enough. If your plan is not the problem, try moving the router nearer to your home office. Alternatively, you may need to update the router — you can buy a new one or just purchase a better antenna. If none of these work, a WiFi repeater, booster, or extender will likely help.
Budget OptionA new antenna is a cheap way to boost your internet signal. This can solve the problem if you’re unable to move your router close to where you work and you have thick walls that are slowing the connection. You can find a quality antenna for less than $10, such as this one from QUEENTI.
High-End OptionTo increase both coverage and speed, you may like to try a WiFi extender like the Netgear WiFi Range Extender EX3700. This expands coverage by up to 1,000 feet, allows you to connect as many as 15 devices, and offers up to 750 Mbps. It also has a wired ethernet port for when you need an extra reliable connection.
5. LampIt’s important to avoid straining your eyes when working. Sometimes, natural light from a window or an overhead light is insufficient, especially if you work after dark. A directional lamp, in particular, is great if you ever need to work on paper.
Budget OptionThe Sunbeam Flexible Neck LED Desk offers a simple, stylish way to light up the portion of your desk you need brightened. It’s Energy Star certified, meaning it will use a minimal amount of energy. Plus, it has a 5-foot cord, making it easy to find somewhere to plug the lamp nearby without the need for an energy strip.
High-End OptionGentle on the eyes, this desk lamp from AFROG uses LED light. Even better, it has five lighting modes, allowing you to adjust light levels throughout the day. What’s extra special about this lamp, though, is that it’s multifunctional: it also features a wireless and USB charger for your phone. Finally, as it folds up, it requires minimal space — you could even fit it on the small desk we saw earlier.
We’re not saying that you definitely won’t need anything more than these home office equipment essentials. Depending on your job, there may be many other tools you require. However, almost everyone will find that they do need all the above to create a comfortable and productive workspace at home.