With all the time you’ve been working from home the last few months, you might have noticed—as we have—that to do it efficiently, you need more than a laptop and a kitchen table. Whether it’s plowing through emails to reach inbox zero or Zoom calls, upgrading a few pieces of gear can help you work more comfortably and be more productive. Sure, a dedicated home office where you can shut the door is ideal, but even if your workspace is less a room and more of a nook, this smart-looking gear is the sort of stuff you don’t mind leaving out.
Article Culla Desk
At 55 inches wide, the Culla, pictured above, offers plenty of work surface for your laptop, a lamp, and other gear, but at just 20 inches deep, it won’t hog floor space. With a DIY assembly process that takes about 15 minutes, the oak or walnut veneer over MDF means the top is solid and flat, making it easier to write on. The solid wood turned legs help lighten the feel of the desk. Two drawers help hide the clutter of Post-it note pads, pens, and charging cables, and the center opening can hold a full-size keyboard. The splayed legs leave a little more room to tuck in a small wastebasket while not robbing legroom. We like the mid-century modern look which fits in with a bunch of different styles.
Herman Miller Mid-Back Cosm Chair
If you’ve worked in corporate America, maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have worked in a Herman Miller chair. At home, you want the same ergonomic support, but in a smart-looking package you’ll love. Berlin-based design firm Studio 7.5 spent about eight years working on the Cosm for Herman Miller. The result is a design that simply lets you sit down and forget you’re in a chair. Gone are the days of endlessly fussing with knobs and levers to dial in the right fit. When we sat in the Cosm, we adjusted one lever for the overall height, and two more under each arm—that’s it. The automatic tilt design adds the right amount of resistance when you recline. It’s passive ergonomics: The chair won’t let you tilt back so far that you lift your feet off the ground, which can add pressure to your back and neck. The sleek exoskeleton provides flexible support behind the one-piece mesh seat, which won’t trap heat like leather. The Cosm comes in three different height options, six colors, and a few armrest styles. If you like to pull up close to your desk, spring for the angled leaf arms, which will support your elbows but won’t crash into your desk.
[From: $1,395; store.hermanmiller.com]
HP OfficeJet Pro 9020 All-in-One Printer
When you’re not relying on your employer to subsidize those non-work-related printing tasks, you need a machine at home that does it all. The OfficeJet Pro 9020 is everything a printer needs to be: simple to set up, lets you print from anywhere in your home’s network, employs a touch screen and a smartphone app, can print directly from Google Suite, and handles the occasional scanned and copied documents. The two trays hold 500 sheets of paper so you don’t have half-opened reams cluttering up the office. The 17.20 x 15.60-inch footprint the HP takes up makes it the right size to park over a filing cabinet or smaller table.
Netgear Orbi WiFi AC1200 Mesh Network
The backbone of a home office is a strong WiFi network. You need one to work from the desk, the sofa, or the back patio. If you’ve cut the cord, you already know streaming TVs and movies on a substandard system isn’t a great experience. The Orbi AC1200 is a four-pack, dual-band mesh system that is easy to set up and blankets a house up to 6,000 square feet with fast and reliable WiFi (there are other configurations for smaller homes). Plug one of the cubes into your modem, then spread the remaining three around your house and in your office near power outlets. Then, control it all from the easy app. The clean modern design looks great set out on a desk or countertop.
Dyson Lightcycle Morph Desk Lamp
When is a desk lamp worth a month’s rent? When it does more than just shine light and looks like a cool piece of modern sculpture you don’t mind looking at even when it’s off. The Morph changes into different configurations to suit a variety of working conditions and times of day. Swing the arm out and the LED blasts up to 850 adjustable lumens down on your work surface. But you can rotate the arm up to wash a wall in light (or highlight artwork) or the ceiling. Swing the arm around to dock it (magnetically, of course) and light fills the perforated center shaft with an ambient glow. It’s all controllable through Dyson’s app. The lamp has technology built in—a small amount of water runs in a closed loop of vaporizing, condensing, and cooling—to keep the temperature-sensitive LEDs stable. The Morph should last about 60 years, so make room for it in your will. Dyson also included enough smarts to track the quantity and quality of your office’s natural daylight and adjust the Morph’s brightness and color temperature. If you find it hard to get to sleep after a long day of looking at screens, the daylight tracking also winds down the amount of blue light it sends out, so it won’t mess with your circadian rhythm. We used it to help with task lighting during the day on our desk, but also rotated it upwards to bounce light off the walls during video streaming sessions and Zoom calls. It also looks great in ambient light mode in your bedroom. A built-in USB-C port keeps your phone charged up, too.
Bose Portable Smart Speaker
There are plenty of smart speakers to help with the audio on Zoom calls, but few pump out the clear sound—and let you go outside—like this Bose. Not much bigger than a jar of tomato sauce, the Bose pumps sound out 360 degrees in water-resistant design that isn’t overly fussy. It works with both Alexa and the Google Assistant, and if you’re within the Apple ecosystem you can play music from your devices through AirPlay 2. We love the tactile feel of the buttons on top, the 12-hour battery life, and the very simple Bose app that helps control it when you’re away from the speaker. It won’t be long before this becomes your go-to for working (or playing) in the backyard because even if you’re out of a WiFi network, you can still stream your tunes with Bluetooth.
Dell UltraSharp 25 USB-C Monitor
This might come as a surprise, but if you’re working from home, that laptop’s screen probably isn’t going to cut it. Think about all the wasted time switching between apps—Google Docs, Slack, browser, Dropbox—because the screen size is too limiting. The good news is you can stretch your visual space out without blowing up your budget or looking like a day trader. The 25-inch UltraSharp’s screen is about 22.5 x 13-inches, which is plenty of room to keep two apps going at full size, especially when using the tile option in iOS. The ISP has the power and color rending to make working on photos easier and streaming more enjoyable. With QHD-rated 2,560 by 1,440 pixels and a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio, mindlessly cruising the internet is better this build handles most daily tasks without paying for a 4K price tag. Our favorite part is the easy setup: We had it running in 10 minutes without reading a manual. The stand is easy to adjust and keeps the screen at eye level (with about 5 inches of vertical travel), where it should be, and with one USB-C cord, it takes your laptop to the big screen while charging the device.
Logitech MX for Mac
Like a bigger monitor, you’ll appreciate a full-size keyboard that provides some space. With the MX for Mac combo you don’t have to sacrifice style for user experience. The MX Keys wireless keyboard can control multiple devices, which is helpful if you keep a tablet or iPhone nearby. The styling feels very Apple, and the full-size keys have a very similar feel to a Mac with divots in the middle. The rechargeable battery will last about 10 days on a full charge, and if you dial down or turn off the built-in backlit feature you might get five months—though that backlit feature is cool, as it lights up as your hands approach. But the MX Master 3 mouse might be the secret weapon to your office efficiency. With six buttons and two wheels, all of which are customizable through software, you can switch between projects and apps or blitz through your work without much effort. The wireless mouse is comfortable and the magnetically controlled wheel lets you fly through pages—about 1,000 lines in a second—when you want to, but also can give you the click-feeling you need to dial into precision work. The MX mouse is very comfortable and it’ll work on just about any surface, even if you have a sleek glass desktop. The machined metal wheels give you an exceptional amount of control if you’re working on detailed projects in Photoshop.
[$100 for MX Keys, $100 for MX Master 3; logitech.com]
Brydge Stone Pro Multi-Port Hub
Without a hub to corral all the peripheral devices, that clean desk will become cluttered in no time. The Stone Pro connects to your MacBook using a single Thunderbolt 3, then you can port into it with any number of devices, supported at Thunderbolt speed. Run two displays, wired headphones or mics, read SD cards—eight different inputs in total. Even if you don’t have an external screen, the Stone Pro acts as a wedge underneath a laptop. It charges everything, too. We had it ready to go in minutes—plug the Stone Pro into an outlet, then connect it to your MacBook, and plug in an external screen. It kept our desk free and clear while matching the finish on our Mac.