For those of us who are usually 'office workers,' the COVID-19 pandemic might have caused a seismic shift in your work environment as suddenly your entire company moved to work from home.
By now, you might be adjusted. You've thrown out your pants and selected a Zoom shirt, you remember to close any embarrassing tabs well before sharing your screen, and you've figured out a way to keep your kids and pets (mostly) off-camera. Maybe you've even invested in a lap desk.
However, if you're still using a makeshift desk out of your kitchen table, a beanbag for an office chair, or suffering back pain from hovering over your laptop on the couch, it might be time to make some upgrades.
We're also looking to make some upgrades (and suffering from back pain, eye strain, and small New York apartment-itis) so take this journey with us, ok? We don't get paid for any of the affiliate links, but we will be blowing our next paycheck on a gadget we recommend from each category. All prices listed are those found at the time of posting.
Ergonomic office chairs
Questions we want to be answered: How can we stay seated for at least eight hours a day and not develop slumped shoulders? What office chair we buy that'll be ergonomic and look nice without a Herman Miller price-tag?
Varier's Balans Chair $399
For those of us with back problems or who find themselves pained (physically or mentally) by their inability to shift around while stuck on conference calls, this chair has a novel design that lets you easily move from sitting to kneeling without anyone on the other side of the screen having any idea. It also boasts an 'open-angle design, allowing you to move your legs in any direction while kneeling. If budget is no option and you want a beautifully designed, ergonomic chair – buy this.
Sleekform's Kneeling Chair $179
Not as pretty as Varier's Balans but comes close: this ergonomic chair gets the job done with its angled seat and padding. However, it doesn't have Balans' key feature: the open-angle design.
Boss Office Product's Kneeling Chair $80
If you were trading off of design for a discount, this would be a reasonable option. But you should note that it's also missing the 'open-angle design,' so what are you really getting from this pick?
If you're looking for an ergonomic option to support moving between sitting and standing at your desk during the workday.
Work From Home's Desk $396
Endlessly customizable, ergonomic, and easily storable if you think you might return to an office someday.
Ikea's Skarsta Desk Sit/Stand $239
Like its name: you can sit, you can stand. All the basic needs in a desk are covered (but nothing more).
This is the standing desk we use! Bonus that it's completely customizable–we've set up a standing *and* a seated desk by doubling the materials and stacking one plywood board about two feet above the other. Fold both down at the end of the day to make space to exercise.
If you're missing the outdoors or have a great view and you want to take full advantage: this laptop stand might be right for you. Though, maybe save yourself a couple of hundred dollars and hack a cat window seat instead.
Anthropologie's Oak Blackbird Bookshelf $2,998
Clean, simple lines: two features we like to apply to work and our furniture.
Urban Outfitters' Levy Bookshelf $79
Urban Outfitters keeps surprising us in the furniture department. They have some pretty good options with a great price range. We chose this bookcase because it can fit in even the smallest of apartments.
Industrial and minimal.
There is nothing dorkier than wearing a wrist brace due to carpal tunnel pain, but yet we've had to do it – twice. We're not alone, though, and there are fantastic options that'll keep your wrists from seizing up.
Microsoft Sculpt $123
A Bluetooth, split keyset design with a 'thumb scoop' to help you stay in the correct ergonomic position for minimal soreness.
Perixx Periboard $80
Split-key ergonomic design to relieve nerve pressure and tension in wrists and forearms.
Logitech K350 $37
A curved keyboard layout, not entirely split-key (so not entirely ergonomic) but cushioned to help prevent carpal tunnel and soreness.
If you share your space with others, noise-canceling headphones are a must. Start with whichever type of headphones you find most comfy: in-ear (earbuds), on-ear, or over-ear. We can't live without our Bluetooth headphones, but maybe you'd prefer the classic wire and jack (luckily, most Bluetooth sets still come with an optional cable). Here are our choices:
Apple Airpods Pro $249
These Bluetooth, noise-canceling earbuds are incredibly advanced gadgets.
Skullcandy Crusher Over-Ear Headphone $100
For lovers of the retro style, some nice-looking updated wireless (Bluetooth) headphones. Not noise-canceling but pretty great for the price.
Anker Soundcore Life P2 $45
Competitors to the Airpods but at a much better price (though less battery life...).
Fellow pour-over kettle $149
Tune your water to a specific temperature with this precise machine. Available on Amazon here.
Fellow Ode brew grinder $300
We don't grind without this. Amazon link.
While not listed on your performance review, staying active is mandatory for staying productive. Regular exercise helps beat back burnout symptoms, increases happiness, and can be a potent path to maintaining a good work-life balance, which is increasingly hard to do when working remotely.
Gaiam desk ball stool $90
Gaiam touts their ergonomic balance ball chair as promoting focus by allowing 'micro-movements.' We haven't dug into their science (yet), but from our experience as fidgety folks, it's pretty important that we can move around as we work.
Balance board set $180
It'll give you something productive to do during that 'update call.'
Under desk elliptical $122
Why not? Summer is coming up, we might all have our Coronavirus vaccines soon, and there's been a lot of chocolate eaten in quarantine.
Odds and ends
Appointed notebooks are gorgeous and a pleasure to write in.
Lamp with wireless charging and pen cup available on Urban Outfitters is basically all you need for desk accessories.
We love that Amazon Basics now has wall chargers to compete with Anker. We've invested in several.
Make any existing desk lamp better to leave on at all hours with these blue-light blocking light bulbs on Amazon.
Adorable little desk diffuser to throw some calming scents at your face during the fifth Zoom call of the day.