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While it’s easy to plunk yourself down wherever and call it an office, curating the space you work from is vital to your productivity and happiness, which—FYI—are the key components of a stellar career. This rings even truer when it comes to home offices. Taking the time to find the right setup and products for your best workday is a worthy investment of your energy, and you’ll see it come back to you in productivity returns!
In an effort to get your home office looking its most friendly and efficient, I’ve put together this list of must-have improvements so you can invest wisely, get working, and crush the workday feeling good.
Studies have proven that having plants around is good for your health—these leafy guys filter air while you get to work. But if you’re nervous about investing in something that might shrivel up after a week or two, don’t be. Plenty of plants in a variety of shapes and sizes are lauded for their resilient nature, and succulents are a solid, inexpensive place to start if you want to ease in to a desk side garden.
Soft Light Desk Lamp
We know that exposure to natural light during the day has positive effects on our mental and physical health (hello productivity!) but it’s important to pay attention to the level of light you’re working under as well. Investing in a soft desk lamp or softer lighting for your work area in general is a tried and true way to keep your workspace warm, happy, and welcoming. During those times when a difficult client or project pops up and you end up spending even more time in the office, a friendly environment will make the work fly by.
- ZEEFO Simple Table Lamp with Fabric Shade, Amazon, $20.99
- Dimmable LED Desk Lamp, WalMart, $25.00
- Desk Task Lamp, Target, $29.99
If you’re worried about wrist and hand strain and looking to upgrade before you end up in a sling, look no further than an ergonomic keyboard. Praised for offering wrists and forearms more support and for creating a more flexible workspace because of a split-keyset (varies depending on the model), an ergonomic keyboard may be your saving grace when it comes to carpal tunnel and hand cramps. Be sure to figure out what you need out of a specialized work keyboard (for example, help with better posture, wrist positioning, or natural curve of the arms?) before investing in this piece of equipment.
- Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard, Amazon, $60.75
- Adesso Tru-Form Media Contoured Ergonomic Keyboard, $32.53
There are tons of options out there when it comes to portable speakers for your workspace—which is great news if working to music, radio, or any number of audio programs keeps you motivated during the workday. If you’re the adventurous sort, check out something durable that can travel with you while you work. For a more calm environment, try something small but powerful that can clip to your desk and keep the tunes or podcasts pumping.
- Echo Dot Smart Speaker (Second Generation), Amazon, $39.99
- Anker Soundcore Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Amazon, $26.99
- JBL Clip 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Best Buy, $59.99
A totally practical piece of tech for your desk, a charging port means powering up your devices is more efficient than ever—ensuring that if you like moving from one device to another throughout the workday you’ll be able to do it seamlessly. That means you, notorious laptop/tablet/smartphone switchers. A charging port lets you charge everything at once, instead of having to rotate spots. Hello, time saver.
While I don’t suggest getting anything that might be an eyesore or a space eater, getting a modest filing cabinet to keep paper records in order is still a good investment (and one that will help you keep track of important documents). Keep in mind that filing cabinets—once the bane of office interior design—have made some significant aesthetic strides in recent years. Especially vital for freelancers or small business owners, a dedicated place to keep documents will help keep you from tearing your hair out during quarterly tax season, and give you a cute stand for a potted plant!
- Lateral 2 Drawers Filing Cabinet in Gray Wood, Target, $67.99
- Modern Luxe Metal Filing Cabinet, Amazon, $169.99
Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it—whiteboards come in all sizes and are an excellent repository for ideation, reminders, doodling while problem solving, or a myriad of other activities. Sometimes having the physical space to work through a problem visually is exactly what you need to get a project back on track. Plus the variety of colors, magnets, and other fun accessories you can add to a whiteboard make it easily customizable and aesthetically pleasing.
Especially important for all those freelancers and small business owners out there, a desk side scanner will make your life so much easier when it comes to keeping paper records and digitizing important documents that don’t require a hard copy. And don’t worry about cluttering up your workspace with tech—as of this writing there are plenty of compact options on the market.
- Epson Workforce DS-30, Dell, $149
- Brother DS-920DW Wireless Mobile Duplex Color Page Scanner, Refurbished, Staples, $99.99
Even if you’ve invested in something like a standing desk or a desk cycle to help beat the workday slouch, it’s still critical to really stretch those muscles at least once or twice a day. You’ll feel invigorated, more limber, and less tense with regular stretching—take it from a seasoned office stretcher. A cushy yoga mat is just the thing to inspire a quick sun salutation or motivate you to work out the kinks in child’s pose before getting back to business. If you want an extra luxurious feel, spring for the thick model for mega support.