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When offices first shut down in March 2020 at the start of what is now a global pandemic, most of us only expected the work-from-home arrangement to be temporary. However, a poll from Gallup found that as of April of this year, 72 percent of white collar workers are still working from home at least 10 percent of the time. Many offices were poised to open again this past fall, but with concerns about the new delta variant, several major companies — including Facebook, Amazon and Google — delayed the return until 2022.
If you’ve been using your home as an office for more than a year at this point, it’s likely you’ve set up some sort of workspace and fallen into a comfortable — or uncomfortable — work-from-home routine. Here at Select, we want to help you make your arrangement as perfect for you as possible — we regularly consult experts about office furniture and accessories that are conducive to a healthier and more productive work environment. Our coverage has included everything from ergonomic desk chairs and keyboards to seat cushions and desk fans. Below, we compiled all of our guidance on establishing a work-from-home setup and rounded up expert-recommended and highly rated products to help you do so.
Shopping for a work-from-home setup: What to consider
One buzzword people like to throw around a lot when talking about work environments is “ergonomics.” As we reported in our guide to ergonomic office chairs, the Occupational Hazard and Safety Administration (OHSA) describes ergonomics as “fitting a job to a person” in order to prevent muscle pain and fatigue and increase productivity. Many brands design their office equipment specifically with ergonomics in mind — this type of hardware can help support your body and prevent fatigue throughout the workday.
Keeping your workspace organized is also paramount. When we spoke to organization and productivity experts about arranging and decluttering workstations, they said a disorderly desk can cause distractions and diminish productivity. A simple way to avoid this, they noted, is by keeping papers and supplies neatly tucked away in filing cabinets or drawers with organizers.
Best work-from-home products
From furniture like chairs and desks to accessories like fans and filing cabinets, here are some of the best office products we’ve covered, plus where to learn more about each product and topic.
Best desk furniture
“If you tend to sit at a desk for most of the day leaning forward to look at your screen, and then sit slouched on your couch with your neck bent down looking at your cell phone, you may find yourself in poor posture in most everything you do,” physical therapist Erica Eannucci warned. A standing desk can help mitigate these issues and possibly even avoid them entirely: With a standing desk, you can alternate between sitting and standing while you work, which reduces the strain on your back, neck and shoulders.
This desk is completely electric, so it’s easy to convert it into a standing desk as tall as 47 inches and revert it back into a regular one as short as 29 inches. Built into the electric panel are two USB-A charging ports and three memory buttons that can store your go-to height settings. The tempered glass top can also be written on with dry erase markers just like a whiteboard.
The ergonomic experts we spoke to said that what distinguishes an ergonomic chair from a regular one is adjustability. This one from Branch features seven different adjustment points, including seat height, seat depth, tilt tension, armrest width and lumbar support. The chair is covered by a double layer of reinforced mesh weave, which the brand says promotes comfort and breathability.
Another type of desk chair to consider is a kneeling chair. Chiropractor Ashley Cruz previously told Select that this chair style can take pressure off of your lower back by maintaining your body’s natural “S” curve. “When you sit in a typical desk chair, you’re left to your own devices and may hunch forward. Kneeling chairs may help fix this,” she explained.
Sleekform’s kneeling chair is a good option if comfort is your top priority. The height of the chair can be adjusted from 21 inches to 28 inches, and the brand claims its 4-inch-thick foam cushions are twice as large as most competitors.
Best desk accessories
If you prefer to keep hard copies of your files and documents, a letter tray can help you stay organized and store everything in one place. This one from IKEA comes with four trays that can be pulled out for easy access to papers. Caroline Solomon, founder of New York City-based home organizing business NEATLY, recommends labeling each tray to keep track of where things go.
If you don’t want to completely overhaul your desk setup, another way to avoid hunching over your computer all day is with a laptop stand. A laptop stand raises your computer to eye level, which reduces the strain put on your head and neck discs. This stand — which can hold any laptop 10.4 inches or less — raises the screen up 5.9 inches and has a 2-inch hole in the back for cables to manage any cables and wires.
You also don’t have to replace your office chair completely to upgrade the comfort of your setup. A seat cushion can’t give a chair more adjustability, but it can cushion the seat and decrease the amount of pressure on your lower back and derriere. Mattress company Purple makes several different standout seat cushions — notably, the Double Seat Cushion is made of the brand’s proprietary memory foam alternative called Grid for contouring support and breathability. Additionally, you can flip the cushion depending on how much support you need — one side is plusher for softer chairs while the other is firmer for harder chairs.
If you tend to get overheated while working at your desk, a mini fan can help you stay cool without driving up your electricity bill. This one from SkyGenius also won’t take up any space on your workspace since it’s designed to clip onto the edge of a table. It can be powered by both a rechargeable battery and a USB power source, and the fan head rotates vertically up to 360 degrees.