This year has been quite a ride, with the COVID-19 outbreak triggering a (still ongoing) public health crisis that has seemingly turned daily life upside down. One of the biggest disruptions has been to our daily work routines, and for better or worse, 2020 has been a year that has seen millions of people learning to navigate the joys and challenges of working from home.
- Lamicall Smartphone Stand — $11
- Knodel Desk Mat — $15
- SimpleHouseware Mesh Desk Organizer — $25
- Bototek Power Strip and Surge Protector — $27
- Ameiko Portable USB Desktop Air Conditioner — $35
- Logitech MK345 Wireless Mouse and Keyboard — $35, was $50
- Bestand Aluminum Laptop Stand — $40
- Amazon Echo Dot Smart Speaker — $50
- Keurig K-Mini Single-Serve Coffee Maker — $70, was $80
- 24-inch BenQ Full HD Desktop Monitor — $120, was $140
Those joys and challenges both depend heavily on the state of your home office, so if your remote work environment could use a little improvement, you’re not alone — and we’re here to help you out a bit. Below, we’ve rounded up ten must-have products that will turn your boring, Spartan desk into a productivity-enhancing (and one might even say cozy) home office. Best of all? Everything’s pretty cheap, with all but one item coming in at well under 100 bucks.
Having to pick up your phone to read texts and take calls several times a day jams up your workflow more than you might be aware of. A handy desktop smartphone stand like the Lamicall dock is a cheap and easy way to make sure you don’t miss anything, and it features a pass-through for your charging cable so you can juice it up right on the spot. A stand like this allows you to accept or reject incoming calls, see texts immediately, and even use apps like FaceTime, Skype, or Google Duo without tying up your hands while you work — and all that hands-free convenience will only set you back about $11.
Nothing screams “professional home office” like a classy-looking desk mat, and this one from Knodel hits the mark perfectly. It’s a great size for keeping your keyboard, mouse, phone dock, and other accessories in place while protecting the surface of your desk from spills and scratches, and it all but eliminates the need for a mousepad altogether. The Knodel desk pad is made of a water-resistant leather-like PU material, and it’s available in eight different colors and three different sizes for around 15 bucks.
Desktop clutter has an insidious tendency to creep up and start to overwhelm you before you’re even aware of it. Nip that nonsense in the bud with a simple an elegant solution like this metal desk organizer from SimpleHouseware. It’s got vertical dividers for folders, papers, books, and so on, along with one horizontal shelf for larger items and a pull-out sectional drawer for all your odds and ends (and your all-important K-Cups, of course). Available in black or silver, the SimpleHouseware desk organizer can help you ward off creeping clutter for just $25.
Power strips have been staples in homes and offices for decades, but this one from Bototek brings this essential gadget into 2020. Along with 10 AC outlets (which should be more than enough for all the electronics in your home office), the Bototek power strip features an additional four USB charging ports for those mobile devices that are always competing for outlets. The power strip is a surge protector as well, so it will guard your precious tech against sudden power surges and overloads by automatically shutting itself off — you might lose your work, but you won’t lose your computer. That’s pretty cheap insurance for just $27.
To get into the mental zone for work, you need to be comfortable, and few things will kill your productivity faster than being hot and sweaty. This USB-powered desktop air conditioner from Ameiko is the perfect addition to your home office: It features a simple evaporative cooling design with a small refillable water tank to blow cold air that gives it some additional humidification capabilities. The CosyFame portable AC unit also has a built-in LED ring with seven different colors to choose from so you can add a little ambiance to your workstation, too, and it will only set you back $35.
Laptops are great for portability — not so much for comfort while working for hours at a time. A full-sized keyboard and mouse is infinitely better for that and you don’t have to pay out the nose to add these work essentials to your remote work setup. The MK345 bundle from Logitech gives you a wireless ergonomic keyboard with palm rest along with a contoured right-hand mouse for very little money. Along with a full-sized monitor, this bundle might be the best way to increase your productivity and comfort while working from home, and it’ll only cost you $35 right now thanks to a nice $15 savings.
Staring down at a laptop all day can give you a stiff neck, so consider giving your computer a lift with a good desktop stand like this one from Bestand. It’s built from a solid piece of aluminum and is made to be a perfect color match for silver and gray MacBooks, although it will fit any laptop from 11 to 16 inches in size. It also has a pass-through in the back for cable management along with ventilation channels to keep your laptop running cool under load. It’s cheap for an all-metal laptop stand, too, at just $40, and pairs perfectly with a wireless keyboard and mouse like the Logitech MK345 bundle below.
Amazon’s Echo Dot smart speaker remains one of our favorite devices and is a great way to bring any home office into the 21st century. The third-generation Echo Dot smart speaker can do more than just let you stream your favorite music or background white noise while you work: This little unit’s built-in Alexa A.I. can be your personal office assistant, letting you perform internet searches, shop online, ask questions, check the news, and more, all though simple hands-free voice commands. Its 360-degree speaker design puts out highly impressive sound despite its small size as well, but its price tag won’t cause sticker shock: You can grab this little smart speaker for a cheap $50 from Amazon.
What’s better than a piping hot cup of fresh coffee when you’re digging into your daily work load? How about a cup you can have at the press of a button without getting up from your desk? Full-sized Keurigs are great, but they are not exactly home office-friendly. The single-serve Keurig K-Mini solves that little problem with a coffee maker that can fit right on your desktop so you don’t even have to walk into the kitchen to get another cup. Just fill the reservoir, pop in one of your favorite K-Cups, and hit the button. Better still, a $10 discount means you can add the K-Mini to your workstation for $70 right now.
If you’re used to working on a cramped laptop screen, then you may already know that the surest way to improve your productivity is with a larger display. This 24-inch BenQ monitor works great as a primary or secondary display for modern laptops thanks to its HDMI port, and its color-rich 1080p near-bezel-less IPS panel is a joy to look at. The BenQ monitor is the most expensive gadget on our home office roundup at $120 after a $29 discount, but that’s still a great value for a name-brand display like this — and considering the boost in productivity you’ll get from a larger (or second) display, it might even pay for itself.
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