COVID-19 lockdowns mean more and more people will find themselves working from home. While everyone agrees that staying away from the office is the right thing to do, working from home nonetheless comes with certain challenges. These work-from-home accessories can help.
If you want to thrive in this new environment, you should consider investing in some or all of these items. They will make you more productive, and more comfortable, as you wait out the coronavirus pandemic. And, yes, I assume you already own a computer you can work on. (If not, those new iPad Pros look pretty hot.)
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A good desk
The first two items on this list are the least high-tech. However, along with a computer and an internet connection, they will prove the most important. The idea of working while lying in bed or sprawling on the sofa might sound tempting. But a desk will give you both the headspace and the physical space you need to get your work done. If you’re going to be sitting at it for hours each day, you need to choose a solid desk at the right height, so you can keep your computer screen at least 20 inches from your eyes.
Everyone will have different preferences for what they keep on their desk. While I don’t keep mine entirely empty, I do make sure that I only keep work-related items on it. Few things prove more distracting than glancing over at a pile of unpaid bills or books you plan to read for fun.
A great office chair
You can pick up a second-hand desk from plenty of places if you don’t already own one. But choosing a great chair requires some proper research. If working from home becomes the new normal, your posture will thank you for buying a good chair.
For starters, you definitely want one you can adjust to match the height of your desk. It should allow your feet to rest comfortably on the floor. A good chair also should come with an adjustable backrest that follows the shape of your spine. If the chair comes with arm rests, they should be adjustable, too.
I use a Herman Miller Aeron Office Chair. At Apple Park, employees sit in Barber Osgerby’s Pacific Chairs. The cost of a good office chair can be a bit wince-inducing (expect to pay $1,000 for a really good one, although cheaper options are available). But when you think about the length of time you spend sitting, it makes sense to invest in a chair that’s going to give you the support you need.
No matter what you’re sitting on (or at), you want your computer to be at eye level for maximum viewing comfort. Looking up or down at your screen all day will wreak havoc on your neck and shoulders. Obviously, the kind of computer stand you need will vary according to the type of computer you use. I work on an iMac. I’ve got colleagues who work on MacBooks or iPads. (I used to have colleagues who worked on Windows PCs, but I carried out social distancing long before coronavirus became a thing!)
You can find good computer stands for each of these options. This stand by Bestand looks like a great option for those who work on laptops. This Lamicall stand is a great adjustable stand for your iPad. You can find a wide variety of stands made of wood, aluminum and other beautiful materials that will give your iMac the necessary boost.
Try and choose a stand that will keep your desk free from wires. And, for the love of Steve Jobs, get something sturdy. Especially with Apple Stores closed, this is no time for your MacBook to take a tumble because you put it on top of a pile of books.
Comfortable keyboard, mouse and/or trackpad
Now that you’ve got your computer at the right height, you should carefully consider your input devices. If you’ll be using a laptop extensively, a comfy external keyboard is a no-brainer. Same goes for a legit mouse and/or trackpad. You’ll want to follow ergonomic guidelines to make sure your home office setup doesn’t end up crippling you.
Unfortunately, the actual accessories you pick depend on your personal preferences. If you can’t get to a retail store to try things for yourself, you will need to rely on reviews (and maybe a little bit of trial and error). Logitech sells a great keyboard/mouse combo called MX Keys and MX Master 3. Or you might try an ergonomic keyboard or mouse. Apple’s Magic Trackpad 2 mimics a MacBook trackpad, but lets you place your arm in a comfortable position.
Whether you listen to music while you work or just need to make conference calls without hearing family members chattering in the background, noise-canceling headphones seem essential for working from home. I think AirPods Pro are brilliant for the job, packing some seriously impressive noise-canceling tech into a tiny package.
Whichever headphones or earphones you choose, however, make sure they come with a built-in microphone. While you can get by with your computer’s mic, you will get much higher quality with a mic that’s closer to your mouth.
We love Apple Watch for all sorts of reasons. But one of the many is that it prompts you to regularly get up and walk around. Being sedentary for long periods of time is a bad idea.
While you’ll want to find ways to prioritize fitness during the coming months (something my colleague Graham Bower is ready to help with), just getting up and moving is good for your physical health and mental well-being. Apple Watch’s Activity rings will help. Along with regular reminders to stand up at least 12 times over the course of the day, Apple Watch also motivates you with a handy Move goal.
Working from home means you can’t even depend on your commute to drag you out of the house each day. You will need to make a conscious effort to get out of your chair (and away from the depressing flood of coronavirus news). Maybe COVID-19 is the excuse to buy an Apple Watch that late adopters have been waiting for.
Luckily, the entry-level Apple Watch Series 3 delivers most of what you need when it comes to fitness. It starts at $199. The upgraded Apple Watch Series 5, which starts at $399, packs a bigger, brighter, always-on screen and other advanced features. And if you want to while away some time shopping online, you can find loads of Apple Watch bands to customize your look in the Cult of Mac Store.