Whether you have a dedicated desk or a makeshift workspace, here's how to invest in a better home office
Many of us will carry on working from home, some - if not all - of the time. So if that’s you – and if your shoulders are starting to ache and the broadband is driving you bananas – why not spend the money you would have spent on commuting or a lunchtime treat improving your workspace?
Whether you have a desk, an improvised corner or you’re WFB (working from bed), here’s eight ways to make your temporary or permanent home office more ergonomic, comfortable, efficient and organised.
If you don’t have a permanent desk at home but you sometimes need to work at one, we’ve got you covered. The Clever Closet 60 Sec Desk (£159) comes in a cardboard carry box that fits under a bed or sofa.
True to its name, you can assemble it into a sturdy, wooden desk in under a minute without tools. The desk is made from sustainable birch ply. It looks good and even has built-in stands for tablets and phones. It’s the perfect solution for a pop-up home workspace.
If you have a permanent desk at home but you’re suffering from backache then it’s worth considering a standing desk. Alternatively, find a much better chair.
The Hesed Chair (£595) and Hesed Stool (£395) require your pelvis to be tilted at the same angle it’s at when you’re standing. You sit “actively”, using your muscles to make regular small movements, also known as micro exercising.
In short: it’s a chair that gets away from the posture problems that come from prolonged sitting. The chair and stool were developed over two decades by an osteopath. He claims they’re revolutionary, the world’s first seats to replicate standing posture.
Best keyboard and mouse
If you’re a hard-working keyboard warrior then you deserve a medal. At the very least, you deserve a better keyboard. Heavy keyboard users make 3m keystrokes a year. That’s why your wrists ache.
The latest, greatest ergonomic keyboard is the Logitech Ergo K860 (£109.99). Its curvy shape allows each hand to rest at a natural angle – you’ll get used to it and your tendons, nerves and muscles will thank you.
The wrist rest is thick and luxurious. What’s more, you can tilt the keyboard... and not in the direction that you expect. Instead of the back lifting, it’s the front (wrist rest) that lifts. This is to allow for natural posture when you’re working in a standing position.
Finally, the keyboard features Bluetooth pairing with multiple devices at the same time. This means that it’s more than just a laptop upgrade. If you want to type at length on your phone or tablet in comfort, simply press a button to switch devices.
Meanwhile, if you’re a heavy computer user, you move your mouse 17 miles a year, all of it with your hand in an unnatural claw position. The Logitech MX Vertical Advanced Ergonomic Mouse (£92.99, also pictured) works exactly like a regular mouse but in a radically different shape, set at a 57° angle. It’s designed to fit naturally, in a handshake position.
The majority of home-working is done on laptops that aren’t ergonomically great for working full days every day. The screen and keyboard are too small and too close together for comfort. But home computers are cumbersome and tie you down, so it’s better to accessorise: invest in a good keyboard (see above) and display that will work with any laptop, now and in the future.
Monitors – as opposed to TVs – have the right screen size and refresh rates to be better for your eyes. You don’t need to spend a fortune but it’s worth investing in one that uses “IPS” technology. These offer better colour accuracy and viewing angles than regular LED screens.
The BenQ GW2480 (£122 from Amazon) nails it perfectly, with a 24-inch 1080p Full HD screen that hits the Goldilocks spot: big enough to be a significant improvement on your laptop but not too large to take in. It’s certified flicker-free and filters out the blue light that can undermine sleep. It even has an ambient light sensor: the screen automatically dims to suit the environment.
Working from home should be lower maintenance but Zoom has undermined that. In particular, women still feel “pressured to have hair, makeup and clothes up to the standards expected of women in an office”. No need for heels then, but the morning routine is still tiresomely producty.
The webcam is encircled by a studio-style ring light that abolishes shadows for a more flattering look. It also features superior lens optics and twin noise-cancelling microphones, so your voice is clearer too. The camera can be clipped on to the top of your screen or sat on the supplied tripod.
Best laptop stand
We love a good laptop stand for cosy working on the sofa or in bed. The Rain Design iLap (around £42 from Amazon) is a tried and tested design that works brilliantly. The lightweight aluminium stand lifts the laptop to a more comfortable position and prevents your lap getting hot. Padded rests, front and back, make it comfortable and the front one doubles as a wrist rest.
The design, even the product name, suggests it’s for Apple MacBooks but the iLap works with any brand of laptop. What’s more, you can also use it at a desk to lift your laptop to a more comfortable position with a wrist rest.
If you’re in the market for a new laptop, we’re big fans of Lenovo. They used to be called IBM and they’re very reliable, used by road warriors the world over. Traditional laptops start at £429.99 and cut-down Chromebooks, where your files are stored on the cloud and you have very little offline, start at £179.99.
Some models are so sturdy that you can also shop around and buy reconditioned ones under guarantee, much like you’d buy an ex fleet car that’s been retired after a few years of service. This article was written on a reconditioned Lenovo T430, a chunky workhorse built to take the knocks.
Best broadband booster
See our pick of the best home tech for 2021 for how to improve your home broadband coverage. This clever router makes your signal go further, making Wi-Fi blackspots a thing of the past, and can even switch to mobile 4G data if your home broadband lets you down.