If you’ve just started working remotely, you may understandably be overwhelmed on where to start, and doubt how productive you will be when working from home. After all, if you’re working remotely for the first time ever, you might just be short on time to decide on how to build your work from home setup.
In this guide, we’ll go through all the essential gear you need to work from home as comfortably as possible.
With a majority of the workforce now expected to be working from home for the foreseeable future, the importance of choosing the right gear to make sure we have a productive environment to work is higher than ever. With that said, we can learn a lot from work-from-home veterans, most of which have made their home setup so optimized that it far surpasses the setup you might have in the office.
When it comes to setting up your home office, it’s not as simple as making sure you have the perfect laptop or smartphone to stay connected with your peers and bosses at the same time, but also how these items work together as a whole so that you can use them intuitively.
Before we begin, we’d like to preface this guide by telling you that you don’t need the sleekest, most minimal, or most elegantly designed items for your home setup. In the space where you work to make a living, you need reliable, comfortable, efficient utilities, though it would be nice if they’re aesthetically pleasing as well.
In this guide, we’ll cover the essential gear to kit out your home office to make it entirely personalized to your needs, so we’ll be offering several options for each category of gear. Without further ado, let’s get started.
The Best Standing Desk for Working From Home
If you’re working from home, chances are that you’re probably sitting down at your desk for long periods of time every single day. Prolonged sitting can be hazardous to your health in the long run, according to Harvard Health. While we cannot escape from the fact that we’ll need to be in front of our computers for hours on end, a standing desk can help alleviate the negative effects of prolonged sitting by breaking up long blocks on continuous sitting. This is precisely why we’ve decided to recommend a standing desk instead of a conventional one, considering that the options we found aren’t that much costlier than regular desks.
A standing desk can be adjusted to rise to a standing height, allowing you to work while standing up intermittently throughout the workday. Standing desks are also adjustable, meaning that you get more control over the precise height of your desk while sitting down, potentially giving you a more ergonomic posture even when you work sitting down.
One thing to note when buying a standing desk is to choose one that can be raised or lowered with an electric lift system. We don’t recommend you going for a cheaper standing desk that uses a manual swivel to adjust its height, as the hassle that comes with that will surely discourage you from switching from sitting to standing as regularly as you should, which defeats the purpose of a standing desk altogether.
An electric lift system is not only easier to operate, but can also record the exact height when you raised your desk, to be saved as a profile. That way, you can get the perfect standing desk height with just a push of a button. This seamless adjustability plays a huge role in encouraging you to utilize the standing desk regularly on a day-to-day basis.
SHW Electric Height Adjustable Computer Desk | Image via Amazon
With all that said, our recommendation for a standing desk would be the SHW Electric Height Adjustable Computer Desk, coming in at just $299 for the 48 x 24 inches variant, and $379 for the 55 x 28 inches variant. Considering their size, we found these options to be great value for the price, and this seems to be the consensus among the 280+ people who have reviewed this desk. With ample space, these desks will allow for more peripherals to be part of your work setup, such as a larger monitor, a proper microphone, and so on that we’ll cover later in this guide.
Best Keyboard for Most People Working From Home
A proper keyboard is key to any work from home setup, and you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg to get one of the best wireless keyboards out there. We decided to opt for a wireless keyboard as it removes a lot of clutter from your workspace and makes utilizing a standing desk much more feasible as you’re going to be occasionally adjusting the height of your desk.
Logitech K480 | Image via Amazon
The cheap, sturdy, and compact Logitech K480 can simultaneously be paired with up to three devices, including your smartphone! The K480 has a dial on the top left corner that allows you to seamlessly switch between devices, and there’s even an indent on the top where you can place your phone vertically so that you can instantly switch between typing on your computer to replying texts on your phone.
Another incredible feature of this keyboard is its incredible battery life. According to Logitech, the included batteries in the K480 can last up to two years with normal usage, which means you’ll never have to worry about replacing the batteries.
With that said, the K480 has circular keys that could take some getting used to, especially if you’re an avid typist. However, we think most people can find it satisfying to type on after some time, as each key is concave in shape, giving your fingertips a natural place to fall into as you tap each key. Conversely, keys in the top and bottom rows are convex, making it easier to find those keys by touch.
If you work with numbers a lot and require a numpad, the K480 might not be for you, but Logitech does sell the K780, which is essentially the same keyboard but with a full-sized numpad, albeit at a slightly higher price at almost $60.
Logitech K780 | Image via Amazon
Best Wireless Mouse for A Clutter Free Workspace
When working on the computer, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll be using a mouse for hours, so picking one with fantastic ergonomics is crucial. A mouse that is too small to rest your palm comfortably on can often lead to tense muscles around the wrists and even lead to carpal tunnel in severe cases.
On top of that, we’d also want to avoid cable by opting for a wireless mouse instead. Mouse cables can create a huge clutter on your desk, especially if it’s too long and has to be rerouted around your computer or laptop, which creates an unsightly mess.
Logitech MX Master 3 | Image via Amazon
Our recommendation here would be the Logitech MX Master 3, as it’s easily the best mouse you can get for work. Its shape is a little unusual at first but makes perfect sense the moment you palm the mouse. Deep contours and angled left/right click buttons allows your hand to naturally rest on the mouse, relieving stress that can build up over time with a more conventional mouse.
The MX Master 3 also has a new magnetically supported scroll wheel, which is milled from a single block of metal. There are also 2 modes you can choose on how the scroll wheel operates, either with conventional steps or an endless scroll that can be useful if you find yourself scrolling around long web pages or spreadsheets often. There’s also a horizontal scroll wheel where your thumb would rest, which can be useful for certain workflows.
Battery life is also another strong point for this mouse, as it can comfortably last for up to 2 months, depending on your usage. There’s also an app that comes with the mouse, allowing you to customize the additional side buttons to your liking. These can be configured to launch certain websites, navigate through tabs, or anything that could save you some clicks in your workflow.
At $99, the MX Master 3 isn’t a cheap mouse by any means, and if it’s too expensive for your liking, older variants of the MX Master series can be had for a much cheaper price. The original MX Master can be had for $59, and it retains a similarly ergonomic shape as the MX Master 3, albeit in a dated design without any of the newer bells and whistles.
Logitech MX Master | Image via Amazon
Overall, you can’t go wrong with any of the MX Master series from Logitech, as they’ve proven their worth over the years to be the undisputed choice when it comes to a comfortable mouse to use for work, as proven by thousands of positive reviews.
The Best Ergonomic Chair for Working From Home
Having the right office chair can have a huge impact on your productivity when working from home – and this is where we highly recommend investing the most on out of the other gear in your setup.
When you think about the sheer number of hours you’d be spending in your chair, it makes total sense that a high-quality, ergonomic chair will easily pay itself off when you consider how much back strain or injury it can curb in the long run. A premium durable office chair can easily last you up to a decade, and will most likely be cheaper than replacing a run of the mill office chair once every other year.
Ensuring your comfort when you work isn’t just a good idea for your overall well-being, but will also make the thought of checking in for work every morning far less of a drag – and help you mitigate the itch to retreat to the sofa during the workday; a slippery slope to ruin your productivity.
A proper ergonomic chair will also have plenty of adjustability options, which is crucial for you to fine tune your chair to have a healthy posture during the workday. Finding the right posture requires many nuanced adjustments from the seat height, lumbar adjustments, armrest position, and so on. Thus, you can be assured that no matter which chair you choose from our picks, you can absolutely dial in just the right adjustments that you need.
Steelcase Gesture | Image via Amazon
With that out of the way, our top pick for an ergonomic office chair would be the Steelcase Gesture, which comes in at just under $1000. While this might sound like a steep price to pay, keep in mind that this is one of the best chairs you can get bar none, and it comes with a whopping 12-year warranty. For the cost of the brand new iPhone 11 Pro, which most people swap out in just a few years, we think this chair is well worth the investment as you can easily use this for more than a decade.
If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable option, we can also recommend the Steelcase Leap, which comes in at $860 and might be better suited for individuals with a smaller body frame. The Leap doesn’t cut any corners from the Gesture and is also backed by a 12-year warranty.
Steelcase Leap | Image via Amazon
The Best Video Conferencing Gear for Working From Home
When working remotely, you’ll have at least a couple of Zoom or Skype calls to stay connected to your team during the workweek. Being able to communicate virtually with decent video and audio quality will add an extra layer of professionalism that goes a long way to build rapport with other people that you don’t get to meet in person.
If you’ve ever had a call where it was difficult to hear the other person talking, you’ll know how frustrating it can be to sit through a long call with poor audio. This is especially more challenging when discussing crucial work-related topics, which can severely inhibit your ability to take in what the other person is saying.
On the flip side, if you are the one speaking and have a terrible microphone, be it on your laptop or smartphone, you’d often find yourself repeating what you just said to get your point across, which is also a huge issue, especially if you have to go back and forth with others to have in-depth discussions.
Normally, most people would resort to the earphones that come with their smartphone to make these calls, which might work for a quick call now and then. However, if your primary means of communicating in meetings is from your home office setup, it makes sense to invest in a modest setup to ensure that you have an excellent audio recording and playback quality that you can count on.
If you’ve opted for the desk that we mentioned earlier in this guide, you would have ample desk space to accommodate a dedicated microphone that plugs into your computer. You don’t need a sophisticated setup here, as you’d be mostly using this for video calls, not to record a podcast.
Fifine K669 | Image via Amazon
Our recommendation for a microphone is the Fifine K669, and at only $39, this microphone offers outstanding value for money. Its audio recording quality blows any headset or earphones out of the water, giving your voice far superior clarity and depth that you simply can’t get in any webcam or earphones. It’s also very small in size and even comes with a stand so that you can place it on your desk without shelling out for an additional microphone stand.
Moreover, the Fifine K669 is also entirely USB powered, which means all you have to do to get it set up is just plugging it into your computer. There is no software to install; simply plug it in, and your computer will automatically pick it up as an audio recording device. The only adjustment you might need to do would be the gain, which affects how loud you will come off in the call. This can easily be done with the gain dial right on the mic, and you have a wide range to adjust to. In a nutshell, this is the best $39 you can spend to improve your video conferencing experience significantly.
Audio-Technica ATH-M30x | Image via Amazon
Now that you have a proper audio recording device, you’ll need some headphones so that you can listen to others properly, and for this, the inexpensive Audio-Technica ATH-M30x will be more than enough for the job. Coming in at $69, these headphones are lightweight, comfortable, and more importantly, sound fantastic. You can easily use these if you want to listen to music during the workday, and its closed back design will block any ambient noise from your home so that you’re less distracted when listening to someone speak over a call.
For just a little over $100, you can get yourself the ultimate setup that ensures you can easily be heard and listen to others in a call. This is a no brainer considering how much more professional you’ll come off in any virtual calls, and make collaborating virtually that much more seamless.
Anivia 1080p HD Webcam W8 | Image via Amazon
As for your webcam, we found that most laptops, especially Macbooks, have decent quality that more than suffice for calls to not warrant a separate purchase. After all, you’re probably not going to have to present anything visually that is of importance, so if the recipient can see you just fine, then you should just stick to your existing webcam. If you’re working with a desktop computer and need to get a webcam, the Anivia 1080p HD Webcam W8 would do the trick at just $50.
The Best Monitor That Doesn’t Break The Bank
Having some extra screen real estate can go a long way to boost your productivity when you’re working from home. Increased real estate means you can have more content on your screen, which reduces the need for scrolling and allows you to consume more information at once.
A desktop monitor also allows you to be seated further away from the screen while still being able to read everything without squinting your eyes. This helps you achieve better posture during work as you’re not hunching over to stare at a tiny laptop monitor that is below your natural eye level.
When it comes to choosing between monitors, there are numerous specifications to choose from, which can be very overwhelming if you’re not familiar with them. While we won’t go over everything you need to know about monitors here, we’ll outline a few that will make a difference in your experience using them.
First of all, you would want to go for an IPS monitor. Most monitors utilize one of the 3 common display technologies, namely TN, VA, or IPS. IPS monitors have the best color accuracy and viewing angles, which means that any text or colors on your screen will appear crisp and natural even if you’re looking at it from an angle.
As for monitor size, most desktop monitors come in at 24 or 27 inches. Whichever you choose is up to your personal preference, but you’d obviously be able to see more content with a 27-inch monitor.
One last thing to note would be the screen resolution. Screen resolution essentially means how many pixels the screen is composed of, and the higher resolution you go, the sharper content will appear on the screen. The common resolution of most monitors is 1920×1080, or more commonly known as 1080p.
However, in recent years, there have been several 3840x2160p monitors available, which are more commonly known as 4K monitors. While it’s not a necessity to go for a 4K monitor, they do offer 4 times the clarity compared to 1080p monitors, and the difference is definitely noticeable. We recommend going for a 4K monitor if your budget allows, but know that a 1080p monitor should suffice for work just fine.
HP VH240a | Image via Amazon
If you prefer a monitor with a small footprint, our recommendation would be the HP VH240a. It’s a 23.8 inch IPS monitor that is relatively affordable at $109.99 and offers decent build quality that is impressive in this price range. It also comes with slim side bezels that make it look smaller than it is, and comes with adjustability options to tilt the monitor to your liking.
If you’re looking for a larger monitor that gives you even higher resolution, you can’t go wrong with the Sceptre 27″ 4K UHD IPS LED Monitor. Priced at $200, it’s far cheaper than most other 4K monitors, which typically starts from more than $400 and can go for as much as $700. The Sceptre will look incredibly sharp thanks to its 4K resolution, and the 27-inch screen size means that you will be able to fit more content on your screen without losing clarity. The Sceptre also comes with a minimal bezel and can be tilted.
Sceptre 27″ 4K UHD IPS LED Monitor | Image via Amazon
The Best Gear to Back Up Your Data
To mitigate the risk of losing progress for your work, you’ll need to ensure that important work documents are backed up regularly. While cloud storage is the most convenient way of doing this for most people, know that your cloud storage service could have downtimes, or can be prohibitively expensive if you’re storing large amounts of data. Cloud storage also may not be viable for those who have less than ideal Internet connections, or if you find yourself regularly requiring access to large files that can be a hassle to download and upload all the time.
WD Elements Desktop Hard Drive | Image via Amazon
If you’re a video editor or produce a lot of content that requires accessing large files regularly, your best bet would be the Western Digital Elements Desktop Hard Drive. This is a sleek desktop hard drive that can easily be tucked away in a corner of your desk, and the 4TB storage space should be enough to store all of your files with ample space to spare. Priced at $89, it’s reasonably priced considering how much storage space you’re getting. To put that into context, Apple’s highest tier for iCloud is capped at only 2TB and costs $9.99 per month. If you need more storage, the Elements is also available in larger capacities, up to 14TB, though it gets exponentially more expensive beyond 4TB.
Conversely, if you need a hard drive that’s compact enough to be portable, the Western Digital 2TB My Passport is a solid choice. It’s affordable at just $69.99, and can easily fit in a pocket thanks to its small size. 2TB should be plenty to back up a decent amount of content, be it photos, video footage, or anything else.
WD 2TB My Passport | Image via Amazon
With the gear we’ve gone through in this guide, you should be all set for a fantastic work from home setup that gives you all the tools you need to be as productive as you can. In many cases, your home setup easily surpasses your office setup, as you’d be able to personalize your setup exactly to your liking.
While it might take some effort and planning to make it work, a proper home office setup will allow you to reap the benefits of remote work such as zero commute time, the flexibility of working in comfortable clothes, and so on without the downsides of missing out essential work tools. Take the time to get your home office setup, and you’ll see how much of a difference it will make.
Bernard currently works full-time as a growth hacker and content researcher for HUSTLR. When he was studying in the US 2 years ago, he flipped Yeezys on eBay as a side hustle to fund his degree and living expenses. He’s currently working on his Amazon FBA business & dropshipping on the side.