I’ve been working from home full time since 2018 and have gone through a lot of duds when it comes to office equipment — which is why I’m so excited when purchases actually improve my workstation. Whether that’s comfort or productivity, I’m all over it! So I’ve compiled this list of what I consider to be the best home office equipment in terms of value (price and quality) to hopefully save someone out there the hassle of the returns or sunk money that I experienced.
Price may not be an issue if your company is footing the bill, but if you’re starting a new business or are a freelancer and pinching your pennies, most items on this list were purchased for under $100 when I purchased them (you know how Amazon is with price fluctuations). And you may be able to buy many of this ergonomic equipment with your flexible spending account (FSA), depending on your account. Check with your FSA to confirm what they will cover and if a Letter of Medical Necessity is required.
I have found these tools to be absolutely essential for me to spend my days working remotely in comfort.
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1. An ergonomic keyboard
Repetitive stress injury (RSI) from working on a computer is a concern for adults, but now even teenagers are experiencing RSI as computer and phone usage increases (1).
This combination of this ergonomic keyboard and the mouse below has basically eliminated my wrist pain and swelling. I know that because every time I use my laptop as a laptop instead of docked at my workstation, my wrists complain terribly.
Although I prefer wired peripherals, the wireless Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business is the only ergonomic keyboard that I was able to find with the chiclet-style keys. I have used this keyboard for over 4 years, bringing it to the office with me and then using it at home.
I like that it has a separate number pad so it takes up less space.
Though it says it’s for Microsoft, you can use it with a Mac as long as you remap the keys. But sometimes the signal between the keyboard and Mac is weak, and it doesn’t work properly. That’s why I recently upgraded:
The Kinesis Freestyle2 Keyboard for Mac (20″ separation) with the tenting kit. The fully separated keyboard has helped a lot with the chronic muscle tightness in my chest and shoulders. The keys have taken some time to get used to after typing on chiclet-style keys for so long, but I’d say it was worth the adjustment. After using the Sculpt keyboard above, this had very little learning curve, too.
If you want more information about ergonomic keyboards, check out All the Ergonomic Keyboards I’ve Tried for Mac.
2. A vertical mouse
I use the newer Evoluent VMDS Vertical Mouse D Ergonomic Mouse version pictured below, but I don’t think the difference is significant enough to justify the cost increase from the original.
We had an ergonomic consultant who always recommended the Evoluent VM4S VerticalMouse 4 Ergonomic Mouse to everyone, so I asked for one too. I’ve been using some version of it since my employer bought me my first one back in 2009.
It was a game changer. When I left that job, I was so sad to leave the mouse behind that I bought one for myself and brought it to every job after that. I’ve tried other types of the handshake-style mouse, but this is the best one for my small hand.
This mouse also has customizable buttons that you can program to do a whole bunch of actions, which I highly recommend utilizing if you find yourself repeating the same action (like if you copy+paste a lot). I only have 3 minor complaints about this mouse.
- I don’t like that you have to download a separate driver, but that makes sense if you want to program all the buttons. As of this writing, a driver for the current MacOS is not available.
- It has an obnoxious number of lights on it. The newer version linked above only has one small light on it, but the other version has the entire logo lit on the back of the mouse. Excessive.
- You don’t get to choose the color, but that’s not a deal-breaker.
The great news is that the company has excellent customer service if you ever have a problem.
The Anker 2.4G Wireless Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse is an excellent alternative, but only if you don’t have small hands like me. I really wanted to make it work since it’s so much cheaper than Evoluent products, but it just didn’t fit me.
There’s a bit of a learning curve with a mouse that’s upright, and the hardest part for me was retraining my fingers to press the intended buttons.
3. Single or dual monitor mount
Having your monitor at the correct height is super important for your neck and back health (2). At my last job, I thought my desk was set up pretty well because of the aforementioned ergonomic peripherals. Back then, I had chronic neck pain, but I assumed it was from stress. When the company hired an ergonomic consultant, he came in and lifted my monitor to the proper height. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my neck pain resolved overnight. I knew having your monitor too high was bad for your neck, so I kept mine low — too low, it turned out.
I was really skeptical about this monitor mount for 17–27” monitors because it’s so inexpensive, but the build quality is great for the price. It was one of the least expensive monitor mounts out there when I bought it (for under $30), and it’s a great price. Just be careful when you open it: It’s spring-loaded, so keep your face out of the way when you remove all the packaging!
For a dual monitor and tablet/laptop mount like I have, I have this Monitor and Laptop Mount and really like it. I use it with a 27″ monitor and switch between a 13″ tablet and my work Macbook.
It was easy to install the desk clamp, and it comes with all the tools you need. It also has handy storage for the Allen wrenches needed to adjust the mount so you don’t have to dig around for them when you want to make an adjustment.
I will say it’s a bit tight with the laptop tray and a 27″ monitor. It still works, but I can’t comfortably use the USB ports on the monitor.
4. Oversized gaming mouse pad
I use a mousepad that is big enough to fit my keyboard and mouse for a few reasons. This protects my forearms from the sharp-ish edge of the desk when I’m tired or lazy and end up resting or leaning forward on my arms. It is more comfortable and smoother than typing on the desk alone. The pad has plenty of real estate so I don’t have to pick up and move the mouse when it meets the edge like with a traditional mouse pad.
I used to have a Maker Mat on my work desk that is a luxurious 5mm thick; unfortunately, they don’t seem to be in production anymore. When I was searching for a similarly over-sized mouse pad for my writing desk, I found this Abstract Watercolor Japanese Art Illustration Mouse Pad by Nasdalgias that’s 3mm thick, and I really like it.
It’s not as thick as my Maker Mat, but that helps me remember to sit up straight since it’s not as comfortable to lean on.
According to the listing, it’s machine washable (air dry), and although I haven’t tried that yet, it’s good to know that’s an option when needed. In fact, when I first posted about this mousepad, I was concerned about my cats getting something disgusting on it or discoloration from frequent contact with my skin, but after over a year of regular use, it looks the same as it did when it arrived.
The important thing is that I smile every time I see the lovely design, which fits perfectly with the tone of my space. I’ve also found that it’s really nice to use when I’m journaling or writing in my Hobonichi Techo Cousin.
Good headphones are definitely important if you have an officemate but like to listen to music or you’re on video and phone calls a lot. I’m on video calls at least 20% of my work week, but I wear glasses, which means many headphones press the ear pieces uncomfortably against my ears/head. And I don’t know if my ear holes are too small or what, but earbuds just don’t work for me.
I bought these over-the-ear headphones called Cloud II Gaming Headset by HyperX. I especially like them because they’re comfortable even with my glasses, even if I’m on calls for 4 consecutive hours. As an added bonus, they can be connected to the audio jack or a USB port, which came in very handy when the audio jack on my computer randomly stopped working in the middle of my day. That does mean you have multiple points that could disconnect, but they’re easy enough to check, and so far, I haven’t had any issue.
My husband has the newer HyperX Cloud Alpha version that are not as comfortable, which is why I specifically recommend this version even though they’re older.
6. A chair that works for you
A chair that works for your body and working style is critical for a comfortable work day. Check out The Best Office Chair for Shorter People post if you want to read more about all the different chairs I’ve tried.
I’m currently using CLATINA Ergonomic Executive Chair (aka, Mellet) and highly recommend it, especially if you’re on the shorter side.
It has great adjustability. You can adjust the arm rests 3 ways, the height and depth of the seat, use it with or without the lumbar support, and customize the tilt and tension of the back.
CLATINA makes the Ergonomic Executive Chair with a Head Rest, but I chose the version without the head rest because reviewers complained that the head rest didn’t go low enough to do its job properly.
7. A sit-stand desk
Update June 8, 2022: The SKARSTA doesn’t seem to be available anymore, but it looks like they have a similar sit-stand desk, TROTTEN.
The SKARSTA desk from IKEA is an inexpensive sit-stand option if you’re paying out of pocket. I got lucky a few years ago and purchased mine for less than half the retail price, but I’d still buy it new after having it for over 4 years. I have the hand-crank model, which people seem to complain about, but I’m only 5’1″ so I don’t have to crank it too high. If I were taller, I might consider the electric version instead.
If you’re short like me, this desk may not work for you. It technically is too tall for me even at the lowest setting, so I have to compensate by having my chair too high, which means I also need a foot rest. This is a pretty standard height for desks and the best sit-stand desk I could find at this price, so I adjusted my chair accordingly and use said foot rest. I’ll look forward to the day that I’m able to find a desk that is the appropriate sitting height for me, though.
I didn’t like the standard white IKEA look, and after brainstorming a lot of different ways to add a little flair — paint, wallpaper, oilcloth, vinyl decals, stickers, etc — I dressed up the edges with some washi tape. It’s inexpensive and easy to apply. As an aside, the tape didn’t start peeling until over 2 years later, but it’s quick to reapply, and I can easily switch up the design if I ever want to freshen up the look.
8. Cable management
This 1″ split wire tubing is my preferred method of cable management.
I like that it hides everything from sight and keeps everything together. The tubing is split along the entire length, so you can exit wires and cables at any point needed if the wire is too short or is going in a different direction. These come in a variety of colors, but I chose white to blend better with my walls.
To make sure I can identify which plug goes to which device if I need to unplug it, I label the brick or cable with my label maker.
9. Adequate backlighting
One of the most important changes I made to make 40 hours per week at the computer more comfortable is adequate lighting on my monitor.
One such change was bias light or backlighting, which is placed behind the monitor. We use the Philips Hue Play set because we already had the Philips system, but you can use LED track lighting (see below) for the same purpose.
If you don’t want to buy into the whole Philips system, which gets expensive and may be excessive if you don’t want all the features it offers, the Luminoodle Color Bias Lighting is an excellent option. You get a remote control and great lights for a fraction of the cost.
Bias lights have really helped with my eye fatigue, and since they are color-changing LEDs, I get to choose how cool or warm the lights are. I can also fine-tune the brightness so it’s exactly at the right level for my monitors and room lighting.
10. Monitor light bar
I thought bias lighting was all I needed, but a monitor light has been so helpful for my eyes. This Xiaomi Monitor Light Bar with Remote was an awesome addition to my workspace.
It is an afford option compared to its premium counterpart, BenQ, it works really well, and doesn’t compromise on build quality. The Xiaomi does not have certain auto features, but I don’t find myself missing those.
It also reaches my desk surface, so I have great lighting for my analog activities like writing in a journal or coloring. With this light, I was able to remove my floor lamp and free up some space!
The Kiss Life CranioCradle Home Therapy Traction Pillow isn’t like the other items on this list in that it’s not directly related to working from home.
But it is an amazing device that was recommended to me by a physical therapist and myofascial release practitioner. I don’t know about you, but I hold a lot of stress and tension in my neck and shoulders.
This little bit of foam has relieved me of many headaches and neck pains.
When I’m really on top of my self-care routine, I use it every night for at least 5 minutes as directed, and it works wonders for my neck and shoulders, and even for keeping my chest open. When I want to get a really good treatment, I use 2 units for the specialized positions.
I’ve tried so much office equipment over the many years I’ve been working in the office environment, and these are the ones I stick with. They add up to a fair bit of money, but for me, investing in my health for quality equipment has been well worth it — and much cheaper than paying for it in back or neck pain and monthly trips to the osteopath or chiropractor for treatment!
Everyone’s body is different, so what works for me may not work for you. Always check with your doctor if you have health concerns or questions about what equipment would be best for your health.
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