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Whether you are heading back to school or working from home, now is as great a time as any to update your workspace. Even one small addition can make for a big change, such as adding a proper desk or office chair—ergonomics is key to staying comfortable while working long hours.
Check CR’s list of top-rated office gear and editor-approved staples that are bound to boost your productivity.
Mindspace Multi Step File Organizer
If you can’t afford to use up floor space for a filing cabinet in a home office, Rashelle Isip, a professional organizer and founder of The Order Expert, suggests downsizing with a desktop version instead. The compartmentalized piece can conveniently fit on a tabletop to store mail and other documents. “I like using the Mindspace multistep file organizer because the staggered layout allows for easy identification of file names,” Isip says.
Acrimet Horizontal Triple File Folder Holder Organizer
An organized desktop is an efficient one, which means finding ways to curb smaller messes can go a long way. Avoid mail and paper pileups—while keeping important pieces of mail in one spot—by utilizing a file folder holder. Productivity specialist Pamela Mims recommends this minimalist file holder to keep bills, documents, or receipts easily organized and accessible.
Container Store Plastic Storage Bin with Handles (XS)
For a home office that lacks proper storage space, bins can offer a lot of support in corralling items together. They are a go-to for Mary Dykstra, founder of Within Reach Organizing Services, who uses them as de facto drawers that can be pulled out and pushed back into place, making it a cinch to access and grab whatever one may need. The pro recommends bins with handle holes or carrying handles that are flush at the side to maximize storage—avoid protruding ones that will take up unnecessary space.
Steelcase Series 1 Chair
If you’re looking for great value, it’s hard to top this chair. In addition to scoring well for ergonomics, it was also the most comfortable model in our evaluations. Our panel particularly admired the seat cushion and lumbar support. The armrests can be adjusted across a range of heights and, though attached to the backrest, tilting back as you recline, they still comfortably support your arms. And for those who want more control, the manufacturer also offers this model with four-way adjustable armrests. Other notable features include an optional headrest and caster selection specific to your flooring.
Herman Miller Sayl Chair
This model from Herman Miller features a unique design aesthetic that some consumers may prefer. It comes with great controls for recline tension and has a wide range of adjustments for the armrests, seat height, and lumbar support. The armrests can be set higher and lower, but they are attached to the backrest, moving in concert with the back of the chair, which can make it difficult to maintain a comfortable posture when reclined. The seat height can be adjusted to accommodate most users. Instead of tilt locks, the model uses tilt stops to limit the maximum recline angle, which can make it easier to get in and out of the chair.
For more options: Best Office Chairs
If you’re tired of squinting at a small laptop screen (or could use an extra one), a monitor will be a welcome addition to your desktop. The Asus VG278QR offers solid performance for the money and has built-in speakers, too. The 27-inch, 1080p model operates at 165-hertz. The monitor also features a headphone jack and earns solid marks in our tests for versatility and ease of use.
BenQ ZOWIE XL2740
The 27-inch BenQ Zowie excels in our tests of gaming monitors, and provides great performance for non-gamers, too. It combines a very fast (240-hertz) refresh rate with low input lag and a clever accessory we informally refer to as a “puck.” This is a small, round external device that connects to the monitor and allows you to assign and quickly shift among three game presets. It also has side visors and a retractable headphone hook.
For more options: Best Gaming Monitors
Lepow Z1-Gamut Portable Monitor
A portable monitor is a great alternative for travel, or for a temporary desk like the dining room table. When you’re done working, you can easily clear it away. The Lepow Z1 Gamut is lighter and thinner than you might expect for a 15.6-inch monitor, and the magnetic, leatherlike folio cover functions much like the smart covers made for tablets like the iPad. To access the onscreen display settings (OSD), there’s a tiny scroll wheel on the right side of the monitor. It takes some time to get used to pressing and scrolling to navigate the interface, but you do get several adjustment options, including brightness, contrast, black level, sharpness, and color temperature. It also connected quickly and easily to Mac, Windows, Android, iPad, and Switch devices.
For more options: Best Portable Monitors
Insignia Ergonomic Laptop Stand
This no-frills laptop stand was a top pick in a recent evaluation. Made of lightweight aluminum, it requires no assembly or tools to adjust the height. You merely press or pull on the stand, elevating the twin arms, to reach the desired position. The Insignia can raise the laptop up to about 8 inches off the desk, which is high enough to suit most users’ needs.
For more options: Best Laptop Stands for a More Ergonomic Workspace
Logitech ERGO K860
The Logitech Ergo K860 is a Bluetooth keyboard featuring a tented, split design, effectively reducing ulnar deviation and wrist pronation. The model has a comfortable palm rest and legs up front to adjust the tilt angle, allowing the wrists to rest in a neutral position while typing. The membrane keys—which aren’t intended for anything heavy-duty and can work for light gaming—are easy to activate and include a number pad, shortcut/media control options, and programmable functions. It’s compatible with Mac and Windows.
For more options: Best Ergonomic Keyboard for You
Logitech MX 910 Advanced
This mouse places the forearm, wrist, and hand in a handshake position, greatly reducing forearm stress. When properly oriented, it also reduces wrist strain. Note, however, that the natural position with the front facing forward requires slight wrist extension. The model features six programmable buttons, a rechargeable battery, a four-way scroll wheel, and a textured finish on the thumb rest that makes it comfortable to grip. The dpi button allows you to toggle through a range of settings from 400 to 4,000. The mouse can be connected to a computer via Bluetooth, a USB dongle, or the USB-C to USB charging cable. There’s no left-handed option.
For more options: Best Ergonomic Mice
TP-Link Kasa Smart WiFi Lightbulb Multicolor KL125
Ample lighting is an important facet of a workspace and a bulb you can easily control via voice commands is a no-brainer. The TP-Link Kasa Smart KL125 does a great job generating an array of colors. And with its ability to reach 1 percent brightness, it was one of the lowest-dimming bulbs we’ve evaluated. Its responsiveness was also impressive, with the bulb responding to app commands from the Kasa Smart app, Alexa, Google Home, and SmartThings almost instantly. The bulb offers some useful automation features, including automation based on sunrise/sunset and changes in other TP-Link smart home devices. Plus, it receives decent scores in both our data privacy and data security tests. The bulb works surprisingly well considering its budget-friendly price, and it offers enough features to please most people, especially those who are new to smart lighting.
For more options: Best Smart Lightbulbs
GE Cync Indoor Smart Plug CPLGSTDBL
Smart plugs are budget-friendly devices that make it easy to remotely control and automate just about anything that plugs into a wall, whether it’s lights or a monitor. The GE Cync Indoor Smart Plug is one of the easiest smart plugs to set up in our tests, with an app that does a great job of introducing you to its features and walking you through the setup process. The app also makes it easy to create schedules for turning the plug on and off, though its in-app on/off button could be more clearly labeled.
The plug’s physical power button is easy to use, though also not labeled, and the plug itself shouldn’t block other outlets when in use.
For more options: Best Smart Plugs
Bose QuietComfort 45
If you’re sharing a home office, noise-canceling headphones are a must. The Bose QuietComfort 45 delivers great sound and has top-notch active noise reduction. This wireless Bluetooth model comes with an ambient sound monitoring feature, which means that it will provide some muffling and electronic canceling of external noises while also reducing the amount of sound that escapes from the headphones.
If your headphones of choice come in the form of earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is the way to go. It’s the latest in Sony’s line of noise-canceling true wireless earbuds, and our tests show it has outstanding sound quality and noise-canceling performance.
Sony’s latest comes packed with additional features, including variable noise cancellation, which you can adjust to let in more or less sound, an ambient mode to actively pipe in audio from your surroundings, and “Speak-to-Chat,” which can automatically pause your music when you start talking. The Sonys have a unique foam ear tip that enhances both sound and isolation.
For more options: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
Apple HomePod (2nd Gen)
Like the original HomePod, the second-generation model interfaces seamlessly with the rest of the Apple ecosystem and is a solid option for controlling Apple HomeKit smart home products and services such as Apple Music.
Sonically, the latest version is the best-performing HomePod ever. It sounds a bit like the original HomePod, with a warm, bassy flavor, but our testers find it to sound much clearer than earlier versions, and it can play spatial audio tracks on Apple Music. It also performs much better than the HomePod Mini, which testers find is best suited to podcasts and background music.
Bose Soundlink Revolve II
With its steely, cylindrical styling, the Bose SoundLink Revolve II hits an aesthetic sweet spot, especially if space is tight. It comes in two colors and is only 3 inches in diameter, rendering it unobtrusive enough to blend in with most workspaces—home office or otherwise.
The SoundLink Revolve II features large and intuitive controls that are easily accessible on top of the speaker. That’s important when your boss pings you for an impromptu Zoom call and you want to mute the music without taking the time to dive into a smartphone menu.
For more options: Best Wireless Speakers for Your Office
Canon imageCLASS MF264dw
The Canon imageCLASS printer offers outstanding overall performance. It impresses in our tests when it comes to printing black text, at a blazing 27 pages per minute, as well as at making copies. Plus, it’s economical to print. The monochrome laser all-in-one printer has scan and copy functions, an automatic document feeder, built-in faxing, Ethernet and WiFi networking, and wireless printing with Apple AirPrint.
The modestly priced Brother HL-L2370DW black-and-white laser printer checks a lot of boxes. Our testers report that it delivers reams of crisp, beautiful text in a hurry. Our estimates suggest that it will cost only about $15 a year to keep it supplied with toner. And based on our predicted reliability and owner satisfaction ratings, it’s likely to operate for years hassle-free.
While this printer doesn’t have fax or scanning capabilities—as with most black-and-white laser printers—it does a standout job of printing text like return shipping labels, concert tickets, or homework assignments.
For more options: Best Home Printers
Anna Kocharian is a shopping editor at Consumer Reports who focuses on home, organization, and the consumer marketplace. She previously covered interior design, product reviews, and market trends as the digital editor of Domino. Anna has over a decade of experience in lifestyle journalism and has written extensively on the subject matter for publications including Apartment Therapy, Food52, and more. She currently resides in New York City.
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