It’s been nearly two years since many of us started working from home due to the pandemic, and if you haven’t yet adjusted your workspace to accommodate your needs, then it’s probably time to get to it.
Whether you’ve set yourself up in the guest bedroom, on your living room couch, or in a walk-in closet, you may need a little extra effort to make it possible to type comfortably, meet online, or just concentrate. Sometimes it means buying a new desk, lamp, or monitor; sometimes it just means finding a household item that will make life a little easier.
We asked the staff of The Verge what they’ve been using to make their work-at-home situations more practical, more pleasant, or simply more possible. Here are some of the answers we got.
I basically live in my AirPods Pro during the day. They let me listen to music, catch Slack pings, and take calls, all with the added benefit of some noise cancellation to help drown out outside noise. Their range is also great for my apartment — I can be anywhere in the house without losing connection to my computer, which is really nice if I need to step away from my desk to, say, microwave my second cookie of the afternoon. —Jay Peters, news writer
Phone as webcam
Webcams are no longer a struggle to find in 2022, but if you want to save money, turning your phone into a fully functional webcam is surprisingly easy, cost-effective, and can yield good results. I already had a Nexus 6P sitting around, and with these steps that work on most Android and iOS devices, I now have a phone-meets-webcam. It’s got picture quality roughly on par with a standalone webcam, which might cost you around $100. If you want a stand that can angle it during calls, I’d suggest picking up one of these Joby GorillaPod tripods that includes a phone clip. —Cameron Faulkner, reviewer
While I’m working off a MacBook, this Satechi hub has been a lifesaver for plugging in podcasting mics and any other gear I’m suddenly using on my own. —Adi Robertson, senior reporter
I go through tons of batteries with my flash when photographing at home, and I find that these rechargeable batteries last so much longer than regular single-use batteries. Not only do they save me trips to the store and keep more batteries out of the landfills, but they also save me money in the end. —Amelia Holowaty Krales, senior photo editor
This Thunderbolt 3 dock lets me switch my whole desk setup (keyboard, mouse, speakers, ethernet, display, external storage drives, and microphone) from one computer to another by just moving one cable. I plug all of my peripherals into the dock, and then just use the one Thunderbolt cable to hook up my Mac or whatever Windows machine I need to test at the moment. It also has a very useful high-speed SD card slot on the front, which is great for whenever I need to dump images from my camera onto my computer. —Dan Seifert, deputy editor
Last year, I installed a Google Nest Wifi router with a mesh point. I’ve had a lot of networking equipment over the years, and this was immediately the best. And it was extremely easy to set up. A year later, my system with one router and three points is still going strong. —TC Sottek, executive editor
An ultrawide monitor is the best purchase I ever made for working from home. It’s so big I have to physically lean from side to side to see it all. I can have three full-size windows up at the same time or countless windows overlapping. (Right now, I have nine different windows open and it doesn’t feel cramped at all.) Mine is an old LG 34UM94-P that they don’t make anymore — it looks like there is an updated version, the LG 34WN80C-B. However, any monitor that is at least 34 inches in size with 1440p or better resolution is what I recommend. —Dan Seifert
Home office helpers
We heard from two staffers about this desk:
I love my Jarvis desk from Fully. It’s a solidly built desk that looks great in my office, and it’s really handy to have the option to sit or stand while working. If you’re considering one, I highly recommend spending the extra cash for the extended-range height, which lets the desk get lower for sitting and higher for standing, and the programmable height switcher, which lets you preset heights that you can switch back and forth to just by pressing a button.
I also sprang for the $29 casters so I could wheel the desk around my apartment, which lets my wife and I use it as a mobile entertainment system. When we’re done working for the day, we can roll the desk over to our comfy chairs and watch Netflix or play Animal Crossing on the desk’s monitor. —Jay Peters
I have the Jarvis, too, just in a larger size. It has served me well for about four years now. It’s a comfortable, stable, spacious desk that has more versatility than typical desk options. —Dan Seifert
I should work at a desk more, but I spend a lot of time working from a couch. It’s bad for me, but also very comfortable. Using a lap desk like this one helps me at least pretend to be a little more conscientious about my posture; plus, it’s helpful for writing on physical paper (or when my laptop gets too hot). —Chaim Gartenberg, senior reporter
This monitor mount brings my screen up to a nice height so that I don’t hunch over, and it’s the tallest one I’ve found. Other monitor arms I tried just weren’t tall enough for me when I was standing while working — and I’m not that tall at 5 feet, 11 inches. The mount also lets me adjust my monitor to exactly the right height for movies or Animal Crossing when I’m using my desk as a mobile entertainment center. (Note: This monitor mount is no longer available; however, there is a similar model.) —Jay Peters
I’m hopelessly addicted to iced lattes and I finally invested in this espresso machine with my stimulus check. It makes waking up in the morning a little more exciting when I don’t have to French press my coffee. And it came with a milk frother! —Makena Kelly, reporter
I never drink enough water. I just seem to forget to, and I get headaches from dehydration, but something about this bottle helps remind me. Maybe it’s the design? I love it! —Amelia Holowaty Krales
The desk chair that I use is the Herman Miller Sayl, which used to sell for around $500 — the low end of that company’s lineup, believe it or not. I almost purchased this chair in mid-2020 when the chair I had was really causing me physical anguish, but Vox Media allowed me to borrow it from our NYC office. So I immediately drove there, stuffed it into my car, and brought it home. My cats and I really like it. (Note: The chair now costs over $900, but you can still get it for around $600 if you eliminate several of the adjustable features.) —Cameron Faulkner
Notebook and pen
While all of my work and most of my writing happen on my computer, sometimes it’s easier (especially for sudden phone calls or when I don’t want to switch out of a video) to simply turn to the notebook I keep next to my laptop and jot down a note or two. And I’ve found that using a classy pen is not only good for my morale, but makes it a lot less likely that I’ll find myself out of ink (or with a hand cramp) when I need to get something important written quickly. Currently, I’m using a True Writer ballpoint pen from Levenger that I got as a birthday present, but any pen that makes you feel good will do. —Barbara Krasnoff, reviews editor
Update February 4th, 2021, 2:37PM ET: This article was originally published on April 28th, 2020, and has been updated to include changes in prices and circumstances.
Update June 21st, 2021, 8:50AM ET: Updated to include changes in prices.
Update January 12th, 2022, 8:30AM ET: Updated to include changes in prices and some newer models.