38 tools to become a true work from home professional
I’ve been working from home for a while now. I’ve also been running Gearadical for over a year now. In my time as editor in chief, I have accumulated a wide range of remarkable gadgets. Some stay on my desk, some move to a secondary desk. Some items come out occasionally, and some live in my mobile workspace backpack for when I’m out at a coffee shop or somewhere else other than my desk to work for the day.
Here are the new tech additions that have transformed my “temporary” work from home space into a professional office including some recognizable favorites that have stood the test of time.
I spend probably 70% of my time working throughout the week at this desk. It is where I get most of my tasks done and it has become the dream desk that I never thought was possible at home.
The foundation of any great desk setup is a great desk. I’ve seen commercials for standing desks, I’ve seen the little things you put on top of a standard desk to make it usable while standing. All of them looked like lame gimmicks to me. Until I tried one.
I love a break from sitting in a chair — no matter how wonderful the chair — I need to stand. I have also found that the occasional virtual meeting standing up makes me feel more interactive with those on the other end.
This desk is a perfect foundation for a hyper-productive desk setup. I could not be happier with it!
Though as mentioned, I like to stand occasionally at my desk, I normally find myself sitting to maximize the amount of work I can get done. As I recently moved to a new home and started building a legitimate work-from-home office (no longer a temporary corner) I was using a temporary chair. Without proper ergonomic support, I found myself slouching, exhausted, and sore at the end of my workday.
From the moment I sat in this chair, I was wonderfully surprised and thrilled with how comfortable I was. This chair is beautifully simple, remarkably comfortable, and a wonderful addition to my home office. Trust me on this and get a good office chair as a foundation for your home office.
Back in the day, I had a 34” ultrawide LG Monitor that I adored. Granted, that was when I spent the majority of my days editing videos in Final Cut Pro and audio in Ableton Live. With those programs, the ultrawide aspect ratio was unfathomably useful.
When looking for the perfect monitor to be the centerpiece of my home office desk, I wanted a monitor that wasn’t too big, wasn’t too small, and had great picture quality. I ended up choosing the Dell 27” monitor in their S series and I am thrilled with my option.
I didn’t need a 4K panel, nor did I want to spend the cash on one. I am very pleased with this monitor’s multiple inputs, as I can switch between my MacBook Air and my iPad Pro with ease. I also love the swivel arm and the ability to rotate to portrait mode with a simple twist. Additionally, the height-adjustable stand has proven very helpful to find the perfect viewing angle.
I’ve had this webcam for a while now. Originally I chose it for the ring light, though I rarely use it anymore due to other lighting options (see below) I have. While the Aluratek company may not be as widely known as some others, I have found this plug-and-play webcam to be exactly what I needed. A simple webcam, with the ability to mount just about anywhere due to the adjustable arm and tripod mount.
I love the adjustability that the connector between the camera and the mount offers. I have been able to make sure to find the perfect angle in each of the 417,000 desk adjustments I have made while building out my desk to this point.
What makes this camera unique is the built-in, adjustable, ring light, however, what I also found quite handy was the built-in mic.
As I am currently using my MacBook Air in clamshell mode stored off to the side while at my desk, using its built-in mic was not an option. So having the built-in webcam microphone was surprisingly helpful (until I got my hands on the next product that is).
My microphone setup used to vary depending on the importance of the meeting I was joining (sorry co-workers). I would either set up a legitimate mic I still have from my music days, or I would use the mic built into my webcam (above), or I would throw on some headphones with a built-in mic. All worked, and all are great options.
But then I found Anker’s PowerConf+ and I was sold. This little guy has been the mic and speaker setup for every single one of my virtual meetings since I unboxed it. I can get incredibly clear audio with a powerful speaker, and everyone in the meeting can hear me without any muffling or feedback.
Additionally, if I ever go back to working from an office where I need to put pants on to be let in the front door, I can utilize this powerful handheld portable conference phone with an entire team — utilizing the six microphones.
As nearly all of my products are nowadays (except for my beloved iPhone) this device charges with USB-C and has great battery life. I could also use it to charge my iPhone if I wanted to on the go thanks to its built-in battery. I have truly loved using this at my desk, with the easy-to-use control buttons on top (including the beloved mute button), and its small profile. As long as I work from home, I don’t see this little beast ever leaving my desk for longer than a work trip to be utilized somewhere else and brought back.
“Look good online”. That is the tagline for this next company and they help me do just that. My home office is in the basement of my house. While there is a window, it does not bring in enough natural light to make me look like I am anywhere other than a dungeon.
Admittedly, I expected these to be used occasionally, and that’s about it. Yet the reality is, I use these lights for every virtual meeting I have. I can’t meet without them now or I immediately notice how dark my face looks on the preview my video conference platform of choice gives me before joining.
I love how adjustable these lights are, with stands to prop the light up, a tripod to angle even better, and a phenomenal joint to make it truly adjustable to any need.
I have been able to adjust the brightness on each light individually to achieve the perfect brightness to allow for me to be seen, but not washed out.
In my mind, mousepads conjure up jr. high computer class forever ago. I hate the idea of little square rubber mouse pads. So, for the longest time, I went without one. I even went through a stretch where I made my own out of gaff tape so I wouldn’t scratch my custom desk at the time, while still avoiding the mousepad life.
Satechi released a phenomenal product to help with just that. This deskmate is a leather pad that is created to protect your entire desk from scratches while looking categorically gorgeous.
This desk pad used to be the pad I used on the main section of my desk, and now it has migrated to under my monitor riser as a safe resting place for headphones and an Xbox One controller that hide from my sightline during the workday. The only reason for this move is due to a slightly larger desk mat I got (below) and the Satechi Deskmate blends and fits (literally) perfectly under my monitor riser.
Satechi has made the gold standard for affordable leather desk mats with this one.
Oakywood took a slightly different approach to the desk pad and made theirs out of felt and cork.
This is designed to be a sliding workspace allowing for a more modular environment on top of your desk. I chose the large size to house my Logitech MX Master Series mouse and keyboard with some space on either end.
I certainly love being able to have this desk pad stay where I need it while using my mouse and keyboard, then with the slightest of ease (yet not too easy) slide this out of the way to make room for whatever else I need.
Recently, I have found myself picking up my keyboard and placing it under my monitor, or resting just in front of my riser so that I can use my iPad Pro on the felt without fear of scratching anything.
In the past when I had my 34” ultrawide I had my Laptop open underneath my monitor. When I started working from home, I decided to challenge myself to use only one monitor (previously I had five screens running in my office) to keep things simple and clean, also so I wouldn’t break the budget. With that in mind, I started looking into a better way to store my MacBook than just taking up a ton of space flat on my desk.
What I found was a multitude of cheap companies and cheap products. Then I found a handful of companies that were doing it right. This Oakywood stand is incredibly useful because of its weighted base, and its dual option.
I started out using this stand to hold my MacBook and it worked well and was very balanced and stable. While the Oakywood stand performed exceptionally well as a stand for my IPad or Macbook, I also love its versatility. I have found myself utilizing this stand to hold the two IPad Pro cases that I switch between. I love having this piece on my desk for this purpose! Though not the original design or intention, it has found a very useful place on my desk for exactly that.
Twelvesouth designed a laptop stand that is similar in function, but with an entirely different look. Rather than calling attention to their stand with a beautiful material like Oakywood did (above), twelvesouth chose to take the minimalist, Apple-esque approach.
I have learned about how wonderful twelvesouth is as a company over the years with their tastefully simple and intentional design. The BookArc is no exception. They include a handful of custom-designed inserts to make sure your beloved MacBook fits snug without getting pinched or allowing for any wiggle room.
This stand houses my MacBook Air off to the side of my desk, allowing for maximum desk real estate to be usable, and not wasted with a lay-flat MacBook.
A while back I reviewed the Q20’s and I was blown away. When Anker released the Q30’s I knew I had to try them out — Because how could you make something so wonderful better? Well, Anker, you did just that.
My Life Q30’s are my staple when I work around the home away from my desk, or in a coffee shop and I want some over-ears to help me zone out and zone in. They are the perfect break from my Liberty Air 2 Pros. Currently, I rotate between the two depending on where I am and what kind of bag I want to bring with me (due to the size of these headphones).
I love the upgrade to USB-C (obviously) and I also love seeing the active noise canceling features that I was astonished by in the Liberty Air 2 Pros featured in these over-ears.
I can (and do) wear these for hours upon hours without any ear fatigue. I honestly forget I am wearing them after a short time. I can’t imagine working from home, or remotely, without a good pair of over-ears, and these are my choice pair no question.
I tried out the StudioDock right as it was being released and it has not left my desk since. From the moment it was announced, I was thrilled with how beautiful it was in every way.
I use my StudioDock daily, mounting my 11” iPad Pro right next to my monitor. Depending on the job (and therefore applications needed), I switch my monitor (above) back and forth between my MacBook and my iPad. I can do this so easily partially because I always have my iPad docked in my StudioDock.
I could go on and on about how revolutionary this product is, but what I need to say above and beyond is that I believe Kensington has changed the game when it comes to iPads functioning as primary working devices. 90% of my job I do from my iPad Pro and Kensington has only made that experience even better.
For more on the Kensington StudioDock, click HERE.
These light bars have changed the entire environment of my office in the best way. I place both of these on my desk to create any environment that I want with ease. For meetings, I set them to daylight color. For work, I set them to a warmer color. And when I need to focus, I set them to focus mode which is a really bright cooler color.
If I need a boost of creativity or I’m looking to have some fun, I can set these to any color I can imagine!
I am ecstatic that I finally have a pair of these bars on my desk and I can’t wait to find more great colors to try out.
Products that have stood the test of time and are still on my main desk below!
I knew my Base Station Pro was going to be on my desk from the moment I started planning out my professional work from home scenario. I love how sleek and powerful it is. The sneaky bonus is that I do not worry about aligning my phone perfectly with the charging coils.
The Nomad Base Station Pro will not leave my desk anytime soon.
If you follow Apple news, you know that Apple has decided to discontinue the full-size, original HomePod in order to focus on the HomePod Mini.
Regardless of your views or feelings on this decision, the HomePod is still a remarkably good — correction, GREAT — wifi speaker. This is the main source of music in my office. I purposefully put it on the corner of my desk so that I can feel the bass vibrate throughout my entire desk.
I’ve had my HomePod for years and I don’t see myself looking for a wifi speaker upgrade for quite some time.
I included the ScreenBar Plus by BenQ in a past “Work From Anywhere” roundup. Regardless of what other lights I’ve tried out on my desk, my BenQ ScreenBar Plus has been front and center.
I love having it out of the way, on top of my monitor, shining a perfectly adjustable light onto the surface of my desk.
I see this being a staple on my desk until BenQ comes out with an upgrade!
As you can see, I have a lot of gadgets on my desk — and even more in my arsenal. With all of those toys, I need a hub to charge them quickly and efficiently.
Satechi’s Desktop Charger has been exactly that for me since I unboxed it forever ago. Currently, it sits vertically to the left of my monitor riser and powers my BenQ ScreenBar Plus, My Nomad Base Station Pro and I have a multi-plug ready to charge anything Lighting, USB-C, or Micro USB.
I love having this as my main charger because it charges everything remarkably fast, has multiple ports and is sleek and silent.
I use a secondary desk behind my main desk for most of my freelance work, as well as any personal tech needs. This is my desk that holds everything within reach that I don’t need or want taking up space on my main desk.
While I spend the majority of my time working at my primary desk, I have set up very specific jobs to be done at my secondary desk. It is imperative to have two desks for exactly this purpose, and it helps that the desk itself is a custom build given to me by a friend a while back.
CalDigit created a wonderful USB-C Dock in the age of Thunderbolt 3 Docks. While iPad still does not offer a Thunderbolt 3 option, it does offer USB-C. Having this dock to add ports and extra ability to my iPad Pro has been incredibly beneficial. I have my Scarlett 2i2 sitting on top of it and this is where I do any vocal or instrumental recordings. Any voiceovers, video editing work, and more are done at this desk, plugged into my CalDigit USB-C Dock.
I am a huge fan of quality docks and CalDigit has been my standard. Having the ability to plug into one spot and not have to worry about plugging in more than one thing when I return my laptop to my desk is a time saver.
CalDigit has knocked it out of the park with this dock, and I love having it as my dock of choice for my secondary desk.
My iPad Pro is my go-to device for all of my work — and play. Having been in the satiation before where I want my iPad at a slightly different angle for different tasks, I jumped on the twelvesouth HoverBar Duo train pretty quickly.
The design of the HoverBar Duo allows for the swivel arm to be either connected to the included weighted base or to be clamped onto a desk or table. I originally used this with the weighted base, but then tried out the clamp and fell in love. I have my HoverBar Duo clamped off to the side of my secondary desk right now. I can tuck it away and nearly out of sight when not in use, then swivel it back in view and set the perfect location for me to be able to view my iPad Pro while working on whatever task is at hand.
Unlike other devices that clamp onto my iPad, with this one I feel as though it is secure, without gripping my iPad too tight.
“Inspiration, right under your nose.” I was sold just by the name. At a previous job, I had the nickname “Director of Scents” because I always had a candle going. I care a lot about how places smell and my office is certainly one of those places. While I don’t have people filtering in and out of my office anymore (thanks to working remotely), I believe it helps me concentrate and focus more when I have an office that smells great.
In the morning, when I walk in for the first time, I love smelling clean and crisp air. I truly believe it helps inspire me.
I know candles are not the average thing to be reviewed or considered essential to productivity, but I can’t imagine working in a smelly office.
Currently, this candle sits behind me on my secondary desk. It’s a perfect backdrop to my virtual meetings, and I know myself too well… if it were in my field of view I would get distracted and stare into the flame for way too long.
Products that have stood the test of time and are still on my secondary desk below!
Logitech has me sold on their MX Master series. I love how responsive and intuitive these devices are, and how sleek. The Logitech MX Anywhere 3 is no exception. While it is much smaller, it still functions as a near master-level mouse.
This mouse does everything I need to do with ease. My secondary desk is significantly smaller than my primary desk too, so having a smaller footprint mouse is quite helpful.
With a copious amount of storage, I knew I would be using this hub for quite some time. I found the perfect spot for this storage hub on my secondary desk running my private LAN Storage.
Right now, this is connected to an older MacBook Pro I have and it is where I archive any digital data I have that is important to keep.
OWC has blown me away with their reliability, so I don’t have any fear of this unit faltering or failing. I trust my most precious data to be stored on my OWC Mercury Elite Pro Dual storage unit.
These are a collection of items that rotate between my primary and secondary desk or live within my office as items I use for specific tasks.
Though these items may not live on my primary desk, I find these items remarkably valuable to how I get my work done throughout my week!
The Philips lights I mentioned in the first review of this series are able to be controlled a variety of different ways.
I usually use the ability to sync with my Google Assistant as the rest of my smart home is set up.
However, when I am consuming media or playing a game, or sometimes even editing video on my monitor at my desk, I want to feel more immersive. Or if you want to put these lights around your TV, maybe you would feel the same.
Some media or content is too big for the screen. You feel as though the picture and experience shouldn’t stop at the bezel of your chosen display box.
That is where the Play HDMI Sync Box from Philips comes in. It syncs with whatever content is on my screen and expands the colors to the walls or whatever my lights are shining on.
So, if I’m editing a video or watching a movie that has explosions, it feels as though the explosions reach beyond the screen with light.
Granted, it is not the most useful tool while scrolling white webpages. But it has made for some interesting video calls.
I love the ability to control my office space with the light options with the Philips light bars. Adding the automation and integration with my screen has made this experience even more enjoyable.
This has been sitting on my desk just out of view for a while now. Before I had the Kensington StudioDock, or when my iPad Pro is undocked, I used this with my iPad Pro. I use it for quick imports to my iPad, or to quickly transfer files to an SD card or external storage.
It is small, simple, and gets the job done. I love knowing that I can run up to three USB-A ports, along with an HDMI, Micro or Standard SD, as well as USB-C charging.
I haven’t had any problems with this 7-in-1, and it has come in handy quite a few times!
While trying to figure out how I was going to have my desk set up, I changed the layout and products on my desk quite a bit. You can ask my wife — every time she comes down to my office something has been adjusted, added, or moved.
The Fluidstance Lift is one of those products that was the centerpiece of my desk for quite some time. I loved having my laptop at a better angle for the camera and virtual meetings. My back and neck also appreciated a much more natural viewing angle.
As my desk adapted and changed, the Fluidstance became something that moved to my secondary desk. Now, I use it when I work elsewhere in the house and need to take a virtual meeting. The angle is perfect for not giving me a double chin or staring up my nose. It’s also portable enough to move it around without a hassle.
The added whiteboard is Fluidstance using what is otherwise wasted space as a valuable tool. Being able to take notes while in a meeting has been very helpful!
The majority of my job is digital. I prefer to keep everything securely digitized as well. I have secure storage (as mentioned above with OWC’s Mercury Elite Pro Dual with 3 – Port Hub), portable storage, and cloud storage. Yet there are still things that I need for my job that are physical paper. I could stack all of these in the corner. I could put all of these in a filing cabinet somewhere. Instead, what I chose to do was get some organizing storage solutions to help me keep things tidy.
This storage solution lives in a closet behind my office and has solved my need to store my physical documents and materials.
What I love about this organizer is that I can customize it to fit me. At first, I built it as the picture showed. I quickly adjusted it though, to fit what I needed, for the space I needed it to go in. Try this to keep your needed office items separate from your personal items in a wide range of configurations.
I drink a lot of water. For my home office, I can fill and drink my Philips GoZero bottle in my office and know that even though it sits for an evening with little to no water in it until morning, it’s clean.
That’s the beauty of my GoZero bottle, and why I chose this one over many others. Philips created a system where through using UV-C LED lighting technology, the bottle can clean itself, eliminating over 99% of all the bacteria from the water inside.
Since I use this during the workday, I want to know that this bottle is clean from any airborne germs lurking in my basement that could creep their way into my drink during the day or from when I shut down my workspace in the evening to when I start back up in the morning.
Plus, the water bottle looks great and stays charged for 30 days.
Working from home has made me so much more aware of people at my door. When it’s a solicitor, I don’t want to be interrupted in my work meetings. But if it’s my delivery driver bringing me some new tech for Gearadical, I want to drop everything to run up and check the front step.
Having the Nooie Cam Doorbell on my front door has helped me do just that. The camera quality is phenomenal, it connects quickly, and can host storage locally. This means I can view past events without needing a cloud account or subscription.
The included hub/chime is a nice touch as well. Now if I don’t have my phone, or I’m busy wrestling with my boy, I can hear the doorbell as if it were a standard doorbell.
Working from home means being home with my family. And while I wish I could spend the daytime playing with them, I need to work.
Having the Nooie 360 cam set up so I can check in on them throughout my day is so fun.
I can make sure everyone is okay and see my two-year-old’s new skill without getting too pulled away from whatever productivity stretch I may be in.
The camera quality, mic, and ability to move it, have been vital to making this work so well.
I love having this in my house to see the main floor throughout my days working, but also to check in on my kiddo at night, see my home while I’m away, and more.
I love having this lock on my front door. Not needing to carry a key is one thing, but knowing that I can remotely check on the security of my front door is huge. Not only that but when I am hustling home from a meeting to jump to a virtual meeting, I don’t need to worry about fumbling with keys, I can remotely unlock the door with my phone or enter a quick code.
Additionally, I can have it auto-lock behind me when I close it. Making me feel that much more secure.
I can also set codes for friends to be able to access my door, or I can remotely unlock the door when a guest arrives at my house.
I can’t imagine going back to a manual deadbolt after having my Eufy Smart Lock on my front door.
Part of what makes my office so cozy to work in is my lighting. Having smart control, dimmable lighting is huge for my workspace. When I am about to jump into a meeting, I can simply ask my smart assistant to start a meeting and my lighting will adapt to what I need.
I can also walk into my office and ask my assistant to start my workday and my office will come to life with lighting.
What’s great about these is that there is no hub needed, and they are incredibly affordable! And that’s a great bonus if you want to start adding some Smart Home technology to your home.
I’ve used my fair share of humidifiers to help my home not feel too dry. What got me hooked on Canopy is the large tank, the auto feature, and no mist.
I can put this on a desk or shelf without worrying about items getting damp from its mist. I also love that if the room starts getting more humid than I want, the Canopy will auto adjust and turn down so the air doesn’t feel damp in the room.
Of the multitude of humidifiers I have tried, Canopy is by far my favorite!
These are the products that live in my backpack to be used on the go, at a coffee shop, or wherever my day may take me!
I love adapters. I love efficiency. So the Satechi Multiport was an obvious choice. This little adapter packs a serious punch and streamlines my cords so I don’t need to bring multiple adapters in my bag. This adapter has USB-C charging, a USB-C data port, an HDMI Port, VGA Port, Gigabit Ethernet, 2 USB-A Ports, and Micro/SD Card slots.
One thing that is incredibly unique about this adapter is that there are two lengths of cables included, making it perfect for any device I am using and any location.
This will be living in my bag for quite some time and I do not see myself replacing it anytime soon.
With the number of devices I carry with me on a daily trip, I need a way to charge them all. Having the Aukey 100W charger with 4 inputs has been extra efficient. I can charge two USB-C ports and 2 USB-A Ports all at one time, all at a remarkably fast speed.
I cut down two charging blocks from my bag when I got this charger and I could not be happier.
Organizing everything I carry with me is vital to productivity. The Orbitkey nest is a huge factor in keeping me organized and stylish. I don’t feel bad pulling out my Nest at a coffee shop or a business meeting as it is sleek and professional looking.
I can also wirelessly charge my iPhone on the top which adds even another level of usefulness.
On the inside, I love the ability to adjust the dividers to fit whatever I need. So I can make it fit perfectly, regardless of what I am carrying that day.
Of the organizers I have seen, this one is by far the most unique and useful. I love showing it off!
When it comes to using my iPad on the go for meetings, I hate the angle I get when using any case.
The Satechi Desktop Stand for my iPad has solved that problem. I can fold this up to fit in my backpack without taking up too much space. Then when I pull it out, I can set my iPad to the perfect angle for meetings.
This has become a staple for my bag and I cannot say enough good things about it. I love the rubber protective pieces, it’s adjustabl up to a meeting angle, and down to a drawing angle, all in one stand.
While keyboard cases are great for typing and getting work done, when I am in meetings or just taking my iPad for fun, I want something a little thinner.
When I found Nomad’s leather folio I was sold. I love Nomad’s leather, so it’s no surprise that the leather folio for my iPad is the stylistic fit for me.
This lives in my bag and is the perfect case to switch to when I don’t need my keyboard attached.
Products that have stood the test of time and are still in my bag below!
There’s not a whole lot more to say about this USB-C SSD beyond what I have already said in the linked review. The one thing to note is that it is still just as fast as the day I unboxed it, and I have not needed to use anything else!
I love this storage and I rely on it for daily use.
These headphones continue to blow my mind. They are my go-to choice when on the go because of their quality and size.
I can’t say enough about them, and I can’t get over how remarkable they are.