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.
Note that this is the first part of a three-part review of these work from home products. This part will cover the gadgets that I use on my desks in order to work most effectively at home.
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 few weeks now. I cannot get over how cool the built in AI feature is. While I can set my camera in one stationary location, I can allow it to follow me if I turn in my chair, or stand in a different location at my standing desk. It will also zoom in or out, allowing me to be perfectly framed for my meetings.
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).
The picture quality out of this camera is truly amazing as well. In bright lighting or low lighting, the camera quality is truly phenomenal, especially for a webcam!
Before my PowerConf C300 I was on the constant hunt for the right webcam. Now, I can rest easy knowing I found it.
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.
Since starting to write this review, I picked up a Base Station Mini that I have added to the top left of my Oakywood Desk Pad. This has turned out to be a perfect (third) location to charge my phone, especially if I am using my phone a lot that day.
It has a perfect small form, without any wasteful or cumbersome edges. I love how when my phone is on the charger, I can’t even see the charger. It’s that compact and beautiful.
Yet, at the same time it keeps the quality I know and love from Nomad’s chargers.
While I still usually default to my Base Station Pro for charging my iPhone out of the way, it’s nice to have the little brother for those times I need something a little bit smaller.
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.