Deck out your home office with these 9 essentials

Banu Ibrahim, CNN Underscored
Tue August 28, 2018

Maybe you're starting your own business, or maybe you just enjoy the occasional telecommute. However you like to work from home, your 9-to-5 deserves so much more than an old desk you plucked out of storage and a spare folding chair. Having a fully outfitted home office can put you in the right headspace to work, and that can make you more productive. So if you spend much time working from home, it's worth outfitting your space with a number of office essentials.

The nine options below are a solid place to start. Ahead, you'll find a curated list of a variety of home office goodies, from your standard ergonomic chairs to more unique items, like a light therapy lamp that can improve your mood if your office doesn't get much sunlight. The idea is that once you have these products as part of your home arsenal, you'll spend less time being uncomfortable or distracted in your home office space and more time being productive.

Motorized standing desk

One hotly debated issue when it comes to office setups is whether standing desks make a huge difference to your health. But regardless of inconclusive studies, it just doesn't feel good to be sedentary for eight hours a day. Being able to move your desk setup to a standing one allows you to get up and stretch. It's a great excuse to take a quick break from work so you'll feel more refreshed.

One standing desk we're fans of is the Varidesk Prodesk 60 Electric ($995; varidesk.com), which is a motorized desk that easily converts from sitting to a standing option with the push of a button. With its spacious desktop, you'll be able to set up multiple monitors and to spread out while you're working. This option acts as a complete unit (many standing desks are only designed to be used in tandem with an existing desk). Another highlight is that the Prodesk 60 Electric can be adjusted to your liking; there are no preprogrammed heights you'll have to stick to. All of this, we think, makes the cost completely worth it.

Ergonomic office chair

For times when you're not standing at your desk, you'll need an ergonomic office chair that keeps your posture in line while you're working. Your chair should target certain key areas of your body, like your lumbar area and neck. An ergonomic option that does just that is the 5-star rated Mysuntown office chair ($329.99; amazon.com). The headrest is made so the chair aligns with your cervical spine, while also easing pressure on your back. Other notable features include a 360-degree swivel, mesh materials that make the chair breathable and ease of assembly.

Light therapy lamp

Depending what your home office setup is like, you might not have access to direct sunlight, especially during the winter. A popular way to help bolster your mood if you lack access to sunlight is a light therapy lamp. The best performing models have 10,000-lux brightness, which is thought to be the best for maximum effectiveness and safety. Amazon best-sellers for light therapy lamps include Verilux's HappyLight Full-Size Light Therapy Lamp ($89.95, originally $99.95; amazon.com). The hope is that by using a powerful light therapy lamp, you'll be in a better headspace while you're working, even if the elements aren't on your side.

External hard drive

If you're working with large documents or files for important business matters, it's crucial to have a top-performing external hard drive. This helps ensure your massive amounts of data are stored properly and safely. One impressive model is the WD Easystore External USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive ($49.99; bestbuy.com). This best-selling device has been backed by over 3,600 customers, who have given it a 4.7- out of 5-star rating. The hard drive can work with both PC and Mac computers, and comes in three different storage capacities, ranging from 1 TB to 4 TB. So no matter how much extra storage space you need, there's an option that suits.

Space-saving storage

Many people have limited space for a home office setup. Space-saving storage options can accommodate your books, papers, devices and more, while not taking up too much square footage. Leaning bookcases, such as Mercury Row's Antoninus Ladder Bookcase ($218.99, originally $328; wayfair.com) for example, won't eat up too much floor space, but still provide shelving and cabinet units for storage. The same goes for wall shelving units like Homissue's 4-Shelf Rustic Shelving Unit ($139.99; amazon.com). If you don't feel the need for a standing desk, corner desk options can also help minimize how much space your furniture takes up in your home office.

Bluetooth headphones

While you may typically go for a bulky Bluetooth headset for making calls, Apple's Airpods ($159.99; bestbuy.com) make Bluetooth calling a more compact and efficient process. These tiny buds allow up to five hours of straight listening time on a single charge, and just 15 minutes of a quick power-up in their charging case can give you more than three hours of usage if you're on a time crunch before a big call. These little earbuds connect automatically to all Apple devices and are turned off automatically when they're not in use, to save battery power. The powerful mic makes conference calling a crystal clear process.

VPN

If you're doing the majority of your business online, you'll want to invest in a virtual private network. The basic reason people use a VPN is to help defend themselves and their information against any online bad guy who is trying to steal data. This can help protect information such as your stored credit card numbers and other personal data. Plus, if you're ever traveling in a country that doesn't allow certain social media sites, you'll still be able to access them with a VPN. Norton's Wifi Privacy VPN ($7.99/month; norton.com) allows for up to five devices, so you can protect your work computer, tablet, smartphone and more.

Planners

Sure, there's plenty of tech out there that can help you organize your day-to-day activities, but experts say that writing things down the old-fashioned way can help improve your memory. So we think it's worth the extra effort to jot important notes and events down by hand. For that, we'll turn to the old standby planners and calendars. But just because these items are considered staples in the home office arena doesn't mean they have to be boring. Some unique products you can use include the Productivity Planner ($24.95; amazon.com), which uses "proven productivity principles and goals research" to help keep you on track, or some more out-there calendars like the "I Am Very Busy Classic Planner" ($20; bando.com), which is a more lively option that your typical planner.

All-in-one printer

Last on our list is the trusty all-in-one printer. These devices, like the HP OfficeJet Pro ($78.72, originally, $149.99; amazon.com), function as a printer, copier, scanner and fax machine. This all-in-one printer in particular is built with business in mind, as it can handle multiple tasks at once with ease, and it can print at speeds up to 20 pages per minute. You can even sync up the printer with your Amazon Alexa devices to control it using just your voice. But what really seals the deal for us is that this all-in-one printer is now on sale for $79, making it as affordable as it is practical.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.