For many, workdays used to include a commute into the office and a solid eight hours away from home and partners. Now that many Canadians are having to work from home due to lockdowns and COVID-19 protocols, we’re spending much more time inside our homes — and dealing with a lot less space and time away from our families or housemates.
It can be stressful to balance home and work lives, especially if you are also homeschooling or caring for small children. Practically, we have likely had to create home offices in rooms and nooks that perhaps are not designed with a day’s work in mind, which is made even more challenging if one or more people are doing their own jobs in the same space.
Try these products that are intended to help you create a great workstation (especially one in a shared space), so that you can be as productive as possible and build a stronger boundary between your home office and your home life.
Invest in your desk
When you’re choosing desks for your home office space, think carefully about exactly what you need from this essential piece of furniture. Do you work on a laptop? Do you prefer to stand? Do you need a large space for blueprints or drawings?
Make sure each person’s desk works for them in the most organic way possible. That might mean that someone who takes regular calls is situated in a room with a door, whereas someone working on a more creative project might want to face a window. If you must be in the same room, ideally your desks should look good together and maximize the space as much as possible.
ApexDesk AirDesk Series ($410.94; amazon.ca)
The overall winner of our best standing desks of 2021 is made by ApexDesk. This Airdesk option comes at an affordable price point for an adjustable standing desk and offers a large 47-by-27-inch workspace. The curved ergonomic design is comfortable and functional in both sitting and standing modes. Read about the other winners of best standing desks here.
Daily Package ($580, originally $609; branchfurniture.ca)
If you just need to get set up and running as quickly as possible, choose a furniture package with free shipping from Branch, which has a showroom in Toronto. This budget-friendly, ergonomic, pre-assembled home office arrives with free shipping to Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Waterloo and Montreal in 5 to 15 days.
VariDesk Pro Plus 36 ($500; amazon.ca)
If you already have a desk or table that you’re comfortable working at but you love the idea of being able to stand throughout the day, then check out this desktop converter that’s big and strong enough to handle multiple monitors. The spring-loaded mechanism glides up and down seamlessly to convert to standing and sitting heights. With no installation required, simply take it out of the box and you’ll be ready to work.
Sogesfurniture Large Double Workstation Desk ($199.99; amazon.ca)
Home office furniture needs to be flexible and adjust to all the ways it may be used in a day by different family members. This large desk with space for files and personal items can do double duty as your office station, plus provide space for kids to do their homework or a spouse to also catch up on work.
Choose comfortable chairs
Don’t rely on borrowing a dining room chair during office hours; after a while, that’s going to get really uncomfortable. A proper office chair is essential to your comfort and productivity, not to mention your posture.
Steelcase 435A00 Series 1 Work Chair Office ($585.14; amazon.ca)
We tested the best office chairs of 2021 and the overall winner was this model from Steelcase. It comes in a huge range of bright colours to coordinate perfectly with your home aesthetic and was found to be one of the best-looking office chairs we reviewed.
Herman Miller Aeron Chair ($1,921.69; amazon.ca)
If your home office budget is rather healthy or perhaps your company is offering a furniture rebate for those who work remotely, consider pushing the boat out with this Herman Miller office chair that comes with a 12-year guarantee. In our tests, it was ranked highly for comfort and style.
ErgoChair 2 ($489, originally $559; autonomous.ai)
This chair is built with a comprehensive ergonomic design in mind to ensure even the longest workday is spent in total comfort. You can adjust the armrests, neck support, headrest, back support and more. With free shipping across Canada and a two-year warranty, it might just be your best home office investment.
Vinsetto Velvet Fabric Leisure Chair Rocking Armless Task Chair ($169.99; amazon.ca)
This pretty chair in baby blue and white is comfortable and adjustable enough to offer support while you’re working. It also doubles easily as an accent or occasional chair.
Blend home and work designs
It can be hard to transition to working from home if you care about aesthetics. After all, nobody wants their home decor to resemble a soulless, boring office cubicle. Choose designs, materials and finishes that reflect your unique style and work well with your current furnishings for a seamless look that easily blends work and home.
Wood Headphone Stand ($187; grovemade.com)
Browse Grovemade for a huge variety of premium-quality, stylish products like laptop risers, headphone stands, planters and keyboard trays in walnut and maple that will totally transform your home office from thrown together to grown-up chic.
FluidStance Slope Desktop Dry Erase Computer To-Do Board ($79; amazon.ca)
Rather than installing a big ugly whiteboard on your dining room wall, pick this clever dry erase board that’s angled for comfort and sits on your desktop. It can also be used to hold your phone or small devices.
Dwind Peel and Stick Wallpaper, White and Gold Geometry ($22.90; amazon.ca)
Quickly and easily demarcate your workstation (and show off a little personality) with these easy-to-use peel-and-stick wallpaper sheets. It isn’t just for walls; you can also use it to decorate the inside of bookshelves or surfaces.
Wooden 5-Tier Flower Pot Holder ($72.99; amazon.ca)
Bring some greenery into your home office to soften the corporate vibe and help integrate your home office into the flow of the rest of your home.
If you’re sharing a home office, it can be tricky to give each other enough space free from disruptions. Try using noise-cancelling headphones or a screen to separate yourself from visual and auditory stimuli and improve your attention span.
Homcom 3-Panel Folding Screen Room Divider (169.99; amazon.ca)
Create an oasis free from distractions or a way to hide your desk when the workday is done with this three-panel screen. It also makes for a neutral background on any video conference calls.
2022 Erasable Calendar ($36.79; amazon.ca)
Use a shared calendar, and you’ll never have to disturb your partner to ask about appointments or school events again. Assign different colour pens or highlighters for different family members or categories to stay extra organized.
Bose Noise-Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700 ($429; amazon.ca)
We tested the best over-ear headphones, and this stylish Bose pair was voted the most comfortable. Eleven different levels of noise cancellation help you to hone in on the task at hand and filter out background noise.
Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus True Wireless Earphones ($399; amazon.ca)
If you prefer an in-ear bud, this pair offers noise-cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity, making them a great option for video conferencing, listening to music and then transitioning to podcasts while you go for a walk to refresh after work.
Add fun extras
Yes, your home office can have features to rival the rec room at big tech companies. One of the benefits of working from home is that you can design your space in any way you like. Add exciting little extras livens up the workday and gives you something to look forward to during your coffee break.
Rally and Roar Foosball Tabletop Games ($80.79; amazon.ca)
This sturdy tabletop game is a fun way to move from work to playtime. Challenge your partner to a game at the end of the day — the loser has to make dinner!
Everlast Partner Training Kit ($39.99, originally $45; amazon.ca)
Pretend it’s a health and fitness incentive from your company and use this sparring set to get out any excess energy or channel frustration. It comes with gloves and punch mitts.
SKG F5 Massage Gun ($179.99; amazon.ca)
Every great office should have a full-service masseuse, but alas, that’s not always practical. Work out any tensions from the day and transition from co-workers back to romantic partners or friends with this deep tissue massage gun. It even has a heat setting to deeply relax tired muscles.