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9 must-haves when working from your home office 9 must-haves when working from your home office
I’ve been working from home for nearly 15 years. Most of the time, it’s great — especially when you’re facing inclement weather or your... 9 must-haves when working from your home office


I’ve been working from home for nearly 15 years. Most of the time, it’s great — especially when you’re facing inclement weather or your kid is sick (though that one’s a double-edged sword). Now, not everyone can work from home. But as concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus continue to mount globally, more companies are open to — or even encouraging — doing so.

Regardless of your reasons for working from home, however, there’s a handful of gear and a few services that can make the experience more comfortable and productive. Here are my top personal picks (along with links out to alternate choices, if you’d prefer different brands or lower prices).

Read more: How to protect yourself from coronavirus

Readydesk

Whether you’re in an office or working from home, sitting all day is not good. This wooden workspace elevator comes with two height-adjustable shelves and is is wide enough to hold two 27-inch monitors. It’s sized to fit people between 5 feet 3 inches and 6 feet 3 inches, and you can add an additional shelf or a laptop rise if you need them. 

Need more choices? Check out our favorite standing desk converters.

Sarah Tew/CNET

I’m a dedicated Apple MacBook Air user, and when I’m working from home, I’m typing on Apple’s roomy Magic Keyboard — the one with the numeric extension. It has the old-school Mac keyboard design, with the pleasing scissor key mechanism, and it’s wireless, connecting via Bluetooth. Best of all, the battery, which is rechargeable via USB, lasts for many months on a charge. (I also love Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 for the same reasons.) 

You can use Apple’s peripherals with Windows machines, but if you’re looking for an alternative Bluetooth keyboard that will work with anything from Windows PCs to Macs to iPads to phones, the Logitech K380 (about $30) is a great choice. Pair it with up to three devices, and toggle between each of them with the click of a button. 

And if you’re willing to shell out $130 for a more ergonomic solution, CNET’s Josh Goldman highly recommends the Logitech Ergo K860.


Amazon

This isn’t a new monitor — I’ve been using mine for about five years — but it’s stood the test of time. For $200, you get an attractive 27-inch monitor with FHD resolution (1,920×1,080 pixels), all of the brightness that comes with LED backlighting and a super slim bezel. There are two HDMI inputs, and even a VGA input if you’re keeping things old-school. 

There are no speakers on this monitor but, for me, the major drawback is that the Pavilion 27xw isn’t height-adjustable. But that’s easily addressed with a monitor stand or thick book (I prefer the Riverside Shakespeare). If that’s a deal-breaker for you, check out the Dell UltraSharp U215, which is smaller and more expensive but comes equipped with a height-adjustable stand.

Sarah Tew

At home, there’s no one to complain about your musical choices or preferred volume level. The Bose SoundLink Mini II is one of the best compact wireless speakers, with an excellent design, strong sound, great features — including a built-in microphone for speakerphone capabilities — and solid battery life. I think its current $150-ish price is well worth it, but if you want something cheaper, there are plenty of solid Bluetooth speakers for $60 or less.

Read our Bose SoundLink Mini II review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

If you end up in a coffee shop or your kids invade your office, noise-canceling headphones are a good way to maintain focus. Plantronics isn’t as cool a brand as Beats or Bose, but the BackBeat Pro 2 provide excellent wireless noise-canceling and they cost considerably less than comparable models from those other companies. They’re also really comfortable to wear, sounds great on phone calls, and are smart enough to pause whatever you’re listening to when you take them off. But if you need more options — including AirPods-style true wireless models — check out our list of best noise-canceling headphones

Read our Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 review.

Chris Monroe/CNET

When you work from home, making coffee becomes a sacramental practice. Despite its snobby name, the Connoisseur from Bonavita is the best automatic drip coffee maker you can buy for the least amount of cash. It reliably brews full pots of great coffee that rival what you would get from your favorite coffee shop or barista, and it’s a cinch to use. With easy, one-touch operation, the Bonavita has a 1,500-watt heating element that maintains optimal brewing temperature of 198 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

This perfect coffee maker also has a 1.3-liter water reservoir, works fast, and has all the bells and whistles including a stainless steel-lined thermal carafe. It’s also a snap to keep clean, with a removable, dishwasher-safe filter basket and carafe lid. 

Read our Bonavita BV 1900TS review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Ember has become an essential part of my morning coffee ritual. The concept is simple: A porcelain mug that keeps your coffee at the perfect temperature — technically, 130 degrees, though that’s adjustable via the iOS- and Android-compatible app — for a little more than an hour. It’s expensive — and not everyone thinks it’s worth it — but I use this thing every day.

Read our Ember Ceramic Mug preview.

Dinnerly

When you’re not commuting, there may be some more time for dinner prep. Dinnerly rolls out some pretty exciting-sounding and delicious meals such as summery chicken panzanella and risotto with asparagus and cannellini beans. But with no more than six ingredients per recipe, the damage done to your time and kitchen is minimized. Along with not overwhelming you with myriad ingredients and multiple steps, the price tag for Dinnerly puts it squarely in the budget-friendly category, clocking in with a cost per serving of around $5. The subscription options include a Two-Person Box for $30, or a Family Box for $60, each with three recipes for the week. Looking for more options? Check out our list of best mealkit services

Alina Bradford/CNET

The CDC’s top recommendations to prevent coronavirus are basically the same to avoid flu — basic good hygiene tips like avoiding touching your face and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. But when you need to venture outside the house for school pickups or in-person meetings, a travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer is your best friend. (Alas, these are widely sold out online, so your best bet may be your local drugstore.) Purell gets our nod because it’s 70% alcohol — surpassing that CDC-recommended 60% threshold



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