Director and Design Lead

April 8, 2020 (Updated )

Let’s be honest, when we picked out the houses we’re currently living in, not many of us imagined they’d be where we’d be spending all of our office days.

Whether you’re working at the kitchen table, trying to clear a corner in your bedroom, or simply hunting for the best WiFI spot, it can feel a feel a world away from the office.

But, while we can’t promise to help you deck out your work space like the office or an Instagram influencer, we can give you a couple of kits and DIY suggestions that will help things run smoothly, so matter what your budget.

It’s also worth considering if your company might be willing to stump up for some of these – sure they’d be company property, but it could save you forking out. So, here’s our list, depending on your finances:

The Basics

Sure, it looks appealing, but where is the mouse and keyboard?!! (Image Credit: Avel Chuklanov)

If nothing else, you should aim pick up some of these. By all estimates, we’re going to be here a while and scrolling around on the trackpad all day, every day for three months is a one-way trip to RSI.

An Amazon basics will work more wonders than you think.

Mouse: Anything is better than your laptop’s trackpad. No, really – even if it’s Amazon Basics. It’s less than six quid and just plugs into a USB port. And no, you don’t need to dig out your mousemat from the 90s. Get it here.

Keyboard: Your laptop’s keyboard is usually less of an issue than its trackpad, but if you want to position your screen in a spine-friendly way. There are still plenty of cheap AF options, like this one currently on for just £8.99. And the black will match your mouse like you planned it, right?

Dongle: If you’re lucky enough to have a brand new Apple MacBook and want to plug in either of those things, you’ll sadly need to get yourself a dongle. They’re slightly more spenny than the gear your plugging in, but it does mean you can now connect anything with a USB or HDMI lead. Get it here.

We are in for the long haul – you might as well work on making your space look nice.

Laptop Stand: Is your neck hurting while you’re reading this? If you’re on a laptop it’s because you screen isn’t anywhere near to eye-level. This kind of stand won’t get you all the way, but it’s a start. You can also combine it with with some DIY work – in the Journo Resources office we use old copies of magazines as screen stands, or you could also try shoe boxes too.

Plants: Okay, sure, it’s not a basic essential, but we’re probably going to be here for a while, so you might as well make your environment look a little bit nice. Plants are nice…

Here are some basic ones that you don’t even have to water as they not really real. Here’s a slightly fancier one which also doubles as a pen holder (see, essential) and here’s one for fans of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Our second screen, complete with Duplo, magazines as a stand, and a tankard of pens.

Pen Holders: Your boss is on the phone and you need to write down whatever she’s saying. You need a pen but the last one seems to have found it’s way to the depths of under your bed. You need a pen pot. This is an easy one to DIY though – we’re currently using pint tankards and mugs to remind us of the days were allowed to go to the pub.

A DIY Second Screen: Splashing out on a second screen can be expensive, but if you or a flatmate happens to already have a Mac which can run iOS Catalina and an iPad which can run iOS 13 you can set it up to be your second screen. It might be small, but could be good for showing websites, live rolling news, or just your emails. Here’s how to do it.

Repurpose Your Pillows: If you can’t afford to get yourself a proper desk chair, you should still focus on making your current chair as comfy and ergonomic as you can. It sounds basic, but even just using cushions or pillows from your bed or sofa can held with back support and stop your bum getting numb by 11am.

The Middle Ground

You’re already smashing working from home – but here are a few ways to scale up. (Image Credit: CreateHerStock)

If you’ve been working from home for a while, or have a slightly bigger budget as your disposal, you’ll probably have most of the stuff up above. Here are a couple of other tweaks you can make to your space.

I can personally vouch for these. They’re great.

Wireless Mouse: Wires are fine, but they can leave a bit of a mess, especially when you’ve got a lot of stuff plugged in. When you’re just looking for a ‘basic’ wireless mouse though, there’s just one important thing to look for – Bluetooth. You don’t want to add another dongle to your dongle bag. This one is fine and comes in SO MANY COLOURS

Wireless Keyboard: The same rule applies to keyboards, you’re just looking for something with Bluetooth built in. This one is more than passable and has a funky space grey tint

A Second Screen: Two screens are always better than one and can help you  avoid months of pressing Command+Tab. A second screen is probably the weightiest investment on this list so far, but this one still comes in at less than £85 for 22″.

Headphones: There’s nothing worse than a tinny-sounding conference call or your flatmate’s terrible taste in music. Get yourself a pair of headphones. I’ve used these for years and they’re great, especially when you consider they’re only £15.

Posters & Wall Decorations: Plants are a start, but why not decorate your space further, if only so people have something to see in the background of your Zoom calls? This set of three are pretty cute, or you could go wild do something crafty like making your own bunting. A cheap whiteboard can also be a great addition to write to-do lists or notes or, or this whiteboard material can literally be stuck anywhere.

Maybe all lamps look like the Pixar lamp.

Lighting: Eye-strain is going to be as much of a problem as neck-ache. Working in a well-lit environment will help things. Aside from working near windows where you can and jiggling around any bedroom lighting you have, this light’s adjustable and has a nice look. Plus it looks slightly like the Pixar lamp.

Fidget Toy: I always need something in my hands to distract me, as you can tell my the amount of Duplo is the picture of our screen earlier. This is the ‘Amazon choice’ fidget toy that’s probably a knock-off of the original but will keep you entertained, either way. All for less than eight quid too.

Chair: To be quite honest, if you’re looking at this as a something you’ll be doing for a while, or you have a boss that cares about your posture, that kitchen chair really won’t cut it. You need something that’s at least height adjustable and with a bit of support. So look into something like this .

The Expert Mode

Be like this guy and reach the peak of home working. He’s on a mountain. Geddit? (Image Credit: Davide Marcu)

Well, to put it one way, it’s not like you’ve got much else to spend your money on at the moment. And, you may also decide that you like home working, so want to make a few adjustments so you can do it more often.

Yep, this can charge your laptop.

Ergonomic Mouse: Okay, yes, we know what we said earlier about wire. But the only time it is acceptable to use a mouse that comes with a dongle, is if that dongle gives you extra functions. The MX Master series of computer mice are some of the best and features like horizontal scrolling and plenty of programmable buttons will give you full control of your computer, in a very hand-friendly way. It also looks a bit space age too.

Ergonomic Keyboard: Microsoft’s Sculpt series of ergonomic keyboards are some of the best and most affordable about and this one comes with a bonus mouse too. Again, looks a little bit like something you might see on Star Trek, which is a vibe we’re here for.

Mega-Fancy Screen: A basic screen is great, but what if your monitor could also charge your laptop? Sure, it’s an investment, but it has all the inputs you could ever need, puts out amazing colours, and has a low light mode so reduce strain on your eyes.

A Better Chair: Height adjustment on a chair is a good start, but if you really want to delay your spine crumbling into dust, you’ll want something that can change height and support your lower back perfectly… This kind of thing is the kind of the thing you’d see in a big office, and there’s a reason for that.

Desk: At some point you’re going to get fed up of clearing the kitchen table before you can eat. Find an unused corner of your house and get yourself a desk like the adult you are. Height adjustable ones are super expensive, so have a look at this one and add on a stand/stand adjuster.

Well, we had to didn’t we. Sorry not sorry.

Headphones: Wired headphones are fine, but if you’re going to be spending ages on conference calls and making the most of your one piece of exercise a day, you might as well go big or go home. You know what we’re talking about.

Smart Lights: Why reach over and physically turn your lights off when you can turn them off from your computer or using your voice? Sure, you’re basically paying for some expensive bulbs, but they are very cool and you can set exactly how bright you’d like your light to be.

Zoom Call Ending Button: After a couple of weeks working from home, we all know the race to leave the meeting as soon as it’s over. Nobody wants to be the last person there, left staring into the void. This would help it were real. We can only hope.

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Image Credit: Mi Yeoun Jun / Unsplash