The Best Home Office Furniture for Increased Productivity
Boost your comfort and creativity by choosing the best home office furniture for increased productivity
As of 13 October 2020, a majority of Americans were still working remotely at least some of the time. An update to the Gallup Poll “COVID-19 and Remote Work” found that “33% of U.S. workers are always working remotely [and] 25% sometimes” are. Some are still working from bedroom corners, living room sofas and kitchen tables. Others, however, have committed to working from home permanently and have converted a room in their home into an official office. Still others have erected ADUs and garden sheds in their backyards. As we explained in our Into the Deep article “Modular Prefab Building Movement Explodes as More Work Remotely,” repurposed garden sheds are often considered the ideal for remote work. This is because they “are ‘detached [and] mostly self-contained spaces [that] are more affordable and more practical than taking on a full-scale construction project.’”
Just as searches for establishing work-life separation and creating an office at home have skyrocketed in recent months, so have searches for home office furniture. In fact, writes Jeff Collins in a recent article for The East Bay Times, “with COVID-19 still spreading and widespread distribution of a vaccine at least half a year off, Americans are digging in for the long haul, buying computer desks and chairs in droves and adding or converting rooms into professional home offices.” If you are one of the remote workers fortunate enough to have a home office somewhere in your house or apartment, you have likely spent some time hunting for the perfect desk, chair and storage yourself. Follow below for our tips for choosing the best home office furniture for increased productivity.
The Best Home Office Furniture for Increased Productivity
Choosing the Right Chair
Back Height and Type
The most attractive or thematically appropriate office chairs are not always the healthiest for day-to-day operations. To help remote workers decide on the most comfortable and supportive type of office chair, Omnicore released their article “The 16 Best Ergonomic Office Chairs.” Though one might assume that an executive-style high-back chair would be best, Omnicore actually recommends against a straight, high-back style. In their article, Omnicore suggests choosing an office chair with “a backrest that is either curved or small enough to fit the small of the back.” Users should keep in mind that height is less important than shape.
Taryn Williford outlines the dangers of choosing an office chair of inadequate height in her article “Quick Tip: Finding the Ideal Height For Your Task Chair” for Apartment Therapy. Williford explains that -- according to the American Chiropractic Association -- “a chair that’s too low can cause lower-back pain, carpal-tunnel syndrome and rotator-cuff strain in the shoulder.” Conversely, “a chair that’s too high can lead to what’s called Golfer’s Elbow—pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow.” To find the right height for each user, Williford recommends testing the seat and checking whether the knees are comfortably bent at a 90 degree angle.
Another easy way to check for proper seat height is to “stand in front of your chair” and note if the “highest point of the seat...is just below the kneecap.” If it is not, be sure to alter the height to meet that point. If one already has their home office chair, but feels that it is too high to sit in comfortably and cannot be adjusted, one might consider adding a foot rest. The Mayo Clinic article “Office Ergonomics: Your How-To Guide” suggests that “if your chair is too high for you to rest your feet flat on the floor — or the height of your desk requires you to raise the height of your chair — use a footrest.” Adding an angled footrest will help correct poor posture as well as maximize comfort.
The style of chair that works best will differ from space to space and person to person. Health concerns -- such as lower back and/or neck problems -- might necessitate extra padding. Space constraints might require a skinnier chair that will fit more easily into the bay of a compact desk. However, all in all, only chairs designed specifically for computer work or long stretches of writing or drafting will be most suitable. Christian de Looper explains this in his article “The Best Office Chairs: 14 Picks To Upgrade Your Home Office” for Forbes. Looper writes that “while a dining chair, kitchen stool or even the couch might be fine to work from occasionally, only specially-designed ergonomic office chairs offer comfort and the seat and back support that you really need for working from home on a daily basis.” For a luxe feel, consider a velvet, suede or leather upholstered office chair. Go the sustainable route by choosing a vintage leather or suede piece. For a more breathable option, consider mesh and for a classic feel, consider wool.
Picking the Perfect Desk
Whether you have chosen a standing desk, a corner desk or a tiny secretary’s desk, the height of said desk is extremely important for ergonomic health. The proper height will differ from person to person, depending on the height of the user and any features the user plans to add to their desk. Regarding the latter, the height of one’s desk will need to be a bit higher if the user plans to install a keyboard tray underneath the desk’s tabletop. If one plans to later add casters to their desk, the user should be sure not to buy a desk that is too high for their wrists to rest comfortably.
As for the former, Wayne Albert, PhD CK explains the relationship between appropriate desk height and user height in his article “A Primer in Office Ergonomics” for The University of New Brunswick’s online “Campus Wellness” resources page. Dr. Albert writes that “the standard desk height is 30-inches and cannot serve the 5'2" employee and the 6'2" worker equally.” According to Albert, the right desk height for a 5’2” user would be “24 inches,” whereas the appropriate height for a 6’0” user would be 27.” Wayne Albert recommends that users “add one-inch of desk with every three [inch] addition” the user’s height.”
In his article “Key Measurements to Help You Design the Perfect Home Office” for Houzz, Steven Randall outlines the proper size for home office desks of all persuasions. However, no matter what type of desk one is considering, Randall recommends “get[ting] the largest desk that fits comfortably in your space, as you can never have enough work surface.”
According to Sian Babish in the article “The Best Home Office Desk” for The Chicago Tribune, wood is often the superior choice for home office desks. Babish writes that “wood is a top pick for its durability and versatility.” Because so many wood types, finishes and patterns are available, Babish notes that it is “to find a wood type or finish to match existing furniture in your home.” However, as opposed to some metals and acrylics, buyers should “keep in mind that wood is soft, so it's susceptible to scratches and marks.” As such, if one’s home office desk will also function as a craft or school work table for children, one might consider a glass tabletop with rounded edges.
Meyer Wells Box Table with Boot from Living Deep
In his article “A Primer in Office Ergonomics,” Dr. Wayne Albert suggests that “an L-shape configuration is ideal, where space permits.” This is because “it provides a large area for the computer workstation within the corner of the L.” Furthermore, “the two arms of the L can...be used as functional space for writing or peripheral devices (printers, scanners, telephones, standing file folders.” However, if one’s home office is too small to comfortably fit an L-shaped desk and adding one in would make the space feel cramped and unpleasant, one might consider a secretary desk or wall-mounted floating desk.
Roll top secretary desks are perfect for impromptu work spaces in great rooms, dens and bedrooms because they can hide all work materials at the end of the day. In our Into the Deep article “Creating Work-Life Separation When Your Home Office Is Steps Away,” we quoted Elyse Hauser of Life Savvy. Hauser explained that “‘if you can hide your home office when work’s over, it helps you keep...boundaries clear and healthy.’” If one shares their much larger home office with a partner -- or with school-aged children -- one might consider a conference-style table. We at Living Deep love the durable, artful and sustainable Meyer Wells Box Table with Boot.
To learn more about how to properly set up your home office for maximum productivity, enhanced creativity and consistently sparked inspiration, stay tuned. Living Deep’s blog Into the Deep will delve into the most effective type of art to display in one’s home office in our series “Art in Every Room: A Guide to Establishing Mood by Divvying Up Your Collection.”