Has the time come to power up your home office? This list of cool office gadgets and tools will help you transform your work space, and make you happier and more productive.
Despite being a home worker for many years, I’ve only recently discovered the joy of getting my work space just how I want it. For many of us nowadays, the home office is our ONLY office, and we spend a LOT of time there.
Some cool office gadgets are merely aesthetic, but others can have an enormous impact on your productivity, including several I mention below. If you’re interested in smartening up your home office, you may also enjoy this podcast episode where we discuss workspaces with a remote working specialist.
My Favourite Cool Office Gadgets
1. A Big Monitor (or Two!)
Whether you have a dedicated home office or merely a corner of a room where you work, you’re missing a trick if you working hunched over a laptop screen.
I cannot overstate how much a real screen can increase your productivity. That extra screen real-estate allows you to see so much more at once. You can also opt to mirror your laptop screen, or use them separately. For example, I tend to use my laptop screen for Zoom, Spotify and YouTube, and my big screen as my main work area.
The good news: big monitors are really inexpensive nowadays – as little as 100 bucks for what could feel like a huge upgrade.
I’m a big fan of Asus monitors and have one in my garden office and one in the house. Admittedly mine is a little more expensive than some options but it has Bang and Olufsen audio and a design aesthetic that goes well with my Apple kit, without costing Apple prices!
2. A Good Quality Mouse
I was borderline-frightened about telling my wife how much I’d spent on a mouse, but I don’t regret the purchase.
I went for a Logitech MX-Master 3, a wireless Bluetooth model with a few extra features that make the cost worthwhile.
This mouse has two scroll wheels for both horizontal and vertical scrolling. The former is a “magspeed” wheel that lets you zoom up and down pages at incredible speed. This is a big deal for me. As well as editing very long blog posts, I have hundreds of email folders. It would genuinely cost me time if I couldn’t move quickly up and down those lists many times each day.
I’m not saying you have to spend a huge amount on a mouse, but if you’re at your computer as much as I am and you can afford the investment, I would consider it. If you’re choosing a mouse, at the very least, choose one with “back” and “forward” buttons on the side. Having to click the “back” button in a web browser is more 2001 than 2021.
3. Reusable Drink Bottles
Are you good at keeping yourself hydrated at your desk?
Many people aren’t, so it helps to have a water bottle by your side. I’m currently liking the tracker bottles from 64Hydro. As well as having markings that remind you to keep glugging throughout the day, there’s a handy filter that’s great if you want to add fruit or herbs to give your water some flavour, without risking forgetting they’re there and inhaling a chunk of lime!
4. A Column Fan
A desk fan is an absolute must for me, but they take up a lot of space. As such, column fans are cool office gadgets to look into, especially if your desk is small.
They may not pump out quite as much cold air, but they look much sleeker.
I couldn’t find the exact model I’m currently using, but it looks a lot like this:
PRO TIP! Do not wait until the first hot day of the year to order a fan for your home office. All the good ones will be out of stock and the rest will be over priced. When I checked Amazon in December I found a lot with huge reductions.
Dongles are cool office gadgets, and not just because “dongles” is a childishly fun word to say.
Being serious, modern laptops often sacrifice ports in favour of slim design. For example, the latest MacBook Airs have just two USB-C ports, and you need one of them for the power supply!
Thankfully, there are plenty of inexpensive dongles that turn just one port into many others. I have one in front of me that plugs into USB-C and gives me three old-style USB ports, HDMI, card reader slots, and an extra USB-C.
Just one piece of advice with these: read the reviews with a critical eye. There are some great products like this out there, but there’s some real rubbish too.
6. Spare Cables
OK, so cables aren’t exciting, but you never seem to have enough of them. After many nights of having to go out to the garden office in the dark to find a charger or a USB lead, I decided enough was enough. The answer to never having enough cables is to have absolutely loads of them!
You can get really good quality cables nowadays, and I just make sure I have them everywhere I could need them – in the office, by the bed, near the kitchen sockets.
Do yourself a favour: Think about the cables you keep running out of and invest in a few multipacks. Those micro-irritations each day can be easily avoided.
While we’re talking about rather less expensive but still cool office gadgets, let’s discuss something truly old school: coloured pens!
If you listen to the HomeWorkingClub podcast, you will know of Alex, my co-host. My new-found love of Sharpies is entirely his fault. After being almost paperless for many years, he reintroduced me to committing things to paper, and I’m something of a convert.
Planning things out on good, old-fashioned paper can be an enjoyable change of pace. If it’s not something you’ve done for a while, maybe it’s time to do it again?
8. A Decent Microphone
The only reason I bought a good USB microphone was because I was starting a podcast. But in this age of widespread Zoom calls, it’s such a good investment.
The reality is that built-in microphones – the ones in webcams or laptops, are pretty dreadful. You immediately give yourself a professionalism upgrade if you sound crystal clear on your calls.
My recommendation (and the one I use myself) is the Blue Snowball. People online get very passionate about microphones, and reviews quickly descend into figures and jargon, as well as plenty of heated debate!
All I need to say about this one is it works well both for video calls and for podcasting. For the latter, it’s been equally good when it’s just been me recording, or Alex and I side by side.
And it’s never let me down – and that’s the main thing.
9. A High Quality Webcam
At the time of writing, this is the most recent office gadget I’ve added to my setup. It blew me away how much of an upgrade it was.
As with microphones, built in webcams are serviceable, but generally not very good. Even the webcams in Apple laptops come under a lot of criticism. If you get involved in a lot of video calls, or perhaps even make screencasts, a good webcam is a solid upgrade to consider for your home office.
Good webcams are surprisingly expensive – in part because manufacturers are aware of the demand for good videoconferencing equipment. When 2020’s lockdown began, many of them sold out.
Logitech is a safe pair of hands when it comes to webcam brands, and I chose the Logitech StreamCam. The quality is great, and it does some really clever stuff like face tracking, and allowing you to show your name and title on the video window, news-broadcast style.
10. A Transcription Pedal
Of all the cool office gadgets here, this one is perhaps a bit “niche,” but a transcription pedal gives you a whole extra way to control your computer.
The Infinity pedal is considered the gold standard by many, and is a game-changer if you do transcription work. The ability to stop and start an audio source without lifting your hands from the keyboard is a big deal IF any of the work you do can benefit from it.
11. Something Silly and Personal
The important thing to remember when you’re choosing gadgets for your home office is that it’s YOUR space.
On our recent podcast, our guest shared how much she loves hitting her “that was easy” button when she completes a task. Things like this can give you a real psychological boost.
I personally love having some of my treasured possessions in the room, and they also serve as the background to my Zoom calls.
Since I added those things to my office, it’s felt more like home – a place I really enjoy spending time. So don’t only concentrate on the practical stuff. Add in some knick-knacks to make your office truly yours.
What cool office gadgets do your have in YOUR home working area? Let me know in the comments section below.
Founder of HomeWorkingClub.com – Ben has worked freelance for nearly 20 years. As well as being a freelance writer and blogger, he is also a technical consultant with Microsoft and Apple certifications. He loves supporting new home workers but is prone to outbursts of bluntness and realism.