If your abode is your office, you may be overdue for some tech upgrades

For ideas on how to level up your work-from-home station, check out our gift guide.

Working from home is wonderful. You avoid commuting, dress however you want, and keep a flexible schedule to achieve the elusive work-life balance.

But how pleasant is your working environment? It’s time to upgrade if you’ve been typing on a laptop at the kitchen table or (worst of all) in bed.

Welcome to my holiday work-from-home gift guide. Even if you don’t work from home, you probably know a few people who do.

I’ve been a fan of WFH on and off for decades, but COVID made it a full-time obsession. As a result, I’ve given home workstations a lot of thought.

A laptop stand, a position-adjustable desk, high-quality input devices, flexible charging accessories, and desk-protecting mats are all required.

Continue reading for information on the most recent WFH gear, including a decent standing desk I’ve been testing.

Get a standing desk

Working in alternating sitting and standing positions will make you happier and healthier.

Even though I have an excellent office chair, sitting for an extended period of time causes my back to hurt and causes me to become mentally and physically sluggish. Getting back on my feet immediately makes me feel better.

And when I stand, I move more — I am more likely to engage in micro-strolls, which are important for physical wellness (this is why my Apple Watch reminds me to move around for at least a minute every hour).

That is why standing desks are so advantageous. I’ve experimented with various contraptions over the years, some with cranks to manually raise and lower their surfaces, others with motors for simple adjustment with the push of a button.

FlexiSpot’s electric E7, which has variable pricing during the holiday season (it’s currently hovering around $289.99 to $299.99), is my most recent test subject.

I was skeptical after using swankier desks from Vari and others, so when this basic desk from a lesser-known vendor was offered to me for testing, I was skeptical.

In addition, I had a bad experience with another FlexiSpot desk in 2021, the crank-style H1, which was rickety and unreliable (it partially broke down at one point).

However, I’ve been using the E7 for some time and it works perfectly. Its motor is extremely responsive and is controlled by a programmable panel. The desk is stable even when raised to its highest position, with little shake or wobble. It’s a straightforward but dependable product at a reasonable price.

FlexiSpot also sells a more expensive E7 Pro desk, but I don’t believe it provides enough value to justify the higher price. (See how the two models compare.)

Here are a few things to think about before purchasing an E7:

Material for use on a desk. The base price only includes the metal frame and excludes the desk surface, which is screwed to the top. You can specify your preferred desktop material when you place your order. I went with the cheapest option, chipboard, which was $80. I wouldn’t do it again because the screw holes in the brittle material don’t appear to be strong enough to withstand repeated desk disassembly and reassembly.

For desk surfaces, bamboo and other types of solid wood are better but more expensive options. The materials menu at FlexiSpot is limited in comparison to rival manufacturers like Uplift, but its products are more expensive.

The desktop’s dimensions. Each material is available in a variety of depths and widths. Depth is an important consideration when using one or more computer displays because you don’t want the screens to be too close to your face. A minimum length of 30 inches is recommended. Unfortunately, FlexiSpot is inconsistent in offering that depth option across its materials menu, so weigh your options carefully.

Height. One of my long-standing gripes with standing desks is that some of them don’t go low enough. For example, the H1 could only go down to 29 inches, which was far too low for me.

The E7’s minimum height is determined by the frame you select; there are three options, with minimum heights of 22.8, 23.6, and 25 inches. All of these are beneficial to me. Make sure they work for you — Before you order a desk, spend some time measuring your ideal desktop height with a tape measure.

Accessories. FlexiSpot, like other standing-desk vendors, lets you add-ons when you make your initial purchase. Among the options are cable management trays, under-the-desk drawers, leg casters, monitor risers, anti-fatigue floor mats, and even a foot hammock.

FlexiSpot sent me a power strip that clamps to the back edge of the desk and has three AC outlets, one USB-A port, and one USB-C port — but the latter port was inoperable.

Other WFH elements

Consider additional components for a high-quality work-from-home station. These are some examples:

A laptop holder. If you use your laptop alongside a desktop display, as I do, raise the screen of the notebook to roughly the same viewing height as the external monitor.

A stand is also useful if you use your laptop screen as your primary display because it allows you to use external input devices at a more comfortable height (rather than hunching awkwardly over your computer keyboard and trackpad and causing neck strain).

I previously mentioned the $89.95 Roost, which is my favorite laptop stand. The $79.99 Curve Flex from Twelve South is also excellent.

Improved input devices. If your keyboard and mouse provide questionable accuracy or cause pain in your hands and wrists, consider upgrading. Logitech has long been my preferred manufacturer of input devices.

Its newest keyboard models include:

  • The MX Keys Mini is a $99.99 wireless, illuminated model. Because the key characters on the pale gray model are difficult to see, get it in black or graphite.
  • The MX Mechanical Mini, which is also illuminated and wireless. This model is available in three key-switch designs, each with a distinct feel and sound, with prices ranging from $99.99 to $149.99.

You can’t go wrong with Logitech’s $99.99 MX Master 3S mouse.

Improved charging. You most likely have multiple personal devices on your desk, including your computer, phone, earbuds or headphones, possibly a tablet, and others. Keeping everything charged can be difficult.

Nomad has options for elegant, effortless charging — and you can save 30% off the entire site until Monday.

Its $110 130W Power Adapter has three USB-C ports for simultaneously charging a computer, phone, and tablet from a single outlet.

With a combination of wireless and wired connections, its Base Station multi-charger pads can power up to five devices at once, ranging from a MacBook Air to AirPods. Nomad has several Base Station models with varying features and finishes, all of which were on sale when I checked.

Desk runners. This year’s must-have accessories are a great way to dress up your workstation. They are surfaces where you can place your input devices to protect your desktop — or, in my case, to regain a reliable mousing surface after damaging my desk surface.

Twelve South’s $49.99 DeskPad is made of “vegan leather” — it has the appearance of leather but was never derived from an animal. It looks nice and creates some friction when a mouse moves across for what Twelve South claims is improved accuracy (I didn’t notice much of a difference).

If you think the DeskPad is too much, try Logitech’s $19.99 Desk Mat, a soft-cloth mat with a nice mouse-ing feel that comes in a variety of soft colors. This product comes in three different colors and has an anti-slip bottom and a spill-resistant top.

Leather mousepads are available in a variety of sizes from Nomad. The pads are hard and stiff, which some people prefer over the softer Twelve South and Logitech options. The Nomad pad I tried, on the other hand, slid around too much. Nomad also had a full desk mat until recently, but it’s been discontinued, which is unfortunate because it looked like a great product.

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