Home Office
a photo of a woman sitting behind a desk on her laptop in her home office.

Give your home desk a tech upgrade with these smart accessories.

Since we're all still working from home, it's time to smarten up your desk

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Since July 2021, due to the coronavirus pandemic's impact on companies and their workforce, many companies have transitioned their full-time and contract staff to a hybrid work model, splitting their time between the office and home. This shift, likely aimed at easing the concerns of workers hesitant to return to public transport and crowded office environments, underscores the growing necessity for individuals to invest further in their home workspaces.

Back in the height of the pandemic, when much of the world realized lockdown was about to become a reality, working from the sofa with a laptop sounded like a welcome break from the office grind. But now, many months later and with backache likely a regular office companion, it's time to buy a desk.

The options are almost limitless but smart; connected desks are few and far between. You could invest in a desk that adjusts electronically from sitting to standing height or throw nearly $8,000 at the reclining, 'zero gravity' workstation by Altwork. But realistically, your best option is to buy a simple desk you like and can afford, then accessorize it to make it smarter.

Here are some options for bringing connectivity and smartness to your humble home office desk.

USB and charging outlets

Desk power sockets and USB ports by HaylinkPower sockets are easy to add to your deskHaylink

Firstly, there are a few charging options. If you're anything like us, your desk and its inhabitants take up far more wall outlets than you ever thought possible. As I write this, ten devices are plugged into power sockets by my feet, tangled in a mess of wires and extension cables.

Much of this clutter could be fixed with some smartly arranged sockets. Haylink makes a range of these, including several that clamp above or below your desk, giving you a handy place to plug in your laptop, monitor, and USB devices. Fit this to your desk, plug a single cable into a wall outlet, and you no longer have to crawl under the desk to plug and unplug anything.

Options by Haylink cost around $30 for a unit with three power outlets and two USB ports.

Qi charging pads

Desk Qi wireless phone chargerQI charging pads fit into the grommet holes of most desksVavCase

Wireless charging using the Qi standard has quickly become the norm for smartphones, earphone charging cases, and some smartwatches. As such – and to free up another power socket – you should consider fitting a charging pad to your desk.

We don't mean simply plugging one in and leaving the cable dangling on the floor. No, with a bit of DIY, you can fit a Qi pad seamlessly onto the surface of your desk. There are generally two options here, one being more accessible than the other. The first sees a wireless charging pad slot into the standard-size grommet hole already in some desks, normally used to funnel cables to the floor.

If your desk doesn't have a grommet hole, you can buy drill bits that neatly carve a hole of the correct diameter for a Qi charger. Ikea sells a set of drill bits for its own QI chargers, or your local hardware store will also be able to help.

Qi chargers designed to fit in desk grommet holes start at around $24, while the Nordmarke by Ikea, intended to be sunk into a desk or table after you have cut a hole, is $19.

Lamp with wired and wireless charging

Ikea desk lamp with Qi wireless phone chargerIkea sells a range of desk lamps with integrated wireless charging. Ikea

Another option is to buy a desk lamp with wireless charging built into its base. Ikea sells a range of these starting at $80, while Amazon options begin at around $20 and go up from there. Some also come with additional USB ports, so you can plug another device in while your phone is also charging wirelessly. Again, this helps reduce the amount of cable clutter on the floor and sprawled across your desk.

Best LED Desk Lamp with Wireless Charger on Amazon

Computer desk tidies and power stations

Satechi desk tidies and charging docks for iMac and Mac MiniDesk tidies and charging docks for iMac and Mac MiniSatechi

Satechi sells a range of charging accessories to help tidy up your desk. Most of these are intended to complement any computer or laptop you might have, but a couple are specifically designed to fit beneath Apple's iMac and Mac Mini desktop computers.

The first, to sit beneath the foot of an iMac Mini or next to a Mac, three Thunderbolt 4 downstream ports that support daisy chaining up to six Thunderbolt devices to maximize your creative space– all of which are far easier to access there than by reaching behind the iMac to its ports.

Similarly, the Mac Mini option has the same selection of ports but is designed to fit neatly under Apple's smallest desktop. The iMac model costs $200, and the Mac Mini option costs $100.

A generic alternative for any computer is this, which raises your screen a few inches off the desk (creating storage space beneath), and includes a Qi charging pad for your phone, plus a USB-C port, three USB-A ports, a microSD card slot and a full-size SD card slot. It is priced at $79.

Buy on Best Buy

Headphone stand

a photo of a desk with Satechi 2-in-1 Headphone Stand with Wireless Charger Satechi 2-in-1 Headphone Stand with Wireless Charger Satechi

A desk accessory you likely never knew you needed, headphone stands help keep your bulky cans out of the way but in easy reach at all times. Some options fit below your desk with integrated USB charging ports – and, somewhat bizarrely, somewhere to hang your watch.

Others are a simple stand to keep your headphones right where you need them, while this $35 stand from Satechi strikes a neat balance by offering a stand, plus two USB-A ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. If your computer is out of reach, having those ports to hand could be helpful for some home workers.

Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub smart displayThe Nest Hub can be a helpful home office assistantGoogle

We think the Nest Hub smart display with Google Assistant is a great desk companion. It is small enough to fit on most work surfaces, while its display automatically adjusts during the day to match your ambient lighting. It can be set to scroll through your Google Photos library or a random selection of imagery and artwork curated by Google.

The display also acts as a useful desk clock and weather station, and of course, the integrated Google Assistant means you can ask it about anything. It's an easy way to ask general knowledge questions, add events to your calendar, play a radio station, perform calculations, conversion and translations, and control your smart home. (Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility find engine. It can help you find, buy, and connect any smart device. It can even help you find other smart devices or systems compatible with your existing smart devices, such as Google Assistant-enabled devices.)

In addition to speaking, you can tap on the display to adjust smart lighting throughout your home and check up on live video feeds from your security cameras and video doorbell.

Buy at Best Buy for only $99.99

Smart lighting

LED mood lighting in a home officeLED strip lighting can help to brighten a home office spaceWobane

By sticking to the smart home theme, your desk could benefit from subtle, smart lighting. This could mean a regular desk lamp with a smart bulb inside or strips of LED lighting attached to the back of your desk and computer monitor, neatly illuminating the wall behind if your desk is tucked into an otherwise dim corner.

Most smart light systems include pre-sets to help you concentrate during the day. They make bulbs bright and crisp during the day and shift to a warmer, softer, and more relaxing hue in the evening. It's easy to set an automated schedule or control it by speaking to your voice assistant of choice or tapping on the Nest Hub display mentioned above.

If your desk is tucked into a small corner of a room, well-placed lighting can help brighten the space and help you work more productively.

Smart light systems like Philips Hue, C by GE, and LIFX can be expensive. If you are on a small budget, many non-smart LED strips are powered by USB and controlled by a simple remote control. For example, the lighting pictured above costs $16 for 120 LEDs on a 6ft6 long strip.

Monitor desk mount

Desk clamp computer monitor standMonitor arms can help free up desk space.NB North Bayou

Finally, it would be best to consider lifting your computer monitor off the desk. This can have several benefits, including freeing up desk space beneath the screen and giving you more options for how the monitor is positioned to reduce glare and increase comfort.

There are many options to consider, priced from around $30. Some let you mount two screens next to each other, and most articulate to help you find the perfect height and angle. Many clamps to your desk, so it takes up very little space, but you'll likely need to move your desk away from a wall if it backs onto one to make room for the mount.

If your home office is more permanent, you could consider wall-mounting your monitor. That way, there's no arm to clamp to your desk and make room for, and the screen can be fixed at exactly the right height. Wall-mounting also makes lighting attached to the back of the screen look even better.

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