Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
How’s the new normal working for you?
Bored? Lonely? Distinctly under-caffeinated?
Fear not, as we’ve done the legwork to find you the best products to increase productivity… And just make your WFH situation look and feel a bit slicker.
Chances are you’ve probably already got the foundations of a workstation in place – think computer, some form of table, chair, plugs – but what are those little extras that transition your space from dull and solitary to optimised and dare-we-say-it…inspirational?
The key gaps in our working environments were highlighted as the following:
- Headphones: crucial for blocking out the sounds of domesticity (laters, spin cycle), looking professional on video conferencing calls and tuning-out as you zone-in on a deadline.
- A coffee upgrade: the kettle just isn’t cutting it. We miss our overpriced caffeine fix so now seems like the best time to invest in a serious piece of kit to get that at home.
- Keyboard: our home working conditions rarely have the same health and safety checks as offices (ahem) so sore wrists and ergonomically-unfriendly habits are rife. Does a wireless keyboard help?
- Personalisation: who doesn’t want their desk to feel like a bit of them? While we normally stick a family photo and favourite mug on ours at work, why not do the same at home? Will it boost morale? Let’s find out…
JBL Tune 220TWS Headphones
What they say: Whether you’re tuning into an Android or an iPhone device, the JBL TUNE 220TWS earbuds have you covered with true wireless capability. Just charge up and get going. These ergonomic wireless buds hold their own, comfortable for up to 19 hours of JBL Pure Bass Sound you cannot get anywhere else. Switch seamlessly between calls, music, and your voice assistant. With metallic finishes, soft-touch paint, and both classic white and trendy colours to choose from, your pair can be as unique and stylish as you are.
What our editors say: “These are very cool, and the best bit is they fit perfectly in my ears. I can take calls on them, go for a run, or just wander around the house, I love them.”
Looks? “I’d give them a nine as they aren’t as compact as the leading manufacturer, but probably not far off.”
Ease of use? “Super easy-to-use. Just connect them once and away you go.”
Would we recommend it? “Definitely, in fact, I’ve even told people to try them on. I’ve had a few pairs of blue-tooth headphones and these are definitely the best.”
Any surprising features? “No.”
Anything that could do with being improved? “Yes, they don’t seem to have a volume switch and I hate using Siri so that is a bit frustrating.”
Worth the money? “Definitely, as the biggest reason nearly all my headphones fall apart is the cable, these are wireless so no issue with that going forward.”
Melitta Aromafresh Grind & Brew Therm Filter Coffee Machine
What they say: An integrated grinder that not only lets you freshly grind the beans for delicious filter coffee but also includes adjustable grind levels and coffee strength for individual coffee flavour. An ‘unbreakable’ insulated jug which allows you to enjoy the full flavour of your coffee even longer.
The programme timer feature with LED display also gives you coffee enjoyment by switching on automatically at the time you set.
What our editors say: “Wow. It’s pretty special. If you like filter coffee then this is very impressive. We use to have a machine in the office and this next level.”
Looks? “It’s big, very big but in a way that shouts quality and stature.”
Ease of use? “Super easy once you have read the instructions, but you definitely need to do that.”
Would we recommend it? “£200 is punchy, so if you love your coffee then yes.”
Any surprising features? “I like the automatic timer on it, perfect coffee as soon as you wake up.”
Anything that could do with being improved? “I think if you set it to 2 cups then it should only take 2 cups of water from the dispenser, minor frustration”
Worth the money? “Working from home with no Starbucks in sight? Then yes, buy one.”
BakkerElkhuizen UltraBoard 950 Keyboard
What they say: UltraBoard 950 is the latest compact keyboard from BakkerElkhuizen. The light keystroke, 2 USB ports and clear layout make this a complete keyboard. The biggest difference to a standard keyboard is that it has no numerical section, which makes the keyboard narrower. A compact keyboard reduces the distance to the mouse and reduces strain on your lower arms. An added benefit is that a compact variant is easier to transport in a laptop bag. You, therefore, need not rely on your laptop keyboard.
What our editors say: “Unfortunately, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about as it seems like a very expensive keyboard that comes with a standard USB port. This means that it is not compatible with my new mac…”
Looks? “It’s small, which is great if you’re carrying it around.”
Ease of use? “Super easy, plug it in and away you go.”
Would we recommend it? “Not really, as it didn’t meet our needs, which is a shame.”
Any surprising features? “It seems sturdy, and would take a lot of abuse which is good if you’re carrying it around in your bag.”
Anything that could do with being improved? “It would be great if they could they make the cable interchangeable or detachable so you could swap between USB cables.”
Worth the money? “Depends on what kind of connectivity you have.”
Nixplay Smart Photo Frame
What they say: The 10.1 inch smart photo frame from Nixplay. Fix it to the wall or stand it on your mantelpiece to display your photos – and with 8GB of storage, the possibilities are endless. Share your moments with smart photo storage and make the most of your most treasured memories.
What our editors say: “Probably one of the biggest surprises as I didn’t have very high expectations. Seems very well built, super easy to set up and the whole family love seeing all the pictures.”
Looks? “Looks great, sleek and minimal with the focus on the images.”
Ease of use? “Really easy. It comes with an app that you can give other people access to so they can add their photos.”
Would we recommend it? “Yep I thought it was great, it would make a great present and I personally love it sitting on the desk so I can see photos of the family.”
Any surprising features? “The remote was a nice touch, especially good if you put the picture up on a wall or somewhere hard to get to.”
Anything that could do with being improved? “Not that I can think of.”
Worth the money? “I would say so. I thought you might be able to do something similar with an old iPad but it is one of those classic things you never do.”
The Ultimate Home Office: What You Really Need
Aside from the essentials which are generally a computer, working wifi, a pinch of peace and quiet and some kind of surface, these tried and tested essentials are what we’ve found to make a real difference to your productivity and environment.
- JBL Tune 220TWS Headphones
- Melitta Aromafresh Grind & Brew Therm Filter Coffee Machine
- Nixplay Smart Photo Frame
It’s not easy to stay in all the time, especially if you’re used to the hustle and bustle of office life, but small changes can make a big difference. And many offices are also giving out allowances now to make your workspace better, so what better time to invest?