Friday Dec 02, 2022

The Home Office Gear Wirecutter Staffers Bought to Make It Through the Pandemic – The New York Times


Trying to stay productive in the midst of a deadly and terrifying global pandemic can feel like a losing battle. Even if you’re able to cope with the fear, illness, loss, and grief marking so much of the past year, it’s tough to focus when you’re deprived of your social connections and normal office routine. And this is doubly true when you’re trying to get comfortable spending eight hours a day on the couch or in a kitchen chair (not to mention dealing with a partner, kids, and pets jockeying for your attention).

Some companies have provided assistance to ease the transition to working remotely, Wirecutter among them. For us, it came in the form of a New York Times Company reimbursement of up to $800, to be used on home-office upgrades not normally provided in the “before time.” We were given a lot of latitude to buy anything within reason—laptop stands, desks, chairs, and so on—that might make our improvised workspaces more comfortable and productive.

As you can imagine, we were pretty grateful. And since we’re Wirecutters, we put our research skills to work to make sure we used this unexpected benefit in the smartest way possible. If you’re also looking to upgrade your WFH setup and are seeking some guidance, perhaps you can take inspiration from our choices. Below you’ll find a sampling of things my colleagues bought during the pandemic, along with how these items have improved their day-to-day work lives in this strange, housebound era.

Supportive, stylish office chairs

When I polled my coworkers regarding what they’d bought, office chairs were by far the most common response: Of the 37 total items reported by 28 different coworkers, 14 were chairs. Even wilder? Nine of those 14 chairs were some variation of the Herman Miller Sayl.

Photo: Janet Towle

Herman Miller Sayl Chair
From: The Best Office Chair (also-great pick)
Price: $545 at the time of publication

For the first few months of the pandemic, I thought that the full-body tiredness I was feeling at the end of every workday was just due to all the extra stress and anxiety. I knew my old, cheap office chair probably wasn’t the best for me ergonomically, but it was easy to blame getting older instead of the chair. And I never felt like I could spare the money for an upgrade. I used the stipend to get the Herman Miller Sayl, and (this might sound cheesy) it totally changed my life. I had energy to do things after work! I fell asleep more easily since I wasn’t so achy! Instead of hunching over my laptop on the couch, I found myself happily working at my desk because my chair genuinely felt better. I wish I could tell my younger self to seek out a higher-quality office chair secondhand—it would have been worth it.

—Janet Towle, community strategist

Photo: Chris Heinonen

Steelcase Gesture
From: The Best Office Chair (our top pick)
Price: about $1,000 at the time of publication

I had the previous budget pick (the IKEA Markus) for a while, but eventually the height-adjustment mechanism failed, so this time I went all out. The Steelcase Gesture is very flexible, able to hold all 6-foot-3 of me, and I can tell when …….


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