You’re working from home for the foreseeable future. Your home office consists of your dining room table, a chair that usually sits in the corner and an extension cord that your dog trips over daily. You would like to upgrade, but you’re not comfortable splurging on name brands like Herman Miller, Steelcase or Knoll. What are you to do?
A cursory google of “cheap home office” yields hundreds of products from Wayfair, Ebay and Amazon, all from brands whose names you’ve never heard of, and in all likelihood have no customer service team to complain to when they’re delivered without screws. The middle ground of home office gear is small and difficult to find, but it is there. Here are four brands to get started.
Autonomous is a five-year-old company that started out designing life-bettering robo-assistants, but has come into its own providing former office goers with smartly designed, well-made, mid-priced home office gear. Ergonomic-focused seating starts at $99, sit-stand desks start under $400 and desk accessories are $19 and up.
The company’s dedication to bettering the WFH environment is such that it’s released products as far-flung as a “telepresence” robot that scoots around your home with you, and, starting at $5,400, prefab home offices that are built over a few days in your backyard.
What to Get: While robots with cameras on them are cool, regular movement and height-appropriate desks are cooler. The brand’s SmartDesk 2 Premium lifts up and drops down with the push of a button, and it can do so bearing up to 300 pounds of weight on top. $449
Though the “about” page cliché of “we didn’t see this extremely specific need being serviced, so we made it” is usually not true, Branch makes a fair point: “After furnishing dozens of offices for a commercial real estate startup, [Branch’s founder] realized the average office furniture company falls into one of two categories: high quality, but expensive and slow, or affordable and fast but lacking in quality and service.”
Skimming through its site, Branch could very well have been a B2B company that cleverly seized on the rush of WFH boom in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. The brand scopes in on this very real gap with thoughtfully designed products in the lower half of the mid-priced bracket, and while there’s nothing wrong with its desks, accessories and office lounging products, its task seating, which ticks nearly every box in the good-for-you furniture rubric, is where the brand shines.
What to Get: Keeping with the B2B vibes, most of Branch products have names like Ergonomic Chair, which may be its very best product. In place of the plastic found in other chairs, its base is anodized aluminum, which permits it to carry a much heavier load than other budget office chairs. This, accompanied by a breezy mesh back and and armrests that move every which way, earned the Branch Ergonomic Chair a spot on our guide to the very best office chairs you can buy. $279
If you’re more worried about office looks than performance, look elsewhere. Fully is an aggressively body-friendly office gear outfitter. On the site, you’ll see chairs primed for Silicon Valley parody, stools that align spines and more atypical office gear. Plus, Fully is a Certified B Corporation that devotes serious resources to sustainability projects.
What to Get: Though Fully does offer odd-looking office equipment, the Jarvis Laptop Arm does not fall into this category. It lifts a laptop high enough for healthy viewing (looking down at a screen for months will cause trouble), and it ensures your laptop isn’t going anywhere. The Jarvis Monitor Arm is equally impressive. $138
Founded by academic trauma surgeon Dr. Turner Osler, QOR360 makes seats to save you from (or minimize) back issues. Its small selection of chairs all employ the brand’s trademarked “Redrocker” tech, which allows for movement forward, backward and to either side. The technology underscores the brand’s thesis — healthy sitting isn’t necessarily stationary.
What to Get: The marquis product, and the one that’s made the brand thus far, is the Ariel Chair. The premise is simple: gently nudge your spine into consistent, comfortable alignment. The thinking that brought the idea to life is far less so. $375+
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