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I’m an editor, and at the end of the day here in my makeshift home office, I often stand up and feel like I spent the last 8 hours crammed inside a duffel bag that was then run over by a Mack truck.
My neck aches, my back is frozen into a question mark, my bones crack like someone just stepped on an empty box of Tic Tacs…it ain’t good. And so as we hit year four of post-pandemic WFH living, I decided to investigate what I could do to finally improve my situation.
Here’s the thing, we all know that hunching over a laptop on a coffee table or kitchen table is not good for our bodies. But here’s the other thing: most of us still do it. This is much to the detriment of our physical and mental well-being. The Wall Street Journal reports that neck, back and shoulder pain complaints have skyrocketed during the past few. And these issues don’t only make us feel bad, they make us look bad as well. London-based skin specialist Alexandra Soveral told WSJ that scrunched shoulders, bent necks and tensed muscles can block our lymphatic system’s drainage, and can lead to acne or puffy or dull skin. How great is that? Achy and pimply — wonderful!
So in the hopes of fixing all of that, I road (and butt) tested some WFH desks and chairs to see which was best for my bod. Here’s what I found helpful and what hopefully will be helpful to you.
The Best WFH Desks
Solo Sit-to-Stand Desk
Photo credit: Steelcase
Leveling up my kitchen table setup (literally) is this Solo Sit-to-Stand Desk. The desk has an internal motor that adjusts its height from 22.6″ to 48.7″ by pressing a lever mounted on its side. Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to stand all day. To be honest, I’m not trying to stand all hour. But I do like to stand for 15 minutes or so every once in a while, and the ease of adjustment with this desk makes it too easy to not move up and down on a whim. It’s not like some other standing setups I’ve tried where you have to carry all of your stuff to another surface and worry about wires getting tangled or unplugged. It’s just a quick hit of the lever and up or down you go.
Whether it is stretched up or at sitting height, the thing I really dig is the desk is that it is just rock solid. I am one of those annoying heavy typers, and nothing is more irritating than a wobbly surface when you are pounding away on your keyboard. (Well, I guess it is more irritating to be sitting next to someone who types like that, but whatever.) In addition to the non-wobbliness, I like that the work surface of the desk is smooth and that its overall look is sleek without being obtrusive. It easily blends into the background of your living space.
One more thought on the zero wobble, it does bring up one potential detriment of this desk: this thing is not light. It weighs 47 pounds and comes in big unwieldy boxes. You are going to need help getting this thing into your home office and probably some additional muscle while putting it together. But apart from its heftiness, it was surprisingly easy to assemble. There were only a few pieces that had to be screwed in and a couple of wires that needed plugging in. But overall, it was way easier to deal with than some IKEA nightmare.
Overall rating: 5 stars
Price: $721-867 (varies with size)
Photo credit: CB2
On the other end of the tech spectrum is this simple but stylish desk. I used it as a kind of “hot desk” in the living room for me and my laptop-ed family members to use as needed for work, school stuff, paying bills and such. We all found it to be much more comfortable than propping our computers up on end tables or couch pillows, and like the Solo above, it is pretty unobtrusive in the context of a normal living space. The powder coat paint job makes it comfy to have your forearms resting on it all day and its two front wheels (which lock off) make it a very multifunctional mobile surface. Clear the laptops and roll it into the dining room and you’ve got a damn good-looking bar cart for a party. (Or a random Wednesday night, depending on how rough your week has been.)
It was actually slightly more of an endeavor to put together than I anticipated (each corner has several nuts and bolts) but if you can handle a socket wrench, this can definitely be a one-person job. High point: The price-to-quality ratio is off the charts. It’s less than $200 and you get an 8″ wide, 24″ deep desk that easily functions as a workstation, party station, or both.
Overall rating: 4 stars
The Best WFH Desk Chairs
Boulies Master Max
Photo credit: Boulies
The term “max” gets thrown around a lot, but if you want a chair that truly maxes out your desk sitting comfort, this is hands-down the best one I have ever plopped down in. My aforementioned end-of-day back pains vanished after a week of riding this bad boy. What makes it so special? A lot. Among its features: a wide and comfortably curved seating base; up and down adjustments so you can fine-tune the lumbar support to match the curve of your back; durable and stable adjustable armrests; all kinds of tilting controls; Ultraflex PU leather that basically makes you feel like you’re sitting behind the wheel of a luxury supercar. Bonus: It was super easy to build. It is somewhat heavy and comes in quite a large box, so it’s probably best to have an idea of which floor of your house you want it before the delivery guys plop it down. The only true downside is that I fear once you sit in this chair, you’ll be spoiled for life.
Overall rating: 5 stars
Photo credit: Steelcase
Between its shape and mesh materials, this chair is insanely comfortable and cool. As in it is cool-looking and literally cool, as the signature mesh material keeps air flowing even if you’re chained to your desk for hours with a looming deadline. And it is lightweight but at the same quite sturdy and provides ample support for a range of body types. I kept it as my home’s “hot desk” station and it worked great for everyone (except for the dog who tried to crawl up into it and it rolled away and now he is terrified of it.) The chair has all kinds of controllers to dial it in to fit your sitting style perfectly, and the company stresses that they go to great lengths to use eco-friendly materials and processes. So basically this chair will make your lower back and your conscious feel better at the same time.
Overall rating: 5 stars
Loberget / Malskar
Photo credit: IKEA
Do not be fooled. This chair may look cute, but it is a demon in chair form. Loosely translated from Swedish, Loberget / Malskar means “Torture / Device.” This IKEA chair may look groovy, but a couple of days in it had my chiropractor on speed dial. You’d be more comfortable sitting on one of the furniture giant store’s signature meatballs. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Overall rating: 1/2 star