Working from home: the ultimate essentials guide

Recently started working from home? These are the top buys to motivate yourself and to create the ideal workspace for productivity

Working from home: Laura and Ed Gray’s three-storey home has adapted to every phase of their lives
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Recently started working from home every day? A lot of us are in the same boat right now, and it's going to take some getting used to if you usually head into the office. Don't sweat: with these best buys, you can up your performance levels and keep yourself motivated. And, of course, you don't need an actual home office to make them work (corner of the living room for us, at the moment).

Whether you need a new chair to ease backache while working, you can't bear another minute of being hunched over a laptop so are after a laptop stand, or, you're looking for a compact coffee machine to avoid countless trips to the kitchen to refuel – this is our ultimate working from home guide. Below are 10 best buys to up motivation and jazz up your makeshift workspace, or, update your current home office with some brand new buys.

Check out our home office ideas page for more ideas, hacks and product recommendations.

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Don't miss the UK's first virtual Working From Home Show, which will take place on July 30 & 31. Whether you're a business owner or employee, you'll be able to join interactive seminars, watch product demonstrations and visit exhibitors with products that will make working from home that little bit easier.
Register your interest now (opens in new tab)

1. John Lewis Calia Desk

Best desk: this industrial-look desk takes first place for its great build and even better design

Specifications

Size: 75 x 135 x 65 cm
Colour: Oak/black
Material: Solid oak, veneered MDF

Reasons to buy

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Outstanding build quality 
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Perfect for industrial schemes
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Features 3 drawers and 1 cupboard

Reasons to avoid

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Grained surface isn’t the smoothest to write on 

Sturdily built and beautiful, this solid oak desk from John Lewis (opens in new tab) takes our top spot for best desk. Its rustic distressed wire-brushed wood and welded iron legs are totally on-trend, but the high-quality construction and heft mean it's built to last. You get three deep drawers that are perfect for storing papers and stationery, as well as a cupboard that will fit your laptop so you can pop it away at the of the day. 

Shop more John Lewis desks (opens in new tab)

Argos desk chair

(Image credit: Argos)

2. Argos Brixham faux leather office chair

Best office chair: this Argos office chair is affordable, supportive and compact

Specifications

Size: H42-52 x W59 x D45cm
Colour: Black or grey
Material: Faux leather

Reasons to buy

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Budget friendly 
+
Suitable for small spaces
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Adjustable
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Great for small spaces

Reasons to avoid

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Self-assembly 

If you want the best office chair for support and don't have loads of room for a really bulky model, this Argos Brixham desk chair (opens in new tab) could be the answer. For starters, this Argos desk chair is just £50. Not only do we think it looks like it costs more than that – the design is sleek and simple and the faux leather doesn't look cheap and shiny at all – but it's really supportive and provides a comfortable perch for hours, too. And then there's the bonus that if you have a small home office but are after a desk chair that provides plenty of support, with this model you get both: it's small and supportive. The seat height is easy to change, swivels like a dream, but something you don't often get with cheaper desk chairs is an adjustable backrest. The backrest on the Brixham can either be set to tilt with you as you move throughout the day, or you can lock into a place that suits your seating position best. We approve.

Click to shop more desk chairs at Argos (opens in new tab)

3. Anglepoise Type 75 Mini Desk Lamp

Best desk lamp: this iconic design is adjustable and will look great on your desk

Specifications

Size: H45.8 x W31.4 x D17.2cm
Colour: Black, white, red or grey
Material: Aluminium

Reasons to buy

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 Iconic inimitable design 
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 Highly adjustable 

Reasons to avoid

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An investment
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Hard to dust

The original and best, the Anglepoise Type 75 table lamp (opens in new tab)https://www.lduhtrp.net/image-6361382-13462687 takes over 80 years of innovation and packs it into the perfect light for offices. With its endlessly adjustable stalk and focused light, it manages to look both classic and modern, as well as allowing you to focus in on the finer details of the task at hand. Helpful and handsome, this iconic design earns our top spot for superior design and perfect performance. We rate it the best desk lamp you can buy.

Note: it takes an E27 60W bulb.

Shop more desk lamps at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Best laptop stand you can buy: Rain Design mStand

4. Rain Design mStand

Best laptop stand: a surprisingly gorgeous and practical addition to the desktop

Specifications

Size: W25.4cm x H23.6cm x D15 cm
Colour: Silver
Material: Aluminium

Reasons to buy

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Handy swivel stand 
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Looks very attractive
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Great for MacBook users
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Can be used with laptops from 13" - 17"
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Adjustable thanks to its rotating base

Reasons to avoid

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No longer a choice of colours

The clever patented design of this laptop stand is ultimately what gives it our top spot, but we also have to mention how good it looks, too. Made to match Apple products, the Rain Design mStand (opens in new tab) is a handsome companion for the MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. The top surface features rubber pads to keep the brushed metal outer of the laptop from getting scratched, and the 360-degree swivel base makes adjusting your position or working (or shopping, or booking a holiday) with a partner easier. The aperture at the back also allows any cables to be neatly organised, so there’s no compromise on aesthetics if you keep your laptop set up at all times. 

Shop more Rain Design products at Amazon (opens in new tab)

Design Project by John Lewis & Partners No.004 Display Unit

5. Design Project by John Lewis & Partners No.004 Display Unit

Best home office shevling: an ideal home office shelving unit if you love linear designs and contemporary styles – we love!

Specifications

Size: H180cm x W120cm x D35cm
Colour: Oak
Material: Solid oak, oak veneers

Reasons to buy

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Solid and hard-wearing 
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Made from real wood 

Reasons to avoid

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Perhaps too modern for traditional homes
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Pricey

This contemporary home office shelving unit from John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab) is both stylish and functional. The designers have chosen to use both oak and oak veneer to give it a sturdy, hardwearing structure which is perfect for storing files, books and other necessary office items. The boxes at the end of each shelf can be used to frame a lamp or ornaments, so you can extend your unique taste to your home office. It's easily our pick of the best home office shelving unit.

Shop more storage solutions at John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab)

Best small printer: HP OfficeJet 250

6. HP OfficeJet 250

Best small printer: a great all-rounder, perfect for home offices

Specifications

Size: H39.5cm x W37.42cm x D26.5 cm
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

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Print, scan and copy 
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Quick and easy setup
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Can print directly from your mobile
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Inkjet technology
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4800x1200 DPI resolution
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Wireless

Reasons to avoid

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Not the cheapest option

A compact printer isn’t what you need for super quality photo print outs, but for everyday usage and some general colour printing thrown in, the HP OfficeJet 250 is one of the best small printers available. This small printer can (obviously) print, as well as scan and copy. You should have no problem carrying out your business admin. And, when out visiting clients, you can print on premises, too – the HP OfficeJet 250 is just about small enough to pop into a rucksack. It’s easy to set up, only takes 90 minutes to charge up, and it’s wireless, so you can easily print from phones and other mobile devices. 

Shop the full range of small printers available from Amazon (opens in new tab)

Lamonte Marble Wall Clock

(Image credit: La Redoute )

7. Lamonte Marble Wall Clock

Best wall clock: you'll never be late again (hopefully)

Specifications

Size: D30cm
Colour: White

Reasons to buy

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Looks great
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Easy to hang
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Bargain
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Comes in three colours

Reasons to avoid

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No numbers

Every home office needs a clock, and what better than this sophisticated Lamonte one (opens in new tab)? Made from real marble with brass coloured metal hands, it'll look gorgeous hung on your wall, and will ensure both you, and your clientele, aren't ever late again. It also comes in black and grey if you're going for a darker colour scheme.

Shop more home office accessories at La Redoute (opens in new tab)

John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Letter Rack

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

8. John Lewis & Partners Bamboo Letter Rack

Best letter rack: organise your desk with this bamboo letter rack

Specifications

Size: H10.3cm x W10.3cm x D9.6cm
Colour: Brown
Material: Bamboo

Reasons to buy

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Made from bamboo
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Three slots
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Eco-friendly

Reasons to avoid

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Not to everyone’s taste 

Those who love a bit of bamboo will love this letter rack (opens in new tab). It is stylish and a great way to organise your post and other bits and bobs. It would look equally as good in a hallway as in a home office and would fit nicely on a desk so that you can make sure everything has a place. 

Head over to John Lewis & Partners for more desk storage and accessories (opens in new tab)

Best quiet coffee machine: Lavazza A Modo Mio Jolie Plus

Best quiet coffee machine: a quiet and compact pod machine that'll sit neatly on your desk

Specifications

Size: H21cm x W12.4cm x D33cm
Colour: Grey

Reasons to buy

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Super quiet 
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Authentic Italian espresso 
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A range of pre-set coffee settings 
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0.6ltrs tank capacity
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10 Bar
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Reasons to avoid

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Pod-only
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Small tank (but it is super compact)

This little coffee machine from Lavazza (opens in new tab) gets our vote for the quietest model on the market, plus it produces a decent cup of coffee too, making it great for home offices.
It is quick and the coffee tastes amazing. It only takes Lavazza pods, but fortunately their coffee is of supreme quality and even capsule-machine skeptics will enjoy a cup from this machine. This stylish coffee machine produces both single and double espressos with a smooth, rich crema. Use compatible milk pods alongside its range of preset coffee settings to create your own drink, whether it’s a cappuccino or a latte. While some pod coffee machines are notoriously noisy – not what you want in a home office – the Lavazza Jolie Plus definitely isn't. Apart from being super quiet, it is also unobtrusive in size. It does only have a 0.6ltr capacity tank, so it’s perfect for individual usage and a smaller tank means it takes up less space on your desk – win, win. The only drawback is the restrictions around the pods you can use. The machine requires Lavazza capsules and while some companies create compatible pods, the branded ones are recommended. We were happy to hear that Lavazza has recently launched some compostable capsules. Check out their Eco Cap capsules (opens in new tab).

Click to shop more pod coffee machines at Lakeland (opens in new tab)

Best mini fridge you can buy: Signature S30007 4 Litre Mini Fridge

10. Signature S30007 4 Litre Mini Fridge

Best mini fridge: great for home offices, this carryable compact fridge works wonders

Specifications

Size: H23.5cm x W18cm x D7cm
Colour: White or black

Reasons to buy

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Cooling and heating functionality 
+
Smart brushed steel look 
+
4L capacity
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Rated A for energy

Buy a mini fridge to pop under your desk to prevent trips to the kitchen for drinks and snacks that ultimately end with you doing all the washing up in the sink, wiping down the sides, putting a wash on and clearing out your kitchen cupboards. This thermoelectric mini fridge has both cooling and heating capabilities, which might sound a bit mad, but you’d be surprised how it can come in handy! Users found its four litre capacity to be the ideal size for a few cans of fizzy drink or a bottle of milk for those all-important cups of tea or coffee. That it looks very smart, with its stainless steel finish and pull-clasp closure, and that it can be taken on the road using the top cart handle and 12-volt input, is a bonus. 

Find more mini fridges for sale at Amazon (opens in new tab)

More home office ideas:

Annie Collyer
Deputy Ecommerce Editor

Annie is our Deputy Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes, with her particular area of expertise being home fragrance (there isn't a candle out there that she hasn't lit in her home). She's our guru when it comes to what to buy, when — and also where. She has years of experience when it comes to finding deals — Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday or not — and she particularly loves finding a bargain. With some of her favorite homeware pieces coming from Amazon, she's always looking for budget-friendly alternatives and dupes, as well as eco-friendly products to help her on her recent journey to being more sustainable at home. There's nothing she loves more than her Pug, Doug, and a bargain thrift shop find (yes, she once thrifted a brand new Le Creuset pan). Next up on her to-do list at home: DIY crittall-style doors...

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