3.15.2009

What your home office needs

We spend a big chunk of our lives working, so it’s no wonder we pay so much attention to decorating and equipping our workspaces.

Visit any cubicle in America, and you’ll find all sorts of gizmos and gimcracks and souvenir snowglobes and clipped cartoons aimed at giving the place some personality. We want to claim the space, make it our own, and if that means thumb-tacking “Garfield” to the walls, then so be it. (Not the cartoons. I mean the actual cat. But that’s just me.)

Manufacturers and merchants have recognized this drive to personalize our office spaces and have responded with tons of products aimed as separating us from the hard-earned dollars we make in those cubicles. The products get more outlandish and high-tech all the time.

A website called Switched.com recently collected some of the latest in a list called “10 Ultimate Cubicle Gadgets.” It’s a wacky list, ranging from a handheld air-conditioner to a high-tech cubicle makeover that costs more than $10,000.

Some items appeal to the inner nerd: a palm-sized polygraph, a device that signals when the worker is displaying poor desk posture, a fingerprint reader for password protection, and a washable, flexible computer keyboard.

Other items included a fancy lamp, a mini-fridge that holds one can of soda, and a round video phone that sits on squat legs, looking very much like the upraised back end of a dog.

These products look like a lot of fun, and I’m sure your cubicle would be a better place if you installed them. But the collection doesn’t address the millions of people who work in home offices, where the needs are more basic and there’s no boss to say what’s inappropriate.

Here are some gadgets you need in your home office:

--A thermal mug, which will reduce the number of times you must run to the kitchen for more coffee. A mug with a lid can prevent expensive spills into the computer.

--A set of screwdrivers. For making adjustments to your ancient swivel chair, repairing your eyeglasses or opening up your computer tower, so you can do some real damage to what’s inside.

--Duct tape has a thousand uses, including emergency hair removal and securing the occasional splint.

--Nail clippers. With no co-workers around, you can do your personal grooming right at your desk. Avoid letting the flying shards land in your keyboard.

--A lobster bib. We work-at-home types tend to eat at our desks.

--A threadbare bathrobe, for pulling on in a hurry when the FedEx driver rings the doorbell.

--A yo-yo, paddle-ball or other time-wasting toy. Because nobody’s watching.

--Earplugs, for those times when children are in the house.

--Solitaire, Tetris or other computer games. Everybody needs to take a break occasionally, right? Even if those “breaks” last for hours . . .

--A calendar and/or to-do list. You need organization and goal-setting in a home office. Otherwise, you waste all day watching old episodes of “The Munsters.”

--A box of tissues. Using your sleeve is gross, even if no one’s watching.

--Notepads, for doodling.

--A music delivery system of some sort, in case you feel like dancing.

--A sharp knife for opening packages. Also handy for slitting your wrists when you realize you’ve missed yet another deadline.

Finally, the most important device of all. Your home office needs a door so can shut out your family and the rest of the world.

You don’t want them to see you clipping your toenails.

1 comment:

poodleland said...

Your ideas were great. But you've got the first one wrong. I put a microwave right next to the computer, so I don't have to go anywhere! Why even leave the room?