The One Thing You Need to Stay Productive When You WFH, According to Design Pros

Minimalistic office space with white desk and chair.

Cathie Hong

We spent the past nine months and counting inside, but if we’re being totally honest, we still don’t have the whole work-from-home thing down pat. It doesn’t matter how many Zoom tops we own or what our makeshift office looks like, it’s surprisingly difficult to stay productive at home.

When the work-life balance is blurrier than ever before, it’s all too easy to press pause on a particularly tedious project to disinfect your groceries, do some overdue chores, or, say, redecorate your entire space. Staying focused while working from home is a state of mind and not something you can necessarily buy, but there are products that can help boost your productivity tenfold—and that’s where our favorite designers come in.

As experts of the home, these pros know how to transform a space from a serene sanctuary to an ultra-focused place to get work done. To help, these designers are sharing the one thing that keeps them productive when they work from home.

From products to design hacks, one thing’s for sure: you’re just a few clicks away from revolutionizing your workspace.

01 of 08

Smart Storage

“I always think organization is the key for being productive anywhere, especially these days when the whole family is working and studying. I had to get a bookcase and baskets to organize project binders, drawings, and samples that kept accumulating at my home.” —Mia Jung, interiors director at Ike Kligerman Barkley

02 of 08

Lots of Light

“Make your workspace comfortable with as much natural light as possible to keep up the vitamin D endorphins. I particularly like sitting at my corner daybed window because I'm drawn to bright sunny spaces, and this space feels so relaxing. It's my happy place when I don't feel like sitting at a table. It's my dog Henry's favorite spot too—and I don't mind sharing.” —Lauren Nelson, designer

03 of 08

High-Functioning Headphones

“One thing that has helped me stay productive and focused during this period has been a high quality pair of studio headphones. Having amazing audio makes Zooming and video chats much simpler and immersive. I have been using sound-isolating headphones, and I would recommend them to anyone who finds themself mishearing things over video calls or being inundated with distractions from the outside.” —Jessica Shaw, interior design director of Turett Collaborative 

ATH-M50x Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
Audio-Technica ATH-M50studio Headphones $149
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04 of 08

Intuitive Outlets

"We all have a dream of ‘unplugging,’ but since that’s not happening any time soon, outlets that have USB ports are the best—especially now that Apple isn't including adapters with their new iPhones. Legrand has some good-looking USB outlets avaialble, which I’m thankful for." —Leanne Ford, designer and HGTV star of Restored with the Fords

adorne Ultra-Fast USB Type A/C Outlet
Legrand adorne Ultra-Fast USB Type A/C Outlet $60
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05 of 08

A Transformative Desk

“I love a sit-stand desk that doesn't appear to be one. Many of these desks have an architectural look to them or look like a cold office piece, but choosing an aesthetically pleasing sit-stand desk that also allows for some exercise is a win-win. Stand up, sit down...wake yourself up! This is so helpful when trying to keep your mind fresh while working from home." —Traci Connell, designer

Remi Standing Desk
Fully Remi Standing Desk $450
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06 of 08

A Cozy Chair

“Now that we are home almost exclusively, it is imperative to have a dedicated workspace that not only acts as a stylish accent to our homes, but remains a functional and focused area for productivity. For most of us, our new workspaces are not behind closed doors. Rather, they are tucked in the corner of our living room, stationed at the far end of the dining table, or even a laptop propped on a chaise. 

If you have the space for a devoted desk area, the best thing you can do to stay focused is invest in a comfortable chair. Experts agree that sitting upright following the 90-90 rule (90 degrees at knees, 90 degrees at waist) is the best ergonomic posture, outside of a standing desk. Invest in a desk chair that looks as good as it feels—with a deep seat, supportive back, and stylish form. Plus, you’ll feel more like it’s a ‘usual’ day in the office and trigger your brain into productive mode.” —Brady Burke, designer at Havenly

07 of 08

A Cuckoo Clock (Really!)

“It is always hard to keep the balance between work and break times, especially when you are in the 'work zone' and want to power through the day. I found having a clock that chimes really made a difference for me, not just an alert from your phone, which sometimes can feel cold and analogue. The Muji cuckoo clock was something that keeps me on track, and the soft cuckoo at every hour has a bit of an ASMR moment. It doesn't need to be a fancy Alexa or Google Home announcement, just a simple cuckoo clock.” —Kelly Liang, junior interior designer at Caydon

MUJI Cuckoo Clock
Muji Cuckoo Clock $100
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08 of 08

Plenty of Variety

“Having two sons in high school are a challenge during the work from home orders that are still affecting the Bay Area. My sons often needed my larger desktop within my home office and study, so I moved around my house and found other areas to work. Instead of having one designated space to do my work, I am now moving between my kitchen, living room, and dining rooms, which keeps it interesting and helps me get some daily movement.

While it might sound scattered, it allows me to pick and choose where I am sitting based on the task at hand. Also, taking my lab Biscuit on his afternoon walk has dramatically helped me stay active and fresh, making me less tired by the evening. It may not happen every day, but when it does, it is very calming.” —Kendall Wilkinson, designer

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