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Desk hacks: Must-have gadgets

  • Coolest Office Gadgets

    If a grey office cubicle leaves you feeling unmotivated, you're not alone.

    Simply by customising your workspace to your own tastes, you can improve your job satisfaction and morale, studies show. In fact, allowing employees to personalise their work environment can positively impact a company's bottom line by increasing productivity and reducing staff turnover, noted a 2007 study Workplace Personalization and Organizational Culture.

    A 2010 study from two occupational psychologists at the University of Exeter found that employees who were permitted to decorate their small office as they wished were more productive than those who had no control of their area's appearance.

    Whether you have a corner office or an open desk in a cubicle farm, there are plenty of ways to incorporate your own personal style that go beyond adding a bobble head figurine or a few picture frames. If creativity, fitness or ergonomics is your thing, you can transform your work area from a basic space into a mini art, entertainment or fitness center — no standing desk treadmills required.

    Scroll through the images above to see some of the coolest office gadgets and desk hacks for your workspace.

    (Image: Studio Banana Things)

  • Spinning away, without leaving your chair

    Desk Cycle Cost: $159

    Ditching the desk isn't always an option, despite the numerous studies that tell us sitting for long periods increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and early death—even if you're active outside work.

    One option to offset the sedentary nature of office life is to turn your desk into a mini spin studio. An under-desk cycle lets you work out, not just work, whether you cycle in short bursts or peddle steadily throughout the day. Be warned: It's easy to work up a sweat.

    While there are a number of under-desk cycles on the market, the DeskCycle, which is quiet and compact, is one of the top-ranked by consumers on Amazon. Lifestyle blogger Brittany Shaw purchased the DeskCycle in February for her California home office because she said she never found time to make it to them gym.

    “Since I spend 24/7 at my computer desk, having a handy piece of equipment… is key,” she said. Shaw said she uses it for at least an hour a day while working.

    (Image: DeskCycle)

  • Functional Art

    Perpetual Wall Calendar Cost: $78

    Why use a plain calendar when you can look at art and keep track of your daily schedule? For creative types, the Perpetual Wall Calendar doubles as eye-catching and engaging office art. Along with manually changing the dates, theThe calendar allows the user to manually change the dates and create a new design at whim, with up to 40,000 variations in total. The MoMA Design Store manufactures and distributes the colorful, geometric calendar from Tel Aviv-based artist Dan Reisinger.

    “We first introduced (the calendar) in 1987, and we are now bringing it back due to popular demand,” said Chay Costello, associate director of merchandising for MoMA Design Store.

    (Image: MoMA Design Store)

  • Private screening solution

    Brookstone Pocket Projector Cost: $299.99

    If you're planning to shell out for an expensive tech toy, maximise your investment by buying something that can be used for both work and play. The Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector, for instance, connects to your computer, smartphone or tablet via USB with no outlet required, and projects a bright, clear image onto walls. You can quickly set up a presentation in your office or squeeze in a lunchtime screening of a favourite show you missed the night before. The projector is easy to transport, too.

    (Image: Brookstone)

  • Nap time, minus the nap room

    Ostrich Pillow Cost: 80 euro ($107)

    Maybe you don’t need a private office to take a snooze. Perhaps all you need for a comfortable power nap at the office is the right pillow. The Ostrich Pillow from Studio Banana Things offers an unusual looking, but effective, solution.

    While wearing the pillow might draw some strange looks from your co-workers, it facilitates napping by creating a “micro environment.” In other words, it blocks out all light and sound and allows you to settle in for some serious shut-eye at your desk with no couch, bed or pod required.

    Sleep expert and consultant Nancy Rothstein points to the Ostrich Pillow as a “rather humorous solution” to catching 40 winks at work. Many CEOs support napping throughout the day and have created nap-friendly office environments. Of course, you might still want to book a meeting room for your power nap.

    (Image: Studio Banana Things)

  • Sound system to surround just you

    Phonophone III Cost: $195 CAD ($178)

    If you'd rather be heard than seen, and your preference is for sleek retro design, the “passive amplifier” Phonophone (PH) III from Science & Sons could be for you.

    The audio amplifier for iPhone is a modern take on an antique gramophone that increases your iPhone's volume up to four times louder than its maximum. Crank up your conference call or close the office blinds, turn up the volume on your tunes, and dance away your stress.

    The company also sells a similar product, the Phonophone II, that works with any device with earbuds.

    (Image: Science and Sons)

  • Stylised snacks, anyone?

    Verso Peanuts Dispenser Cost: 39.90 euro ($53)

    Indulge your snack cravings in style with the sleek Verso Peanuts Dispenser by Carl Mertens. The design has far more character than your average glass jar and there's the added benefit of minimising the amount of manhandling.

    The contents pour out — no need to reach hands in — so sharing with co-workers is far healthier more hygienic than other alternatives. Avoid a mid-afternoon slump and keep sweet treats on hand, or use it to keep a stock of healthy snacks such as nuts.

    According to Markus Abraham at Connox home design shop, most people are going for looks when the buy the product, but function also wins them over. “After using [it] customers recommend it because of its hygienic and clean handling,” he said.

    (Image: Connox)

  • Green space solutions

    Hedgeware Organizer Cost: $32

    Not everyone has the desk space—or the green thumb—to keep plants flourishing at the office. The Hedgeware Organizer adds some functional green space for organising stray supplies on your desk, And, as it's made from recyclable polyethylene “turf”, it's as low-maintenance as you'll get.

    Like the Perpetual Calendar, the MoMA Design Store is the only place you'll find the Hedgeware desk products, which are designed by Barbara Flanagan.

    “We like her playful take on desk accessories,” MoMA's Costello said. “People love the way [the product] transforms their desk into a green space.”

    (Image: MoMA Design Store)

  • Some like it humid

    Android Humidifier Cost: $5.90

    Humidifiers can relieve the discomfort of dry office air, particularly when the heat is cranked up during the winter months. They ease breathing and can alleviate respiratory issues and provide relief for parched skin by pumping moisture back into your immediate atmosphere, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    Doulex stocks a range of portable humidifiers in fun designs, like this Android, as well as in the form of takeaway coffee cups and potted plants. Lisa Huang, who works in sales in Longyan City, China said she finds her mini humidifier effective and easy-to-use.

    (Image: Doulex)

  • Keeping your balance, sitting down

    Webble Footrest Cost: $149.95

    For those who want to keep moving at the office but aren't up for desk cycling, the Webble Footrest could be the solution. The ergonomic, moveable footrest engages the lower-body muscle groups and promotes natural movement, as it slides freely in all directions (360 degrees).

    The thinking behind developing the Webble Footrest was to focus on ergonomics for the lower body, which are often overlooked in the traditional office environment. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends frequently changing seated position. Research behind the Webble says every 20 minutes.

    “The body is not designed to sit still, even in correct position, for long periods of time,” the AAOS says.

    (Image: Brite Objects)