But in the past 15 months, we’ve lived through a pandemic and a global recession, which led to mass burnout and a spike in voluntary resignations. This new normal means hybrid offices and awkward first encounters with coworkers.
One of the many changes 2021 has brought to the US job market – 9.2 million job openings. Job seekers have the advantage while on the hunt, but they need to know how to use it.
Navigating all the changes in our “work life” over the last year would make anyone’s head spin.
Here are five things any worker who feels they are struggling with should know when trying to excel in their career.
Remote work eliminated work-life balance, but some companies are looking to compensate
The pandemic transformed our living rooms into our office spaces – not the healthiest change for those who already struggled with taking their work home with them.
Burnout has left 61% of Americans feeling at least somewhat burnout and more than 80% have reported that COVID-19 has been a source of change in their lives. With the pandemic causing undue stress on everyone, an unhealthy office culture only adds to the pressure.
Employers need to lead the way in implementing wellness techniques that teach their employees how to care for themselves, take their PTO, and take advantage of flexible work environments.
Low pay and unreasonable working conditions across the retail, hospitality, and fast food businesses have created a crisis of, “rage quitting.” While it may feel good to walk out without notice, sometimes it is better to salvage professional connections.
Telling an employer you’re leaving is never easy, but it’s important to be candid.
Whether it be because of recession or resignation, a lot of candidates are on the job hunt.
Searching for a new role can be intimidating, but job seekers should always start by identifying which industries are hiring and what connections they have within them. After finding the job posting of your dreams it’s all about perfecting your résumé, cover letter, and interview techniques.
Never underestimate the need to customize your application for every job posting – learn from the experts about how to stand out as the pool of job seekers grows.
Tips and tricks to help you land a coveted remote job
As lockdown dragged on, people were eager to return to in-person socialization, but the same can’t be said for in-person work.
Freelancers and remote workers were quick to open their inboxes to provide their years of expertise to “conventional workers” who had to quickly set up home offices and adjust to Zoom meetings. And some vacation hotspots welcomed remote workers to bring their laptops and soak up the sun and WiFi.
For those who have been sold on remote work, staying at a company that is committed to providing flexibility is a priority. While many companies – such as Apple, Indeed, and Airbnb – have extended their work from home policies through much of 2021, finding a company that is committed to the practice permanently can be difficult. And the demand is high.
To set yourself up for success, learn what companies are hiring remote workers, how to talk to your boss about working from home, and what can make you stand out when applying for a remote job.
Whether you work from home or are back in the office, a good desk will help keep you comfortable and productive. A poorly designed desk can lead to back and neck strain, which will inevitably interfere with your day.
To find out what makes a great work desk, we consulted with experts in ergonomics and interior design to narrow down the hundreds of desks available at online retailers. We looked for desks that were between 23 and 29 inches tall for the best ergonomics (with bonus points going to products that are adjustable), as well as being stylish and made from high-quality materials. We explain our research methodology more at the end of the guide.
The customizable Fully Jarvis Standing Desk provides a spacious work surface and an adjustable height, allowing you to position the desk to suit your frame.
From an ergonomics standpoint, an adjustable desk like the Fully Jarvis Standing Desk is the best option for most people since it allows you to change the surface height to match your frame and chair height.
This particular adjustable desk comes in several widths and heights. We recommend opting for the “Extended Range” height option, which allows you to adjust the surface height between 24.5 and 50 inches. The metal frame is available in four colors, while the bamboo top comes in two finishes, and you also have the option to swap in a contoured tabletop on several of the larger sizes.
The Jarvis has a toggle handset to adjust its height and lifting capacity of 350 pounds. While the base version of the desk is fairly simple, you can choose to outfit it with powered grommets, desk organizers, wire management kits, and more, creating a tailored solution to suit your needs. If you’re not satisfied with the desk, the brand offers a 30-day free return policy, as well as a 10-year warranty on desk frame components, mechanical parts, motors, and electrical components.
The Ameriwood Home Aden Glass Desk‘s L-shaped design will fit perfectly into the corner of an office, taking advantage of the extra space and providing a larger work surface than traditional desks. It’s just over 59 inches long and wide, and 29 inches tall. That may seem lower than most standard desks, but our experts say that 30-inch desks are too tall for most people to comfortably sit at.
This corner desk has a black metal frame with a tempered glass top and faux cherry wood accents. The desk can support 60 pounds on each side and has two built-in storage shelves. The wooden corner piece and shelves are made from PVC laminate (a type of plastic), so they’re easy to care for.
The best desk for small spaces
The GreenForest Folding Desk is compact while still providing plenty of space for your work, and it can fold flat so it’s easy to store.
The GreenForest Folding Desk can easily fit into a small apartment, dorm, or makeshift office, as it’s just 32 inches wide and 32 inches deep. The design features a lower desktop that can easily hold a laptop, notepad, or textbook, and there’s also a 6-inch upper shelf that’s ideal for a computer monitor or other desk essentials.
This desk is supported by an X-shaped metal frame, and the desktop is made from medium-density fiberboard. There’s no assembly required, and when not in use, you can fold the desk flat and tuck it into a corner or behind a sofa.
While its design may be simple, the Union & Scale Essentials Powered Writing Desk offers convenience for anyone who is regularly searching for an electrical outlet. It has an integrated power strip that you can access right on the desktop. There are two USB ports, allowing for easy charging for all your devices. The power cable for these outlets discreetly protrudes from the bottom of the desk’s back leg, helping to minimize the number of wires running behind your desk and reducing clutter in your space.
This desk, which comes recommended by our experts, is 60 inches wide and just over 29 inches deep, and it has a 29-inch height that will be comfortable for most people. It’s supported by four metal legs and has a laminate top. You can choose between an all-white or faux wood finish to complement your decor.
The best affordable desk
For a desk that won’t break the bank, the Coavas Computer Desk is a comfortable size and it folds down flat when not in use, making it easier to store and move.
Despite its low price, the Coavas Computer Desk checks off many of the boxes for a comfortable, ergonomic workspace. The desk has an industrial-inspired design with a metal frame and faux wood top. It’s a moderate size at 40 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 28 inches tall.
Because of its shallow depth (a common feature among budget-friendly desks), it may not be the most comfortable to use when working on a computer, but it will work well for reading, writing, and studying. You can assemble this desk in a matter of seconds, and it’s equally easy to disassemble if you want to put it into storage or move it.
This desk has a weight capacity of 200 pounds thanks to its metal frame. The top is made from medium-density fiberboard, which means you should avoid getting it wet or placing hot objects on the surface. While it might not last forever, the Coavas desk is budget-friendly and sturdy, making it a worthwhile choice for a temporary office.
The best minimalist desk
The Ikea Bekant Desk has a simple design that adjusts to different heights, and it features an integrated cord management system to keep your workspace neat.
If you prefer a minimalistic appearance, the Ikea Bekant Desk is about as plain as they come with its monochromatic two-leg design. However, this desk is sturdy and functional, thanks to its adjustable height and built-in cable management system.
The desktop is 63 inches long and 31.5 inches deep, and you can adjust its height between 26 and 33.5 inches to best suit your height and chair. The table has a weight capacity of 220 pounds, and it has a melamine surface that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. Additionally, there’s a net underneath the tabletop that allows you to tuck away unsightly cords, keeping your workspace tidy.
Just keep in mind that the Bekant doesn’t have electronic controls. To change its height, you need an Allen key (otherwise known as a hex key), so it isn’t the best choice if you want a desk you can adjust at the touch of a button.
The best extra-wide desk
The Article Madera Desk gives you plenty of space to spread out thanks to its 71-inch width. The desk is crafted from durable solid wood and features a hidden cable management cabinet.
Need ample room to spread out all your work essentials? The Article Madera has a spacious 71-inch design that allows you to set up a computer, with plenty of space left over for documents, books, and other work essentials. This stylish desk is available in either oak or chestnut finishes, and it’s crafted from solid and veneered wood for a durable frame that will stand the test of time.
The desk is 71 inches long, 30 inches deep, and 30 inches high. Its height means it might be best for taller people. The table has an industrial style with metal accents and exposed bolts, and the wood is finished with a wire brush for a naturally textured appearance.
There’s a hidden cable management cabinet at the rear of the desk so you can tuck away charging cables and cords. For added storage, Article also offers a matching Madera File Cabinet to complete your home office.
The best wall-mounted desk
The Trenton Fold Out Table takes up minimal space thanks to its wall-mounted design, and you can install it at the appropriate height for an ergonomic workspace.
If you’re hoping to turn any space into a makeshift office, the Pottery Barn Trenton Fold Out Table is an ideal solution. The versatile table mounts on the wall, and its solid pine surface easily folds down when it’s time to work. Once you’re done for the day, you can simply clear off the tabletop and fold it back up, freeing up valuable space in your home.
This fold-out desk is 30 inches wide and just over 22 inches deep. Because of its shallow depth, it’s not the best option for working on a computer, but it will work well for reading and writing. Since you can mount it at any height, you can find the perfect spot to match your height and chair and keep your body ergonomically aligned.
The desk’s frame is made from powder-coated steel for durability, and its kiln-dried pine surface is easy to maintain. You can use the steel brace as a magnet board, pinning up important notes and other documents in front of your work area.
The best writing desk
The Bedford Writing Deskfrom Pottery Barn is a well-made piece of furniture with a classic design, and it features a two- or three-drawer cabinet for all your storage needs.
Writing desks have a simple yet timeless design. Because they’re designed for note-taking, reading, and writing, they’re often not as large as computer desks. The tricky part when shopping for a writing desk is finding one that doesn’t have a pull-out drawer in the center that will interfere with proper ergonomics. With that in mind, one of the best options is Pottery Barn’s Bedford Writing Desk.
This desk is 52 inches long and 23 inches wide, giving you ample space to spread out with your papers. It’s crafted from kiln-dried pine and veneers with an antique white finish, and you can choose whether you want a two-drawer cabinet with two file drawers or a three-drawer cabinet, which has one file drawer and two small standard drawers for supplies. This cabinet tower fits on either side of the desk, allowing you to tailor the piece to your space. The back of the desk is finished in case you want to have it facing the room.
The best drafting desk
It’s easy to adjust the height of the Zeny Drafting Desk to suit your needs, and the top tilts to make it easier for architects and other creative professionals to draw.
Drafting desks are a popular choice for architects and creative professionals, as the tabletop tilts to allow for more comfortable drawing, painting, or sketching. The Zeny Drafting Desk is ideal for any of these tasks. It has a spacious and adjustable workspace, as well as two storage drawers, a built-in pen container, and a side table for other supplies.
The desktop measures 34 inches wide and over 23 inches deep, and you can adjust the height of the drafting desk between 28 and 36 inches. Additionally, the tabletop adjusts from 0 to 45 degrees, allowing you to tilt it to a comfortable angle. The desk has a steel frame and MDF surfaces, and it also comes with a matching stool.
What to look for in a desk
To develop criteria for evaluating desks, we consulted with two experts. We spoke with Melissa Afterman, MS-HFE, CPE, the principal ergonomist of Learn Ergo and a consultant with UC Ergonomics Research Lab, and interior designer Sherri Monte of Elegant Simplicity. Both regularly work with their clients to create comfortable, ergonomic, and highly functional home offices. They highlighted several important features that you should prioritize ahead of aesthetic appeal.
I used their guidance, as well as my background as a product reviewer for four years, when selecting desks for this guide. I used my experience testing household products to develop a comprehensive testing methodology.
While 30 inches is the standard height for many desks, this is actually too high for most people. “The correct height for your computer desk is your relaxed elbow height when you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor,” said Afterman.
“It really depends on your own height and upper arm length, but the range that most people fall in is between 23 and 29 inches above the floor. I usually recommend a 28-inch tall desk if you can find it, but even that may be too high” said Afterman. She typically prefers height-adjustable desks, which allow you to find the best height for your frame. If you’re looking specifically for standing desks, check out our guide.
While desk width is a matter of preference, the depth of the surface can impact your comfort if you’re using a computer. If you plan to put a computer monitor on your desk, our experts recommend avoiding desks that are too narrow, which can cause back strain.
“I always recommend a 30-inch-deep desk,” said Afterman. “The problem with a shallow desk is that you cannot get enough distance between your eyes and the monitor when sitting relaxed back in the chair.” You end up resting your hands and wrists on the desktop when using the keyboard and mouse. “These postures can quickly fatigue the upper back and compress the soft tissue or nerves in the wrist,” Afterman said.
However, for those who don’t need a computer, a narrower desk may work just fine.
Thin table top without drawers in the center
Many desks include a drawer or two underneath the tabletop, but this type of design can cause strain on your body. Afterman explains that you increase the risk of bumping your knees on features like drawers, shelves, or panels, and they can interfere with your ability to set your work chair at an appropriate height. “When you have a drawer under the desk, you can only raise your chair so high without your legs bumping into the bottom of the table. This leads to shrugging your shoulders up to use the keyboard and mouse, which quickly leads to shoulder and neck soreness or pain,” said Afterman.
The most common desk materials are wood, metal, glass, and manufactured materials such as medium-density fiberboard, frequently called MDF. Kiln-dried hardwood and metal are more durable choices, but they also drive up the price. If you only need a temporary solution to last a few years, MDF or other faux materials are budget-friendly, but they’re also more prone to wear, stains, and warping.
There are many items you may want to keep on hand as you work, ranging from pens and pencils to files, books, and charging cables. If there aren’t other storage spaces nearby, you may want to look for a desk with a side tower of drawers or a built-in file cabinet, as long as they don’t protrude into your leg space
“Ultimately, a good desk provides you with the basic things you need for when you need them,” says Monte. “Maybe this desk has file storage built in or perhaps it’s just got a few basic drawers, but functionality matters.”
Finally, there’s also the matter of choosing a desk that matches your aesthetic. This should be a secondary consideration after ergonomic requirements are met, but there is no shortage of desks to choose from, including modern, contemporary, mid-century, traditional, and more. We focused on ergonomics here in our guide and considered the design when choosing our top picks.
What type of desk do I need?
There are several common desk styles that you will encounter, and the differences between them can be confusing. Here are the distinctions of each style.
Height-adjustable desks have gained popularity in recent years, as they allow you to set the exact height of the desktop to suit your chair and body. “A height-adjustable table can be used to optimize the desk height when you’re sitting and has the added bonus of providing a standing option as an alternative to mix into your day,” said Afterman.
These desks are often controlled by electronic panels (which means they need to be plugged into an outlet), but some budget options are manual. Others require tools, like an Allen key, which is more time-consuming.
Computer desks are specifically designed to accommodate an electronic setup. These desks typically have larger desktops that provide space for a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other components, and they often have various cord management features, as well.
When compared to computer desks, writing desks are typically not as spacious. They’re often not deep enough to comfortably use a computer monitor. Writing desks frequently have drawers on one or both sides, as well as under the desktop, providing space to store writing implements and notebooks. Some also feature a hutch on top for additional storage. Because they’re a more traditional style of furniture, you’ll find that many writing desks have a classic aesthetic.
Corner desks have an L-shaped design that fits into the corner of a room. They come in many different styles and materials, and they often provide more workspace than traditional desks. Some may also feature shelves, file cabinets, or drawers built into their designs.
Originally used by managers and other high-ranking professionals, executive desks are large and stately. Because they’re often arranged in the center of a room, they typically have finished backs. Many executive desks have a double-pedestal design, meaning there are file cabinets or drawers on each side. They naturally become the focal point of any space.
Drafting desks, also called drafting tables or architect’s tables, are used for drawing and sketching. They’re defined by a tilting tabletop, which can generally be fixed at several angles. These desks often have large work surfaces that can accommodate oversized architectural plans or sketch pads, and there may also be drawers, side tables, and organizers for things like pens and paper.
How should you sit at a desk?
In addition to having a desk that’s the proper height, width, and depth, you should also sit properly for comforot and ergonomics. “Foot support is critical to reducing back strain,” said Afterman. “Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest if your seat is raised. The knees should be even with, or slightly lower than, your hips.”
You’ll also want to ensure that your arms are in an appropriate position. “The arms should be supported with the shoulders relaxed,” said Afterman. “You can get support from the chair armrest or the work surface. Avoid resting on the elbows as this can compress the ulnar nerve. Instead, rest on the muscle area of the forearm to allow the shoulders and back to relax.”
Finally, be sure to position your chair and computer monitor in proper locations to reduce strain. “You should sit close enough to the desk to keep the elbows near the body and avoid reaching forward,” says Afterman. “Set the monitor height with the top of the screen at eyebrow level (lower for bifocal wearers) and close enough to read while you relax back in the chair.”
How should you style a desk?
It’s not always easy to arrange your furniture in a way that’s functional but also stylish, and it’s extra challenging when it involves a work desk in your home. “When arranging your desk in your home or office, you want to think about what the focal point of the space is,” says Monte. “When a room lacks a focal point, our eyes tend to bounce all over the place.”
If you have a designated room for an office or want to create a dedicated office space in a living room or bedroom, try creating a natural focal point with a rug. “Not only will this be soft under feet while you’re working, but it will also layer in a bit of warmth to any office,” said Monte.
Monte recommends opting for a rug that’s significantly larger than your desk, as this will ensure your chair isn’t constantly rolling off the edge. If you’re looking for recommendations for office seating, check out our guide to the best office chairs.
As the US opens up, more and more employees are telling their bosses they want flexible and hybrid working arrangements.
“Three-quarters of our individuals around the world said flexibility is what they want,” Devika Bulchandani, North America CEO of Ogilvy, said.
Bulchandani said that Ogilvy, like many other firms, is also looking at a 3/2 working model and considering other positive changes it can introduce.
“We also shrunk our real-estate footprint because that allows us to reinvest into different areas of the business and reinvest into our people and what they need going forward,” she said.
She added that they’re instituting three compulsory days off per quarter for each employee to manage burnout.
“Just because we did it doesn’t mean we’re going to do it again,” she said. “Things like, do people need to travel to a meeting? Let’s ask ourselves why.”
Bulchandani said that she’s telling her staff to question whether there’s a perspective missing from the room in terms of gender, race, or disability, as well as capability.
“I have a different skillset, would this team do better? And then my question is, ‘Am I just thinking about New York, or should I be thinking about somebody from our Minneapolis office?'” she said.
In a similar vein, Heimann said that the “democratic” and inclusive nature of the virtual world is something her firm is trying to maintain as employees return to work.
Office space, she said, “will be a creative nexus, it will be a collaboration nexus, it will be a team nexus.” As for remote offices, Heimann said that they’re looking at a broad range of technologies that do more than simply combat “Zoom fatigue.”
“I think that the new age is going to be a little more immersive, more gaming-like, and those are the ones we’re testing,” she said. Weber Shandwick also hired a chief workforce innovation officer and a chief impact officer to push leadership toward “transformation that puts inclusion at the heart.”
“We talked to client after client about the need to solve at the intersections and therefore put together agile, cross-functional teams to bring that ability to clients again,” she said.
While it’s natural to want to return to “the way things were,” instead of harping on nostalgia and what will be missed, you need to think about the long-term changes you can make in how your office works rather than temporary changes driven by the pandemic.
Here are four things I believe will make the office better if we leave them in the pre-pandemic era:
1. Hosting long and laborious meetings
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the number of meetings per person has risen by 12% since the pandemic, yet the average length of a meeting has declined by 20%. That means that despite people’s calendars getting booked more often, there’s a bigger appetite for bite-size meetings over the longer 60- or 90-minute sessions.
While COVID restrictions may force us to rethink meeting rooms, I’d challenge us to rethink the meeting itself. Let’s make better use of our time and energy by sending a pre-meeting memo and using our time together to align on actions and decisions. Or, rather than spending 30 minutes walking through updates, consider a Loom video and allow folks to react and respond asynchronously.
2. Scheduling after-work events
Before the pandemic, there was the notion that bonding and networking only happen in person. And those opportunities often happened after 5 p.m. Whether you’re a caregiver, have hobbies outside of work, are an introvert, or just want brighter lines between work and fun, we need to be more intentional about creating meaningful connections with our colleagues while still allowing folks to keep their work-life balance.
Instead of defaulting back to in-person, after-work events, I’ll be looking to add breaks within the workday where teams can connect and socialize that don’t start super early or end late so that everyone can attend whether they are in the office or working remotely.
3. Coming into the office when you’re sick
We’ve all felt the existential dread of walking into a conference room with someone who is coughing and sneezing. The only way we can return to working from an office is to learn from the past year and err on the side of caution when it comes to health.
My hope is that after a year of normalizing the concept that work isn’t just a place, employees will be more comfortable with staying home when feeling under the weather. It simply isn’t worth putting other employees and teammates at risk. For managers and leaders, the end of the pandemic shouldn’t mean the end of encouraging people to avoid the office if they aren’t feeling well.
No one should be expected to show up and tough it out, and no one should be rewarded for doing so.
4. Sitting through painful commute times
The average American worker spent 225 hours, or well over nine full calendar days, commuting before the pandemic. Seventy-five percent of Americans typically travel by car to get to work, which also has a negative impact on carbon emissions. There are definitely advantages to a commute, including separation between work and home and time to think or read, but for many people, commuting for hours at a time is something they would like to avoid doing every single day.
Providing options for employees to work when and where they work best will continue to be the best strategy for hiring and retaining top talent, and create less congestion on the road in the process.
While some have been counting down the days until they return to the office, there are a lot of people who are nervous about what that will look like and what’s expected of them. As business leaders, the return to the office is an opportunity to rebuild what worked and rethink what didn’t. Regardless of what you choose to keep or leave behind, your strategy should be rooted in empathy, clear communication, and a mission to create a better workplace than the one we left.
The commercial real-estate firm WeWork is planning to introduce touch-free coffee machines in all its offices across London. To use the machines, people working in WeWork offices would download a smartphone app and scan a QR code on the coffee machine.
The flexible-workspace firm did not elaborate on the date when the touchless machines would be installed, but WeWork said it would most likely introduce them soon.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing everyone to keep to themselves and sanitize objects before and after touching them, this could mean fewer colleagues feeling inclined to make coffees for other staff members.
Businesses across the world had no choice but to adapt to a new way of working when the coronavirus pandemic made it dangerous for households to mix indoors.
With companies preparing for a return to offices, many workers are likely to notice changes when they come back.
Routine use of disinfectants to fight the coronavirus is mostly unnecessary, as the risk of transmission through touching surfaces is “low,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in April.
In a science brief based on analysis of the latest available data, the agency said intense cleaning was needed in only a few scenarios.
This news could bring an end to what some refer to as “hygiene theater,” or routine deep cleaning of hotel rooms, business premises, and public transport. Such measures might appear reassuring but are costly and, it seems, of limited use.
Despite this, Mathieu Proust, a general manager at WeWork in the UK, told Insider that as well as having touchless coffee machines, the London offices would also have motion-sensitive doors, where people move their hand in front of a button without touching it to open a door.
He said there would be no structural change to WeWork offices and added there would be increased sanitation in the buildings and signs telling people to wear masks and dictating what they could touch.
The purpose of the office is changing
WeWork is introducing an unusual hybrid model in the UK in which its employees work three days in the company’s headquarters, one day in a WeWork location, and one day at home.
Proust told Insider the company had changed the design of its space to create more room for teamwork and social interaction, rather than solo work.
“The purpose of the office is changing,” he said. “It’s about collaboration, connection, and creating more company culture.”
These so-called collaboration hubs have lots of whiteboards, more sofas, and fewer desks, according to Proust.
Collaboration spaces where people can be face-to-face with one another are “the best way to use office space,” according to Anita Williams Woolley, an associate professor of organizational behavior and theory at Carnegie Mellon University.
Woolley, who has spoken with companies about their return-to-office plans, said many were getting rid of permanent desk assignments because they were shrinking their office footprint. She also said some were downsizing the cafeterias and other sharing facilities in the workplace because “it doesn’t make sense to have them.”
WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani said at the Wall Street Journal Future of Everything conference that employers wanted open-plan offices because they could keep them cleaner and they offered better ventilation.
“If you want to collaborate, you have to create an office environment,” Mathrani said.
These office-plan changes can also be seen in the tech and finance sectors.
The artificial-intelligence-powered sales software startup Drift, based in Boston, is throwing out individual desks and converting its offices into collaboration spaces. The company’s CEO and founder, David Cancel, told Insider the company had taken all of the desks and personal belongings out of the conference rooms and made them into spaces where people could gather.
“It will probably mean we’ll need less space over time,” Cancel said.
The insurance marketplace Lloyd’s of London also told Insider it would adopt a more-flexible working model with employees using the offices for when they needed to “collaborate or innovate.” Staff members will “conduct focused work remotely,” the firm said.
Cutting down on office space
Other companies are taking a more drastic option and giving up their office space as employees prepare to work from home in the future.
Some finance giants that have introduced a hybrid working model are reconsidering what the dozens of office floors are used for in the company.
The accounting and professional-services firm KPMG is redesigning its offices and may ultimately cut down on the amount of office space, said Kevin Hogarth, KPMG UK’s chief people officer.
Hogarth told Insider the company was reconfiguring its offices to create space for collaboration, learning, imagination, and team building. The workplace will be less orientated toward work that can easily be done at home, he said.
KPMG is planning a £44 million, or $62 million, program to invest in its office estate and technology, Hogarth said. “That’s because the nature of the office is going to change,” he said.
Lloyds Banking Group is also planning to cut its office space by 20% over the next two years, The Guardian reported in April. An employee survey revealed 77% of Lloyds’ 68,000-person workforce said they wanted to work from home at least three days a week.
HSBC is taking another approach – it’s scrapping its executive floor offices and moving top managers down to “hot-desk” on a floor with other employees. The floors have turned into client meeting spaces.
Justin Small, the CEO and founder of the consultancy and advisory firm Future Strategy Club, told Insider the pandemic had evened out the office hierarchy. He said having executives five floors up from other employees was “ridiculous” and “old-fashioned.”
Hybrid working means companies won’t need the same size office, Small said, adding that where employees sit and work had become “irrelevant.”
Whether virtually or in person, you spend the majority of your day with your coworkers. If you like them enough, you might even plan on getting them a gift as a thank you for all the good times in and out of the office.
Giving a gift to a great boss – someone who makes a big difference in how you approach daily work activities and grow professionally – can feel a little tricky. Since they’re your manager, it’s important that your gift maintains professionalism but still gets the message across that you appreciate their hard work.
Below, we’ve rounded up 38 great gifts for your boss, from useful desk accessories to gorgeous notebooks.
See all 38 affordable gifts for your boss:
This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Crowd Cow. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*
The makers of our favorite magnetic desk toy have a new way to reduce stress and keep your boss entertained. With these colorful magnetic blocks, they can take a mental break or use the opportunity to refocus their mind as they build creative sculptures.
If they spend a lot of time in the kitchen, they probably already know the merits of high-quality olive oil. A drizzle of Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish. Plus, the beautiful bottle will look great on display in their kitchen.
Studies focused on the benefits of adult coloring books often reveal mandalas are the most effective designs for relaxation and induction of a meditative state. Their complex geometric patterns can be traced back to both ancient Buddhist and Hindu traditions.
This affordable book contains 50 mandalas that vary in complexity and detail, so you can work your way up to the most challenging patterns slowly or you can work on a simple design when time is limited.
The Google Nest Mini offers a compact, affordable smart speaker with Google Assistant built-in. They’ll love being able to dim lights, control the volume on their TV, check the weather, and more, all with just the sound of their voice. Read our full review of the Google nest Mini here.
This option is best for people who prefer Google’s tech ecosystem. You may also want to consider the Amazon Echo Dot for Amazon users.
A personalized video message from their favorite celebrity
If your workplace is less formal, you could get them a personalized message from their favorite celebrity. Whether they love a certain musician, reality TV star, comedian, or actor in a show you’ve both bonded over, there’s a good chance you can find them on Cameo. The price will depend on the star, but there are plenty of options.
Michelin-starred chef Hooni Kim’s debut cookbook is a crash course in the essentials of Korean cuisine. The book’s tagline of “traditional flavors, modern recipes” is exactly what you should expect — from its take on Dolsot Bibimbap to Budae Jjigae to Hanjan’s Spicy Rice Cakes.
Under Armour’s Sportmask was designed with athletes in mind, as reflected in its breathability, water resistance, and UPF 50+ sun protection. Thanks to the Sportsmask, they won’t have to sacrifice their workout routine or their comfort.
Most of us are spending a lot more time at home these days. And it’s more enjoyable to do that when you’re wearing some of the most comfortable slippers on the planet. We are big fans of the ReNew Slippers from Everlane — and they’re relatively inexpensive.
Muji’s fine 0.38mm tip pen is a cult favorite — including among our teammates. According to the company, the water-based ink enables smooth writing, minimal bleeding, and a mechanism that helps keep the ink from drying out. If they write handwritten notes for work, they may have an outsized appreciation for this small but impactful upgrade. They’re sold out on Muji, but you can still find them on Amazon.
A set of notebooks with a bullet journaling system
This unique, thoughtful gift embosses books with “from the library of [their name]” by pressing down on it like a hole-puncher — it’s the kind of thing most people would never buy themselves but will genuinely cherish if they receive it as a gift. They can use it on books as well as envelopes.
Three months of great hardcover books delivered to their door
Book of the Month has been around for more than 90 years — and it’s credited with hand-selecting and helping popularize books that range from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” to J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.” With your gift, your boss will get to choose between five new hardcover options the book club suggests every month.
If they’re getting tired of their office being in their living room, they’ll appreciate this kit that takes a bit of the strain out of working from home. A conference call bingo card, desk yoga guide, and fidget cube are just a few of the quirky (yet useful) items they’ll find in this set.
If you and your boss have a humorous rapport going, they could get a kick out of this witty take on the everyday office signage. Plus, the sleek wooden and gold design let the sign speak for itself without appearing as overly kitschy.
Not that we’re encouraging sleeping on the job, but this mini pillow does make spontaneous naps very tempting. It’s the smaller but equally comfortable and supportive version of one of our favorite pillows and even has its own pillowcase and travel bag.
First impressions matter, which is why they should be pulling out business cards from a handsome leather case. It has a no-fuss, invisible magnetic closure and can hold up to 20 cards. Choose from pebbled or smooth leathers in a variety of colors, or upgrade to premium leather. You can also add a monogram for an additional $10.
A soft throw to fight freezing office temperatures
Popular women’s workwear brand MM.LaFleur makes excellent pants and blazers that are definitely an investment, but totally worth the price. Its Bento Box contains these stylish and comfortable wardrobe staples to take the headache out of getting dressed in the morning.
It’s a pretty vase that pulls double-duty, holding both the fresh bouquet that brightens their day and the electronics that keeps them productive. There’s a groove at the bottom of the stand to keep unsightly charging cords out of the way, too.
If there’s anything that can power them through a long workday, it’s cold brew. Just combine water and ground coffee (not included), and stick the bottle in the fridge for a refreshing caffeinated treat.
The Korean sheet masks in this box are sure to bring some much-needed relief to any stressed-out boss. The brands, which often use out-of-the-ordinary ingredients, are usually difficult to find outside of Korea, but FaceTory makes them both accessible and affordable.
Mix and match jars of fig preserves, triple berry preserves, apple butter, pumpkin butter, and more to create a sweet breakfast starter kit. The size is also perfect for their desk if they ever want a small and sweet afternoon pick-me-up.
This portable cable charges up Apple devices quickly and claims to be six times stronger than the standard lightning cable, boasting a 10,000-bend lifespan. The knotted cable also looks great and makes it easy to fish out the charger from their bag.
A versatile toiletry bag to bring on their travels
Dagne Dover’s durable and quick-drying neoprene is most notably featured in the brand’s popular backpacks and gym bags, but it’s also well-suited for this small bag that organizes your boss’s life on the go. It includes a removable air mesh pouch and is available in a range of dusky colors and camo patterns.
Away’s highly popular mini versions of its internet-famous suitcase are back. The light and stylish polycarbonate accessory can store and protect your boss’ essentials like jewelry and accessories — and it’s nowhere near as expensive as a real suitcase.
Crowd Cow specializes in environmentally conscious seafood and meat that doesn’t sacrifice quality, all the way down to its 100% carbon-neutral packaging. If you’re not sure which gift bundle is best based on your boss’ dietary preferences, stocking stuffers like jerky and rubs also make great choices.
*Sponsored by Crowd Cow
Desk cable clips that keep cords neat and organized
This small but practical gift will sort out their jumble of cords for good. If you’re worried that the set doesn’t look significant enough, you can pair a few of these cable clips with a nice card and some candy.
The ergonomic comfort of a classic tall cup plus Hydro Flask’s signature double-wall vacuum insulation makes this a coffee or tea vessel they’ll always keep on hand. It keeps their beverage hot for up to six hours and includes a press-in lid to prevent spills.
Send them this assortment of sweet and savory popcorn to get the new quarter started. This particular edition contains four decadent flavors of Moose Munch: classic caramel, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate s’mores.
Amazon’s newest version of its bestselling smart speaker has an improved sound and look. Whether they want to coordinate a smooth-sailing smart home experience or enjoy music out loud, the Echo Dot can keep up.
A reusable utensil kit that helps them cut down on waste
When they leave the office to grab lunch (or if they’re into camping and hiking), they can use these stainless steel utensils instead of plastic or paper options. It folds up conveniently so it can go with them anywhere.
Narrator: Americans are cursing more today than ever before. In fact, the average American utters 80 to 90 curse words every day. That’s about five curse words every waking hour. And it might not be in vain. Turns out, swearing may help make you live a happier, healthier life in the long-run.
When you stub your toe and holler your favorite dirty, four-letter word, You’re actually doing yourself a favor. Swearing has been known to raise your heart rate, which can help reduce the pain. For example, one study found that people who held their hand in icy water while cursing lasted 50% longer than the people who used neutral words – like “wooden” and “flat.”
And if you’re still not convinced that you should curse more, consider this: Swearing could be the key to improving your workouts. Researchers asked people to curse while riding a stationary bike and holding a device that measured handgrip strength. Wouldn’t you know it, participants pedaled faster and gripped stronger while spewing their favorite expletives. And swearing won’t just help you get more fit, it can also reduce stress and anxiety.
For instance, one study found that swearing helped drivers better cope with their frustration on the road whenever a pedestrian illegally crossed the street. And in fact, this type of emotional relief is so common, it has a name: Lalochezia. Scientists think that this relief is one reason why we’ve evolved to curse in the first place.Because it’s a way for us to express strong emotions – like anger and frustration – without having to throw a punch or act out.
And this method – of choosing words over violence – has other benefits, too. Studies show that people who curse are perceived as more genuine and sincere. And researchers have found that people who can list the most swear words also come across as more honest when they’re measured on a lie scale.
But there’s still one place where cursing is almost always out of the question: Work. But you might have a good excuse to swear there too. Researchers studied a team of workers at a soap factory in New Zealand, and looked at the use of a particular swear word, we’ll call it “the f-word.”
Turns out that using “the f-word” helped the workers express politeness, alleviate tension, and bond with each other. So, we’re not saying you should curse out your boss, but a little swearing here and there can’t hurt, and sh-t, it may even help.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2018.
What changes can you make in the office to increase your team’s performance?
We asked Richard Wiseman, professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and author of “How to Remember Everything”, for advice on how you, as a leader, could better lead your team.
Richard Wiseman: There are lots of myths in psychology – things that people believe there simply is no academic research for.
When it comes to brainstorming, right now around the world companies are all be getting together to kick around some ideas and generate some new thoughts. A terrible, terrible idea.
If you look at the research on brainstorming, it decreases the number of ideas and the originality of those ideas by around about 20%. Why, because when we all get together, the most dominant people take charge of the meeting and who knew they’re not the most creative people in the world?
So, a very, very simple change which is that you ask people to brainstorm on their own to come up with three innovative solutions before they get together, and then when you get together you go around the group and everyone talks about their solutions no matter how crazy actually increases innovation and creativity. So, again, a very, very simple change. A very easy change, but a very powerful one.
When it comes to meetings, often we all like to sit around and we all like, quite frankly, to waste a great deal of time. So, if you stand up in a meeting, a standing meeting, it doesn’t reduce productivity.
What it does do is massively reduce the time of the meeting. People want to be out of that room quickly, so they’re just as productive in a much, much shorter time.
Also, if you think that a colleague or maybe a client is not being entirely straight with you, what’s the best thing to do to try and find out if they’re being economical with the truth?
Well, if you look at the amount of lying across different types of communication, you see people lie a lot face-to-face, a bit less on the phone, a little bit in texting, but absolutely not in emails. Only around about 10% of emails carry a lie because people don’t want to commit themselves to print.
So, if you think someone isn’t being totally straight with you, just say, oh, can you email me about that? Instantly you’ll find out whether or not they’re being economical with the truth.
At the moment, we’re trying to cut down on sleep as much as possible, there’s an epidemic of sleeplessness. And sleep is absolutely vital. It underpins productivity, it underpins focus, it underpins creativity.
What’s happening right at the moment is we’re taking our smartphones to bed, often putting them on our bedside table and treating them as alarm clocks, and then, of course, in the middle of the night, you wake up, “I think I’ll just check social media or whatever it is” and you get this blast of light, which actually contains blue light, which is very disruptive to the production of melatonin, which is essential for sleep. It really messes up the rest of the night.
Value sleep. If there’s any way of incorporating a 20-minute nap into the middle of the day, really good for productivity. Businesses should be doing that. Value sleep.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in July 2018.
In a perfect world, there would be no need for safes to exist. In this magical place, thieves would never break into our homes or workplaces, fires would never break out, and we would never simply misplace a priceless family heirloom or, say, a birth certificate. In the real world, safes are a necessity for any home or business that cares about protecting valuables against theft, damage, or loss.
And they’re nothing new, by the way.
Archaeologists have discovered safes in ruins all around the world and in many a sunken ship. One ancient safe unearthed in Nanjing, China dates back to the Han Dynasty, meaning it may be more than 1,200 years old. In the year 1835, a company called Chubb Locks began producing the first modern safes. Today known as Chubbsafes, the company remains in business. But now they have a lot of competition, which is good news for anyone on the hunt for a good safe.
In fact, there are quite a few safes to choose from, of varying styles, sizes, and prices. We’ve done the work of narrowing down the best safes for every type of need.
Thanks to the low cost of this line of safes, now you can enjoy the same level of security that hotels offer in your own bedroom, office, or anywhere else you need to keep valuables under lock and key. Or, in this case, keypad. The safe is operated using an easily programmed numeric touchpad, though a backup key can open it as well.
Inside the Security Safe, you’ll find a shelf splitting the storage space into two sections, the bottom one being carpeted to protect against scratches. This design makes the safe ideal for a couple that shares it, or for keeping items separated and sorted. You could use the lower half for jewelry and watches, while the top shelf could hold cash, documents, or even a firearm.
The AmazonBasics Security Safe comes with mounting hardware included, so you can easily bolt it to the floor, the wall, a shelf, or anywhere else you want to secure it. Just note that while rugged and durable and a great way to protect possessions against theft, this safe is not rated as waterproof or fireproof.
The best lockbox-style home safe
The affordable, compact SentrySafe Fire Resistant Chest will bring much-needed peace of mind, as it’s fire-resistant, durable, and small enough to tuck out of sight or even bring with you during travels.
Pros: Fire resistant, compact and easy to conceal or transport, easy to use key lock
Cons: Easily carried off by thieves
A dedicated burglar is going to eventually break open the SentrySafe Fire Resistant Chest. It’s not a Fort Knox level security device. And in fact, a criminal with half a brain is just going to carry the thing away and crack it open later. So if you need a super-secure, 100% fail-safe device to protect priceless diamonds or ancient artifacts or something, look elsewhere.
If you need a place to keep some cash, passports, a few pieces of jewelry, and some irreplaceable mementos, this affordable lockbox is a great choice. This is why my wife and I keep one of these very safes tucked away in a place that will go unmentioned.
The SentrySafe Fire Resistant Chest is, as the name suggests, fire-resistant. It can protect its contents from blazes reaching temperatures as high as 1,550 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a half-hour, and this fire resistance is the primary reason we use one, in fact. But while not amazingly strong, the key-operated lock is certainly tough enough to deter a quick breaking attempt by a thief, and it will absolutely defeat the attempts of curious kids.
As the safe is small enough to be readily portable — it even has a handle — it can come along with you, serving to protect valuables in a car, in a hotel, or wherever else you want to keep things secure and safe from fire.
Pros: Concealable, cannot be removed from premises, features three shelves
Cons: Installation required, not fire-resistant
A good safe keeps valuables protected because it’s difficult to break open. A great safe keeps things, well, safe because it’s not only hard to open but hard to even locate in the first place. With a bit of effort (or the assistance of a handyman), the Paragon Lock and Safe 7700 Flat Electronic Wall Safe can be installed in your home or business, and it will lie nearly flush with the wall once in place.
It can be covered with a framed piece of artwork, a mirror, a sign, or anything else, really, and therefore avoid detection by anyone with ill intentions. Even once located, the unit still provides more protection than most compact safes simply because it can’t be carried away unless the burglar has the time and tools to cut away a large section of the wall. Which probably won’t be the case.
The Paragon Lock and Safe 7700 Flat Electronic Wall Safe features a keypad that can be programmed with codes as short as three numbers or as long as eight, and the keys are lighted for easy use in the dark. The safe requires four AA batteries to operate, and a low battery light tells you when it’s time for new ones. It can also be opened with a key.
Pros: Amazing fire resistance, too heavy to be carried away, spacious interior
Cons: Combination cannot be changed, very expensive
Yes, the Steelwater Gun Safes’ 2-Hour Fireproof Safe is quite expensive. But when it keeps your valuables safe during a fire that rages on for more than two hours, it will have paid for itself many times over. And when a burglar is unable to open the solid steel door or carry off the 115-pound safe, same story. This is a great example of getting what you pay for, which in this case is great quality.
In order to be considered fire-resistant, a safe has to be able to protect its contents against extreme heat for at least a half-hour. The Steelwater Gun Safes’ 2-Hour Fireproof Safe beats that four times over, offering amazing fire resistance.
Just make sure to fill the anchor hole on the bottom with fire-resistant caulking if you’re not using it to bolt the safe down. Inside you’ll find an adjustable and removable shelf and a slide-out top drawer, making organizing your protected possessions easy.
Opening the safe requires coordinated use of the combination lock and a key, so it’s not a great choice for super fast access if you’re storing a firearm, but that locking system adds even more security against theft. The combination is pre-set and can’t be changed, however, so be careful with whom you share it.
The best covert home safe
The JSSMST Book Safe with Lock hides in plain sight, tucked away among the other books on the shelf without drawing any attention.
Pros: Covert design hides in plain sight, good price, comes in several colors
Cons: Relatively weak lock
Once a thief figures out that the JSSMST Book Safe with Lock is indeed a safe, the jig is up. It’s easy to carry this dictionary-sized lockbox away, and its lock will be easily pried open by anyone with a bit of determination. But here’s the thing: The safe looks like a dictionary, so the chances of a burglar locating it as they race through your home are quite low.
The combination lock is, however, likely enough to ward off a nosy roommate or a kid looking to find something you’d rather remain unfound, like keys or cash.
The JSSMST Book Safe with Lock comes in three different colors, so you can choose a “book” that will best blend in on the shelf. The interior of the safe is large enough for cash, passports, small electronics, and jewelry or watches. Plus, the lockbox’s price tag is small enough for any budget.
What to look for in a safe
If you’re in the market for a safe, you’ll need to consider several factors, such as:
Type of protection needed: When considering the best small safe to buy for your home or office, first think about the type of protection you need. If you live or work in an area known for high rates of property crime, you need to buy a unit that can resist safe cracking attempts and that can be secured in place. Even the best locking system in the world won’t do you any good if the whole safe has been carried off. If you are primarily concerned about protection against fire and/or water damage, then look at safes based on their rated duration of fire resistance, which will usually be an hour or so, but can reach up to and past four hours with top quality hardware. Finding a fully waterproof safe should be simple, but check to make sure the option you’re considering resists other environmental factors.
Location: Next, think about where the safe will be. Must it be small enough to fit on a closet shelf or under the bed? Are you going to stick it in the corner of an office in relatively plain view? And do you have a place to put your safe where you can secure it to the floorboards or wall studs? Where you’re consider storing your safe will determine the size and type of safe you’ll want to buy. For small spaces, we recommend a covert or lockbox-style safe. If you have the room, a floor or wall-mounted safe will offer some more protection.
Price: Small safes vary widely in cost based on the level of protection offered. And while there’s no reason to buy a safe that offers much more security than your situation merits, don’t go for a cheaper option that might not be up to the task: If it’s swiped, breached, or burned through, those pennies saved will lead to untold dollars lost, not to mention diamond rings, deeds, and your grandma’s wedding pictures.