Whether you work at home full time as I do, or just use your home office after hours, it should be filled with things that make it comfortable and help you be as productive as possible. We've talked to experts and other work-at-homes to come up with advice and a bevy of some of the best and most useful products you can buy.
Because we're thinking dream office, we haven't let price become an obstacle. You may have to, of course, but this list will give you an idea of what's possible. And did we mention that some of these goodies will give you big-time bragging rights?
Why sit when you can walk?
All too many of us spend long, painful hours at the desk. Well, here's a way you can work at your computer and get a bit of exercise at the same time. The Steelcase Walkstation is a treadmill built around a height adjustable desk that holds your keyboard, monitor and laptop. The treadmill won't replace workouts at the gym — it doesn't go faster than two miles per hour — but you'll be moving instead of sitting. When you get tired, slide your peripherals to a convenient angle, lower the desk, and pull up a chair.
One way or the other, you will be seating at your desk, so buy a great chair. And remember, the Aeron isn't the only high-end choice. One chair that I'd like to buy is the SwingChair by SmartMotion Technology; the seat, backrest and arms all move independently to give you lots of support and comfort. And it's good looking as well. If possible, buy your chair from a showroom instead of the Web so you can try it out for size and comfort.
The paperless office, sadly, is a myth, but a great scanner will reduce the clutter and maybe even save a tree or two. One of the best you can buy is the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300. The S300 has an automatic feed, scans both sides of a page simultaneously, and best of all, creates searchable PDF files.
And speaking of paper, some creep went through my recycling the other week, found a blank check I had forgotten to tear up, and forged my signature. Don't let that happen to you; instead buy a good paper shredder. The Fellowes PF-79ci is fast, shreds by cross cutting so no one will ever reassemble your documents and it has a safety mode that turns off the shredder when hands touch the paper opening. And for style points, there's the snazzy, Black & Decker 15-sheet crosscut shredder.
Slideshow: Cool Home Office Gear
The world's coolest keyboards
I'll assume you have a nice laptop, but who wants to peer at a relatively small display for hours at end. Not me.
If money were no object, I'd buy a really big monitor to hook up to my notebook. Two good options: The Dell UltraSharp U2711 27-inch monitor for PCs, and the even larger (30-inch) Apple Cinema HD Display for the Mac. Or you might want to buy two smaller monitors and use the dual-display function built into Windows to create a huge virtual desktop.
You already know there are lots of decent ergonomic keyboards around, but let's face it, they are BORING, and we're talking dream office here. So take a leap and check out these ergonomically correct steampunk keyboards. Talk about cool. The designer, a dude named Richard R. Nagy, also known as Datamancer, will make you one or sell you a kit so you can do it yourself. Trust me. You will definitely impress your friends with one of these.
And finally, I've got two recommendations for high-end sound in your sanctum sanctorum. First, there's the Wave music system from Bose, with an iPod/iPhone dock and multi-CD changer. Or consider buying the Sonos ZonePlayer S5, a one-piece system that plays music from the hard drives of your PC or Mac, and from a number of different Internet services, including Pandora, Rhapsody, lastFM, Napster and Sirius.
(Thanks to Jeri Dansky, a home office consultant and professional organizer based near San Francisco for her advice and suggestions.)
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. He welcomes your comments and suggestions. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.