Furniture for the home or the office with unexpected USB ports

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Keeping devices charged is crucial, even when working from home. These 7 items, with built in charging capabilities, will ensure you never run out of power.

The coronavirus pandemic has made living rooms, bedrooms, and home offices the main workspaces for business professionals. The majority (61%) of the global workforce is now remote, 53% of which started doing so since the onset of COVID-19, according to Salesforce Research’s Tableau interactive dashboard.

Remote work comes with its own obstacles, however. Being outside of the office walls means data and connection aren’t as secure, communication can be more difficult, and distractions are everywhere. 

One component employees shouldn’t have to worry about is power. Keeping devices charged should be easier than ever at home, because you aren’t competing for outlets as you might be in an office. To ensure devices are always charged, however, the following seven pieces of furniture, equipped with USB ports, can help. 

1. TEMPUR-Ergo® Power Base bed frame



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Image: Tempur-Pedic

While you recharge, your phone can, too. The TEMPUR-Ergo power base bed frame features USB ports on the side of the power base. Along with the charging outlets, the frame also has a QuietMode, a setting that tilts your mattress to an “anti-snore” position, and the Zero Gravity preset, which simulates weightlessness and elevates your head and feet.


$1,199 at Tempur-Pedic

2. Gemma nightstand



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Image: Wayfair

The Gemma nightstand has a sleek design, equipped with a cabinet, shelf, and built-in USB port. Users can leave their phone on the nightstand to charge overnight, without being tethered to an inconvenient outlet in the wall across the room. The table comes in gray, black, blue, red, and white.


$167 at Wayfair

3. Writing desk



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Image: The Home Depot

A chic edition to your home office, this writing desk (assembly required) comes with a keyboard tray and four shelves for storage. On the right side of the desk is a power supply that includes USB ports and an AC plug-in unit, allowing for convenient charging of your laptop and phone. 


$349 at The Home Depot

4. Printer stand



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Image: Target

This printer stand has more than meets the eye. While it looks like a simple table, it comes with two built-in 110V power outlets and two charging ports. Not only could you plug your printer directly into the table, but you could also plug in your phone and computer. The slim design makes it fit seamlessly into any home office. 


$147 at Target

5. Table lamp



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Image: Wayfair

This table lamp is both fashionable and functional. It would make a great bedside lamp, or living room table lamp. It features a USB port and regular power outlet, allowing for easy charging capabilities.


$135 at Wayfair

6. Desk lamp



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Image: Wayfair

This desk lamp is a more affordable, but effective, investment for remote workers wanting a functional charging mechanism. The Ailey desk lamp comes with a USB port and regular power  outlet, while also providing storage for pens and pencils, sticky notes, and other small office items. 


$30 at Wayfair

7. Decorative planter



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Image: Wayfair

For working professionals wanting to add a little greenery to the office, this power planter features a realistic faux plant, with four USB ports in the back of the base. The item boasts a super fast charge, claiming to charge items 75% faster than conventional chargers.  


$53 at Wayfair

Traditional office life gets a post-pandemic makeover

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Here’s what you can expect if you return to the office.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As lockdown orders begin to lift, what “normal” looks like for workforces post-pandemic is beginning to be seen. 

According to a recent PwC survey, “65% of chief financial officers anticipate retooling work sites for physical distancing, and 52% are planning shifts to reduce exposure.”

SEE: The new normal: What work will look like post-pandemic (TechRepublic Premium)

To safely maximize the number of employees in an office at one time, office managers may open offices earlier or stay open later. They may also create schedules assigning staff certain days of the week or hours to come to work. 

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Office managers must also reconfigure physical spaces to ensure their staff’s safety. Open floor plans and bullpen-style offices will get the boot as cubicles and offices with doors that support social distancing will return.

Expect digital thermometers to monitor employees’ health and coronavirus contact tracing tools may also be used to track employees.

SEE: The new normal: What work will look like post-pandemic (TechRepublic Premium)

The biggest impact of COVID-19 is that some employees may not return to their work’s physical offices at all. 

Google expects its staff to work from home until 2021. According to a Gartner survey, 74% of CFOs and finance leaders said they will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19.

“Rather than remote work being the exception, it is now the norm for everyone from the CEO to the new analyst,” wrote TechRepublic contributor, Patrick Gray.

A recent Glassdoor survey showed “67% of employees would support the decision by their employer to mandate employees ‘work from home indefinitely.'”

After all, technology has transitioned workers easily to their home offices. As flexible or work-from-home policies remain, video conferencing platforms, VPNS, collaboration tools, and virtual desktop usage will remain high.

SEE: The new normal: What work will look like post-pandemic (TechRepublic Premium)

Working remotely also opens up more opportunities for job seekers, as job candidate searches may extend beyond the immediate area where an office is based. Virtual methods will be used to interview candidates. Many new employees can expect onboarding programs and job training to be held virtually, as well.

From working remotely to reconfigured offices, the TechRepublic Premium ebook The new normal: What work will look like post-pandemic explores what the future of work could look like and technology’s role in this transition.

 

Life after lockdown: Your office job will never be the same–here’s what to expect (cover story PDF)

life-after-lockdown:-your-office-job-will-never-be-the-same–here’s-what-to-expect-(cover-story-pdf)

Reworking work: When you return to the office everything will look very different, and that’s just the beginning of a set of changes to how and why we work in offices.

This download provides the magazine version of the article as a free PDF for registered TechRepublic and ZDNet members. The online version of this story is available here.

From the story:

Peter van Woerkum has spent the past few weeks working in, and fine-tuning, what could turn out to be something very like the office of the future: the office of our coronavirus-altered future, that is.

He takes the lift (in which only two employees are allowed at a time) then walks clockwise to reception and grabs a recycled paper mat to cover his desk while he works. He makes his way through the now extra-roomy office–the firm has removed furniture to avoid clutter–to a workspace, which has, of course, been thoroughly cleaned overnight.

He brings his own keyboard, mouse, and laptop. Near his desk, there are marks on the floor indicating how close his colleagues should stand if they fancy coming over for a chat. If he needs the bathroom, he has to follow a specific route designed to avoid bumping into other workers. And his keyring has a new addition: a copper token that he can use to press buttons and open doors without touching any surfaces.

Since mid-March, Cushman and Wakefield, the real estate company where van Woerkum is chief operating officer, has been thinking about the transformation that the office will need to go through as employees start returning to work. Dubbed the “six-feet office”, the project vizualises a workspace that respects the social distancing required to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Initially, van Woerkum trialled the idea with a group of five, but the workplace has now been opened to up to 20 employees.

“When we launched, everybody immediately got extremely excited about the fact that there was a prospect of going back to the office at some point, and in a safe way,” van Woerkum says. “The feedback we’ve had so far has been that employees are really happy to be back in the office, and that there is some assurance that the company is taking care of their safety.”

Of course, staff needed some time to adapt. It might be a bit awkward at first to maintain a two-metre distance with your colleagues while catching up on a Monday morning, and van Woerkum stresses that the six-feet office is by no means a finished product, and that he is testing new technology daily to further improve the new office layout.

His latest experiment, for instance, has consisted of setting up beacons that can track the flow of people in the building. But one thing he is sure of is that the type of set-up being developed by Cushman and Wakefield is about to become the norm, for lots of companies.

Over the past two months, with national lockdowns becoming the new normal, companies have focused their efforts on making a rapid transition to remote working, while still keeping their companies afloat in the midst of an epidemic.

But now, governments are trying to restart their nations’ economies and return to some sort of normality. At some point in the next few months, a return to the physical office is looking more likely, at least for some. But how to manage that safely is a big challenge.

With a deadly virus still going around, how do we ensure employee safety at work? If this is the end of the close-collaboration, desk-to-desk working model, what will the office floor – and building – look like? And, if most employees are now effectively working from home and may be reluctant to return, what do we even need an office for?

For architects, interior designers or workplace consultants, these challenges are as exciting as they are unprecedented. For businesses, they are intimidatingly pressing. It is over the next few months, sometimes even weeks, that the office of the future is going to have to be built.

Download the PDF to read the rest of the story.