A happy office is a good office. Happiness is not rocket science. But sometimes adding a little productive fun to our day jobs is easier said than done. This story is designed to add a shot of happiness to any workspace thanks to 11 seriously cool pieces of technology.
Each gadget is meant to make us smile, but they also target specific ways for us to ease stress, feel happier, and ultimately get more stuff done. Check out these picks from Greatist and let us know your own favorites in the comment section.
Gadgets for Desk-Top Happiness
These magnetic balls may just look like a grown-up toy, but they (and their numerous shapes and sizes) have become popular among serious professional and curious kids alike. But it’s not just for fun — playing has workplace benefits. One study found that on-the-job playfulness improved communication, creativity, problem solving, and team building. Another suggested people naturally tend to involve the body during complex cognitive functioning ¹. Buckyballs (and other “smart” toys) may just be for fun, but a little fun could be the solution.
Note: Buckyballs’ manufacturer has discontinued making the product, but there may still be some available. You can read about it here.
2. “Sun” Lights
This family of lights and lamps use special bulbs to create a natural, sun-like ray. The lights — colloquially called “Happy Lights,” like this one from Verilux — not only remind us of the great outdoors but also activate a personal dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps maintain our metabolism, immunity, nervous system, and bone density. A burst of UV rays provides vitamin D, helping us feel happier. While vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to depression, consuming more than 50 mcg can also lead to problems such as decreased appetite and nausea.
This compact and hardcore USB drive is less about boosting endorphins than it is about creating peace of mind. The Rugged USB is like any other USB device but with a protective (and bright) orange cover. Drop resistance up to 100 meters and with secure encryption included, this is a solid drive for mountain bikers and desk jockeys alike.
One of the best ways to be productive, according to efficiency expert Ari Meisel, is to free the mind to focus on the task at hand. So stop worrying about lost pieces of paper and start automatically transferring handwritten notes straight to the computer. The Wacom Inkling lets users doodle to their heart’s content, converting pen and paper into digital vector or image formats for easy reference. Moleskine is jumping on board, teaming with digital note-taking software Evernote for a special line of notebooks.
Plants naturally make us happier and can even help us be more productive in the workplace and get sick less often. If opting for a plant, feng shui masters say greenery with rounded leaves creates a calming affect while upward-pointing plants, such as bamboo, provide energy. This USB greenhouse is a nice way to keep plants alive (and flourishing) even when plugged in at work.
Yes, “Henry the Desktop Hoover” is meant to make us smile, but having the little sucker around is sure to remind us to keep desks cleaner. Clean desks, free of clutter or debris, can help decrease stress and make work a little easier.
Sitting in a chair all day at work does all sorts of nasty stuff to our back and our posture. While we wrote up an ultimate guide to good posture at work, sometimes the best answer is not to sit at all. Stand Up (or Sit-Stand) desks don’t hurt our posture and can even improve creativity and performance. (And, it can help our health.) We’ll stand for that!
This little guy is charming as all get-out. Some sophisticated sensors in Keepon’s base and body allow it to intelligently react to commands, noise, and various forms of pressure (from head pats to pokes to tickles). It might get some stares, but advanced robots like Keepon can actually provide some health benefits. Similar companion bots (such as the dinosaur PLEO) have been used to help disabled and autistic people socialize and emotionally adapt to new surroundings.
Baoding balls are probably the oldest “gadget” on the list. This pair of balls is an ancient Chinese meditation aid and a way to improve manual dexterity. At the very least Baoding balls can help us have a little fun (like Buckyballs) and provide a problem-solving boost.
10. Guitar Mobile Apps
Music has a calming affect that’s sure to boost our happiness, but jamming out on an instrument can also provide similar relaxing benefits. For any rock stars-to-be or those looking for a mid-day stress buster, try downloading Play Guitar for Windows 8, or either Solo or Solo Lite for Android, or try the Guitar Studio or the PocketGuitar app for iPhone and iPad. These apps simulate the sound and action of a real guitar with several sound options and the ability to bend and pluck notes. Relaxation never sounded so good.
11. Red Knock Out Bag and Stress Balls
Angry at a co-worker or a client? It’s better to take it out on this mini punching bag or a stress ball instead of throwing punches. Holding on to anger can be a bad thing. Stress balls may also have some muscle-relaxing properties. Aside from building some forearm strength, crushing a stress ball can activate progressive muscle relaxation (slowly tensing and relaxing muscles over time).
Zachary Sniderman is an editorial director for Greatist.com. Zachary has worked at Vanity Fair and at Mashable, where he wrote about Social Good, Media, and Culture. He has also had work published in GQ.com, the Daily Beast, Vulture.com and others. When not at Greatist HQ, Zack is probably playing tennis or missing pond hockey.