If you’re not used to working from home, then trying to adjust to your new circumstances can be much more difficult that you first thought. It could be you’re having to work within the confines of a spare bedroom, or even from the sofa in your lounge. Space could well be limited at home, and you may well be sharing it with children who are off school and / or a partner who is also working remotely.
Wherever you’ve had to set up your temporary workspace, there are several things you can do to make to make your daily work routine much easier. There are many ways that tech can help make your situation more comfortable, practical, pleasant, and just more possible!
We’ve put together a list of tech items that can help make your day more productive and enjoyable. Here’s the tech, and how it can help…
You may think that these aren’t important, but earphones let you listen to music while you work, you can hear when you get a Slack message and you can take calls easily. You also have the added benefit of noise cancellation so outside distractions are avoided. Unless you live in a big house or mansion, you’ll be able to be away from your main work area without losing connection to your computer.
A Smart Wi-Fi Power Strip
A must-have piece of equipment for working from home. There are lots of things you can do with a Smart Wi-Fi power strip: Control multiple smart outlets from anywhere and fast charge devices with USB ports at the same time. Shield devices from sudden power surges and turn your home into a true smart home. Automate your lights and appliances with smart plugs and bulbs. Secure your home with cameras, and control it all from a smart app.
You can also connect your devices with the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant using simple voice command and set schedules with your smart app to automatically turn your smart outlets on or off while you’re away.
People working from who use an ultrawide monitor continually tell us that this had the most positive impact for them. You can have three full-size windows on display at the same time, or countless windows overlapping, without feeling cramped. Any monitor 34” in size with 1440p or better resolution will make a big difference to your productivity.
Monitor Mount Stand
When you’re working long hours, you need your screen to be at the perfect height to stop you hunching over – a sure way to get back-pain issues. Make sure you get a mount which is adjustable (some aren’t) as you may want to adjust it to different heights depending on whether you are watching a great movie or playing a computer game when using your desk as an entertainment centre.
Ergonomically Designed Chair
Many people who work from home tend to move around, perhaps working from the lounge table for a while, and then from the couch. When you’re working on a computer, it’s important to have good posture support. It’s so easy to slouch, and so it’s easy to get unnecessary aches and pains.
An ergonomic chair has features specifically designed to maximise healthy posture, including headrest and back rest that support your posture while sitting. Moreover, you can adjust the height of the chair to sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees at an angle of 90 degrees to the floor and parallel to the hips. These corrections automatically help you to improve your posture and help prevent neck and back pain.
Having a reliable and fast computer is a necessity when you’re working from home. A laptop is a great option for many because it means it’s portable and you can take it with you if you fancy a change of scenery elsewhere around the house. If portability is not vital, then you have more options for what device you can use. Instead of a laptop, you could get a desktop PC to provide you with great speed and functionality.
If it’s a laptop you’re looking for, then we’d suggest a laptop that has an inbuilt webcam for video calls and attending virtual get-togethers with family and friends. So that you can work effortlessly and play movies and games without hassle, you should go for a laptop with a screen of 14-inches or more. You’ll also want a computer that has a great battery life, nowadays you can easily find a laptop with over 10 hours of charge. A good laptop will also have a solid amount of memory and extra USB ports for connecting to different storage options such as memory sticks.
By allowing the screen to be used at eye level, a laptop stand can prevent the user from becoming hunched over the keys and make for a more comfortable experience. Laptops can also get very warm when in use, and a laptop riser can prevent overheating by allowing air to circulate. An inexpensive buy and you’ll wonder why you never got one before!
Mesh Wi-Fi network
Networks such as Netgear Orbi, Google WiFi or Linksys Velop change everything. These systems plug into your existing modem, they are easy to set up, and what they offer is a multi-device Wi-Fi network. One device is at your modem, another inside your lounge room, and one might be upstairs. Basically, they combine together to create a single, high speed internet to every corner of your home.
Video Webcams for Meetings
Laptops all have built-in cameras these days, and if you don’t have one you can buy cameras for as little as £20, a top quality one will cost £100 at most.
There are a lot of video options. Skype is one and that works well, Google Hangouts is another, which requires nothing more than your browser and a Google account login, and then there’s Microsoft Teams and Zoom, which are very popular.
Most will require a simple software download and install. Once that’s done, most organised meetings are just the click of a link away, and they’re really easy to join – it’s just a matter of clicking on a link.
Some tips for video calls. When there are multiple people on the call, use the MUTE function to cancel your audio so any fumbling with papers or typing on the keyboard can’t be heard by others.
When you’re speaking, and everyone is looking at you, don’t look at the screen, look AT your camera – it means better eye to eye contact, otherwise you’re actually not looking “at” people.
If your workplace is smaller, or you just don’t go to a lot of meetings normally, try to make time to use Facetime, Skype, or WhatsApp to make video calls. This eye-to-eye video conversation is a game changer and can help make the isolation of working from home a little less lonely.
Peripherals: The extras you need
Peripherals is a fancy word for extras such as keyboards, mice and anything else you might need to improve your overall experience with your computer.
Even if you own a laptop, having a separate mouse and keyboard can really improve your comfort when writing or browsing the internet for long periods of time. If you own a desktop PC, then peripherals are a must have. You can now find keyboards and mice that are adapted to make you more comfortable, such as having wrist-rests and inbuilt ergonomic features. And for all you lefties out there, you can even pick up a left-handed mouse!
With a little thought, and a selection of tech, you can make your remote working into a much more positive and pleasurable experience!