More people than ever are working from home. This year has seen a huge rise in telecommuting due to the COVID 19 pandemic, but there are other contributing factors, such as employers looking to cut overheads, employees benefiting from not having to commute each day, and an increase in productivity due to a better work/life balance. The rapid development of easy to use and affordable technology is also a big factor – with smartphones, tablets and laptops coming equipped with all manner of software that doesn’t require installation by an IT engineer. Equipping a home office is easier than ever. Aside from a computer, a desk and a fast internet connection there are many gadgets, devices and furniture solutions which make a home office efficient, comfortable and productive. Let’s look at some great ideas to give your workspace a boost.
Doubling up on your computer’s display makes multitasking easy. If you need to be on top of email and spreadsheets at the same time, or a database and documentation, or any other work process, having two screens increases efficiency and takes away the frustration of tabbing between applications. A basic 22-inch monitor will fulfill most requirements, but obviously, the sky’s the limit when it comes to computing equipment. Ultra-wide and ultra-sharp monitors are expensive but great if your job requires video editing or similar. If you don’t want to buy a new monitor and your computer has an HDMI output, your TV can be a good substitute. And when you have downtime, a double display is great for gaming.
Voice-activated smart technology is widespread and affordable and can boost how convenient and efficient your workflow is. A basic smart speaker such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant can schedule reminders, place voice-activated calls and messages, and perform web searches, among many other functions. Before you buy, you should check which applications you use most – Google Assistant will be better integrated with Google apps. A smart display with video calling capabilities is a great idea if you have a lot of meetings, and is also useful as a calendar/alternate display for spreadsheets.
There are plenty of options when it comes to home office printers, with excellent compact models available. A wireless printer cuts down on trailing cables around the desk, while still offering high-quality prints on regular or photo paper. Refillable printers are becoming popular – they don’t require cartridges, the reservoir is simply topped up with ink. This reduces plastic waste, excellent for the environment, and is also a cheaper alternative to cartridge printers. Printer performance is getting better too – some models offer speeds up to 20ppm for black and white and 15ppm for color. And most printers now come equipped with a high-quality scanner on board and can send faxes.
If you’ve bought a computer in the last ten (or so) years, the chances are it has an inbuilt webcam and microphone. But the chances are that it isn’t the best quality. It’ll do for zoom calls, but investing in a hardware webcam can take your conferencing to the next level. Options out there from big brands such as Logitech offer 1080p picture quality. Most are plug and play, but some allow for enhanced control and filters. Others have built-in microphones that will outperform the mic in your laptop. You might think these cameras are expensive, but in fact, you can find a high spec one for around $50.
Headphones / Headset
COVID 19 has meant that most meetings are held remotely. Making sure you’re heard loud and clear in a busy video conference can be difficult, and inbuilt mics on laptops or tablets just don’t quite cut it. Many headphone models are available with a microphone stem which will ensure good quality audio in meetings. If you don’t like wearing cans, in-ear options are an alternative – the microphone is built into the cable. If you have family around in the house while you’re working, noise-canceling headphones are a must – find some peace and boost your concentration.
Mouse and keyboard
A wireless mouse/keyboard setup is the best option for home offices, and there are plenty of choices out there. Many have ergonomic designs, perfect for computer work as they limit hand/wrist fatigue. Mice and keyboards can now be customized fully to suit your style of usage. If you’re looking for a compact keyboard there are also plenty of options. Most people don’t use the number pad anymore, so Bluetooth keyboards can be really small but still have responsive keys and great performance. You can even find foldable ones.
There are so many great ideas to enhance your home office – from time-saving gadgets and devices to boost your wellbeing to professional-level, compact equipment. As we adapt to this new normal, it is important to keep a positive focus on the future and to make our working environments as comfortable and conducive to the situation as possible.