As I write this, it’s been several months since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic drove governments around the world to keep their citizens at home. The business world suffered a hammer blow as a result of that necessary action: offices had to shut down, and teams were left unmoored, uncertain how to operate in such unusual circumstances.
Some companies — some industries, in fact — were unable to cope with this development and had to mothball their operations or shut down permanently. Most, though, quickly got to grips with the practice of working remotely, and were able to retain most of their productivity. By now, professionals across many fields have become fairly accustomed to working from home. Whether they prefer it, want to go back to office life, or are indifferent, they’re in that groove.
This does not, however, mean they’ve mastered working from home. Many are no doubt still huddling over their kitchen tables and tapping away on cramped laptop keyboards. To maximize productivity, it’s essential to invest properly in home offices. To that end, we’re going to take a look at some great gadgets that can make it significantly easier to work from home. Let’s begin.
A flexible laptop stand
Barring professionals in certain fields (video editing, 3D design, etc.), anyone working from home these days should be using a laptop. It provides so much more flexibility than using a desktop computer, and they shouldn’t notice much of a performance difference. Now, you can balance your laptop on a pile of books, but you’re best served grabbing a good laptop stand.
IGN has a solid list of options, so I suggest checking them out to decide which one will best suit your working style (if you use a standing desk, for instance, then you’ll have different requirements). Pick out whichever stand that will make your working day easiest.
A laptop docking station
Before you start adding accessories and peripherals to your work laptop, you’ll want to make life much easier by picking up a docking station. You can find such stations for all types of laptop, but if you’re fortunate enough to have a laptop with a Thunderbolt 3 port then you’ll have an easier time. In particular, a Mac docking station will really fit with the Apple design ethos of keeping things minimally complex but maximally effective.
You can still use the other gadgets we’re going to look at if you don’t pick up a docking station, but it’ll be a lot more awkward (and you’ll likely run out of ports before you can account for everything you want to add). It’s one of the most practical investments you can make.
An ergonomic keyboard
Typing for extended periods won’t burn many calories, sure, but it can cause some major discomfort — and even a repetitive strain injury. To stay productive and avoid finger and wrist pain, it’s worth choosing an ergonomic keyword (one designed to minimize strain). Most such keyboards feature split layouts, padded wrist-rests, and curved designs.
This type of keyboard isn’t the most popular on the market, but there are still options to choose from: take a look at these five in particular. You may need to try several keyboards before you find the one that feels just right to you, so consider ordering some key switch samples (or just order from a site that will accept no-questions-asked returns).
An accurate mouse
Just as you need a comfortable keyboard, you need a mouse that can help you operate faster than you ever could using a laptop touchpad (or even using a touchscreen). Comfort matters here too, but the main thing you’ll want is an accurate sensor. Some mice use sensors that don’t track consistently: it’s bad enough for general use, and terrible for, say, graphic design work.
Try checking out this guide from Digital Trends. Some mice are symmetrical and can be used regardless of which hand is dominant, while others are designed for right-handed people. Consider how many buttons you need and what shape catches your eye. You should also think about connectivity: do you want a wireless mouse? What about wireless charging?
A good set of headphones
Lastly, anyone trying to work from home and stay productive needs a great set of headphones: ideally with active noise cancelling to help drown out distracting sounds. Given that you might end up using your headphones for many thousands of hours, you should spend as much as your budget can accommodate.
Look for headphones with ANC, and think about things like which brands you typically trust, what type of design you want, and what features you need aside from that (Bluetooth support, integrated microphone, etc.). Have fun with it!
These gadgets aren’t gimmicky items that you’ll use once and never again. They’ll help you with your everyday working routine, so they’re worth investing in.
Photograph by Tranmautritam