Whether you're just starting out working from home due to the COVID pandemic and you need to create an office space, or you've been working from home for a while, and you know your office space needs a facelift, there are certain tech essentials that can make your work-from-home life a whole lot easier.
From making it simpler for you to mark off your daily to-do list, to simply offering you some creature comforts that reduce stress (and, then in turn, make it easier for you to mark off that to-do list...), here are our 16 tech essentials for working from home.
Setting Up Your Office: The Very Basic Tech
You have your office space designated, whether it's a corner in the dining room or a whole extra bedroom that you've claimed as your own. You have a desk and a chair, maybe an iPhone — aka, the bare basics. Now what?
Now, it's time to move on to the tech basics that you'll need beyond that ergonomic desk chair.
A Computer (Plus Accessories)
If you're traditionally employed, it's likely that your employer is providing you with a computer for working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, whether a desktop or a laptop. If, however, you're self-employed or a contract employee, then you'll need to fund that computer and all other WFH gadgets yourself.
A laptop is often ideal for most home office set-ups, as it allows you to be mobile. However, if you're accustomed to working on a larger desktop monitor, you may prefer to purchase a monitor that connects to your laptop. A monitor can provide that larger screen without sacrificing portability when you need it.
Whether you're an Apple or Windows fan and whatever type of computer you choose to get your work done, make sure you have the right accessories on hand. Tools such as a keyboard, mouse, charger and external speakers going with wireless Bluetooth speakers versus wired speakers give you added flexibility and portability, in case you like to change up your workspace every once in a while).
If you haven't already invested in a high-speed, high-quality modem and router, this may be the optimum time to do so. You can find smart routers that come with a range of features (such as remote connectivity control and testing) from brands such as Google Home, Nest and more.
Printer and Scanner
You may think that a printer and scanner isn't a necessity… until you need one. There's nothing worse than needing to print something so simple — a single document to sign, a proof for work — and then not being able to and having to make an entire trip out of the house to print your docs elsewhere. Not to mention, utilizing a printing service can get costly.
Purchasing a printer and scanner — whether you go wired or wireless — will ensure you always have printing capabilities when you need them.
A Storage Solution
No, we're not talking about a filing cabinet. You'll want a storage solution for your work-from-home set-up.
You could go with a simple, free Google Drive account if your needs are pretty minimal. But, if you're constantly working with sensitive documents or very large files, you may want a paid storage solution that allows you to transfer files for work easily, efficiently and safely.
A physical hard drive is also a good idea, so you can keep files around for the long-term without cluttering up your computer.
A UPS and/or Surge Protector
A UPS (or uninterruptible power supply) and surge protector will keep your work safe no matter what kind of inclement weather or power outage you're dealing with. Never lose your work again or risk losing your tech to a power surge, thanks to these handy pieces of tech that keep you protected.
USB Adapters, Cables and AC Adapters
If you ever intend to plug up anything to your computer, whether desktop or laptop, you'll want the appropriate adapters and cables on hand. Whether you need to read an SD card, plug in a printer or access files stored on a thumb drive, ensure you're able to always connect the tech you need at any particular moment.
The "Nice to Have" Tech Accessories
Of course, while you could feasibly get plenty done with just a computer and WiFi, you'll likely want a few other tech items that can make your job infinitely easier.
Whether or not you expect children, pets or spouses to be interrupting your working time or Zoom calls, it's still nice to have a pair of headphones or earbuds on hand to block out external noise, so you can truly focus on your tasks.
Apple AirPods Pros are a good pick, as they offer noise-canceling tech and easy set-up if you already work on a Mac or iPad. The AirPods are outfitted with a microphone as well, for better clarity and sound quality in meetings. Plus, since they're wireless, you never need to worry about getting tangled up in a bunch of wires as you reach for your coffee or ripping them out when you suddenly step away from your desk.
A Music Subscription
You need something to listen to on those headphones, right? Go with a subscription to Amazon Music, Apple Music or Spotify so that you can listen to all your favorite tunes and podcasts anywhere, any time.
A Smart Speaker
A smart speaker, like an Amazon Echo Dot, is a nice accessory for your office, no matter what you do for work. Ask Alexa to play music or white noise, report the weather or help you with a simple math problem. She's like your little work time assistant, always at the ready and willing to help.
While you could very easily use your computer's built-in webcam, if you want a higher quality for video calls and events, you may want to invest in a separate webcam. Logitech makes several webcam options that provide high-quality video with 1080p HD capabilities.
Similarly, if you take part in a lot of meetings or recordings, you may want a separate microphone to use instead of your computer's built-in option (or the tiny microphone that's built into your headphones or earbuds). The Blue Snowball Ice microphone is trusted by videographers worldwide and is often a good starter microphone for those doing recordings for things such as audio courses or audiobooks. Even if you're not doing something so audio-reliant, though, you may just enjoy the higher level of audio quality this mic produces.
The "I Should've Thought of That" Tech Accessories
There are some tech essentials that you don't even realize you might need until you have them — and then you realize you can't live without them.
A Purifying Water Bottle
Okay, while this isn't a standard piece of tech, it employs some pretty cool technology that sets it apart from other water bottles.
Having a water bottle at your desk throughout the day can help ensure you stay hydrated and drink your required eight glasses. For a water bottle that's a step above the rest, go with a LARQ bottle. The bottle's patented technology eradicates up to 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.99% of viruses. The tech keeps the bottle clean while purifying water and the battery life lasts for a month of use.
A Smart Coffee Mug
In the same category, a smart coffee mug can keep your morning brew warm no matter how many times you accidentally forget about it while on a conference call. The Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug, for example, is not only beautifully designed with minimalist details, but it also keeps your coffee at your desired temperature for an entire hour.
A High-End Coffee Maker
Along these lines, you can't get any work done without coffee, so you'd better have a good coffee pot on hand. The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System gives you all kinds of options, so you can make high-quality brews at home without even missing your local coffee shop for a second. Enjoy traditional coffee, iced coffee, cold brew and latte-style drinks with ease.
If making coffee isn't your thing, you can also take advantage of Ryan Brother's delivery service and keep artisan cold brew on tap.
Sure, you don't absolutely have to invest in better lighting in order to work from home — but it definitely does make a difference if your overhead lighting is subpar and you don't really have any natural light from an exterior window. Shop around for a corner or desk lamp that will give you the correct lighting for your space's individual needs.
A Lunchtime Solution
Finding it difficult to step away from your desk to make lunch every day? You still have to eat, even if you don't have the spare minutes to put together a scrumptious meal around phone calls.
Make things easier on yourself with a Zojirushi 3-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer. All you have to do is throw in some rice in the morning and let it work its magic. The rice cooks and then stays warm all day long, so you can grab a bit of lunch whenever you need it and enjoy a healthy, hearty, satisfying meal without much work at all.
Tips for Setting Up Your Home Office
No matter how you outfit your home office with the latest tech gear, there are a few ways you can attempt to ensure ultimate productivity for every workday.
Make sure you're comfortable.
If you feel uncomfortable in your current home office space, you're not going to produce your best work. Do what you can to make yourself comfortable in and actually enjoy your space, whether that means adjusting the temperature, raising or lowering your chair, buying a standing desk or compiling a few pillows for better back support.
When working from home, boundaries can be difficult to establish, especially if you have a partner, roommate or child who's also working (or learning) from home at the same time. Even if you're working in a shared space, like the dining room, set boundaries about when and who can access the space, so it doesn't disrupt your workflow.
Set boundaries for yourself as well. Try to stay out of your office space after-hours unless absolutely necessary. After all, one of the biggest challenges for those working from home is separating work life from home life and establishing a healthy work-life balance.
Related: 3 Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Don't be afraid to spend a little more.
If you're outfitting your home office on your own dime, you may be hesitant to spring for the more expensive office chair or the more powerful computer monitor. But don't go with a more budget-friendly option if you know that a more expensive variant will pay off in the long run, both in terms of comfort and productivity. You don't want to make a mistake that you regret later, just in the name of budget. (Think of it as an investment!)
Add a little play to your space.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so don't forget to add a little fun or whimsy to your workspace with some personalization.
Just as you would in your traditional workspace, add some fun touches to your desk or work area, whether that's simply a stress toy that you can fiddle around with during meetings or a sticker on your laptop that reflects your favorite fandom.
Keep it clean.
Seriously — the cleaner and less cluttered you keep your home office space, the more productive you'll be and the less stressed you'll feel. Have a place for everything and keep everything in its place, even if that means investing in some office organization solutions.
Working From Home Doesn't Have to Be Hard
Working from home can be easy — if you have the right tools. Starting with the best tech can ensure you get off on the right foot and stay productive.
You might also be interested in: 21 Home Office Essentials [To Elevate Your WFH Office]
Top 16 Tech Essentials for Your Home Office: