Okay, I have been working from home for almost a year now. Back when I first started I had my laptop and that was it. So, over the course of the year there have been a few things that I’ve bought that have made life a little bit easier. I’m not saying this is a definitive list of work from home tech that you should be buying, just that it’s items that I have found have made the biggest difference to me.
I would say that not all of these items are even “tech” to be strictly accurate. Feel free to add items that you have used in the comments below.
Wi-Fi or not Wi-Fi
So when I first began working from home full time last March I had already used my laptop from the house so it was already set up to automatically link up to the WiFi. It was straightforward enough to then link into the work intranet and start working away. Experience had taught me that one of the best things to do is to get properly set up from day one. A temporary arrangement is fine for one day or so but if you start off with a temporary set up it is amazing how long you end up just putting up with it the laptop on a pile of books or balanced on a small desk. Anyway, one of the first things I purchased from a tech standpoint was an Ethernet extender.
It basically uses your mains circuit at home as an extension cable. One of the boxes plus into a socket close to your WiFi router and the other close to your computer. An Ethernet cable (usually supplied) connects into your WiFi router and into the closest net gear box. At the other end another cable plugs in to the other box and then into your computer. They are then paired up and this then creates a directly wired connection between your computer and the router. This should increase the speed of the connection as well as making it much more stable – much better for working with. WiFi is still good however depending on how far away you are working from the router it does sometimes drop or the speed will dip (especially when you have two children homeschooling).
These are readily available from Amazon and come in a range of models depending on what speed you require. Some are built so that they extend the WiFi as well which is a plus. Click on the link HERE or on the picture to see the latest prices (as an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases)
Its very easy to make do with the one screen but I have found that since having two screens at the office, it’s very difficult to then go back to just using one. I was lucky enough to have a spare portable television and also lucky that the work computer I have has an HDMI output so it was very easy to connect the TV up to the laptop and then change the settings on the computer to recognise the additional screen.
Having two screens makes it so much easier than just the one. I can highly recommend having an additional screen if you don’t have one. I wrote an article HERE on the best computer monitors available.
It would be very easy to suggest you spend a fortune on a separate monitor but if it’s only for working on spreadsheets or reading emails then it doesn’t have to be the very latest 4K ultra wide screens (unless you really want to of course).
I now use the monitor as my main screen with the computer screen off to one side for reading emails and other background work. This has an additional benefit in that rather than the laptop keyboard taking up space right in front of me the monitor frees up a fair amount of desk space giving me more room. To maximize space further (and make the laptop screen higher and more in line with the monitor) I then purchased a laptop stand which angles the laptop body almost vertically raising the screen up.
These are also available from Amazon HERE. There have been a couple of benefits of doing this. Firstly as previously stated it frees up more desk space and also raises the screen so that your eyes can move easier across between monitor to laptop screen.
The additional benefit comes when you are on Zoom calls. With the screen raised up (and the inbuilt camera just above the screen) the angle that you are seen from is more natural rather so rather than being able to see up your nostrils (I still see people conducting interview on TV like this and it’s quite annoying) the view is much better and more flattering. The downside of it, is that as I have moved the laptop (and therefore the camera) off to the side it shows an off to the side view which I didn’t like (of course you could just turn and face the camera during calls) but in the end I opted for a cheap USB camera which now sits on top of my monitor and makes for a better direct view. The additional benefit of this is that the picture quality is better than with the inbuilt camera.
Full Size Keyboard
I hate using a laptop keyboard I have to admit. I have to input quite a lot of numbers as well as typing and I find inputting them on a laptop keyboard very time-consuming. Therefore I have always tried to have a full size keyboard and mouse handy. I wrote an article on the best keyboard and mouse set to get HERE. A full size keyboard is much easier to type with and once you get used to the key positions it is very difficult to then use the laptop keyboard (especially when it’s off to one side and angled at 80 degrees ha ha).
That is the main tech that I have purchased so far for my home office. It’s not a huge list but it’s what I needed to get by with. There are other items that I would like to have. A headset and microphone would be useful for example and especially if I was to be working in an open-plan area or a room where I was not able to shut the door. I am fortunate to have a spare room which now acts as my “office” so there is no need. I know of some people who have purchased headsets and have sworn by them, especially the noise canceling variety. This would be great for filtering out unwanted noise and creating a quiet space for concentrating – especially worthwhile if you have noisy children / neighbours / partners / pets (or any combination of those).
So there we have just a couple of the tech that I have used in my home office set up and that I think may be useful for other people too. As I have said it is by no means a complete list and I would be very interested to hear if there is anything that you have that you deem a necessity that I have not included. I would love to hear from you, as ever, and you can let me know in the comments section below.