The number of people working remotely was on the rise even before the present global health crisis. In 2018, five million employees in the United States, or 3.6 percent of the total, worked at least half of the time from home. Of course, the events of the past year have drastically altered the landscape, forcing many businesses and individuals to embark on their first foray into remote working.
It’s a challenging transition for individuals who aren’t used to working outside of a regular office setting, and it’s one that could last. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 25-30% of the US workforce will work from home at least one day each week during the next two years. For the past five years, I’ve been working remotely and writing about it for nearly as long.
I’ve worked from Airbnbs, coffee shops, coworking spaces, vehicles, and my own house, and one thing I’ve found is that the tools you use and how you set up your workspace have a significant impact on productivity and wellbeing. It is not necessary to spend a fortune on the proper equipment.
There are numerous low-cost options available to improve your environment, boost your productivity, and make you a happier and healthier remote worker. Whether you’re new to working from home or have been doing so for a long time, there are six essential items of equipment to consider.
Headphones are a must if you work with other people. They help block out distractions and reduce echo and feedback on workplace calls, allowing you to focus on the task at hand. They also allow you to create a personal work “bubble,” signalling to anyone else in the house that you’re working and can’t be bothered. Headphones come in a wide range of prices.
Invest in high-quality products if you have the funds. You’ll use them frequently, and there’s a significant price difference between the cheap and high end of the market. Choose headphones with active noise cancellation at the very least, as they perform a better job of blocking out undesirable noise. This is beneficial at home and essential if you need to work from a crowded coffee shop or airport.
The top versions, like as the Sony WH1000-XM3, have a battery life of 30 to 40 hours, sound superb, and function with voice assistants like Alexa. Remember to think about the quality of your microphone as well. If necessary, these can be integrated in your headphones or on a separate device.
Many preinstalled laptop microphones aren’t very good at distinguishing your voice from surrounding noise, making it difficult for others to understand what you’re saying. Other features of a good solo USB mic include a quick-access mute button and volume control.
Repetitive strain injuries are a major danger for those who work from home. It’s all too easy to find yourself positioned awkwardly on the sofa or at a table or workstation that’s too low for extended computer use. Neck and back pain are common side effects of having your screen below your eye line, especially if you do so for long periods of time.
Laptop stands are an easy and affordable solution to improve your posture while also increasing airflow to keep your laptop cooler in hot weather. Laptop supports exist in a variety of designs, sizes, and prices, with several low-cost ones available.
Ensure that it has adjustable height settings and is large enough to accommodate your laptop model. For people who like to work from several locations around the house or take their laptop on the road, portable versions are available.
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse
When you work from home on a regular basis, it’s critical to create an atmosphere that meets your requirements. Even if it’s only for a short time, you should consider your home workstation to be a true office. If you use an external keyboard at work or set your laptop on a stand, as indicated above, get one for your home office as well. A generic wireless keyboard that does the job won’t set you back much.
Choose one with a lengthy battery life so you don’t have to spend more time charging it than actually using it. Consider a model with a dedicated numeric keypad if you work with numbers frequently. Finally, keep noise levels in mind. Some keyboards are significantly louder than others, which can be a significant issue in small apartments! A mouse is the same way.
If you’re used to using one at work, you’ll want one at home as well. Using a laptop touchpad all day can result in aching hands and wrists, as well as tendinitis. For a few dollars, you can get a nice wireless mouse, or pay a little more to obtain some extra capabilities. The pun was intended. The Logitech MX Master 2S mouse connects via Bluetooth or USB receiver, tracks on almost any surface, and can be used by up to three PCs at the same time.
If you’re used to working with a huge monitor or many displays, a laptop screen alone might not be enough. External monitors vary in price depending on their size, quality, and capabilities, although entry-level ones can be relatively affordable. You don’t need to buy the greatest monitor on the market if you’re setting up a temporary home office.
Just make sure you pick one that fulfils your job’s needs. You’ll need a high-resolution monitor with correct colours if you work with graphics or video a lot. However, if your job involves a lot of words and statistics, those factors aren’t as significant. Monitors come in a variety of sizes, so take into account the amount of space you have, the height of your desk and chair, and how often you plan on moving it.
The biggest display isn’t always the greatest option for your needs. If you have to pack up your home office every day or want to work and travel in the future, a portable monitor gives you greater freedom. However, because these are smaller than ordinary monitors, ensure sure the size and resolution are sufficient for your needs.
Office Chair or Back Support
Office chairs are more expensive, but they make a significant difference. Given the amount of time you’ll be sitting in it, it’s critical that your chair be both comfortable and the right height for your desk. To meet your demands, look for one with lumbar support and height adjustability. Armrests and castors for easier movement aren’t required, although they’re always a good idea.
If a new office chair isn’t in the cards right now, you can still make your current chair more comfy. Back supports and cushions are inexpensive, portable, and much less expensive than buying a new chair.
There are numerous health hazards linked with a lack of physical activity, and working from home makes it easy to slide into a sedentary lifestyle. You’ll need to pay particular attention to your fitness if the only exercise you receive all day is strolling from your bedroom to your office.
If you’re used to working from a standing desk or want to give it a try, you may do so without breaking the bank at home. You may change your ordinary desk or kitchen counter into a standing one by placing a simple converter stand on top of it. You may also make your own improvised standing desk for free by stacking books or a delivery box on top of your laptop.
Fans of this method claim it can assist with anything from weight loss to mental alertness and better posture, but at the very least, it will ensure you don’t spend the entire day sitting on your buttocks. If you like it and have the funds (and space), you may get a specialised standing desk that allows you to change heights at the push of a button.