More people than ever are working from home or working remotely in a fashion we used to describe as telecommuting. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our daily lives, more workers are adapting to virtual work, but the transition is not as painless as people might think.
Going from working in a traditional office to working from home is a significant change that does not come naturally overnight. There is an art to working from home, and a large part of that art is having the right tools for the job. Grabbing your laptop from work and plopping down on the couch to work from home might be the bare minimum, but it is not enough to effectively, reasonably, and happily work from home. When you commit to working from home for the foreseeable future, you will need some essential things, so you can’t work at your best while staying safe during these uncertain times. Here is a list of the gear and gadgets you need to maintain your productivity and sanity while working from home.
The sounds around us play a major role in our mood and the quality of the environment. Overly loud spaces make for poor working environments because you are bound to get distracted. While regular offices typically don’t have a noise problem, working from home can introduce these issues to your work hours. Whether you have loud housemates or live on a busy street, managing the noise around you is key to remaining productive while working remotely. Thankfully, there are many audio solutions you can try to find a way to manage sound and even have audio help you work.
If you live alone, drowning out the sounds outside your home is an excellent way to combat a busy street. Wireless speakers let you customize where your sound comes from so you can surround yourself with audio you want to hear. Wireless headphones are ideal for people with housemates or thin walls, as the headphones let you listen to what you want without tying you down or bothering people around you. Regardless of what style of audio solution you choose, managing the sounds around you is critical to maintaining productivity. Studies have shown that some music genres can help you focus, much like how people work out harder or longer when listening to energetic music. You could also listen to a podcast or interview through your speakers or headphones to replace the distracting sounds near your home workspace.
Part of working from home might include remote or virtual meetings because even though everyone is staying home to stay safe, teams need to meet still and discuss projects to get work done. While group phone calls work, there can be technical difficulties getting everyone on the same line or blending video and audio calls. Most companies prefer video calls where employees can see each other or screen share to communicate information, but you need a webcam to join in. When the work from home shift first happened, webcams were hard to find in stock, but now inventory has leveled out, and you can take your pick from various webcams on the market. Most webcams use a single USB port, but video resolution will be your biggest decision to make. Cheaper webcams offer 720p, while more expensive webcams go up to 1080p with other features like a personal light or background removal options.
When you worked in your typical office, you had everything you needed to get the job done at your desk. Trying to take the same setup home might not work seamlessly. If you are taking your laptop from work home to work remotely, you might not have enough ports for all the devices and accessories you now need to connect. A webcam, mouse, keyboard, and phone charger already take up to four USB ports, which most laptops do not have. You can solve this problem by ordering a USB hub for a few dollars that extends your existing ports and lets you plug in all your devices.
Working from home is a big adjustment for everyone, but there are some bits of gear you can grab to make the transition more comfortable and more productive. Do not fall prey to distracting sounds around you and tune them out with speakers or headphones. A webcam is considered a must for remote work, so take advantage of the plentiful stock and pick one up so you can connect with your coworkers. A small USB hub will let you plug in all your devices, even if your computer doesn’t come with enough ports. When you have the right gear to do the job, you will be more productive, so do not skimp on the tools you need to work from home effectively.