At the time of writing, the UK is under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Travel is severely restricted and people are being urged to work from home wherever possible.
For some, like freelancers, working from home is a way of life. For others, this might be their first experience of working without leaving the house. If the latter applies to you, this article should help.
With the help of these tips and a handful of tech gadgets, hopefully you can now be productive wherever you are
How to work from home effectively
It can be difficult for anyone to concentrate at home, with the surrounding noise and temptation to multitask, not to mention children that are home from school!
In order to optimise your time and stay professional, we’d recommend doing the following things:
- Get up at your normal time
- Get dressed. It is essential that you understand you’re about to work. Feeling too relaxed in an outfit (such as your pyjamas) doesn’t help with concentration and focus.
- Create an office space as best you can, and leave it to take regular breaks
- Prepare your meals in advance so you don’t find yourself eating while working or having to cook during your lunch break
- Stay in touch with your colleagues (think email, Slack, Microsoft Teams or whatever you already use)
In addition to this new routine, here are the gadgets that will help transform your corner of the house into a proper work space.
Set up your laptop like in the office
If you’re going to spend 8 hours a day looking at a laptop instead of your regular PC, you’ll want the screen to be well positioned at eye level. This will save you physical and eye strain, although you might also want to use a laptop as a second monitor.
Assuming you’ve already got a laptop you’re happy to work on, there are plenty of great laptop stands which raise your device and tilt it to a more ergonomic angle. This can also help to prevent overheating, particularly if there are fans on the bottom.
An external screen
In order to see the big picture and easily view your files and programs, you will need an external screen.
It would be best if this is a similar size to the one you use in the office, but that may not be possible.
However, having a monitor of 17in or more is particularly effective as it allows you to easily switch between tabs and windows. Why wouldn’t you have multiple screens?
Dell always produce solid monitors, and they have a great range on Amazon starting from as little as £92.78/US$149.99. However, some don’t come with built-in speakers so it’s worth checking before you buy.
If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our guide to the best monitors.
Also see how to connect your laptop to a monitor.
A keyboard and mouse
Once you’ve connected your laptop to an external screen for convenience, your next step is to consider your built-in touchpad and keyboard.
While it may be fine for occasional use, a Bluetooth or wired mouse will allow you to move between files and applications more quickly.
To find the one you need, check out our round-up of the best mice.
A wireless keyboard can also aid with typing a lot. It will also help you to be more comfortable and sit a bit further away from your screen, reducing eye strain.
If you’re in the US, the Logitech MK550 is an excellent alternative. It comes with a separate mouse and is on sale for just $49.99.
Both these keyboards work just as well on macOS as they do on Windows.
For more options, check out our guide to the best keyboards.
To save and access all your folders, files and applications from your new workspace, there’s nothing better than an external hard drive.
HDD drives are usually cheaper, while an SSD will offer faster data transfer speeds but also cost a bit more.
We’d recommend something like the Samsung 860, but if you’re looking for something more affordable try the Sandisk SSD Plus. Depending on the capacity you’re looking for, you could get something as cheap as £35.99.
Any external hard drive allows you to make space on your personal or professional computer, as well as providing the ability to access files without first having to load them onto your PC.
If you’re looking to connect multiple devices to a laptop without many ports, nothing beats a USB hub. Amazon offers something for all budgets, but be sure to check how many and what type of ports you need before buying.
The speed of your internet connection also becomes crucially important when working from home. If it’s flickering, sluggish or a lot of the bandwidth is being taken up, consider getting a Wi-Fi extender. This will ensure you get a much better signal wherever you are, and TP-Link’s selection offers a good combination of price and performance.
If you don’t want to be disturbed by the surrounding noise (including children who are now at home), why not isolate yourself with earplugs or music?
Many earbuds and headphones can help you stay focused by blocking outside noise and ensuring you can focus on what you need to. It’s worth looking for something which also has great sound quality and battery life, and Nuraphone (pictured) is a great example. If you’re looking for something more affordable, something like the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 79 will do the trick.
Last, but very much not least, what about the chair you spend hours each day sitting in? Many people might have to make do with an uncomfortable dining chair if they’re not used to working from home, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Ideally, you’re looking for an adjustable office-style chair which provides cushioned support without breaking the bank.
Our top pick is the LANGRIA chair (pictured).
What’s more, at the time of writing you can get it for just £40, saving over half on the RRP.
Note: This article was originally published in French on our sister site, Tech Advisor France.
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