- Buyer's Guide
Staff Picks: Work from Home Essentials
Working from home has become the new norm for many people around the world. But making the adjustment can be tricky. So we’ve rounded up top staff picks for work from home essentials, along with tips and tricks to help you really make working from home work…
I’ve been working from home for a few weeks now, and luckily, I can do almost everything I’m normally supposed to do by Webex, Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, Facetime and good old-fashioned conference calls. Having said that, I’ve made some adjustments to perfect my work from home setup.
Wifi everywhere: I opted for the Devolo Magic 2 multiroom WiFi kit. Nowadays I’m commuting between my kitchen, hallway, living room, bedroom and attic with full Wifi connectivity!
Spending a lot of time on my computer takes its toll on my arms and shoulders: I try to vary between (video) calls, working on my computer and doing fun stuff with the kids. Having said that, I never get tired of searching for the right gear. Recently that has led me to the Kensington Expert Mouse and the Newtral 3 mouse, in addition to my earlier collection of the Logitech MX Vertical, Apple mouse, Apple trackpad and “regular” mouse. Yes I know. The Apple magic keyboard has been my go-to keyboard for years. I love the Roost Stand for setting up my laptop to eye level.
Earbuds and headphones help me from disturbing my family and shielding myself from my environment. I switch between regular (phone) earbuds and Bose QC35 II’s.
The good thing is that my commuting time has been dramatically reduced, I get to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with my family every day and it has been an adventure so far to try out all sorts of virtual collaboration and figure out what works best.
I’ve been working from home on and off now for nearly 15 years. While my home and my office have changed quite a bit, most of my key items have remained the same; laptop, camera, pens, headphones, large monitor, etc. Sure, as technology and design progresses, I’ll upgrade to something new and better, but I don’t frequently add something brand new to my setup. So it’s kind of a big deal for my situation.
I’ve always been quite skeptical of these wireless chargers. How can I use my phone if it’s flat on a table? Well, now I can’t imagine my work station without one of these Anker PowerWave Pad chargers. While I still prefer a cable for my bedside table so I can use my phone in bed before falling asleep, I much prefer this svelte little pad sitting nicely on my home office desk.
The PowerWave Pad charges my large iPhone quickly, directly through the Apple Smart Battery case. Plus, it physically moves my phone away from my immediate sight line, so I can focus on the (generally) more important work that I have on my laptop. Yes, I was a naysayer. But now I’m totally converted. Added bonus, it only costs $13.99 with free shipping on Amazon.
Stay hydrated. It makes you feel good, it’s the one health trend you should follow, and it forces you to constantly use the loo. If you work on a computer all day, you’re hunched over, staring at a huge bright light, and let’s be honest, with no reason to get up now that you can’t go outside. Constantly drinking water forces you to physically get up, put some points onto your pedometer walking over to the toilet, and stretch out your joints. My recommendation, go with my favorite Contigo AUTOSPOUT Chug in the 32 oz. (or 40 oz. if you’re really thirsty) bottle because having something gigantic on your desk means you won’t forget to drink it. Plus, it’s indestructible and has a locking lid for all the clumsy ones out there.
In regularly scheduled life, I spend my time trying to find the perfect water bottle and travel mug. When I’m trapped at home, I’ve turned this focus to indulging in drinking vessels that give me a warm glow each time I reach for them.
I’ve always had a thing for beautiful ceramics, so when I discovered Magnolia Mountain I knew it was going to cost me. Their limited runs sell out almost instantly, but they’re worth lining up for. Spectacular glazes, refined silhouettes, and a sturdy feel in the hand mean each sip brings a glint of gratitude for craft well done.
There are many amazing ceramicists out there, so this recommendation is more about finding a cup you can fall in love with, rather than Magnolia Mountain specifically. But if you want to elevate your daily caffeine hit, I can’t think of a better complement.
Since 2012, I’ve worked at home, remotely at various offices/studios, co-working spaces, and on the road, which required me to have a portable and lightweight set-up. Despite having a dedicated home office, I still prefer to keep things simple and have the ability to pack up everything within a couple of minutes.
One item I’m digging right now is the Anker PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB-C Adapter, which makes life easy without the need to keep multiple adapters on hand at all times with the new MacBook Pro. I can maximize the number of devices connected at any given time, which comes in handy as I often use multiple portable hard drives to access photos from projects and can directly backup images off an SD card or micro-SD card immediately after a shoot. It’s compact, lightweight, and its minimalistic style goes well with the MacBook’s aesthetic.
Once I finally bite the bullet and invest in an external monitor or two there is an HDMI port that supports 4K resolution or the Thunderbolt 3 port for 5K to stream or mirror up to 2 displays. This $60 product is well worth the investment.
I normally don’t work from home but am lucky enough to work in software so not only did my company allow the entire workforce to go remote, it isn’t as difficult to make the switch for my role. I didn’t go out and purchase any specific WFH items related to my desk (dining room table) or setup but I did settle on some must-haves.
I start each morning with a small cup of coffee. My wife gets going before I do so she brews a pot for the both of us to share and hot coffee is a must. I’ve been using the Carter Everywhere Mug from Fellow each day. It’s like a Thermos we’re all used to but it’s not really meant to be sipped on the go. Instead, the coffee stays piping hot for me and once the lid is removed, I can just sip from it like a normal mug. It holds 12 oz. which is about 30% more than I really need to be honest but it should satisfy even the most extreme caffeine-heads.
I live in California and while it doesn’t compare to other parts of the country, yes it does get chilly at home. I didn’t realize how cold my home got during the day because I am usually in a climate controlled office. I have been just on the edge of being a little too cold to be comfortable. I’ve always been jealous of my wife’s fuzzy warm slippers so last week I checked something off my list; I got a pair of Glerups slip-on wool shoes, specifically the version with a black natural rubber sole. No laces, 100% natural wool and I find the rubber sole is thick and grippy enough that I have no problem keeping them on to check the mail or take out the trash. They come in a handful of really classy colors and the denim-colored pair haven’t left my feet.
I’m loving the rise of companies producing technical pants that intersect fashion. I have never been one to wear joggers or workout pants out in public but these new Compass Pants are a different animal. They are made from ripstop nylon and are just the right weight – not too thick, not too thin. The magic sauce though is their very stretchy elastic that just screams comfort; and trust me, they deliver. Why bother even changing if I am working from home? I subscribe to the idea that you need to feel and look the part to get your mind into work mode. Besides, changing into a normal outfit means I don’t need to make a fuss when I need to go out for a short errand. These are perfect loungy WFH pants that have no problem being outside.
Take advantage of conference software and always turn on your webcam so people feel connected and can see you. Make sure you clean up that mess behind you first!
Use a headset. I don’t trust the noise cancellation on even the newest laptops. This also helps from distracting your partner.
Set up remote social events or games you can play with your coworkers so you can take a break and have some social interaction.
Whenever I’m doing creative thinking, I put pen to paper. It just rewires my brain in all the right ways. But having a cheap pen that labors across the page breaks my focus. So I like a good pen by my workstation. And there’s nothing quite like the Grovemade Titanium Pen. The weight and handfeel are perfect. The look is clean and classic. The Schmidt P8126 rollerball writes super smoothly. And the weighted stand makes it a real show piece, upping anyone’s desk game a few notches. All handmade in Portland, USA, by a brand that’s incredible at rethinking office and daily gear. I highly recommend!
Exercise is key. Especially in these stressful and uncertain times. So do whatever feels right for you and keep your body moving: walk, hike or bike. And if you’re short on time, there’s a bunch of free workouts on Youtube that you can do in your lounge room or backyard. Note, you will feel a little silly doing star jumps on your rug, but you’ll feel bloody good and ready to work when you’re done.
Tunes are also key. Upbeat for when you need to get shit done. And chilled vibes when you’re on cruise control. I’d also recommend diving into alpha waves and binaural beats for deep focus. They’re super ambient but designed to lift you off to a deep focus and relaxed state. ‘Hippy’ stuff, sure, but very effective. There’s a bunch in Spotify and on Youtube, and subscription services like Brain.FM.
Working an office job involves a lot of sitting. Working your office job from home involves even more sitting as there’s absolutely no chance of needing to get up and go talk to Karen from accounts about the weekly report. There’s a lot of options out there including hardware to turn your existing desk into a standing-capable workstation, but my personal preference is an all-in-one with a sturdy frame and quiet electric motor. Bonus tip is grab a desk with settings you can lock in to a button press, instant up, instant down to your pre-set height. My personal recommendation is the Bamboo Electric Height Adjustable Desk from Zen Space Desks in Australia!
Work-from-home (with dogs) tips
1) Always have treats, long-lasting super chewy treats – this is key if you need some quiet time for a conference call.
2) Put a dog bed in your workspace! Let your puppers come and hang with you, chances are they’ll just nap the day away.
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