Essential Work-from-Home Accessories
Whether it’s going to work or going to school, for many people these days that means doing it from home.
A recent study by Stanford University indicates that 42 percent of the U.S. labor force is currently working from home. And while statistics for online education are a bit harder to pin down, more than half of students in New York City schools opted to take classes remotely in the fall of 2020. With more than 1.1 million learners in the country’s largest school system, that means close to 600,000 children and young adults served by the New York City Department of Education are interacting with teachers and classmates via computers.
Although there’s certainly something to be said for having the ability to roll out of bed and be at work or in class 5 minutes later, working or attending classes from home isn’t without its challenges. It takes a great deal of self-motivation to stay productive without a boss of teacher looking over your shoulder, and it can get lonely without having coworkers or classmates to chat with during breaks.
It’s fairly well known that working or attending classes from home requires a quiet place to work that’s free from distractions, and remote workers should take steps such as keeping to a regular schedule and dressing for work each day.
Equally as important, though, are the technological tools you have at your disposal. Having the right work-from-home gadgets in your office space can go a long way towards making the process easier.
It doesn’t take a great deal of space to outfit your home office for top-notch productivity, but it does take the right equipment. Here are a few of the work-from-home accessories that can make the life of remote worker (or remote learner) a breeze:
The right computer– Chances are that working or learning from home will involve using collaboration tools that can use a great deal of computer resources. If your computer is more than a few years old and it looks as if you’ll be working from home for the foreseeable future, it may be time for an upgrade. The last thing you want to have happen is to have your computer bog down or freeze during a conference call with an important client or when you’re taking a final exam.
If you’re not in the habit of working from the local coffee shop (or even sitting outside at a table in the back yard) you may want to consider a new desktop computer. On the other hand, if you often work from the road or just want the flexibility of being able to move around, a new laptop might be just the ticket.
High-speed Internet– Because the majority of your work will likely involve collaborating with coworkers or classmates and possibly sharing files, it doesn’t make sense to skimp on Internet speed. Most Internet service providers these days offer connection speeds ranging from 100 Mps to 1 Gigabit per second. If there are only one or two people in your household and you’ll mainly be sharing documents, you may be able to get by with a lower speed, but if you’ll be doing a lot of videoconferencing and sharing of large files, or there are several people in your household who’ll be online at the same time, a higher-tier service might be needed. Shop around and see what’s available in your area.
A wireless router– Most Internet service providers offer wireless routers as part of their service package, but if you live in a large house or don’t have a hard-wired connection available in your home office you may want to consider upgrading your router. If you’ll be participating in videoconferences or someone else in your family is a gamer, you’ll want a router specifically designed for such bandwidth-intensive endeavors. And if you want the flexibility of being able to move from your home office to the basement or the backyard, a Wi-Fi range extender can help keep your signal at full strength.
Although the above-mentioned items can serve as the foundation of your work-at-home space, there are some additional components that can make life for comfortable. Those include:
A webcam – Many laptops include built-in webcams, but if you have a desktop computer or just want better resolution than your laptop cam offers you may want to opt for an upgrade. Lenovo’s 500 FHD Webcam, for example, is a USB Video Class (UVC) compliant video camera designed for teleconferencing applications on a desktop or laptop. Features include high definition FHD 1080p video, automatic login with facial recognition technology, plug-and-play USB connectivity for easy setup and a wide-view 75° lens plus 360° pan/tilt controls.
Headset microphone – Of course, you’ll need a way to hear your colleagues or classmates and for them to hear you. There are wide variety of headsets on the market, ranging from ones that make you look like you’re manning Mission Control and communication with the Space Shuttle to inobtrusive earbud solutions that incorporate a built-in mic. Consider comfort as well as quality when choosing a headset mic solution, especially if you’ll be participating in all-day videoconferences.
Wireless keyboard and mouse combo – Start with a computer, add a monitor, a set of speakers and a keyboard and mouse, and pretty soon you’ll have a rat’s nest of cables around your desktop. Fortunately, you can minimize the cable mess by swapping out your existing keyboard and mouse for a wireless combo.
One solution to consider is the Lenovo Professional Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo, a full-size keyboard and mouse combination in a modern wireless solution. The slim 3-zone keyboard with number pad offers one-touch dedicated media keys, adjustable tilt legs and a spill-resistant design to protect it in case your coffee is knocked over. The ergonomic full-size mouse features a 2-year battery life, an ambidextrous five-button design for both left- and right-hand comfort and 4-way scrolling through spreadsheets and documents.
A large monitor – Since you’ll be spending the bulk of your workday looking at your computer monitor, it only makes sense to invest in one that’s easy on the eyes. In addition, because you may have a limited amount of real estate on your desk, a monitor with flexible mounting options may be the solution you need.
Levovo’s ThinkVision S24e-10 is a high-performance monitor specifically designed for the home office. The monitor features a 23.8-inch FHD VA panel and a 178° wide viewing angle with crystal-clear detail, vivid colors and high contrast ratio. And for those who have multiple monitors, the ThinkVision S24e-10 incorporates 2.0 mm side bezels for a seamless visual experience. The monitor can be mounted either on a tilt-stand or on the wall, and the Low Blue Light certification by TÜV ensures these displays are easy on the eyes.
A docking port - Although the accessories listed above are designed primarily for desktop computers, they can be used with laptops as well. A docking port makes it easy to connect these accessories with your laptop while you’re working from home while maintaining portability for when you’re on the road.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad USB-C Dock Gen 2 dock, for example, is compatible with select Lenovo notebooks as well as notebooks from other manufactures that support industry standard USB-C Alt-Mode or Thunderbolt protocols through their Type C port. The dock has the ability to support DisplayPort™ 1.4 and HDMI™ 2.0 for two 4K @ 60 Hz displays.
Although these are all critical components of your work-from-home toolkit, there are many more options to consider. For more on outfitting your home workspace and the best in work-from-home accessories, check out these additional home office accessories.