The correct work from home essentials help to optimize work-life balance
Long before Coronavirus Disease COVID-19 pandemic, many international-based companies have been practicing remote working. It’s not uncommon for business executives to work from hotel room while on business trip. Or technical staffs who stationed overseas to work from rented apartment. Now, remote working now has a brand new meaning – work from home.
Even as companies are resuming normal operation gradually, Twitter and Facebook have announced that work from home for their staffs will be ‘forever’. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Google have extended the work from home scheme. In view of this new normal way of working, we need to prepare ourselves to work from home longer, if not ‘forever’.
The following work-from-home essential items will improve our productivity at home, or at least keep us going like Eveready bunnies.
Work From Home Essentials – The Basics
1. Working (and Playing) Machine
For staffs to work from home, companies would have provided the laptops. Due to security policy, it’s common that company laptops are restricted to authorized applications only. What if we need to run 3rd-party applications like video conference or do online search which are normally blocked by company laptops? Here, we need either a home laptop for locally-installed applications, or an affordable Chromebook for cloud-based applications. Both games and movies are equally important to keep us going.
2. High-Speed and Secured Internet Access
Gone are the days where we can enjoy coffee and work with free Wi-Fi in cafes. Now, work from home is the only option. For home Internet access, select a plan that is at least 1 Gbps fiber broadband and secure the wireless connection with WPA2 PSK security. Speak to your friendly Internet service provider for details. For shock-free Internet service bill, choose data plan type that provides unlimited data access.
3. Life-Saving Data Backup
Ninety-nine percent of laptop users do not backup their working data on a regular basis, if at all. It’s always the last things on our mind until the laptop crashes. If the working data is saved automatically in company drive or cloud, then data loss is not a concern. Otherwise, get a USB thumb drive or an external hard drive so that we don’t have to live through the nightmare ever.
Work From Home Essentials – Upgrade to Home Office Setup
1. Universal Extension Socket with Surge Protection
The biggest advantage of extension sockets as compared to wall sockets is that many of them include surge protection feature. Surge protector is useful to protect delicate laptop, monitor, smartphone and other mobile devices from short-circuit due to lightning strikes or power surge. Extension socket with universal socket type is ideal for accepting overseas devices that come with foreign plug type.
Note: Do not plug in US devices (110 VAC) that are incompatible with local voltage level (say 220 VAC). This will burn the device instantly and may short-circuit all nearby devices before the surge protection function or circuit breaker kicks in.
2. Wide Screen Monitor with HDMI Port
Ideally, we work with a single document at a given time and a laptop screen is all we need. In reality, we need to work on multiple emails, documents and applications at the same time. It’s very tiring and confusing to keep switching windows on a tiny laptop screen. We can solve this problem by connecting an external monitor to the laptop. Meanwhile, watching movies on a larger monitor screen is also a lot more enjoyable.
3. All-in-One Color Printer
Although it’s possible to markup, sign and submit documents electronically, there’s instances where we need printer functions. For example, we need a printer to scan receipts into digital copies. We may also need to print documents for offline reference. All-in-one color printers are handy for scanning, printing, copying and faxing. For professional printing, laser printers are preferable but at a higher cost.
4. Dual-Band Wi-Fi Booster
We may experience a significant delay in online access when we’re far away from the wireless router or there’re many walls in between. A dual-band wireless booster or extender is necessary to improve the weak wireless signal strength. The advantage of dual band is both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands are communicating simultaneously. Therefore, their wireless speed is faster than the older single-band booster.
5. Green Screen Background
The Avenger movies have never failed to impress us with incredible action scenes. Well, they all use green screens and superimpose with virtual backgrounds. Similarly we need virtual backgrounds to make our appearance more presentable during video conference. Green screen or any solid color screen is very useful for creating a more realistic virtual background. Unless your home background is always picture perfect.
6. Noise-Cancelling Headset
As a participant in video conference, we can get away with computer’s built-in mic and speaker or free smartphone earpiece. For professional presentation, we need a noise-cancelling headset. In-ear earbuds are earpieces with active and/or passive noise-cancelling technology. Over-ear headsets are gamer’s choice for the best sound quality. In terms of balanced sound quality and comfort, on-ear headsets are better choice for most people.
7. Ergonomic Swivel Chair
When we’re too engrossed with the work, we tend to sit on the chair for hours. After a period of time, our body starts to complain especially on a non ergonomic chair. To reduce the discomfort, we can add a comfortable lumbar support and seat cushion on the chair. Nevertheless, the long-term solution for reducing sitting discomfort is still by having frequent tea breaks to stretch our leg and back muscles.
8. Adjustable Computer Table
Normally we can spare a table at home for working. If not, we need to get a computer table even if we’re fine with working in bed, on the floor or on the edge of rooftop overseeing the skyline. During office hours, a designated table helps us to stay focus. A foldable computer table with adjustable height and with rollers is better than a stationary one where we can save space by stowing the table away for happy hours.
9. Office Productivity Software
To edit office documents with home laptop, we need office productivity software. Microsoft 365 Family yearly subscription plan includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more with 6 user licenses and 1 TB of cloud storage per user. Google G-Suite Basic monthly subscription plan includes Microsoft Office-compatible apps and 30 GB of cloud storage per user. Don’t want to pay anything? Then use Google Docs, Sheets, Slides without plan.
10. Smart Light Bulb
In order to duplicate office atmosphere at home, we use cool daylight light bulbs. Cool daylight helps to maintain attention, focus and productive on study or work. While warm white is suitable for break or relax. To have the best of both worlds, use smart lighting where we can control cool daylight to warm light and vice versa. Smart light bulbs can create the right atmosphere from office to party and anything in between.
Work From Home Should be Comfortable
Although work from home requires laptop and Internet access only, these 2 items can only take us so far. Depending on the nature of our work, we need useful tools to improve our productivity for long term.
In additional to the right tools, we also need to keep our mind and body in good shape. We can’t be very productive if our minds are jammed or our health is declining. One of the best ways to refresh our minds and bodies is frequent coffee break. Before starting to work in the morning or after winding down in the evening, exercise to build up our muscles and immunity.
Last but not least, entertain ourselves with smart speaker, movies, music, games, indoor gardening and so on during break or home vacation. Work from home should be both sustainable and enjoyable.
Stay safe and be socially responsible.
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