Whether you work remotely year-round or have been forced to work from home for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus outbreak, there are a few things you can do to make your setup more pleasant and productive. From the devices you need to get tasks done to the niceties that help keep things moving smoothly, these items will help keep you on task.
Wi-Fi and Connectivity
Step one when working from home is having a solid internet and Wi-Fi connection. If you’re working from a studio or one-bedroom residence, a single router with multiple antennas should be sufficient and easily blanket your living and working space with a solid wireless connection. Among PCMag’s top recommendations for mid-priced routers in this area are the Asus RT-AC66U B1 and the Linksys EA6350 AC1200+. Both should provide ample coverage throughout a moderate-sized area without unnecessary mesh access points around.
Google’s Nest Wifi
For those with a bigger home or known issues with dead spots, however, a wireless mesh system can help eliminate that frustration. It will cost more than a single router, but it shouldn’t be any harder to set up. Our favorites include the TP-Link Deco M9 and Google’s Nest Wifi; each performed well in testing and have an inconspicuous design.
Desk and Workspace Solutions
Working from home is not a vacation, despite how much it may feel like it at times. To that end, it’s a good idea to work at a desk or table like you might at the office, but not everyone has one at home. Enter the lap desk, which can help you stay focused and comfortable. Instead of lounging on the couch or in bed, constantly shifting around, a lap desk can accommodate a mouse and other items in an upright position. Because despite their name, laptops just aren’t convenient to use on your lap all day.
The added benefit of an averaged sized lap desk is being able to store it in a closet or under the bed when you’re not WFH. Most should be portable and light enough to carry from room to room throughout the day.
iSkelter Comfy Lite
There are lots of lap desk options and styles to choose from, including those with short legs and different organization areas. Even though iSkelter’s popular original design has been copied heavily over the years, I’ve stuck with the original, and prefer the Comfy Lite, which can handle a left- or right-handed mouse, includes a wrist pad, and has a groove in the back for a range of tablets or phones. Having an iPad next to your Mac with Catalina, for example, comes in handy for using it as a second display with the Sidecar feature.
Stand-Up Balance Board
Working from home offers the opportunity to try something different, like using a balance board to stay energized and burn calories throughout the day. This is ideal if you have a standing desk, ledge, or high countertop. FluidStance is one of the more popular balance board options and features a range of materials and prices. While balancing and typing probably won’t be for everyone, it’s definitely more fun than sitting all day.
Twelve South Compass Pro
If you do have a desk or table to work from, find a portable stand to keep your phone or tablet elevated. A flexible iPad stand like Twelve South’s Compass Pro, which can hold the tablet vertically or horizontally, might be all you need to utilize the iPad as a main work machine. Having a stand will also allow you to get it at the perfect angle for conference calls.
Make Your Space More Comfortable
Ikea Sonos Symfonisk
Music or sound can be key to staying focused and productive throughout the day. Noise-canceling headphones are a must for those stuck with an open-office plan, but at home, you can fill the room with your favorite tunes with the help of a wireless speaker. Among our favorites are the Ikea Sonos Symfonisk, which works within the Sonos ecosystem and delivers robust audio for just $99. It can also be used as a wall shelf, freeing up desk space. For $100 more, the Bose Home Speaker 300 offers Alexa and Google Assistant voice control in a small, powerful package. Amazon’s Echo lineup is also worth a look, and can connect to a variety of smart devices around your home.
Internet-Connected Coffee Mug
Ember’s self-heating, smart coffee mug has become one of my favorite gadgets in recent years. I can make a cup of coffee in the morning and don’t have to worry about it getting cold before taking my first sip or while I’m chatting on a video call. The temperature can be controlled on your phone or Apple Watch, and you’ll even get a notification when your specified resting temp has been reached. It can also come with you to the office when you’re cleared to go back, but it—along with the battery charging saucer—makes a nice addition to your home office setup.