How much of your productivity is hindered by your outdated home office? Whether you own your own business or are just working remotely a few days a week, updating your home office with the right technology can create an environment where your work can thrive.
Working from Home
If you’re one of the 52% of people across the globe that works from home at least one day a week, you need a home office that works for you. An investment in the latest tech can pay off if you’re able to get a lot more done in your optimized workspace. These are the best upgrades for maximizing your office’s efficiency and productivity.
Upgrading to a digital-friendly office space starts with the space you’re sitting at. Many desks and office chairs aren’t designed with today’s modern workflow in mind, and the wrong desk and chair can leave you with back pain and mobility issues during long work days.
The best modern computer desks are ergonomically designed to put you in a healthier position for typing and working. A standing desk or a height-adjustable desk gives you the option of getting on your feet for part of the day, which may help you remember to take a few more walking breaks.
To take advantage of the latest and greatest technology, you need to have an internet connection that can handle the bandwidth. Shop around between internet providers in your area and look for a sweet spot between reliability, cost, and speed. If your job requires you to upload or download large files over the web, you need a plan that provides at least 12-25 Mbps.
Outdated routers are a choke-point for internet connection speeds. If your router is a few years old, it may not be up to the current standard (802.11ac). For the best bang for your buck, look for a dual-band router that is Wifi-6 enabled. With Wifi-6, you’ll be future-proofed for the next generation of connection speeds and won’t need an upgrade for several years.
The centerpiece of every home office is your work computer. There’s no getting around it — a laptop or desktop computer may be the single biggest upgrade you make to the technology in your office. Computers are very personal; plan to spend a lot of time researching your options before you commit to a specific model.
As a baseline, look for a computer that is well-suited to the work you’ll be doing on it. Graphic work like photo editing, modeling, or video production requires a more powerful CPU (above 2.5Ghz) than word processing and website development. Other features like battery life and screen size should factor into your decision, but CPU and storage are likely the most important metrics to maximize within your budget.
A backup for your computer’s hard drive is mandatory for your home office. The cost of losing all of your work data is likely much higher than even the most expensive storage devices. Luckily, data loss is easily avoided with an external hard drive.
When choosing an external hard drive for your office, consider whether or not you’ll need a portable model. Portable hard drives are ideal for telecommuters who spend part of their time in the office. If you conduct all your business at home, get a desktop model for the best ratio of transfer speed and cost. The best external hard drives also offer cloud storage plans for an additional layer of protection.
The bulky, space-devouring scanners you might be used to are officially obsolete. Today’s portable scanners work as well as an office Xerox machine with a fraction of the footprint. Portable scanners are usually powered by USB, letting you work from home or on the go without losing your ability to digitize important documents.
For an even lighter setup, your smartphone is the most portable scanner of all. Smartphone cameras, coupled with intelligent scanning applications, can produce extremely clean scans. Some programs offer Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to automatically digitize paper documents as you scan them, saving enormous amounts of time on transcription tasks.
A Bluetooth headset lets you manage critical work calls, conferences, and client communications while leaving both hands free for other tasks. A Bluetooth headset can also improve your voice clarity and audio quality so that nothing gets lost in translation. It’s a great upgrade if you spend a lot of time playing phone tag.
Bluetooth headsets have been around for over a decade, and even the base model headsets offer decent sound quality. The best Bluetooth headsets are separated by features like voice-activated controls, noise cancellation, and increased battery life.
Voice-activated digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant make for great co-workers. AI-powered smart speakers are finding their way into home offices and corporate buildings alike, and the companies behind the top digital assistants are responding with business-focused skills that increase productivity.
Amazon’s Alexa is the stand-out AI for small businesses. Alexa for Business can connect you to a web meeting, access your corporate applications, add events to your calendar, or place an order for more paperclips, all using the sound of your voice. The technology is still a work in progress, but its usefulness already makes it a decent investment for early adopters.
Research on work environments is definitive; lighting can have a significant impact on productivity and job satisfaction. No home office is complete without an ideal lighting setup. Smart lightbulbs let you customize your office’s light levels to mimic productive, natural daylight and high-visibility fluorescent lighting to keep you alert and focused until your work is complete.
Smart lightbulbs often connect to smartphone controls with a smart hub or bridge. Once your bulbs are connected, you’ll be able to access features like hue color and brightness. You can even build in timers that can signal a coffee break. Try out cool blue and white tones for the ideal work environment.
Device Charging Hubs
If you’re working across multiple devices, a dead battery can derail your workflow and send you scurrying to the nearest power outlet. A charging hub can help you manage your power needs while keeping your cords organized for a clean, minimalist desktop.
Modern laptops are continuing to shed their available ports, but a number of smart adapters have sprung up to answer your need for multiple USB, USB-C, HDMI, and card-reading ports. In many cases, these charging hubs are an improvement on built-in ports. The best smart adapters offer a wall plug to augment your computer’s battery when charging and managing multiple devices. If you’re using a recent-model smartphone, a wireless charging pad offers a convenient way to charge your cell phone in between tasks, without a cord.
Tech-Friendly Productivity Habits
Even the best technology won’t solve all your productivity issues. There are lots of other ways to make your workspace more productive. Ensure that your home office is free of clutter at all times, and keep your hobbies and other distractions stored in other areas of your home. And finally, dressing in a work-appropriate outfit can help put you in the right mindset to tackle your daily tasks, even if you never plan on leaving the comfort of your home office.