Work-From-Home Essentials

An Essential Work-From-Home List

You can’t perfectly replicate the office environment at home on your kitchen table. But you can be sure that you’re equipped with all tools you need in order to be as productive as possible. If you find yourself working from home for the foreseeable future, try to get a hold of as many of these important items as possible. Your productivity will thank you!

A Headset

You can handle conference calls with just the built-in speaker and microphone in your laptop. But it’s going to be a lot more comfortable for everyone else on the conference call if you have a decent headset. Not only will you be able to hear everyone on the call better, but the others on the call won’t be disturbed by the sounds in your household. In fact, if your microphone is sensitive enough, people in a conference can even hear the sounds of your fingers typing on the keyboard. So if you plan to have even a modicum of teleconferencing during your work-from-home experience, a good headset is a must.

A Spare Monitor

Let’s face it—we’ve pretty much all gotten used to working on two screens by now. Gone are the days where we’d work off of one 15” CRT tube monitor (a luxury at the time—they were bigger than the 14” monitors we were used to!) With prices on monitors crashing through the floor, even for new ones, there should be no reason you need to hold off on having a second monitor in order to spread your work out between two screens.

If your company is unable to provide one for you, don’t worry—used LCD monitors in good condition are widely available from used computer dealers or from community websites. In fact, smaller LCD monitors are often just given away by people who don’t want to bother with haggling over a few quid and just want the old one gone.

A Wireless Keyboard And Mouse

Typing on laptop keyboards can be rather uncomfortable for extended periods of time. They often don’t quite match your hand position so well, and you have to balance between sitting a comfortable distance for the screen to your eyes and a comfortable distance for your hands to reach the keyboard. Wireless keyboard and mouse combo sets, however, can bridge the gap.

You can set your laptop in a comfortable position on the table, and type from your lap or from the edge of the table, or wherever you want. And just like the headset and spare monitors have become extremely cheap, you can also get a good quality wireless keyboard and mouse set for much less money than you might expect. If you’ve never used these tools, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get used to having them.

A Separate Room

While this won’t be possible for all living conditions and situations, it helps to be able to isolate yourself from the rest of the household when working as much as you can. Of course you’ll need to be available for the kids if they need a bandage or a meal prepared, but as long as you can get a sufficient amount of time to yourself you’ll be surprised at how productive you can be with a little time to yourself.

Not only that, but your corporate situation may require exercising a level of privacy in discussing sensitive topics such as human resources information or financial matters. Your husband may not personally care whether Q4 earnings projections are down 15%, but the lawyers might if some confidential information is found to have been leaked.

A Backup Internet Connection

This might not fit your current work risk profile. But for certain professions—day trading, for instance—it’s crucial to have internet available at all times. If your need for 100% internet uptime is particularly critical, you could consider getting a secondary internet connection installed in your home. Multiple internet providers are often available in many neighborhoods, so if this fits your profile, you could consider investing in a spare broadband connection.

However, for most users there’s a simple workaround for having internet redundancy—your mobile phone! Many data plans come with large amounts of data, and you’d be surprised at how little data your everyday work activities usually consume. (Netflix, however, is a very different matter.)

If your internet connection goes out while you’re at home, just turn your mobile phone into a wifi hotspot and you’re right back to work. Just be sure to check your data plan first.

And finally, although this is much less relatable to recreating the office experience than it is to just working at home in general…

Prepare Your Kitchen (or, just find some recipes)

If you’re typically a person who eats out for most meals and doesn’t cook much, the thought of being stuck at home and left to your own devices for a warm meal might terrify you. It’s actually not nearly as bad as you think, however, once you make the adjustment.

Many dishes can be prepared in just a few minutes and be left to cook under minimal supervision. You can throw a few ingredients into a pan, turn on the heat to low, and come back in 20 minutes after answering some emails. If you really need to be at your computer 100% of your available time, you can even prep the ingredients the night before, or on your lunch break, and put them on the stove in under 60 seconds. Once prepared, you’ll have several meals ready in case you get a bit hungry in the afternoon before your meeting.

A slow cooker is a particularly good addition to a home work environment. You can prep a meal in the morning in just a few minutes, set it to cook all day and you’ll have dinner completely prepared by the time you shut your laptop off in the evening. They’re versatile, won’t burn your food if left on too long, and just like everything else listed here—inexpensive. You can prepare a roast without worrying if you’ll dry it out, prepare a stew without worrying whether it will overcook, bake bread, or prepare any number of other foods. And not only is a slow cooker inexpensive, but you’ll find that you save a lot of money preparing food by yourself rather than getting it from a restaurant.

Transitioning To Work-at-Home

Some people just don’t like working from home. Others don’t mind it for a change of pace once in awhile, or for convenience purposes when their personal schedule demands it. Some people really prefer it. Wherever you fall on the scale, there’s a lot of ways to make your time spent working from home as valuable and productive as it can be. Hope this helps!