2020 has come and gone and it seems like working from home for many of us is the new normal (or whatever normal means these days). Maybe you have a dedicated office and have already designed your dream space, or you’re clearing away your computer every night to make space for dinner. Whatever your situation, we have some practical ideas to help enhance your work from home experience.
1. Get Connected
If you’re able to work remotely, chances are you spend most of your time behind your computer, and you’ve felt the frustration that comes with dropped calls and an unreliable internet connection. Without a decent internet connection, working from home can go from a dream scenario to a nightmare in an instant. Luckily, there are many options out there that are both affordable and reliable. Let’s take a look:
If you have fibre in your area, choosing a service provider who will offer you the best deal is pretty simple these days. Because fibre has become so readily available, many providers are offering month-to-month contracts (gone are the days of being tied down to a 2 year contract), free routers on sign-up and discounted rates for incredibly fast uncapped Wifi.
How do you know if you have fibre in your area?
There are many fibre providers out there who have a free coverage finder tool on their website. You’ll have to simply enter your address into the fibre finder and it’ll check whether you have the cables in your road. There are also helpful sites like Find My Fibre that work with several providers and can help you find the best deal for your area and hook you up with the best option for you.
If your suburb has reliable fibre, you’ll then have to get your home fibre ready – this means that the provider will need to get the street fibre cables into your home to be able to connect you to high-speed fibre internet. From there you’ll be able to browse packages from the many companies out there who can offer you a variety of packages depending on your needs. If you’re sitting on Zoom calls all day and gaming all night you’ll need a much faster line and higher upload speed than someone who is working on spreadsheets and emailing.
LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. This type of internet offers you a wireless 4G internet connection that works in the same way as the internet on your smartphone ie. through cellular towers. You won’t need a router if you choose to have LTE internet in your home – which is definitely an advantage over Wifi. When it comes to network coverage, you’ll have to check on the coverage in your area, but if you have good network coverage on your smartphone then chances are your LTE coverage will be similar. If taking out a month-to-month contract isn’t your vibe, then have a look at the prepaid Telkom LTE deals available. You’ll be able to pay-as-you-go which can help fit into your budget and you can top-up when needed.
2. Level Up Your Tech
Searches for noise-cancelling headphones have increased dramatically during the current working from home shift we are experiencing post-pandemic. Maybe you have kids who aren’t back at school or you’ve got an incredibly loud roommate who sings while he works, whatever your situation we know that the right tech can add help you with your daily grind.
Whether you’re looking for something wireless to be able to play some music while you work, or you need heavy duty earphones for gaming, hi have a variety of great options to suit every style and budget.
Sony WF-1000 XM3
These premium wireless noise-cancelling earphones may just be the splurge item you’ve been waiting for. With their HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1e, it’s the most advanced technology in wireless earphones. They offer up to 24 hours of battery life and fit comfortably in your ears. If a loud housemate is getting to you and you need to focus on the job, these are worth adding to your wishlist.
An option that’s easier on your bank balance, these noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones from Volkano offer great sound and up to 8 hours of battery life. They have a Bluetooth operating distance of up to 10 metres, have on-ear music controls and come with a stylish carry case for portability. If you don’t specifically need noise-cancelling headphones, have a look at the full range of headphones and earphones available at hi stores and hi-online.
Choosing the right laptop can be a daunting task with all the options out there, but it doesn’t have to be. If you are looking for something that can help you complete straight-forward tasks like working on spreadsheets and accessing emails then you don’t need the most expensive option out there if budget is your concern.
The reason behind the sometimes vast price difference between laptops is mainly due to the CPU or processing ability, the RAM (memory) and the display pixels. For basic day-to-day tasks, you don’t need a top-of-the-range device, but if you run very complicated systems and programs that take up a lot of running capacity then you would need more RAM as well as a newer processor to ensure the smooth running of your computer.
The below table gives you a breakdown of some of these important specs, and if you look at the comparison between these three devices you’ll be able to see why their prices are so different.
Accessories and Add-Ons
Printers and Scanners
If you only realised how much you missed the office printer when you started working from home, you’re not alone. As much as we try to be green, there will always be documents that we need to see in black and white (or colour). The good news is there are some economical options out there that make owning a printer or a 2-in-1 device a work from home reality.
Do it all with the HP Deskjet all-in-one printer. This wireless device lets you set up and print from your laptop, phone or tablet. The remote app lets you scan, print and copy quickly and easily, and its compact design won’t take up too much of your workspace.
Cut the cord and go wireless. Wireless mice are simple and easy to set up and will make you wonder how you worked without one for so long. Bluetooth operated mice are rechargeable via USB and wireless mice work with a replaceable battery. They both have no cord to get in your way, so pick the one that’ll suit your needs and budget.
3. The Equipment You Need To Succeed
Have you ever read that sitting is the new smoking? Well, research suggests that sitting for prolonged periods can be harmful to our health. Why not try out a standing desk which enables you to switch from sitting to standing by simply adjusting the height of the desk. If you cannot get your head around a standing desk, just remember to get up and walk around for a minute every hour to get your blood flowing, it’s not only healthier for your body but you’ll be a more efficient worker too. If you don’t believe us, check out this article by The Mayo Clinic.
Investing in an ergonomic office chair can also assist in creating a comfortable working environment and ultimately lead to higher levels of productivity that don’t leave you feeling tired and cramped at the end of your working day. Budget-friendly tip: A foam wedge cushion can transform your current chair into a posture-supporting chair without breaking the bank.
4. Find yourself a dedicated space
Many of us don’t have the luxury of separate office space at home, you may be working from your dining room table or have a makeshift desk in your bedroom. If possible try and identify a space (even if it’s within your living space) that can be made into a designated working area when you’re on the clock. Fold-away desks are a great idea for smaller spaces-they can be stacked away over the weekend or at the end of your working day, but give you the structure you need when you’re transitioning from home-life to work-life without the usual commute and change of scenery. Here are a few ideas to help boost your mood and productivity levels within your workspace:
1. Set up your desk in a spot with natural light and exposure to fresh air
Most offices use bright artificial lighting and aircon due to the number of people working within one designated area. There are so many benefits of natural light and natural ventilation when working, including:
- Making fewer mistakes
- Reduced eye strain
- Improved mood
- Increased alertness
2. Add some greenery
An inspiring workspace can help to produce inspiring work. Why not improve your mood and general well-being by adding some indoor plants to your space? Plants help to absorb carbon dioxide and improve oxygen levels in the air you’re breathing, they can remove toxins in the air and the presence of greenery has been known to reduce stress levels and create a more relaxed environment for you to work your magic.
3. Get rid of the cord clutter
Keeping your space neat and free from clutter can help with your overall productivity. Try and keep your devices as close to plug points as possible, go wireless where you can (a Bluetooth mouse or keyboard) and even consider making use of a port hub (like the Aukey USB C to 3 Port USB hub for R599) to help keep your desk tidy.
5. Make it your own
Whether you’re a minimalist at heart or you like to be surrounded by every colour of the rainbow, why not add personal touches to your work area to spark some joy throughout your day. Photographs of times when we were still allowed to see each other, prints or inspirational messages are all ideas to personalise your space and make it your own.
If you need background noise and can’t stand the silence, why not play an inspirational podcast or your favourite playlist while you work? There are great Bluetooth speaker options out there that have incredible battery life and won’t add extra cord clutter to kill your vibe. But if you share a home office space with your partner or roommate and you’re into heavy metal, then we suggest you look into buying them some noise-cancelling earphones too.
Shop hi-online or in-store for the best deals out there to make your home office tech dreams a reality.