Home Office Tools Helped Me Level Up
With the pandemic dragging on, standard business practices have been long overturned. Yet, many companies and employees are still adapting to working remotely. What started out for many as a “temporary” working situation has become long-term, with no end in sight.
Pre-2020, I was able to work remotely, but I rarely did. It was more of an emergency measure when I was sick, had a sick kid, or I was traveling. Since it was just a fix for days I was out of the office, the focus wasn’t on maximizing efficiency. It was more of a band-aid to get the minimum done until I returned to the office.
In early 2020, Numberwise started focusing more on working remotely – and what goes into it. We expanded the search for new staff beyond our local region to include candidates in other states that would work entirely remotely. Soon after that, the COVID pandemic hit. I stopped going into the office and joined the ranks of my coworkers working from home full-time.
The Numberwise team used Slack to communicate for some time, but we started embracing new ways to collaborate. We were encouraged to get whatever equipment we needed for our home office, so I did some research on what gear and tools people recommended most for working from home.
Before proceeding, I’d like to state that I’m not a tech professional, and I don’t have extensive experience setting up home offices. I’m just a regular guy who managed to put together a home office that works well, with the help of a few tools.
The following items allowed me to not only transition to working remotely without skipping a beat, but also greatly improve the quality of videos I create (bonus!). I won’t go into detail about computers or monitors, of course they are necessary to work remotely. Instead, I’ll focus on the tools and accessories that made my work (and life) easier and took my home office to the next level.
Zoom Zoom Zoom – Video Conferencing is Here to Stay
It seems that our lives will forever be filled with video conferences. Beyond just working remotely, 2020 also introduced virtual school and even virtual happy hours to the masses. These tools will make your virtual meetings go smoothly and provide a clear, professional video and sound experience.
It all starts with a camera, and logitech has many models that are very easy to use. They are truly plug and play. These are a huge upgrade from the built-in cameras found in most laptops. The Logitech HD Webcam C615 is the one I use and highly recommend.
No, these are not just for taking selfies or making tiktok videos. Ring lights are very affordable and drastically improve the lighting in virtually any room in your house. They are easy to use and position. A ring light will allow your colleagues to see that beautiful face of yours and make it seem like you are not working from some dank cave. I use the Sensyne 10” Ring Light with 50” Extendable Tripod Stand.
The first thing I noticed in my workspace was a terrible echo (well, my co-workers pointed out!). I picked up one of these microphones and went from mumble king to a potential radio host. The change is like night and day, and this is a really great investment (which ideally your employer will cover – make sure to ask first). Blue Yeti USB Mic 3 Condenser Capsules, 4 Pickup Patterns, Adjustable Stand.
Hubs: More Spots for More Tools
One problem I ran into immediately was running out of available ports to connect my accessories. Here are the tools I used to expand my connectivity.
This is exactly what it sounds like. A nice, cheap peripheral to expand the usable ports to add more devices. The Sabrent 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub is highly rated and a quick fix when you need more USB ports for your home office.
One of the foundations of being productive at home is maintaining a fast internet connection. To achieve that, I had to run a dedicated ethernet cable to the room where my workstation is located. I use one of these ports to expand the amount of devices I can hard wire directly to my router – the TP-Link TL-SG105 5 Port Ethernet Network Switch – Ethernet Splitter.
Cables to Tie Everything Together
Now that you have your gear, you’ll need cables to connect it all together. There’s nothing glamorous about these, but they are necessary.
If you splurged on the blue yeti mic, you are going to have to plug it in. Grab a few of these to make sure your mic is always connected. Oldboytech Auxiliary Nylon Braided Aux Cord 2 Pack.
As I mentioned before based on the location of my home office, I had to run a long ethernet cable from my router and needed one rated for outdoor use. This is what I use – the Antkeet Outdoor Cat7 Ethernet Cable.
Bottom Line – If I Can Do It, You Can Too
These tools have truly allowed me to take my home office to the next level. I’ve never been happier and surprisingly, I’m more productive working remotely than I ever was commuting to an office. If you’ve found other tools that have helped you in working from home, leave a comment and let us know! We would love to hear from you.
Check out our articles on the home office deduction during the pandemic and details on exactly when and how to claim the home office deduction.