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We’re over a year into the pandemic, and most of us are probably still working from home.
Granted, some countries have begun allowing people to return to the office. But let’s face it, you don’t miss it that much, do you?
Over the course of 2020, I’ve learned a lot about what I need and don’t need in terms of a functional and productive home-based work space. So I thought I’d share 10 things I think everyone should have in their own WFH setups.
Okay, nobody should ever feel compelled to buy any of the things I’m about to list because you can technically live without them. But they do serve their intended purposes very well. Adding them to your existing WFH setup might make life a lot easier. If not, at least more enjoyable.
Here are 10 surprisingly-useful WFH upgrades you can get for under US$130.
1. An extended mouse pad (any brand will do, really): Around US$3 to US$5.
Believe it or not, a mouse pad makes a world of difference when you’re constantly on your computer all day, typing away at spreadsheets or whatever it is you do. While most mice are able to track the cursor decently on regular table surfaces, you might end up scratching the mouse itself. Worse, you could even leave nasty marks on the table.
A mouse pad will fix this. But better yet, an extended mouse pad will even provide some soft cushioning for a mouse (duh) and a keyboard if you choose to use one. Even if you don’t, it still provides for a more comfortable surface to work on.
They’re available from a lot of no-name brands for cheap. And they’re pretty decent quality too, like this one.
Of course, there are fancier ones with RGB lighting from Razer, if you’re into rainbows and shit. They cost around US$50. You gotta pay to play.
2. A folding laptop stand (any brand as well, your preference): From US$5.
Picture this: You’re an adult, earning adult money. You know that back health is super important. But you also know that most treatments for it are annoyingly expensive. So you try to do your best to take care of it with targeted stretches at home while you’re working.
But if you’re sat at the desk, with your laptop right in front of you, hunched over like a damn shrimp, you’re doing your back no favors.
With a laptop stand, you can at least elevate your workhorse up to eye-level. Then you’ll be able to sit upright without losing sight of whatever is on your screen.
Plus, most laptop stands are foldable, which means you can just pack it up neatly and bring it with you wherever you go. Perfectly useful for the days you’d rather work remotely in a coffee shop instead of your home.
This folding laptop stand is going for less than US$2 after discount.
3. A wireless mechanical keyboard (Keychron K2/K4/K6/K8): From US$69.
What attracted me to Keychron mechanical keyboards was their ease of use, and specifically, their Mac-friendly configurations. Dare I say, they’re like the Apple of mechanical keyboards – sleek, minimal, and incredibly user-friendly.
They work in both wired and wireless (via Bluetooth) modes. Though, if you’re gaming, it’s best to use it wired to avoid latency.
Of course, one thing that sets Keychron and Apple apart is bang-for-buck value. You can probably guess which one of the two is more affordable and accessible.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the types of keyboards that Keychron offers, including full-size (Keychron K4), ten-key-less (Keychron K8), 75 percent (Keychron K2), and 65 percent (Keychron K6). The last one is my favorite, and the one I’m currently using. So I may be a little biased. They’re all compatible with Mac/iOS and Windows/Android.
They come in a plastic construction, making them super light. However, you can opt for an aluminium-framed variant for US$99. I recommend this. Also, it just looks damn cool.
4. An ergonomic wireless mouse (Logitech MX Master 3): From US$90.
IMAGE: Tom’s Hardware
Prior to getting my own ergonomic mouse, I had always wondered why people used these odd-looking mice at work. Can you blame an uncultured swine like myself?
They look strange as hell – as if some giant human being with big hands accidentally squashed the side of a mouse into an awkward wedge shape.
But boy, are they a godsend for the work-from-home life, and even for office life when you eventually decide to go there again. I used to suffer tremendously from carpal tunnel syndrome, swiping away at my flat, totally unergonomic mouse.
That all changed when I got the Logitech MX Master 3, which can be used with a provided cable and wirelessly with a USB dongle or Bluetooth.
And for Mac users who just can’t let go of the Gestures feature, you can program them straight into the MX Master 3 with its accompanying software. Plus, if you deal with a lot of spreadsheets at work, the side-scroll wheel is an absolute essential.
You can get them for varying prices, depending on whether there’s a discount on them. I found this one for US$90. If you look hard enough, you may be able to find it for less.
5. An external display (Samsung C24F390FHE): From US$113.
IMAGE: 4RAYS TECH / YouTube
So you’ve got your keyboard and your mouse already. At this point, most people would be satisfied and call it a day.
But if you’re looking to stay on top of your ever-increasing workload, an external display will really help lay things out more clearly, as opposed to squeezing everything together in a cramped 13-to-15-inch laptop screen.
If you’re the kind of person to have dozens of tabs open in more windows than you’d like to admit, you have even more of a reason to get yourself an external display. No, it’s not going to decrease the amount of tabs you’ve got open, but at least you’ll be able to see them all more clearly, on a bigger canvas.
While most new displays released in late 2020 and early 2021 exceed the US$130 budget in this list, there’s no real problem in going for the 24-inch Samsung C24F390FHE (or CF390 for short) curved display.
It’s been out for a few years already, but it’s still very much a good option for those on a budget. It has a Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, a 16:9 aspect ratio, input for HDMI and headphones, and can also be wall-mounted.
It comes at an affordable US$113 here.
6. A light bar for your display and workspace (Xiaomi Mijia USB-C Light Bar): From US$42.
At first glance, this might seem a little overkill. After all, desk lamps do exist. And I’m almost 100 percent certain you have one already. I do.
But hear me out – light bars serve a very specific purpose. They’re supposed to get rid of screen glare, and they also help illuminate your workspace better. Something that a single desk lamp won’t necessarily be able to do perfectly.
And if you’ve got the Xiaomi Mijia USB-C Light Bar, you’ll feel like you’re working in a completely different place. It’s got a handy circular puck remote that you can use to turn the light on or off, adjust brightness, and adjust color temperature. Everything is a turn or tap away.
And for those who don’t know any better, the puck blends in with everything else on your table.
Super sleek and minimal. You can get it for as low as US$42 here.
7. A sleek, comfortable office chair (IKEA MARKUS): US$120.
When we were fresh into the official announcement that COVID-19 was a pandemic, I was totally unprepared for the WFH life. My work desk started out with a chair that I swiped from my dining table.
It was soft and well-cushioned, but not a proper work chair by any stretch of the imagination. Eventually the back aches started coming. It felt like working from home became an arduous physical task.
Remember what I said about back health (Point 2)? A proper office chair became one of my top priorities after settling into the WFH routine. And of course, I went with the crowd favorite – the IKEA MARKUS. Sure, I may be on that bandwagon, but it’s popular for a reason, right?
It’s by no means a Herman Miller, which will cost you your soul and dignity, but it keeps my ass comfy and my posture relatively intact. And with the mesh backing, all my nasty stress-induced back sweat is well ventilated.
A good deal is a good deal. You can get it from IKEA for US$120.
8. A pair of wireless earphones for a more-than-decent audio experience (Samsung Galaxy Buds Live): US$113.
IMAGE: Bloomberg Finance / Forbes
Wireless earphones aren’t specifically great for people working from home, but they make a welcome addition to anyone’s work setup. They’re easy to get to in a pinch, and they’re small enough to stay out of the way when you don’t need them.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live make for a great pair of wireless earbuds. They come in an attractive wirelessly-charging case, and offer pleasant sound quality. And now that the Buds Pro earbuds have been released, you can expect the Buds Live to go on discount, as is typical of Samsung when releasing new products.
Sure, hardcore content creators and true audiophiles could definitely benefit from peripherals of higher quality. But average users like you and I (yes, how bold of me to assume you’re average too), will be more than happy with the Buds Live. Plus, they come in a bunch of attractive colors to suit everyone’s different tastes.
Depending on where you look, you can score the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live for as low as US$113. If you wait a little longer, more discounts are sure to pop up.
9. A folding bed table for the days you just want to cozy up (NaVa folding table): Around US$5.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely essential that you have a dedicated workspace as we venture into this new normal from home. It’s said that not having one can severely strain your mental health as you juggle your work and social life.
But at the same time, there will be days when you feel you just can’t get out of bed. You could be tired, or perhaps you just don’t want to be anywhere near a work desk. But of course, you’ve got bills to pay, so the work doesn’t stop.
Thankfully there are folding bed tables that let you bring your most important gear (like a laptop, keyboard, mouse, notebook, etc) right to your bed. The NaVa folding table even has enough room underneath for your legs and your blanket to slide through. This allows you to get to business without compromising the cozy feels.
Also, just because it’s called a bed table, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it anywhere else, like on the floor. I, too, enjoy the occasional cold floor tile on my butt.
Best of all, they’re dirt cheap. Depending on the brand and its shipping origin, you can get one for less than US$5.
10. A refreshing room spray because no one likes a stale-smelling home office (Aesop Istros room spray): Around US$49.
IMAGE: END Clothing
This is perhaps the only non-tech-related item on the list. I saved it for last, but that doesn’t mean it’s the least important.
The smell of a room is not something we usually focus on when trying to be productive. But it can make a world of difference. Imagine sitting in a room that either a) doesn’t smell like anything, or b) smells like something died in it. Arguably the first option is something we’d all go with.
But we’re working from home, and will probably continue to do so until the world has this virus under control. Why not make your workspace smell god damned amazing?
Because the Aesop Istros Aromatique room spray does. It’s not a smell I can accurately describe. However, there are hints of peppermint, and some sort of sweetness that reminds me of Mentos. The best part of it all is the fact that you can spray as much as you want and your nose won’t start to get saturated. You won’t get any headaches either.
The smell will even stick to you, making you smell delicious. Is that a weird thing to say?
You can get a 100ml bottle for around US$49.
So, which of these items will you be adding to your online shopping cart?
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ที่มา : Mashable