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Seven Things to Make Working From Home Better

Last year, when we first left the office, we cobbled together work spaces from what we had.  Coffee tables became desks.  Kitchens became offices.  Closets became meeting rooms.  And as we confront another winter spent working from home, I wanted to share some of the things that have made working from home a little easier.

Something to Keep Coffee and Tea Hot //  One of the things you forget is at the office you have reliable access to hot coffee and hot water.  At home, you’re on your own.

This Hastings Coffee Carafe lets me make a pot of tea in the morning and keep it warm, at my desk, all day.  You can also make cold brew or a spa water and the carafe will keep it cold.  As for how to your morning cup, I like this COSORI electric kettle.  My partner uses it to make pour over coffee with this Hario device and some filters.

Something to Keep Your AirPods Handy // I love my AirPods, the noise-cancelling has changed my life, but they are a beast to keep track of.  And wearing them in your ears for the entire day is not comfortable.  Enter the Tapper Air Pod Rope Chain.  The ends magnetically lock to your AirPods to keep them handy around your neck.

For a less expensive option, this Etsy paperclip chain checks in at $30.  This plastic connector from Target is also an option if you’re not feeling fancy, or you need something that will be sweat-proof at the gym.

Something to Keep You Warm // Air conditioning or winter cold, my office is chilly.  I like a not-sad-desk-cardigan that isn’t too expensive, because it gets heavy use over time.  And this is just one of those situations where, if I spill tea on a sleeve or get a pen mark on a cuff or wear out an elbow, I don’t want to be upset over it.

This & Other Stories Boxy Open cardigan is a nice option.  I also like this chunky cardigan from The Drop, also in plus-size.

Something to Up Your Zoom Game // In the past year, we’ve all learned the importance of good lighting.  Lume Cube makes the best options for getting that good, Oprah-quality light.  They make one that comes on a stand, one that attaches to the laptop, and the one I use to take Zoom calls from my iPhone, which has a microphone and a light.

Also, if you are on Zoom frequently, consider getting a separate webcam from Logitech.  My partner has this one, he likes the improved video quality and the improved sound.

Somethings to Block Noise // A white noise machine is the only way that I can take client meetings in an office space I share with my husband.  Even though we’re lucky to have two rooms to use as offices, they’re right next to each other, and the house is old.  And since my client meetings have the expectation of privacy and confidentiality, this is an easy extra step to make sure we can’t hear each other’s calls.

Also, some friends share an office, alternating Zoom schedules as much as possible.  This leaves one of them in the dining room when the other is on a call.  And putting this weatherstripping along the inside of the office door so they could both have some quiet, and I’m quoting, “saved our marriage.”

Something to Stay Hydrated // When I’m in the office, I drink a lot of water.  The cooler is right there, so every time I need to stand, I can just go grab a glass.  But at home, not so much.  This water bottle with a time marker from Arcana makes staying hydrated easier by reminding you how much you should be drinking as the day wears on.  And if you fall behind, it’s easy to keep track and catch up.  The Hydromate ones are also popular, but I like the way this one looks.

So what made your Work From Home life easier?  Any tips of tricks? Share them in the comments.

Leave a Reply to Jo · cancel comment

    6 comments

  1. LS says:

    I was hoping you would post an update on your WFH must haves. Thank you!

    I moved to a rural area and will work from home for the rest of my career. I’m on zoom calls about 6 hours a day and want to buy a light and a camera. I’ll check out both of your suggestions. If anyone has any other suggestions that you like for those items, I’d love to know!

    August 19, 2021/Reply
  2. Joanna says:

    Great and helpful post! I am remote for the foreseeable future so this these are going in the shopping cart!

    August 19, 2021/Reply
  3. Nadine says:

    This post reminded me to pull out my Lume Cube — which I haven’t needed all summer because I have had natural light — and to put it on a tripod because I find the suction cup attachment annoying.

    For me the one benefit of working from home (gosh I miss teaching in person) is unlimited access to caffeine. The line for the on-campus coffee shop in my building is usually longer than I have time for between meetings.

    August 19, 2021/Reply
  4. E says:

    Things that make WFH seamless for me (I have been hybrid (1-2x a week at home) for the 3 years before covid and will be even more so going forward (likely 2-3x a week at home, although still TBD):
    – dual monitors
    – external keyboard
    – USB docking station so it’s just one plug in and out if I “roam”
    – standalone webcam (I have the logitech 920 one too and it’s so much better than the built in version)
    – laptop stand to keep my (closed) laptop up higher to preserve more desk space without burying it
    – halogen desk lamp (dimmable) from my college days that acts as extra task lighting or a warm adjustable brightener for zoom calls)
    – restocked my favorite pens and notepads from the office (uniball vision fine and 6×9 steno books). Silly but makes it feel more normal.
    – bluetooth noise cancelling headphones (Bose 700) for cell phone calls or zoom audio (or drowning out my child and husband) and a separate (formerly used for my husband’s gaming) headset plugged in when other services (webex, teams) don’t play well with dial-in audio
    – headphone stand to hold said headphones
    – extra long chargers plugged in at my desk
    – heating pad and desk sweater, since the air vent in my office is right under my desk (even closed, still chilly) and the coldest room in the house
    – cross-cut shredder (before I started going back to the office 1-2x a week in which case I now bring my work papers in for shredding on those days)
    – laser printer with a hard-wired printer cable because I do not have time for wireless networking and VPN issues
    – nice to have – ipad with pencil for hand-marking documents without the need to physically print, scan and email if I am not going to be repeatedly referring to said document; otherwise I use my phone as a scanner which can be annoying for lengthy documents.
    – Yeti ramblers – all parts dishwasher safe and have lids so fewer desk accidents while keeping my drinks piping hot or ice cold
    – pressed powder compact and lipstick on my desk, for when I forget to put on makeup and forget I have a non-zoom video call (bless the beauty filter on zoom)

    August 19, 2021/Reply
  5. Jo says:

    Allll the ergonomics. I’m very very lucky that my employer paid for an ergo assessment and equipment upgrades, but honestly now that I have them I think I’d pay for them myself they’ve made such a huge difference in my day. In priority order I’m so grateful for:
    – ergo chair (Steelcase)
    – ergo keyboard (Goldtech) and ergo mouse (logitech M720) to save my wrists and keep me in alignment
    – large monitor and blue light glasses to save my eyesight
    – gaming headset for comfort on my head through hours of calls
    – laptop stand
    – stand up desk with wobble board to stand on so I actually move when I’m standing up.

    Yes I have a lume cube and a large water carafe I keep on my desk but the ergo changes have been dramatic in my quality of life.

    August 20, 2021/Reply