- Many of us work remotely or have hybrid working arrangements, and sub-optimal home offices.
- Health-conscious hardware choices, including ergonomically designed products, can be an investment in your wellbeing and efficiency.
- You probably don’t need the priciest, top-of-the-range gear, but do make sure it has all your must-haves and works with your office set-up.
As I write this, under my desk, my feet are in AI-powered foot massager heaven. Someone on #TaxTwitter said this would improve my performance and I’m always keen to experiment with productivity hacks. The machine analyses pressure points and adapts to my foot’s shape and tension areas. It offers a seriously deep kneading, targeting pressure points, releasing endorphins, reducing stress and alleviating tension – and it even warms up.
The lockdowns drove many to work remotely and resulted in unexpected office equipment shortages in those first few months. For those who are now regularly working from home, from foot massagers to the curve revolution, here are a few ways to treat your office space during this festive period that should supercharge productivity and spark joy!
Keyboard and mouse
I use an ergonomic, wireless Logitech keyboard, and a cheap-as-chips J.Burrows vertical mouse. I prefer the wireless options, so I can pick them up and transform to a clutter-free desk space effortlessly. The keyboard has lasted so long the letters have worn off, and I’ve used pink nail polish to replace them. Accountants are the best at problem solving, aren’t we!
The curve revolution is the latest trend in productivity. I’ve swapped my dual monitor set for an extra-long 49-inch curved monitor. I no longer have to contend with the jarring bezel gap between the dual monitors. The curvature means my eyes are the same distance from the screen, so they don’t need to work overtime, minimising eye strain from refocusing. The high pixelation and extra screen real estate helps with an immersive flow state experience, and fewer screens mean less desk clutter.
The screen can be split into multiple work areas and, when you share your screen you select a portion, rather than the whole screen. Check if your computer’s graphics card supports the set-up before you buy it.
I recently replaced my four-year-old webcam with a Microsoft Modern Webcam (that is Microsoft Teams-certified). I loved my old webcam, but it could not keep up with everything constantly updating around it.
The new webcam adjusts to the room light, so I don’t get exhausted from the glare of a bright light on my face. A good-quality, high-resolution webcam enhances online communication and allows you to focus on an engaging conversation, which is essential in our online world.
Listening to poor-quality audio is energy sapping. Offering listeners crystal clear audio helps them stay alert and engaged. I’m involved in training, webinars and podcast creation, so rather than use the built-in microphone, I use the Australian manufactured Rode Podcaster. It offers quality audio and excellent warranty support!
The microphone attaches to a sleek Rode professional studio arm, so I pull it into my workspace area when I need it and push it back behind the monitor when it’s not in use.
If you want to stay environmentally aware, try the OpenRun by Shokz. Rather than the typical over-the-ear device, they sit on the ear. On the other hand, if you want to block out the environment, try the Bose noise-cancelling headphones. I can’t use the noise-cancelling functionality; as soon as I activate the feature I feel nauseous, so test that before dropping a pretty penny on them.
Make a list
When I’m looking to buy something I’ll look at the options, what my peers are currently using and what the online reviews say. If it’s a big-ticket item, I’ll visit the store to check out the look and feel. I’ll also run a poll on social media to gather as much feedback as possible.
Typical questions I’ll explore include:
- What’s the warranty and is there the option of an extended warranty?
- Is the purchase compatible with the existing set-up I have?
- How many connectivity ports does it have?
- How will it impact the way I work? Will it fit on my desk? Is it compatible with my other hardware?
- I’ll consider what I assume it has and check off what it has compared with other models. For example, the monitor did not have inbuilt speakers; I just thought it had them because my old monitor did.
I don’t fully understand everything regarding RAM, processors, graphics cards or refresh rates. As an accountant, I don’t need the very best or the latest model on the market, and I’m generally confident I can read through the information to gauge what’s above average and avoid the high-end extreme option with a matching price tag.
Image credit: MirageC
Stocking fillers under $50
1. Crumbee miniature desktop vacuum cleaner for desk debris.
2. Extra-long, coloured cables to access awkward plugs. The colour makes unravelling cable spaghetti easy and they are handy for travelling.
3. Seagate basic portable external hard drive, which I schedule to back up and safely store my files at the start of every month.
4. Extended gaming mouse pad with wrist support. I don’t game; however, I recognise gaming solutions are built for extended, comfortable use.
5. A power board and USB charging port station, conveniently placed, will remind you to plug in your devices.
Hardware's impact on our health
One day, my friend woke to the distress of finding her arm heavy. Long hours hunched over a small laptop keyboard led to her body unexpectedly giving up. She needed surgery and months of physio to recover. It’s not only the functionality of hardware that’s important to me – I think about how it impacts me and those around me that I’m engaging with. Ergonomically friendly hardware choices boost efficiency, enhance focus, reduce eye and muscle strain, reduce fatigue, and contribute to a positive mood and a more productive day. I love that my hardware choices mean I can swiftly switch to a clear desk. I freshen up my environment with a pleasantly scented desk spray, raise my electric standing desk and I am transformed into an immersive flow state for clear thinking, creativity and brainstorming.