Working from home: everything you need to set up your new home office
With many of us now expected to be working from home for the foreseeable future, the need for the right equipment to make sure you're productive and happy is higher than ever.
It's not just a case of making sure you have the right laptop or smartphone to stay in contact with your bosses, co-workers, family and friends (although this is still important) but also the multitude of other items and services that will make working from home a breeze.
If this all seems a bit overwhelming, and you don't know where to start, never fear – here's our guide to everything you need to know about the tech needed to be working from home.
Best office setup for working from home
It may sound obvious, but having the right office set-up can make all the difference to your working from home productivity – and this can start with your chair and desk.
Making sure you're comfortable whilst your work isn't just a good idea for your fitness and general well-being, but will also make it less of a chore to sign in every morning – and help you stave off the temptation to slope off to the sofa after lunchtime.
We've rounded up our choice of the best office chairs in our guide, focusing on ergonomic desk chairs that should ensure you don't end up with cramps or strains.
For those whose wallets are cowering at the price of some of the more expensive ergonomic chairs out there, IKEA’s Markus is doubtless a welcome spot of fiscal relief.
Unsurprisingly, you don’t get much in the way of fancy adjustments, but this is a sturdy chair which is well liked by many people, and offers a comfortable upright sitting position, with a long back and integrated headrest. The back is made of a mesh material to let the air through and provide better breathability.
There are some adjustments available to the user: you can adjust the seat for height, tilt, and the back can be locked in place, or it can be reclined. Other than that, this is a fairly basic chair, but well-made for the money – it costs a fraction of some of the higher-end seating options.
An unexpected bonus in this price bracket (around the £150 mark – that’s about $190) is that the Markus comes with an impressive 10-year guarantee.
- You can buy the Markus at IKEA
If you're feeling particularly active, and missing those lunchtime gym sessions, there's also the option of a standing desk, which can help bring a bit of variation into your new home office set-up.
So if you're hunting for something different – we've selected the best standing desk options around.
If you're working from home and don't want to spend a huge amount of money on a standing desk, then check out the FlexiSpot ClassicRiser. This is a manually adjustable model, which is obviously where a lot of the cost-savings come into play, but it’s still a nifty solution nonetheless, despite being considerably cheaper.
The ClassicRiser is easy enough to operate when raising or lowering the platform, which is achieved with a light squeeze on a lever at the side, and like the Uplift, it has a wide keyboard tray below the main platform (although this is removable).
You can select from different-sized platforms from the smallest 27-inch (M1) offering up to 47-inches (M3), with a range of various options available including monitor arms, anti-fatigue mats, and indeed an under-desk exercise bike. The M1 model is unsurprisingly the cheapest, but it doesn’t cost much more to ramp up the size to an M3.
Best working from home accessories
Now you've got your desk set up, and your work-provided laptop or tablet all connected, it's time to make the working from home experience a bit more tech-friendly.
If you're one of the lucky few who enjoys a multiple-monitor set-up in the office, you may be feeling a little short-changed in home working from home has minimised your screen options.
Luckily, adding an extra monitor is easier than ever these days, particularly if you have a docking station alongside your work laptop. Most external monitors can now be connected via HDMI, USB-C or DP ports, so if you're looking for an extra bit of screen space, check out our list of the best business monitors.
Again, if you've just started working from home, then you don't want to spend loads of money on a monitor. Instead, you'll want something that's affordable, yet allows you to work comfortably from home.
That's why we think the BenQ GW2270H is the best monitor for working from home. It offers the most affordable full HD monitor with an HDMI connector, and it's small and stylish that means it'll fit nicely into your home.
It has some standout features as well, to ensure you're comfortable while working from home ; one that reduces flicker (PWM technology) and a low blue light mode which may help with headaches and sleeping disorders. The stand design gives it a more expensive feel and its three ports (including two HDMI ones) are worthy of a mention, as is the two-year warranty and the VESA wall mounting option.
Many of us will not just have a work laptop or phone, but also a number of accessories such as external keyboards and mice, as part of our usual set-up.
If you forgot to bring these home with you, don't fret – we have you covered. If you're looking for an external keyboard to give you a bit more flexibility, our best keyboards guide is here for you.
With its latest keyboard, Logitech is targeting smartphone and tablet owners who prefer to use their device while sat at a desk. And, if you were a fan of the predecessor, the K380, the Logitech K780 should be right up your alley, especially with its added number pad.
This keyboard still has the ability to pair with three devices using Bluetooth or wireless, so you can swap between all your gadgets on the fly. And, thanks to its comfortable rounded keycaps, it’s still a pleasure to type on. The keyboard’s base is the star of the show, however, as it can hold mobile devices up to 11.3mm thick in an upright position. This places them within arms’ reach to make anything from replying to WhatsApp messages or reading a digital magazine easier than ever.
If you left your trusty mouse in the office and are feeling a little disconnected, don't worry, as a new desk buddy can be yours with our best mouse guide.
While it seems like all of our peripherals are either being fitted with unnecessary lighting or morphed into odd shapes, there are still some mice out there that you can take seriously from looks alone.
The Microsoft Classic Intellimouse, for example, touts a classic design and appealing white lighting, and it is a breath of fresh air. It also beefs up the sensor, allowing users to ramp up the DPI to 3,200. It’s not wireless, and it’s hardly made for gaming, but if you’re in the market for a mouse that’ll help you get all your work done when working from home, the Microsoft Classic Intellimouse will be the best mouse for you.
Meanwhile, if your home office is a bit too far away from your home router, you might benefit from a Wi-Fi extender, which can boost the signal across the rest of your house. We've selected the options of the best Wi-Fi extenders here.
Over the last couple years, Netgear has essentially turned itself into a household name in the networking world. And, they’ve put their extensive expertise to impressive use with their AC1200 Wi-Fi Range Extender EX6150.
This terrific extender is a simple device that you can discreetly plug right into any electrical outlet, and definitely has our vote for one of the best Wi-Fi extenders. As an additional bonus, the EX6150 boasts quick and easy installation, free of any hassling installation software. Just follow the easy-to-read instructions and you’ll have fast and dependable Wi-Fi covering your entire home or office.
Best software for working from home
Once your new hardware is all sorted, now it's time to make sure that you have all the right software and services to make working from home a breeze.
Many of you will have already been set up with online office suites, collaboration tools, videoconferencing software and the like, but for anyone working from home for the first time, you may be missing some crucial options – so here's our guide to the software you can't be without.
Best videoconferencing tools
With employees around the world all now working from home, staying in touch is paramount to ensure all the usual company work gets done effectively and on time. With face-to-face meetings off the table, videoconferencing is now the best bet to help you all stay up to speed.
There are a number of popular tools out there today – and many of us will have used the likes of Zoom, Skype for Business or Google Meet already. But new measures may call for new tactics, so if you need a run-down of the best videoconferencing software out there today.
Best online collaboration tools
It isn't just meetings that need rescheduling – everyday messaging and contact also needs a working from home makeover. Now we can't just walk over to somebody's desk to get an update or have a chat, the need for real-time collaboration tools is key.
The likes of Slack and Asana are already popular choices, but if you want more options, check out our guide to the best online collaboration tools around.
Best project management software
Lastly, keeping track of all your projects is again trickier without face-to-face interaction, but luckily there are a raft of options available to help ameliorate this. Our best project management software guide has all the tools and services you need to keep your team up to speed with progress.