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Be the Boss of Your Home Hybrid Workplace Tech

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Having two different workspaces—one at home and the other at the office—has its perks. There’s less time spent on the freeway (or subway, or bus) and extra time to squeeze in a session at the gym or a home YouTube workout. 

But being a hybrid worker also presents its own challenges.

Clearly, the pandemic has changed the way we are all working. “Somewhere in the vicinity of 60% of the workforce are choosing the hybrid option,” said Gartner analyst Suzanne Adnams, “which means their ideal is working at home and coming into the office three days a week.”

Google, Microsoft, Ford, and Citigroup are among the many companies offering employees the choice to work remotely a few days out of the week.

These are some tips, compiled from people who have been there and done that, to help you become the boss of your home hybrid workplace tech. 

Master your space

We are creatures of habit. If you have a setup at work that is productive, replicate this setup at home. In his e-book How to Set Up Your Desk, Matt Perman recommends mirroring your desk set-up in both places. For example, if you have a filing cabinet on the left side of your desk and an inbox/outbox to the right at the office, set up your home office the same way. 

If you keep all your office supplies in specific places at work, try to do the same at home. Set things up so you are comfortable and you have the same monitor, keyboard, and chair at home. 

Having everything you need to do your job successfully is key. If you find you don’t have the furniture and equipment you need to optimize your workspace, see if this is something your employer would be willing to purchase.

If you’re trying to manage all this from a studio apartment, you can make it work. The main things you need to have in place are a table/desk, a chair, and a few pieces of tech. 

Of course, a good internet connection with decent speed and a laptop are all you need to get going. However, if you’re online for a good portion of the day, you may want a monitor so you have a bigger screen to look at. 

Beyond those main tech staples, you may also want to have other accessories on hand, so these are our recommendations for a few bells and whistles to get you organized and more well equipped for a successful workday at home. 

An ergonomic keyboard and mouse are highly recommended for all that repetitive motion.

A lot of writers and graphic artists love the Logitech wireless mouse. You can customize the functions of its buttons and the speed of the scroll wheel. If you tend to use your computer all the time, the ergonomic design helps limit the amount of wrist and hand fatigue you feel at the end of the day. It’s also wireless, so it’s an excellent mouse to have in your home office setup. 

Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard for Business

With its modern, ergonomic design, Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard ($80.95) is the Mercedes of keyboards. Not only is it functional, but it also keeps your hands and arms in a relaxed position as you work, helping you feel refreshed after a day at your desk without soreness or injury.

If you are on a budget, Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard is a great alternative. 

This is an awesome home keyboard because, at $30.00, it’s very reasonably priced. The compact design has responsive keys for typing, and it’s wireless, too, so your home office setup won’t be cluttered with a bunch of cables. 

A rad pad

The Steelseries QCK Heavy Mousepad has a heft to it, which we like. It is about twice as thick and as large as a standard cheap office mousepad. The cloth feels super smooth, and it’s washable. It adds a major comfort factor, and for $12.00, it’s a bargain. 

Grovemade Desk Pad

If you’re working at the dining room table and you don’t want to scratch it up, you’ll want a decent desk pad. The desk pad does double duty as a mouse pad, too, if you don’t want to spring for both. This stylish one we found is made of natural linoleum with a cork backing to give it some cushion and prevent it from sliding around on the desk. 

Habits 

Have a go-bag! Melanie Pinola, in a New York Times blog, recommends you not reinvent the wheel every time you need to head into the office. Of course, it’s best to have duplicates of all the accessories you need. But if you don’t, make sure you have everything organized to avoid headaches. 

For the smaller stuff—charging cords, memory cards, battery packs, your mouse, and the miscellaneous adapters to connect drives, and cables to your laptop—you’ll need a dongle bag. The InCase nylon accessory organizer was so popular when we checked out their website it was sold out. Fear not, there are dozens on the market. Get one with pockets and straps to keep your gear organized and untangled. 

Safety and privacy

Whereas at the office, cybersecurity is taken care of by your employer, at your home office this is on you. Even if your employer has provided you with a computer, there are still a few key moves you should be making to be sure you are working securely. 

This is a bulleted list: 

  • Use antivirus software
  • Make sure your system and programs are up to date
  • Pay attention to Wi‑Fi and network security
  • Secure your privacy with a VPN
  • Avoid oversharing your screen
  • Beware phishing scams
  • Don’t share personal information in messages or social media

We’ll leave you with this pro tip: 

If the organization you work for uses time-tracking software such as Time Doctor, remember they are taking screenshots of everything you do. 

If you are checking your emails, they will know you’re goofing off. Also, if you’re in an email screaming match over the crusty lasagna dish you left out overnight with your mom, it may make you come off as less than professional. 

If the Big Brother element stresses you out, bear in mind that the home hybrid workspace can take some getting used to. Tech is trying to catch up with this new model. 

An update to the Google Meet phone app will better display people on video. An upcoming update to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides will include the ability to overlay voice and video chat as people work together on documents.

Getting your setup just right is key to a productive workday. Consistency and familiarity help our brains focus on the important stuff. Even when it comes to trivial things like snacking, if your company provides snacks and drinks you enjoy consider keeping a stash of the same goods at home. Consistency and familiarity help our brains focus on the important stuff.

Finally, hybrid work is new territory for most people, so keep experimenting with your setup until you feel comfortable. Communicate with your employers and your colleagues to make sure you stay in the loop and you’re as “on top” of everything as possible, no matter which location you are in. 

For more tips about how to stay safe online, check out: 

It’s a weird world out there! Don’t let your guard down. Our Easy Prey podcast will give you some explicit directions.

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