Mastering your laptop; working optimally wherever you are
Your laptop is your greatest companion in supporting your journey to work wherever you are. In this article we share advice on the best tools, tips and techniques to unlock your productivity potential with your laptop!
- How do you stay connected when on the go?
- What peripherals will enhance your laptop productivity?
- How to seamlessly transition to and from your desk
- How to further improve your productivity
How do you stay connected when on the go?
Ideally you'd want your laptop to have stable and fast wifi internet connection to allow you to work effectively. Many public locations or commercial venues offer free wi-fi. Hence if your home doesn't have stable internet, you might want to consider working e.g. at your local coffee bar.
Another alternative might be to use your phone's 3G/4G/5G mobile broadbands connection and create a hotspot to connect your laptop to. Make sure your mobile phone has a large enough data allowance & check the mobile coverage in your area.
Collaboration & virtual meeting tools
Often your employer will provide you with video conferencing, chat & online collaboration tools. If not, head over to our ‘which software do I need’ article to find out more!
What peripherals will enhance your laptop productivity?
Mouse & Keyboard
Even if your laptop has a built in trackpad and keyboard, we recommend to go for a separate quality mouse & keyboard . A wireless set will improve your ergonomics greatly & allow for more flexibility & a cleaner desk. Bluetooth mice and keyboard are perfect so you can use them in combination with any bluetooth enabled device, such as your laptop. Some mice/keyboard come with a proprietary wireless dongle, which will also do the trick just fine. When choosing a keyboard and/or mouse, make sure you pay attention to :
- Battery life. Often you’ll need to use mouse & keyboard to work a full day, hence 8+ minimum battery life is no unnecessary luxury
- How can you recharge. Is it through a cradle in which you simply put the mouse? Or do you need to connect a charging cable? Or do your peripherals work with AAA or AA batteries that need to be separately recharged? Think about what’s easiest for you and which daily recharging routine works best. Personally we recommend plugging your peripherals into a cable at the end of the day. In the morning you then simply unplug and start your day with a fully charged keyboard & mouse, ready to take the day on.
- Do you prefer a ‘mechanical’ keyboard? Mechanical keyboards give a satisfying feedback and are widely considered to be more efficient for typing. Do research which ‘switches’ (=key types) you prefer. Loud vs silent, tactile vs non tactile etc....
Headphones / headset
When it comes to headphones, seriously consider going wireless. This will allow you to take calls from anywhere in the house without being tangled up in wires. Bluetooth connectivity is nice, but a proprietary wireless dongle does the trick just fine as well. Besides being wireless, good 'working from home' headphones have:
- a built in mute button
- noise cancelling technology to drown out crying babies, roadworks, lawnmowing neighbours...
- long battery life
Should your laptop not have a built in webcam, then a separate one will be required to allow you to attend video conference calls. Most new webcams offered on popular shopping websites are perfect for your day-to-day conference call purposes. Just double check it supports at least '1080p' resolution, has some good reviews and you'll be alright.
A chair must be ergonomic above all to allow for a proper seating position & support. One that is height adjustable with comfortable seating & headrest materials is recommended.
Often a laptop screen is too small to effienctly and effectively work from home with. Consider investing in a separate monitor to connect to your laptop via USB-C, displayport or HDMI. A separate working from home monitor needs to:
- be large enough. Generally somewhere between 27 inch and 34 inch, depending on your personal preferences, is perfect.
- have an optimal resolution so you can properly read everything, even the smallest details without straining. '1080p' (1920 x 1080 pixels also called 'Full HD') is suitable for basic tasks. To optimally work from home, go for '1440p' (2560 x 1440 pixels, also called 'QHD') at least. 4k (3840 x 2160 pixels) would be even better, but is overkill in most office use cases.
- Have a high enough refresh rates to ease your eyestrain. 60hertz is the standard, but try to go for at least 100hz. Your eyes will thank you for it!
Having a multiple monitor set up greatly increases your working from home productivity. Emails on one screen, open tasks on another... Avoids frustrating alt tabbing and allows you to easily multitask. We'd recommend to use your laptop screen in combination with a larger external monitor. Multiple large external monitors (without laptop screen) would be even better.
Portable laptop stand
Putting your laptop on a stand will benefit your seating position by making sure your laptop screen is at eye height. A downside is that your laptop keyboard/tracking pad is less accessible, however when working from home it is recommended to use a separate mouse & keyboard anyway. A small, portable laptop stand is all it takes and, should you decide to go to the office, you can just take the laptop stand with you and use it at the office. A laptop stand will still allow you to use your laptops screen, e.g. in combination with a separate monitor for a dual screen set up.
Vertical laptop holder
If there's no need to use your laptops screen (for example because you have already multiple monitor at home), then a simple vertical laptop holder might be a better idea. This laptop holder will take less of your precious desk space and can be tucked away nicely. When starting a working from home period, all you need to do is put the laptop in the vertical holder, connect the cables (preferably 1 single USB C cable that connects all your peripherals, including power supply) and you're good to go!
How to seamlessly transition to and from your desk
Many modern laptops have high powered USB-C ports which allows you to connect all of your peripherals, often even including your screen, via 1 single cable. When you start a working from home period, all you need to do is connect that single cable to your laptop. Automatically your laptop will have power, screen connectivity, mouse/keyboard connected etc.. It’ll save you a couple of seconds each time and make your set-up cleaner and meaner as well.
If you often switch between a work and a home computer, then purchasing a USB switch is an excellent idea. With 1 press of the button, you'll switch over all your USB peripherals between the 2 computers. Connect both computers to the 'in' USB ports, connect all your peripherals to the 'out' USB ports and you're all set ! No need to each time disconnect and reconnect the USB devices anymore when switching PC's!
How to further improve your productivity
Tips & tricks
Besides hardware & software, having the right working from home attitude, mindset & structure is crucial to increase your productivity and general effectiveness. Head on over to our ‘Working from home - tips & tricks’ article or eBooks section to find out more!
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