Today, I would like to share with you some of my favorite work-from-home hardware items that I personally use in my business.
Disclaimer: The links below may be affiliate links. If you purchase any products after clicking on these links, at no additional cost to you, Called to Design will receive a small commission for making you aware of these important resources.
My primary work-from-home hardware tool is a laptop. I purchased a used/refurbished 2-in-1 HP Envy x360 laptop from eBay and lucked out in finding a quality business to deal with. The 2-in-1 means I can bend the screen back to touch the keyboard’s backside, turning it into a tablet. (2023 Update: I’ve now upgraded to a new HP Elitebook Notebook).
I am very happy with this laptop, although I’ll confess that I don’t use it as much as a tablet as I thought I would, probably because of the configuration I purchased. For one, it has a 15.6″ screen – a good size for a laptop but overly large to handle as a tablet, and two, it’s a bit heavy. I process a LOT of files and therefore needed plenty of storage space, so this particular laptop came with a second 1TB SSD hard drive. That extra hard drive adds enough weight that I wouldn’t want to hold it in one hand for long.
Note: I do use cloud storage and backups as well, but I follow the rule of threes – keep your files in three places, so in case one drive or backup fails, you are still covered. I have the laptop (1), external hard drive (2), and cloud backup (3). I have a fourth if you count that most of my files are on OneDrive.
I also purchased a separate ergonomic keyboard, but I haven’t used it as much as I thought, partially because of my desk setup. It’s too narrow to fit my laptop with a keyboard in front. Someday, I hope to have a more formal desk with more space to use. I like how ergonomic keyboards fit your natural hand position when typing. I also key enough numbers in that a numeric keypad is essential. (You can save “space” on a laptop or keyboard if you don’t need the extra keypad.)
Making Zoom calls is a necessary part of my job. I find it best to meet with new clients “face to face” to get to know one another. I also use Zoom calls infrequently for existing clients because sometimes it’s easier and faster to discuss project needs instead of sending dozens of emails back and forth.
Using a dedicated headset with a microphone helps keep me focused, improves the sound quality, and also helps drown out background noises – such as another viewing of Phineas & Ferb or a Pixar movie. 😀 It also lets my family know that I’m busy … if they pay attention before they start speaking.
Having my equipment plugged into a surge protector is essential work-from-home hardware. I don’t want to be stuck without my laptop – or any other equipment because of energy surges or lightning strikes. I like this inexpensive version because it also has direct USB charging ports! It’s one less thing I need to charge through my laptop or plug into the wall with a connector. I wish I had bought a second one, though; this one is already full!
Did you know that hackers could potentially use your webcam? If your computer or other electronic device doesn’t have a cover for the webcam, I highly recommend getting one! While not hardware, having privacy covers for your work-from-home camera will help protect you and your family.
I don’t have a link for this product, as I’m not exactly happy with the version I purchased. It works, but the sticky parts were ineffective, so my cover moves around as I use it. You can find decent covers for just a few dollars if you look carefully.
External Hard Drive
As mentioned above, I rely on multiple backups in case something happens. I currently have one that is 2 TB (terabytes), but I think I’d like to get something even larger. As I said, I save a lot of data – especially pictures and videos- personally and for clients. Most client media can be stored on Google Drive or Dropbox, but if I want to use it, I will often have it saved locally and in the cloud for faster access.
I think this Seagate 5TB drive is what I need – for less money than I purchased the smaller drive years ago! That’s another reason I’m considering a new hard drive; the age of the old one makes it more vulnerable to failure. Cloud backups are great, but for convenience, local backups and an external hard drive are essential work-from-home hardware.
Our printer had been “dying” for months – randomly starting up and making horrid noises as it went through its cycle checks. Not surprising, given that it was at least ten years old. I had hoped to wait to chuck it until we moved. But then everything shut down this spring, and we were stuck. Eventually, I couldn’t get the black ink to print even with multiple ink head cleanings. It was time to purchase a new one – especially since we had some schoolwork to print each week.
I chose this HP OfficeJet printer because it had high ratings and wasn’t overly expensive. I purchased the version with Instant Ink. I’m still in the three-month trial period because since we’re home, we’re printing WAY more than usual! The 3-month trial gives you up to 300 printed pages for the month without extra charges. I had initially signed up for 50 pages but may have to bump that up to at least 100 if this drags on. (2023 Update: I am still on the 50-page plan; I don’t print as much as I used to).
This may be a luxury work-from-home hardware item (not a necessity), especially since I’m not using the laptop as a tablet much; however, it has come in handy. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t say I like seeing fingerprints all over my screen. Using the stylus instead of my finger on the touch screen means I don’t have to clean (as often). I have also used this when in laptop mode. I prefer the hard plastic precision tip to the flexible nub on the other side.