We look back on the underdiscussed gadgets that made our work-from-home space a little easier and stress-free
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Google ‘working from home’ and you will be inundated by stylish images of beaming people at home with standing desks, the latest technology, a bright airy window in front of them andnot a single wire or power outlet in sight. But 2020’s housebound scenes reveal a different reality. Many households have actively established a separate workspace within the home, be it a desk by a window or a full-on home office. There are some gadget groups that helped this along.
Laptops, smartphones and tablets aside, we look back on the ‘underdog workspace heroes’ that have boosted productivity and morale while mimicking our much-missed office spaces.
Laptop and keyboard stands
Posture was a major buzzword for 2020 workspaces. While investing in the latest ergonomic desk chairs is not in everyone’s budgets, far more affordable laptop and keyboard stands became a necessity to remind workers to align their spines just right.
Luckily, these stands are adjustable depending on the user’s height and comfort, so there is no need to buy too many for the home; the durable ones are not too expensive either.
Sports medicine doctors and physiotherapists have actively warned us against working while reclining on the couch or – gasp – in bed. Enter lap desks. These cushion-bottomed add-ons are cute to look at and quite inexpensive while pricey ones have slide-out drawers, slots for your stationery and even mouse-pads – but the simple ones are equally effective.
This year also saw DIY Facebook profiles such as ‘5 Minute Crafts’ teaching people how to make their own in a few simple steps with minimum materials. Ultimately, lap desks have been one of the biggest preventers of laptop burn – the redness and irritation to the tops of your thighs from sometimes overheated laptops.
However, we recommend that you continue to opt for a table to work at, instead of your lap – for the sake of your neck and back.
This year didn’t just see fights in the family at home over desk space, but also fights over power outlets to charge phones, tablets, and laptops. Power docks are not new but they have proven to be a peace-making asset, allowing users to plug in their devices without a sound.
Power docks come in all formats: some offer USB-A to USB-C ports, while some have different socket types. But the most useful have been the type that helps laptop users switch up their whole desk setup with a single wiring system: these docks power up a keyboard, mouse, speakers, Ethernet, display, external storage drives, and microphone in one system while not eating up the battery of your laptop.
Not everyone has the desire to invest in the posh and space-occupying ring lights. If you have the budget and the need for these, go for them. However, the runner-up for good lighting during that late-night video call has been the portable selfie ring light. Costing around ₹ 300, these rechargeable portable lights are easy to use. They also have decent padding on the clips so that the devices upon which they are clipped are not scuffed.
Be sure to avoid the ones that require batteries – if you are keen to avoid e-waste at home – and if you manage to find ones with warranties, even better!
Blue light filter
It seems working from home saw blue light (also known as high-energy visible light, or HEV light) becoming the new gluten. And the WFH and SFH (study-from-home) gangs did not just buy blue light glasses; this year saw many households unearthing older laptops and PCs for everyone to use. However, these models do not have blue light filters. E-commerce sites anticipated this demand and racked them up to meet buyers’ demands.
Sure, these are not exactly pretty but many do come with a host of benefits: a microlouver technology that ‘blacks out’ side views for privacy, and prevents disruption to users’ circadian rhythm.
In 2019, India became the third largest electronic waste generator in the world after China and the United States, at 3.2 million tonnes. This year, with the increased discussion around being environmentally friendly and households wanting to reduce their waste output, people started investing in rechargeable batteries to avoid filling up their bins with the single-use varieties that would, never be recycled.
Since rechargeable batteries can be charged many times after the initial purchase, it is reasonable that rechargeable batteries come with a much higher price tag than the disposable non-rechargeable batteries. However, in the long run, the batteries that you can recharge are significantly more cost effective, often providing you with hundreds or more hours of use than their disposable counterparts.
So whether you are a first-time gamer with a controller using many hours or even a binge-watching enthusiast wanting to power up your remotes, these are a great and economical buy.