- Today's home office isn't the underwhelming, under-productive environment it used to be.
- Technology such as home assistants, robots and streaming devices make it easy to keep your mind and office clean and organized.
Working from home is more common now than ever before. With so many online tools designed to help workers communicate and collaborate seamlessly online, it is often just as easy to be productive from home as it is in the company office.
With the rise of remote work, home offices are becoming much more sophisticated, and they include much more than a laptop and coffee table nowadays.
Here are five smart gadgets every home office needs to help boost productivity and improve the overall work-from-home experience.
- Home assistant
Voice-activated home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home are all the rage, and they can be extremely helpful for the at-home office worker. Amazon is the current market leader, with Google playing catch-up, and Apple will soon join the fray as well.
No matter which model you choose, these home assistants have the potential to offer plenty of help throughout your workday. You can use them to quickly send texts or emails using your voice. You can ask them to play some background music if you’re knocking out a list of email replies. Or you can control the atmosphere in your home office, including the lighting and temperature.
Voice-activated home assistants are still relatively new, which means there should be plenty more innovation to come in the near future.
- Additional artificial intelligence
Now that you have your voice-activated home office assistant, you’ll want to add an extra layer of artificial intelligence and automation to make it more useful.
Services such as IFTTT allow you to create many different “if this, then that” recipes that can make your gadgets work together to increase efficiency.
There are many different uses and possibilities with services such as IFTTT. For example, you can set up an applet to start a timer for a client as soon as they call you, making it easy to track for billing purposes later.
That’s just one example. You can also do other things, such as automatically save attachments in Gmail to your Dropbox account, or have Google Assistant call your phone if you lose it. The possibilities are nearly endless.
No, this doesn’t mean it’s time for you to assemble an army of robot co-workers at home (although that would be cool).
If you’re spending most of your workdays at home, it’s probably time to invest in a robot cleaner to help manage the inevitable buildup of dust and dirt while you knock out your to-do list.
Roomba is the most popular and well-known robot cleaner on the market, but there are others that can get the job done just as well. These devices can be somewhat pricey — anywhere from $300 to $500 for a solid model — but knowing that you won’t have to get the broom and dustpan out anymore makes the investment well worth it.
- Bluetooth trackers
Bluetooth tracking devices such as Tile are nice to have on hand in the home office because they help you find items — like your keys, phone or tablet — quickly and effortlessly. There are many trackers on the market, but Tile remains the go-to choice for most.
Clutter easily piles up when you’re working from home. Imagine your phone being buried somewhere underneath a mess of papers right before you need to jump on a conference call. A Bluetooth tracker would be a lifesaver.
- Media streaming device
Media streaming devices are must-have items for anyone who loves to stream content to their television, and they can be handy tools for work purposes as well.
The market is littered with many solid options, including Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Google Chromecast. They all have similar features, so the model you select may come down to the platform you’re familiar with. For example, if you have a Macbook and an iPhone, you’ll probably want to go with Apple TV. If you use a PC and an Android phone, Chromecast may be more for you.
In addition to video, these devices also perform music playback, so they can be helpful if you’re looking for some music to work to. Many also allow you to stream content from your computer or phone to your television, which can be helpful if you need a larger view.
It’s time to outfit your home office with gadgets. Pick up a home assistant, robot cleaner, Bluetooth tracker and a media-streaming device, and pair them with an automation service to watch your at-home work productivity soar.
Kayla Matthews covers smart technology and future trends for websites like VentureBeat, Curbed and Motherboard. You can read more posts by Kayla on her personal tech blog: Productivity Bytes.