Thanks to COVID-19 many of us who previously identified as “office workers” are now working remotely or adhering to some kind of hybrid office & home working protocol. Many entrepreneurs have also taken the opportunity to start a business without the significant overheads that come with an office lease, making remote work or “working from home” a working trend in 2020 and 2021.
Now that remote working appears to be here to stay, makeshift home offices that occupied the kitchen table or a snug corner of the bedroom are now being replaced with permanent fixtures in the spare room or the new outbuilding. Of course, every good office these days needs to be high-tech to make you more productive and make work more fun. This article will look at some of the best apps and gadgets to make your home office both a hub of activity, with a twist of wellbeing and fun.
*Disclaimer – speak to your doctor about your mental and physical wellbeing – this article is for informational purposes only.
Remote work is great, but it is also very isolating. While some people can compensate with recreational activities, for others, a lack of office interaction and water cooler talk makes their weekly routine rather lonely.
The vagus nerve is activated during social engagement. This nerve is often touted as the link between body and mind. The nerve starts at the base of the neck and travels down to the gut. It is involved in regulating mood, digestion, heart rate and speaking. It also manages and processes emotions.
It is possible to activate the vagus nerve yourself, however. There are various stretching exercises, usually of the neck, and you can also massage your inner ear, sing or hum. As you might imagine, the tech and gadget industry seized a vagus-nerve-related opportunity and created the Neuvana Xen vagus nerve stimulator. The device is said to improve mood, improve sleep and reduce stress.
Remember that although gadgets can help with stress and even loneliness, getting outside, exercising, socializing (when possible), and meditation are all highly effective and generally free ways to improve your mood and wellbeing.
You can also set out your home office so that it optimizes wellbeing. For example, many architects and psychologists now promote the “prospect and refuge” layout for seating and desks. In the days before civilization, we sought out homes and living spaces with a great view of the surrounding land. This visual access to the entire landscape enabled us to spot danger and dinner. We also wanted to be able to hide and have a space that was relatively easy to defend. If you place your workstation to have a view of the entire room, and ideally the outside through a window, you will tick the “prospect” box in terms of the layout. For “refuge”, it is best to have a wall behind you. Facing into the room and having a wall behind you can subconsciously make you feel more relaxed, as you know what is behind and in front of you.
Neo Smartpen Dimo
The Neo Smartpen is a handy gadget that saves and digitizes handwriting. The least expensive model, the Dimo uses a single AAA battery and Bluetooth technology. It has an infrared camera on the end of the pen’s tip that allows it to recognize what you are writing. In real-time the pen transfers what you have written or drawn to your tablet or smartphone.
As with other smartpens, it only works with paper that you can either print or buy directly from the manufacturer. The paper contains tiny dots which help the pen recognize the position of ink on the paper. The cheaper model is somewhat thicker than the top-of-the-range version, with the feel of a marker pen, rather than a writing pen. You can choose colors and thickness of lines via the app that can be downloaded for both android and iOS. If you are using the pen primarily for drawing, then you may wish to invest in one of the higher-end models, which can detect different levels of shading.
This is a great tool and gadget for blending the physical world with the digital, or virtual world. It can also take voice notes, so it is ideal for students who may wish to record and take notes at lectures and webinars too. For someone working from home, it can be a great tool for taking notes during online meetings, and when you get bored, you can transform your meeting doodles into online characters!
Moneypenny Virtual Receptionist App
Every great office needs a receptionist. James Bond had Moneypenny, and so can you! with Moneypenny’s telephone answering service and mobile app, you can have your very own US or UK-based receptionist to answer all of your calls on your, or your businesses behalf.
Moneypenny, the phone answering service provider, not the James Bond receptionist – have headquarters in both the UK and the US. for a monthly fee, with no setup cost, they provide a dedicated receptionist who specializes in answering calls and dealing with angry clients and customers, from your industry. You can also opt for a 24/7 service.
Using a virtual receptionist is a great way to give the impression of having a bricks-and-mortar high street office presence when you run everything online and from your spare room. Although remote working has become legitimized since the pandemic began, many people will still feel reassured if they believe your business is set up as a more traditional operation.
Having a receptionist to filter out unwanted calls, make appointments in Calendly and provide a great first impression of your business is a huge asset to have. What’s more, with Moneypenny, you get a free mobile phone app and landline number, which effectively turns your cell into a business phone system.
Make it Smart
Automation is relatively easy to set up these days. You can have your very own Tony Stark-esk office, with automated lighting, heating and more! Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay a lot more to get a robot to bring you a cup of coffee in the morning automatically.
You can automate your home and your office with Alexa, Google Voice or Apple devices. Apple Homekit, for example, is a framework and app created by Apple that allows you to automated a number of devices. You can use Siri or another other internet-connected Apple device to control your lights, cameras, thermostats and smart locks.
You can control your devices from anywhere in the world. You can use the homePod, or an Apple TV, iPad or iPhone. HomeKit uses end-to-end encryption, so you need the hub to be a center point to your smart home. HomeKit is continually growing with new accessories coming out all of the time.
One of the first things to automate is the lighting. You can put a sensor on your home office door so that as soon as you walk in first thing in the morning, you can get all the desk lights to turn on can help you get started and hit the ground running.
The smart thermostat from Ecobee can be used with HomeKit and Siri, allowing voice control. You can change the temperature with your voice and set schedules so that the heating comes on in your smart home office at a specific time and turns off at another time.
If you are working from home, you probably don’t want salespeople and deliveries interrupting your flow. A video doorbell such as the Logitech Circle View Doorbell, is compatible with the HomeKit. The doorbell allows you to see who is at your door, in full color, even at night time. You can set up your HomeKit so that your central device chimes and tells you who is at the door (if it’s a regular visitor).