9 min read

Work From Home Essentials Kit

Work From Home Essentials Kit

While many had hoped getting back to ‘normal’ and working from home would end sometime in 2020, it’s becoming clear the need to work from home will continue well into 2021 and become permanent for many companies.

With many folks working from home far longer than originally intended, replacing a makeshift office setup with an actually functional, well equipped workspace has become increasingly important, especially as the months wear on.

As someone working from home since March, making even small changes can have a measurable improvement on productivity and morale.  Improvements might include switching to a standing desk or getting some noise-cancelling headphones or even a purpose built laptop — all relatively important items for productivity.

We put our heads together discuss what goes into and makes a great home office environment.  With that in mind, we’ve created the following list of what we think makes for a productivity enhancing, mood improving work from home kit.  Some may be obvious, some not. 

Why it Made the List

We followed a few guiding principles as we put together the list –

  1.  Improve or enhance productivity

  2. Reduce the number of technical issues

  3. Improve comfort and happiness

  4. Where needed, with technology products, have them work together easily

While cost is always a major consideration, we chose to find products that would truly enhance your work from home environment if given the green light to get what you need.  Lower cost alternatives are available, all costs provided are estimates.

Security

Security is at the top of the list because, well, it’s that important. Whether working from your office or your home office, security is still one of our number one priorities when it comes to protecting a business’s number one asset - confidential information and intellectual property.

Implementing a business grade firewall in your home will not only make your IT department sleep better at night, it can also improve the security for anyone using your home network (internet). And there’s the rub. While security is tops in our list, it is also the most difficult for an employee to setup and configure properly in their home. For this reason, we recommend having an IT pro handle the installation.

We chose the Fortinet FortiWifi 40F with Unified Threat Protection for it’s performance in doing what it’s supposed to do, keep the bad guys out, but also for it’s ability to provide secure wireless functionality and ease of management.

The FortiWifi™ line of wireless security gateways add a built-in 802.11a/b/g wireless access point to the business-grade, multi-threat protection of FortiGate appliances. They provide network, content, and application protection for wired and wireless networks without penalties in performance, cost, or manageability. FortWifi appliances combine Fortinet's FortiOS™ security operating system with FortiASIC processors and other hardware to provide a comprehensive and high-performance array of fully integrated security and networking functions.

FortiWifi Firewall with UTP

Estimated Cost: $925 (cost includes 1 year of Unified Threat Protection)

The FortiWifi 40F series offers an excellent security solution in a compact fanless desktop form factor for small offices. Protects against cyber threats with industry-leading security in a simple, affordable, and easy to deploy solution. 

Security

  • Identifies thousands of applications inside network traffic for deep inspection and granular policy enforcement 

  • Protects against malware, exploits, and malicious websites in both encrypted and non-encrypted traffic 

  • Prevents and detects against known and unknown attacks using continuous threat intelligence from AI-powered FortiGuard Labs security services

Performance

  • Delivers industry’s best threat protection performance and ultra-low latency using purpose-built security processor (SPU) technology 

  • Provides industry-leading performance and protection for SSL encrypted traffic

  • Delivers advanced networking capabilities, high-performance, and scalable IPsec VPN capabilities

Management

  • Includes a Management Console that is effective, simple to use, and provides comprehensive network automation & visibility. 

  • Provides Zero Touch Integration with Security Fabric’s Single Pane of Glass Management 

  • Predefined compliance checklist analyzes the deployment and highlights the best practices to improve overall security posture.

FortiWifi40Fs

Laptop

At the core of any home office is the computer; without it the rest is just window dressing.  As with all technology items on the list, we always go with business grade devices that come with business grade support.  Mailing a laptop back to the manufacturer or going by the local Geek Squad for a fix is the opposite of productivity.

We chose the Dell Precision 15" 3550 for its larger screen, 10 key number pad (for the number crunchers), multiple ports for connectivity and, of course, an HD Webcam with dual digital microphones and speakers for high-quality video calls.  We also threw in a dedicated graphics processor to ensure your Teams and Zoom calls have the processing power they need.

Dell Precision 15" 3550 (10Key / Dedicated GPU assists Teams conferences)

Estimated Cost: $1,820

A 15-inch lightweight workstation designed to handle 2D and entry-level 3D CAD, featuring the latest Intel® Core™ processors and NVIDIA Quadro® graphics.

  • i5 Processor

  • 16GB RAM

  • 256GB Solid State Hard Drive

As always, we highly recommend the four-year Pro Support plan for rapid 24x7 issue resolution and using a wired connection for the best internet performance.

DellLaptop

Keyboard and Mouse

While typing away on a laptop and using the built-in mouse pad may not be difficult, it can become tiresome after long periods of time.  For that reason, we recommend adding a wireless keyboard and mouse to reduce the strain and keep those creative juices flowing.

We chose the Dell multi-device wireless keyboard and mouse combo for its easy integration with the Dell laptop, compatibility with many common software applications and its super long battery life.

Dell Multi-Device Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo - KM7120W

Estimated Cost: $75

Instantly pair each device with your compatible Windows 10 system via Bluetooth without having to configure in Settings every time with Microsoft Swift Pairing. Compatibility with Windows, Chrome, Android, and Mac provide maximum flexibility across all your devices.

With 36 months of battery life, it lasts 3 times longer than its previous generation. Now you do not have be concerned with frequent battery replacements.

KeyboardMouse

Monitor 

Every home office should have a good monitor, if not two, to expand the workspace and ease eye strain.  Monitors have come a long way and we chose the Dell UltraSharp 27” USB-C Hub Monitor.  This isn’t just a monitor. As the name implies, it acts as the ‘hub’ for connecting all your devices. Having the cat get tangled up in all the cords under your workspace, disconnecting the internet during your video call is less than ideal.

This monitor provides all the necessary ports to plug in all your devices and then some.  The integrated port hub allows you to plug in your internet cable, power your laptop, iPhone and more, freeing up valuable workspace.

Dell UltraSharp 27" USB-C Hub Monitor U2721DE

Estimated Cost $435

Get a stable, wired connection to your network and peripherals on this sleek 27" QHD hub monitor with RJ45, USB-C and a host of other ports.

Connect to productivity: Experience outstanding wired connection to your network. With extensive connectivity options like RJ45 and USB-C, your monitor serves as a productivity hub that delivers stable Ethernet and power - all in a clutter-free setup.

Enhanced manageability: Managing your monitor is easy with MAC Address pass-through, PXE Boot, and Wake-on-LAN conveniently built in. 

Power of USB-C: Charge your connected laptop with up to 65W of power using USB-C, a single cable solution that transmits power, data and video signals. And with the Always On Power Delivery feature, your laptop will keep charging, even when the monitor is turned off. USB-C also saves up to 72% of workspace setup time, reduces cable clutter and enables quick transitions from your desk.

Setup is a snap: Experience a convenient multi-monitor setup with Dell Express Daisy Chaining. It allows automatic detection of the second display, skipping the manual step of changing OSD settings.

Monitor2

Printer

Ugh, printing!  Printer problems are the number one annoyance users have and the source of great pain for any tech helpdesk.  Remote workers access many software applications throughout the workday, some simple web based and some more secure applications requiring specific remote access software.  Being able to print reliably and fast is no different at home than in the office.

That’s why we chose the Lexmark CX522ade color duplex multifunction printer.  While we know it’s a bit pricey, we felt it worth it to reduce painful printing issues and provide additional capabilities such as two-sided printing, scanning and copying.

Lexmark CX522ade Color Duplex Laser Printer - Multifunction

Estimated Cost: $550 

  • Print Speed: 35 ppm

  • Recommended Monthly Page Volume: 1500 - 8500 pages

  • Color Laser

  • Duplex (2-sided) Printing: Integrated Duplex

  • EPEAT Silver certified — reduced environmental impact from multiple eco-attributes.

Printer

Headset/Speaker Phone

Anyone that’s been on a video call where you can’t hear one person speaking knows it’s not only annoying, it can take an entire meeting off the rails.  To ensure the best audio experience, we came up with a couple recommendations.

As most gamers will attest, the headset is the way to go.  For this we recommend the Jabra Evolve2 40 USB-C Stereo headset pre-configured for Microsoft Teams.  The plug-and-play for Teams makes all your video calls a snap.

Jabra Evolve2 40 USB-C Stereo MS for Teams for Headset

Estimated Cost: $139

Telework Headset for Calls and Music, Enhanced All-Day Comfort, Passive Noise Cancelling Headphones, MS-Optimized with USB-C Connection

This Jabra headset works with all leading Unified Communications platforms and is optimized for Microsoft Teams as a plug-and-play experience. 

Headphone

For those that don’t want to be encumbered by a headset, which is my personal preference, we like two devices. These small puck-like devices can be used for a single person or even in a conference setting with multiple people.  It is a must-have for me and my numerous daily calls. 

The Jabra wireless Bluetooth speakerphone is a portable speaker with excellent sound quality is easy to setup and compatible with Microsoft Teams and other communication platforms.

For those wanting more capabilities, we’ve included the Dell Mobile MH3021P USB-C Multi-Port Adapter and Speakerphone.  It not only is a speakerphone; it has integrated connection ports to plug in your additional devices.

Jabra Speak 510 MS Wireless Bluetooth Speaker for Softphone and Mobile Phone

Estimated Cost: $135

JabraPuck

Dell Mobile MH3021P USB-C Multi-Port Adapter and Speakerphone

Estimated Cost: $160

World’s first USB-C adapter with integrated speakerphone offers an all-in-one connectivity and conferencing solution.

DellPuck

Office Chair

Any home office should also include getting a quality office chair. Because while a dining chair, kitchen stool or even the couch might be fine occasionally, only the best office chairs offer the comfort, seat and back support you really need for working from home on a daily basis. 

Beyond their added support and comfortability, proper office chairs also offer varying amounts of adjustability — in height, tilt and lumbar support — to tailor the settings perfectly to your needs, ultimately avoiding the neck and lower back aches and pains that come with sitting in a less than comfortable chair for an extended period of time. 

A high-end office chair can also come at a high-end price, so we provided a couple of options.

High-End

Herman Miller Sayl Chair, Black Rhythm

Estimated Cost: $800 

  • Frameless Suspension Back offers sitters a Healthy balance between support and freedom of movement

  • Features: tilt limiter, stationary Seat Depth and arms, Black base and frame, and carpet casters

  • Breathable Unframed Back keeps you cool while you work

  • Minimal design that has minimal impact on the environment.

Chair1

Budget-Friendly

Alera Elusion Series Mesh Mid-Back Multifunction Chair, Black

Estimated Cost: $168

  • Multifunction mechanism allows Back angle adjustment relative to seat, adjustable tilt (free floating or infinite locking positions) and forward tilt

  • Cool, breathable mesh back

  • Contoured Seat Cushion with premium fabric upholstery and waterfall edge to help relieve pressure on legs.

Chair2

Seat Cushion

For those not quite ready to drop a couple hundred dollars on an office chair, we went with the next best thing – a seat cushion to ease the pain of that dining chair.  While it doesn’t have all the raise and tilt functions of an office chair, it just might save your butt!

Purple Double Seat Cushion

Estimated Cost: $99

A great option for office chairs, the Double Seat Cushion features two layers of Grid to keep you supported – even when you're working overtime. The design allows for especially
long-lasting comfort, making it a favorite for the office and work-from-home setups.

SeatCushion

Air Purifier

Some may wonder why we chose an air purifier for our home office list.  Working for months on end in the same room with pets roaming around may create a malodorous situation for the whole house.  Clean air becomes a big deal. 

MOOKA Air Purifier for Home, 3-in-1 True HEPA Filter Air Cleaner for Bedroom and Office

Estimated Cost: $53

Odor Eliminator for Allergies and Pets, Smoke, Dust, Mold, 3D Filtration, Night Light

AirPurifier

Lighting for Video Calls 

Those new to video calls may notice based on the setup of your home office you may look like a dark shadowy figure amongst your peers.  Well we want you to look your best and brightest without having to jerry-rig a table lamp to do so. 

To provide that studio quality lighting look, we’ve provided two options, the Foxin video lighting kit, especially designed for laptops and home office setups, and the U-Stream video conference kit.

Foxin Video Conference Lighting Kit, Lighting for Video Conferencing 

Estimated Cost: $55

  • Built in Battery: Press the power button for a few seconds to turn on the light. The charging cable is used to charge the light when the battery is low, when it has enough battery power, you can use the kit on your computer directly without the cable

  • Convenient and Portable for Multi Usages: Foxin's video conference lighting kit can be widely used for remote working, video conferencing, zoom calls, self-broadcasting, live streaming, makeup, YouTube, vlog and so on

  • Adjustable Brightness and Color Temperature: Our light video conferencing kit controls your lighting from 1% - 100% brightness to get the perfect lighting for your setup. Adjust from a warm (orange) light to a cool (white) light to get your perfect skin tones and match your environment

  • Professional Light and Long Battery Life: The built-in frosted lens give you the flexibility to soften your light and get that professional glow. The built-in extended battery provides hours of illumination. For extended broadcasting, you can plug the light in to your computers USB port and run indefinitely off of external power!

  • Easy to Set Up and Stronger Suction: Press the power button for 3 seconds to turn on the light. Stick the tape on the suction cup kit with light and stick it on your device directly.

LightingSquare
 

U-STREAM Video Conference Kit with 10" Ring Light & 62" Tripod

Estimated Cost: $46

Perfect for Zoom Meetings! Be Your Best Self During Video Calls with This Set of 10" Ring Light, Adjustable Tripod & Non-Slip Phone Holder

As we adapt to the new normal, almost everything we need shifts online. Most of us are working from home now and team syncs, touch base, and meetings are more necessary to keep work matters aligned. Be your best self during these Teams/Zoom/Google meetings with this U-STREAM Home Studio Set. The 10" ring light offers 3 distinct lighting options, so you always have the perfect amount of light wherever you are. Not only that, but this kit also lets you shoot in the right angle with its adjustable tripod stand that extends from 18" to 62" high. The phone holder has a non-slip rubber grip to hold your phone securely in place while streaming. U-STREAM is USB-powered so you can plug it into any standard port. 

  • 3 distinct lighting options—White, Warm Yellow, and Warm White, so you always have the perfect amount of light

  • 10 different levels of brightness for the best level suitable

  • Adjustable tripod stand, perfect for desktop or floor use

  • Remote control to remotely control the ring light

  • Non-slip rubber grip to hold your phone securely while streaming.

LightingCircle

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