What equipment WFH people should invest in
Given the current situation, more and more employees adopt the work from home set up to minimize exposure to the COVID-19 virus, while simultaneously limiting its spread. While this might sound great in theory—eliminating the horrors of traffic, saving people time, money, and energy—it’s not as easy to pick up and adopt for the long term. To help ease your transition, we’ve made a list of things that you should invest in to ensure you stay productive and healthy—in terms of posture and ergonomics—while also improving your quality of life.
There are several key items that you need to bring your office to your home. These include a good laptop/computer, monitor, mouse, keyboard, headphones, internet, table, and chair. While we would be giving general advice and specific items we recommend, we do recognize people are in different places financially. If you have a lower budget, you most definitely could settle for something cheaper, but never compromise on quality. Don’t dwell too much on the price, too, as these purchases will serve you for years and years to come—hence, they are investments in yourself.
If you’re working online, then, of course, a stable internet connection is the most important aspect of your setup. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to suggest the best one, as providers are typically good in some locations while other providers are better in other locations. If possible, try to apply for a trial period for the providers available in your area, so you can test and choose which is best for you. Just take note that getting a wired connection is preferable to WiFi to ensure stability, so ask the technicians to set up the router in the room with your desk.
For a quick rundown on the four most popular ISPs, their plans, and pricing, check out our Broadband and Fiber Plans comparison.
We’ve already touched on which laptops are recommended for different uses, but if you’re just looking for a general-purpose machine for emails, Excel work, documents, and the like, any Intel Core i3/AMD Ryzen 3 (from two generations ago) will suit your needs. What’s more important when it comes to these types of workload is that you have enough RAM (16GB is ideal, but you can get away with 8GB) and an SSD (even a basic SATA-based one). Decent laptops such as the Lenovo S145, the Acer Aspire 3 (after an SSD and RAM upgrade), would cost you around PHP 25,000-PHP 30,000.
If you’re looking at desktop PCs, even Intel’s Pentium G or AMD’s Zen-based Athlons would suffice for regular office workloads, also given that you have enough RAM and an SSD. If you’re looking at the used market, then Intel’s Haswell-based (4th generation) i5s would be the oldest I would go, mainly because other components in older systems, such as the power supply and motherboard, may be unreliable in the near future.
Depending on the type of work you do, you may need a high-resolution, color-accurate display or even multiple displays, if you need an extra screen. This component is often overlooked, but should really be invested in since it’s the one component you interact with the most.
If you’re looking for a basic 1080p display that won’t break the bank, you could expect to spend around PHP 6,000 for a decent 24-inch 1080p monitor. Our recommendation, the Lenovo L24e-20 is a great budget choice since it uses a VA panel (and not TN), with fairly accurate colors at 72% NTSC coverage and VESA mounting support. Its out-of-the-box stand, however, is not height adjustable. If you’re a coder, a researcher, or someone who needs the screen real estate, then we at Yugatech use the Lenovo Legion Y44wf-10. It’s a curved 43.4-inch 3840 x 1200p monitor with a 144Hz refresh rate and HDR 400 compatibility. It’s also color-accurate, with sRGB, BT.709, DCI-P3 certification.
While some people might be used to their laptop trackpads or basic computer mice, there are some benefits in purchasing a better mouse – even if you’re not into gaming. More expensive mice also have better-rated buttons, with some capable of reaching tens of millions of clicks. There are thumb buttons that help you navigate webpages better, that you can bind with specific programs you use to become more efficient. There are numerous shapes available in the market that may cater to you and help reduce strain in your hand and wrists. Most importantly, they come with better sensors that can capture even the smallest adjustments that don’t jitter and jump around as cheap mice do. This is even more important for people doing creative work on Photoshop who needs accuracy and responsiveness.
While Logitech’s G903 or MX Master 3 is easy to recommend, you don’t need to spend too much on an office mouse. A great budget option around PHP 1,000 will be the Logitech G103 or the Logitech G304 for around PHP 2,000 if you want to go wireless. If you’re on a tighter budget, Tecware mice are great options for under PHP 1,000 (even the cheapest EXO Lite), or any mouse with an Avago 3050 sensor would do.
Keyboards are perhaps the second component we interact with the most, with all the bells and whistles we need. Hence, making sure we have a comfortable one will vastly improve our working experience. Just remember that getting a mechanical keyboard shouldn’t be your main goal, also consider the size and number of keys too. If you work on spreadsheets a lot, then you have to make sure you have a number pad. If you’re editing and want the extra keys to make production faster, then getting one with macro keys might also be worthy.
That being said, you don’t need to spend thousands of pesos on keyboards like the ROG Strix Flare. There are great budget options such as Tecware Phantom and Rakk Lam Ang for around PHP 2,000. If you are on a stricter budget, then membrane keyboards from A4 Tech are also known to last a long time. The Rakk Illuminated Keyboard V2 is also a great choice if you need backlighting, and it’s spillproof too. Lastly, the Logitech K375s is a great budget option for people who want to connect their keyboard to multiple computers.
Headphones and Audio devices
This part isn’t as important to general office work, but for quarantined call center agents, you’d want to be able to provide comparable or even better audio quality to your customers. That being said, you don’t need to break the bank to do the job. I would, however, recommend you get the over-the-ear type of headphones, as these are more comfortable over long periods compared to on-the-ear headphones.
For non-audiophile VOIP related tasks, even cheaper headsets under PHP 500 like the A4 Tech ComfortFit HS19 would do you well. If you want to take it up a notch and go wireless, then gaming companies such as Corsair and SteelSeries offer a wide variety of near lag-less headsets such as the Corsair HS70, Virtuoso, and the SteelSeries Arctis Series.
Table & Chair
Your set up can not exist without a proper desk and chair. Not only do these help you with proper posture, comfort, and a place to set up your PC and peripherals, but they also vastly improve your mentality and productivity. While you could settle down on your bed and work from there, your productivity and motivation will wane over time. As someone who has been working from home before the quarantine, I recommend settling close to a window or somewhere with a view. Your desk doesn’t need to be fancy; it just needs to fit everything you need. If you have a dual monitor setup, then you have to make sure that both of them fit, and can be positioned in an ergonomic way. If you use a laptop and desktop combo, then you need to have enough space for your laptop stand as well.
If you’re looking for something simple, affordable, yet sturdy, then Lifetime tables are easy to recommend as they tick all three boxes. They’re large enough to fit folder filers or dual monitors, and they generally last a long time. There are also options that are height adjustable, just in case you want to raise or lower the table to suit your needs. Chairs, on the other hand, are harder to recommend, especially since its subjective. I highly recommend trying it out first before purchasing to make sure that it’s comfortable for you. What I’d recommend, though, are mesh chairs (because it’s hot in the country), with height adjustment and armrests to help ease tension on your shoulders over long hours. Additionally, you could also get a footstool if your chair is too tall, so you could maintain the recommended 90-degree posture while working – instead of slouching just so your feet reach the floor.
And that’s our list of what you should invest in if you’re working from home. Of course, you could spend more and get a better working experience, but these are our recommended minimums. If you are on a budget, then purchase one item at a time, adding more to your setup over time until you feel comfortable with your new working environment.