If you tumbled through a dimensional portal in late 2019, you might not have heard about a recent malady called COVID-19. This virus has been a nightmare to deal with, sending the world into myriad lockdowns and making the classic office structure about as practically viable as wearing high heels on a bouncy castle. It’s also stubbornly sticking around.
To gloss over the countless details and get to the point of this piece, plenty of professionals — be they entrepreneurs or employees of larger businesses — have become accustomed to working from home. And while some have been fortunate enough to have home offices, others have been forced to get by with limited space, leaving the kitchen as the most suitable area.
Unlike a living room, a kitchen usually has a decent-sized table and seats that aren’t excessively plush for those attempting to get things done. It also has fewer distractions (TVs, gaming consoles, etc.) that can interfere with productivity. On the other hand, working from a laptop in your kitchen isn’t great for business. You need tech to help you out. So let’s look at some.
Image credit: Pikrepo
The ticking of your throwback wall clock. The drip of that tap that just won’t play ball. The assorted creaking sounds that houses love to spontaneously generate. Your home (even when busy) might not rival the hectic hubbub of a packed office, but it can still throw out enough noise pollution to keep your mind from settling into a state of productive focus.
With a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones, though, you can largely forget about that noise. Just scale the cancellation to your needs, load up some great background music (or just leave things quiet), and get to work. Keep the set paired to your laptop and your phone and you can take walks when needed without dampening your peaceful hush.
A decent USB hub
Power for your phone, power for that little fan you use to refresh your face, power for your e-reader, power for your tablet… Add that to the need to keep various devices connected to your laptop and you have more demand than a couple of ports can meet. But just as a multi-adapter can save your bacon when you’re out of plugs, a USB hub can give you the flexibility you need.
Since there are plenty around, though, you should look for one with a high-quality design: ideally with additional power input so it can handle devices that draw more electricity. Brands like Anker create good products, so when in doubt, look for something from a trusted designer.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Who likes touchpads? Even a great touchpad is just fine, making the process of navigating a laptop relatively painless but falling victim to the same issue as any other: simple abrasion. Moving the cursor by dragging your fingers across a piece of plastic will always result in discomfort. Phones have similar gestures, but they don’t use lengthy precision movements.
And while laptop keyboards can be pretty good, they’re also somewhat cramped.
It’s far better to use external mice and keyboards. Choose ergonomic devices that minimise strain on your hands. A split keyboard and a mouse that suits the natural inclination of your wrist will make your daily workload significantly easier to handle.
Your laptop needs a stand so you can incline it towards you without needing to hunch over your table, but it’s a good idea to also have a stand for your phone. Businesses often require phone use at this point, of course, and it means you can use your phone as a webcam when needed. Phones these days have much better cameras than even the best laptops do.
Why wouldn’t you just use an external display and leave your laptop closed? Because that would be a huge pain to move off the table after work, and you need your table to serve all your purposes with minimal compromises.
A green screen
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
What does a green screen have to do with your business?
Well, it’s simple enough: though the stigma around home businesses has diminished significantly in the last year, it hasn’t gone away altogether. There are those who will still judge you for running your business from your kitchen, and make assumptions about what you can and can’t achieve.
With a solid green screen set up behind you (it can be taken down when you don’t need it), you can remove your background without removing the quality of your video, leaving prospective clients and partners unaware of the specifics of your setup. It’s a smart way to proceed.
Running a business from your kitchen table can be quite the adventure, but you need to give yourself a decent chance of making it a big success. With the five tech essentials we’ve looked at here, you should be able to make some decent progress.