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Top 5 Essential Products for WFH

Matt Pendrill

Matt Pendrill

Client Service Analyst

April 16, 2020

Connected employee working at laptop from home on a group zoom call

Life in the workplace has changed a lot over the years. Since the invention of the personal computer in 1975, technological innovation has led to numerous advancements in both hardware and software. While some of these advancements in technology were intended for personal use, a large percentage of these have made their way into our working lives, improving not only our ability to work, but our ability to collaborate and communicate amongst one another.

Here at Connected, we have used a myriad of tools over the past five years to help our teams connect both in office and remotely. But only now, have people’s home lives and work lives become one and the same. In the midst of a global pandemic and the uncertainty that exists, there is an increased need to be productive at home. Because of our experience building better products with teams that are scattered across locations—both in Connected’s office and in our clients’ offices—we thought it best to share a list of products that have positively impacted our ability to work from home.

Logitech – MX Vertical Mouse

For people who suffer from a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis, Logitech’s new MX Vertical Mouse can make a real difference. Built with ergonomics in mind, MX Vertical’s unique 57° vertical angle is said to “improve posture, lower muscle strain, and reduce wrist pressure,” while supporting a variety of hand shapes and sizes. The 4000 DPI sensor also allows for super-precise navigation, resulting in 4x less hand movement, when compared to a traditional, 1000 DPI mouse. Which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll see the benefits of over very little time.

In addition to its ergonomic qualities, the MX Vertical mouse uses Logitech’s EASY-SWITCH™ and FLOW technologies, allowing you to pair up to three devices at a time and “effortlessly switch between them with the tap of a button or by simply moving the cursor from one screen to another with Logitech Flow.” What’s more, its dedicated cursor speed switch allows users to adjust speeds on the fly, while its premium scroll wheel makes surfing the web a breeze. To top it all off, its battery can last up to four months on a full charge and pump out three hours of use from a quick, one-minute charge. Oh, and did I mention it’s a thing of beauty?!

Facebook – Portal

In the age of video calling, Facebook’s smart display, Portal, is worth its weight in gold. While webcams have traditionally been used as the go-to solution for businesses, a number of workplaces (including our own) are turning to Portal for a more engaging and unique video-conferencing experience.

Thanks to Portal’s new Smart Camera—which automatically pans and zooms along with its subject—calls that would have once been considered one-dimensional, have become highly immersive and engaging experiences. With 114 degrees of viewing space to play with, users can also interact with their surroundings, without needing to worry if participants on the other end can see what they’re doing (think whiteboard sessions, product demos, etc…). Likewise, Smart Sound automatically enhances a speaker’s voice while at a distance, at the same time reducing unwanted background noise.

Perhaps most importantly, though, Portal comes equipped with Facebook’s proprietary messaging platform, Workplace, which allows you to easily connect with your fellow co-workers and share content during calls. With support for up to 50 participants, Workplace video chats are also a great way to hold presentations or run workshops. Top this off with Amazon’s Alexa, Messenger/WhatsApp integration, and a host of other unique features, and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded smart display—perfect for both the home and office (or, in this case, home-office).

Bose – Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose’s newest line of noise-cancelling headphones, 700, are some of the sleekest headphones on the market today. Eye-catching aesthetics aside, they come equipped with a number of features that will aid you in an environment filled with distractions—something many parents and pet owners are facing at present.

Under the hood, there is a new and improved noise-cancelling system, which cuts out background noise and enhances the user’s voice during calls. For times when noise cancelling is not required, there is a control button on the side of the headphones, which allows you to easily select your level of preferred noise reduction, including an aptly-titled preset known as “Conversation Mode.” This proves particularly helpful when needing to jump in and out of calls, as I’ve found over the past few weeks through conversations with my roommate.

Another notable addition to the 700 series is Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, which can be easily accessed from the headphone’s outer frame. All of this, of course, goes along with the superior sound quality that we’ve come to expect from Bose.

Herman Miller – Sayl Office Chair

Every good home office needs a good office chair, and there are few chairs as good as Herman Miller’s Sayl chair. As someone who is fortunate enough to call one of these chairs my own, I can attest to its ability to change the way you work. With its sturdy frame and signature airy back, it’s the perfect chair for those long days spent in front of a computer.

What’s really great about the Sayl, though, are its ergonomic features. Thanks to its “3D Intelligent” back, you can move around and stretch freely, without compromising back support. The bands that run along the back are also said to “provide greater support in the transition areas along the spine and less everywhere else,” due to their variance in thickness and tension. What’s more, the optional PostureFit support kit ensures that your back maintains its natural S-shape, which has turned out to be a real game-changer for myself, having suffered with lower back pain for much of my working life.

Lastly, it comes with a multitude of adjustments for seat depth, lumbar support and arm height, making it easy to find the perfect setup to suit your needs—something I’ve struggled with on pretty-well every other office chair I’ve owned.

Dell – UltraSharp U2720Q Monitor

If you’re looking for a premium monitor to give you some extra working space, I can’t recommend Dell’s UltraSharp U2720Q monitor enough. As a reasonably-priced, yet powerful computer monitor, I’ve added this exact monitor to my own personal setup. While its name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, the U2720Q is a perfect addition to any home office.

Like most 4K monitors, the picture quality on the U2720Q is expectedly sharp, offering up a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, colour depth of 1.07 billion colours, and a contrast ratio of 1,300:1. Where it really stands out, though, is in its oft-overlooked features: For starters, it has a light matte, anti-glare screen surface, which not only helps reduce reflection, but can help ease the strain on your eyes. Furthermore, it includes an auto-restore feature, so you can easily return to where you left-off after unplugging/plugging-back-in your device—a feature I’ve taken advantage of when transitioning back-and-forth between workspaces. It also offers USB-C connectivity, meaning it can charge your laptop, while simultaneously displaying your screen.

The feature that’s been most-used here at Connected, though, is its rotating display. With the ability to tilt, swivel, pivot and adjust the screen’s height to your visual preference, many of us have taken to using the U2720Q as a vertical display. While I’ve stuck to a more traditional, horizontal setup myself, I’ve been told many have begun using the U2720Q in the upright position for development and editing. Albeit, this is not for everyone, it certainly speaks to the versatility of this display.

Building better products from afar has become Connected’s new mandate overnight, but one we have already been executing on for years with some of our clients. Having the right set up wherever you are is critical to this work, so if there are other products that you use and love, don’t hesitate to reach out and join the global WFH debate!

Matt Pendrill

Matt Pendrill

Client Service Analyst

As a Client Service Analyst at Connected, Matt Pendrill oversees a portfolio of innovative product builders on the western seaboard. Together, with our cross-functional project teams, he works to ensure the success of every product we build, for both our partners and their end-users.

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