Working from home? You're not alone.
While you might not be able to make it into the office, there's plenty of tech available to help you get the job done remotely. The right setup can ensure you remain just as comfortable, productive and secure as you would be in the office. We'll be covering the best tech for working from home, including laptops, antivirus software, and more.
Best Laptops for Working from Home
When it comes to laptops, making sure you get the right machine for your needs is vital. There's no point in spending a small fortune on a machine that is too powerful for your needs. Likewise, if you don't get a laptop with enough performance, you might find it impossible to get any of your tasks done.
For a while, many people simply defaulted to choosing a MacBook but, these days, there are excellent choices regardless of your budget and performance needs.
Best Budget Laptop
If all you need to do is some word processing and emails, there's no point in getting a crazy-powerful machine. Instead, you could opt for a Chromebook. These machines run Google's lightweight ChromeOS and give you all the basic tools you'd expect from a laptop.
The Asus C302CA is slightly pricey for a Chromebook at $560 but it has a brilliant Full HD screen, 10 hours of battery life, and it weighs less than 3lbs. At that weight, you could work from home, or pop it in your bag and work from anywhere else you fancy.
What's more, its screen flips all the way around, making it the perfect device for watching Netflix when you've finished your work.
Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch
Best for power users
Apple's latest MacBook is an excellent choice for those in need of some raw power. Perhaps you're a graphics designer or create complex 3D models?
The MacBook Pro's hefty 16GB of RAM will make mincemeat of even the most complex of tasks, plus its 1TB of storage will mean you have ample room for all of your files.
What's more, Apple has recently revised the keyboard on the MacBook Pro models, giving the keys extra travel for a more satisfying experience.
All told, it's an absolutely exceptional laptop.
Dell Inspiron 15 5593
Best mid-range option
If you want a well-rounded laptop that can do most things with ease, look no further than the Dell Inspiron 15.
It's not the fastest laptop on the market, nor is it the cheapest. However, it has a fantastic Full HD touchscreen, a powerful Intel Core i5 processor, a healthy 8GB of RAM, and a speedy 256GB SSD hard drive. Plus, it only costs just over $500.
You really can't get any more for any less than you can with the Inspiron 15.
Best Headphones for Working from Home
If you don't normally work from home or, like most of us, simply don't live in a perfectly distraction-free environment, a good pair of headphones can elevate your remote working experience from an inconvenience to something enjoyable. You'll be able to listen to your favorite music and podcasts during the day without disturbing anyone else, while blocking out unwanted noise. Plus, a good pair of headphones will make conference calls completely painless.
To get a good pair of headphones, you'll need to bear a few things in mind. Firstly, it's worth taking stock of which ports all your gadgets have — most phones (and some laptops) have removed their headphone jacks in order to save space. Most laptops (including Apple's MacBooks) support USB-C connections but, sadly, iPhones are still using the Lightning Port.
Our advice would be to avoid wired headphones for extra convenience and cross-device future use. Sure, battery life might be a concern, but since you're at home there will likely always be a charging port handy.
Best Headphones for Apple Users
If you use a MacBook and an iPhone, we'd recommend buying a pair of Apple's own AirPods wireless headphones.
AirPods are renowned for their seamless connections with Apple products, regardless of whether you're using a MacBook, iPhone, or iPad. You're able to seamlessly swap between devices, without having to remove the Pods from your ears.
Plus, the AirPods have excellent microphones. This will help you make short work of conference calls, and will be a damn sight better than using the microphones built into your laptop.
Of course, the questions remains — which flavor of AirPod is right for you?
Apple AirPods Pro
These are the latest version of the AirPods and the most expensive. They cost $249 and have a genuine in-ear design, with customizable fitting earpieces. They also come with active noise cancelling which will prove a godsend if you're working in a busy cafe- or a house packed with other remote workers, students, or family members.
You'll get 4.5 hours of listening time — enough for even the most tedious of conference calls. Plus, they're sweat and water resistant which will come in handy if you fancy braving the outdoors for a run.
We'd avoid the AirPods with Wireless charging case — if you have a Qi charging pad, great. But there's not real point in paying an extra $50 for a feature that you might never use.
Instead, you should probably get the regular $159 AirPods. These are the classic, ubiquitous design you've probably seen countless times. You'll get the same effortless pairing experience and brilliant microphones. And you'll get an extra half an hour of battery life compared to the AirPods Pro.
You'll also be saving $90 compared to the AirPods Pro, but you'll be losing out on the Pro variant's customizable fit and active noise cancellation. These features might sway you towards the more expensive option.
Best Wireless Headphones for Remote Workers
If you're not an Apple user, there's no point in getting AirPods — they famously don't work with non-Apple kit. Don't fret, though, there are plenty of excellent wireless options on the market.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Samsung's latest Galaxy Buds are considered to be some of the finest wireless headphones on the market — and with good reason. They pack a remarkable 11 hours of music listening time into their diminutive frame, while providing excellent audio quality.
What's more, the Galaxy Buds Plus work with iOS, Android, or any other device with Bluetooth — no Apple-style exclusivity here.
They'll set you back $149.99 and are available in four snazzy colors.
Bose SoundSport Wireless
Bose's SoundSport Wireless headphones have recently seen a price cut to $129.95 — that makes them seriously affordable for such a brilliant pair of headphones.
You'll get 6 hours per charge and you're unlikely to lose them given that both earbuds are connected through a thin cable. The SoundSport Wireless can also take calls, so they'll be perfect for any virtual meetings you have to join.
The SoundSports get three ear tip options, meaning that you should be able to find one that fits you perfectly.
If you must have a set of wired headphones, we'd recommend SoundMAGIC's E11C. They're cheap but sound surprisingly good and have a good level of sound isolation, which should help if you're working in a public place rather than at home.
The E11C also comes with an inline microphone for easy hands-free calling. They only cost $50 as well — a bargain.
Best Monitors for Working at Home
One of the easiest ways to boost your productivity at home is by using an external monitor. Not only will you get a bigger display than usually found on your laptop, you'll get a second screen which is perfect for multitasking.
The three most important things to consider when buying a laptop are:
- Screen resolution
Naturally, you want a screen that is big enough for serious work, while keeping your view sharp and not costing the earth. It's important to not get caught up in all the hype with gaming monitors if you're just working on spreadsheets and firing off emails — a high refresh rate won't make your PowerPoint presentation look any nicer.
Before you start doing anything, though, make sure you have an HDMI cable to connect a laptop or desktop to your new monitor. If your laptop doesn't have an HDMI port, it might be worth buying a dongle, as well.
These are our favorite productivity-boosting monitors that look great but won't break the bank.
HP Pavilion 32-inch QHD Display
This HP display won't change the game but neither will it break the bank. It costs less than $300 but has a pleasingly sharp 1440×2560 resolution and a strong 300 nits brightness.
It has a good range of ports, including two HDMI sockets, a DisplayPort, and two USB ports. It can tilt through 26 degrees of rotation as well, meaning that it should be super easy to find the perfect viewing angle.
While the HP Pavilion display was cheap and cheerful, this BenQ display is one for the serious pro users. It has a 4K panel for super sharp images and exceptional color precision — if you're a graphics designer, this could be a great fit.
If you're a developer, on the other hand, this BenQ display can be placed into a portrait orientation, giving you a perfect canvas for coding.
It is on the pricey side, though, starting from $699. Still, if you need a top-drawer screen, you'll find few better than this BenQ.
Of course, all work and no play will make Jack (or anyone else for that matter) a dull boy. This is where the Alienware 25 comes in.
Alienware is Dell's specialist gaming subdivision and this display will be perfect for home workers battling spreadsheets by day and setting high scores by night.
It costs $329, and has a relatively low 1080×1920 resolution but a very high 240Hz refresh rate. It also has super-fast response times, perfect for first person shooter games.
The Alienware 25 has a huge range of ports, including four USB sockets and two HDMI ports.
Best Accessories for Working from Home
If you'll be working from home for a while, it makes sense to have as good a setup as you would do in your permanent office — think a comfy chair, and ergonomic keyboards and mice. Having the right accessories will prevent you from getting posture injuries and make working from home less of a chore.
Best Chair for Working at Home
A good office chair will make long stints at the desk far less tiresome. In our opinion, the best value for money office chair is this Amazon Basics offering.
Sure, you can spend close to $1,000 on some office chairs but this $110 Amazon offering is completely adjustable with full lumbar support. For $110, you won't find anything better.
Best Mouse for Working from Home
If you're buying an external mouse to make your remote working easier, you might as well get an ergonomic one to suit the position of your wrist and fingers more naturally.
We like the Logitech MX Master series. They have plenty of extra buttons for increased productivity and a dedicated cut-out to keep your thumb in a natural position.
Plus, at the moment, it's not too expensive at $59.
Best Keyboard for Working from Home
The Moko Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard is, in our mind, the best ergonomic keyboard on the market.
It's cheap at just $27.99, it can fold for easy transport, its keys are nice and big, and it works with pretty much all the devices under the sun.
Certainly if you're new to working from home, there's little point in overcomplicating your set up and this Moko keyboard is a great place to start.
Best VPNs to Use While Working at Home
Some of the suggestions on this list come down to personal preference and comfort, but a good VPN is an essential bit of kit when working outside of the office. It'll keep all the data you send across any wifi network secure and protected.
You can also use it in your own time, for accessing geo-blocked content, such as a certain country's Netflix library.
However, while all VPNs claim to offer the same service, some do it better than others. Here are our top VPN services for protecting your personal and business data when working remotely.
PureVPN is the best VPN service for remote workers. It has loads of features including dedicated ‘modes' which are tuned specifically for different use cases. For example, there's a ‘Privacy' mode for file-sharing, and a ‘Streaming' mode for watching Netflix and the like, after hours.
Its prices start from $4.16 per month but you can get 74% off the price of a two-year plan using this link.
- Effective privacy and security features
- Smart Mode-based approach
- Clear notifications
- Excellent value
- Not quite as fast as billed
- Doesn’t unblock Netflix unless you use the browser extension
NordVPN is a great VPN service if you're looking for a speedy service. Its more than 3,000 servers are all very quick, plus its 256-bit encryption will keep any prying eyes away.
You'll also get access to the super-secure TOR network. However, if you're new to VPNs, Nord might not be the best service for you — it assumes some technical knowledge and has a litany of high-tech features.
You can get started with NordVPN here.
- Fast and effective
- Packed with features
- Excellent value
- Not the most intuitive VPN for absolute beginners
- Couldn't unblock some streaming services when tested
- Assumes some technical knowledge
IPVanish is perfect for tech-savvy home workers. It has a plethora of high tech features including granular server searching, a killswitch, and obfuscated traffic — which tricks sites into thinking that you're not using a VPN (in case they're looking to block users that are imitating their geolocation, for example).
With those features comes some complication: IPVanish isn't for the faint-hearted. However, if you're often working on complex and sensitive topics it will definitely give you the protection that you need.
- Crammed with settings that put you in control
- Strong privacy and security features
- Decent speeds
- Slightly intimidating
- Priced above some rivals
Best Antivirus Software for Working at Home
Getting the right antivirus software can give you blissful peace of mind when you're working from home. It will make sure your efforts aren't compromised by malicious digital intruders through a file or email, for example.
You'll want a service that is straightforward to use and not too expensive. What's more, it makes sense to get a service that can work on a variety of devices — not just your desktop or laptop computer. With all your devices connected to the same network, one vulnerable device can be a potential entry point.
Norton is our favorite antivirus software. It offers comprehensive identity protection on all of its plans and can work across PCs, Macs, tablets, and phones.
What's more, Norton won't slow your system down like many other antivirus services — it can run in the background without eating into the RAM on your computer.
Norton's prices start from $79.99 per year, which is pretty good value when compared to its competitors.
- Comprehensive identity protection on all plans
- Only software to offer bank and credit card activity checks
- Only software to offer a monthly subscription
- Time-consuming installation process
- Cluttered user interface
Best Web Conferencing Software for Working at Home
Dialing-in to a conference call can be confusing and difficult, but it's often necessary to hold virtual meetings to keep everyone in the loop. After all, clear communication and teamwork lays the foundation for success. So it pays to make virtual meetings as painless as possible.
Investing a small amount in effective web conferencing software can give your business a leg up when working with remote employees. Compared to free services like Skype, professional web conferencing will offer clearer and more reliable video and audio quality. It will also offer more advanced features for collaboration, including messaging, screen and file sharing, and call recording.
We've already written guides to help you learn more about the best services, equipment, and apps, but you can use our business comparison tool to compare price quotes and get a better idea of the web conferencing options for your company.
Best Password Managers for Working Remotely
When you're working remotely, between a variety of devices and locations, it can be difficult to keep track of all your account information, and keep it safe. In conjunction with a VPN, a password manager can make sure you are able to work securely.
A password manager will automatically generate strong passwords for each of your accounts, while you only have to remember one central password. This means even if someone is able to hack your internet traffic through your home or public wifi (say, you forget to turn on your VPN) they won't have access to every account you own. You can also be notified as soon as any account is compromised.
Password managers can even help you securely share and store account information with your team and wider business when working remotely, through team “vaults” of information that beat a risky email send containing company log in details.
Our favorite password manager is 1Password. It is super easy to use and fantastic value for money. It works on Macs, PCs, iOS, and Android devices so you'll be able to access it regardless of which hardware you have. Prices start from $36 per year — which isn't a lot for complete security peace of mind.
- Free 6 month trial for 1Password Teams for business
- Local storage makes saving changed passwords more reliable
- Large number of secure note templates for storing sensitive information
- Very well-designed app
- No automated password changing feature
- Desktop app seems superfluous
- No camera integration on mobile