If there is one thing that has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the large-scale transition from working in an office building to working from home. Of course, with such a large percentage of people working from home, there was a substantial adjustment and adaptation period to the new work environment, with its unique set of distractions, benefits and difficulties.
One commonality across all remote or work from home situations is the need for a comfortable and ergonomic workspace that allows you to focus, while maximizing your productivity on work-related tasks and projects.
Even for people with limited space in their home, such as an apartment or condominium, having a cozy and well-designed workspace will help you to thrive and succeed in your remote work arrangement.
To help you enhance your workspace in your home office, we have assembled a curated list in this article of the top 5 technology and design tips to make workdays both comfortable and productive.
If you’re looking to start a new career or transition into a career in data science during the COVID-19 pandemic, don’t miss our article on insider tips to succeed in a career in data science in today’s dynamic economy.
1. Find a quiet spot in your home with as much natural light from windows as possible, and invest in a high quality webcam and microphone
Natural light has been shown to provide many positive benefits, including vitamin D production, positive endorphin generation, greater alertness and better focus. Another benefit is looking a lot better in your webcam lighting, which is another piece of technology alongside your microphone that you should make sure it updated and reliable.
While the onboard webcam and microphone on your laptop might be enough for personal and business purposes, many people rely on older webcams and onboard microphones on desktops that are very dated and not up to the latest standards for video conferencing programs like Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
If you’re looking for a great choice for a webcam, the Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam is a high-resolution and feature-filled option with plug-and-play functionality, and for a microphone, the Blue Yeti Studio Quality Microphone is always an excellent and reasonably priced option with crystal clear sound.
2. Make sure you are using an up-to-date multi-core desktop and/or laptop that can run all of the latest data science software programs
This tip might be a no-brainer for some people (or not!), but as data science programs and machine learning algorithms continue to become more complex and run faster, they also utilize more computer memory and storage resources.
This is especially true for multi-core functions like the mcmapply function in R, which can apply vectorized functions across multiple cores from 2 cores (on typical machines) to 6 or 8 cores (on super high-performance machines), which can really speed up memory-hungry computations.
3. Get an ergonomic chair and desk that you feel comfortable sitting in for long periods of time
If you spend the required 40 hours a week or (probably) more at your job and you work on a computer, making sure you’re taking care of your body is key. Having a back-friendly ergonomic chair and desk positioned at the correct level to avoid leaning over is essential to staying comfortable, and also helps to prevent common problems like a stiff neck and back soreness, as well as more severe wrist problems like carpal tunnel syndrome.
4. Set up a second (or third!) LED monitor with a high-resolution or 4K display to extend your workspace and maximize productivity
More screen real estate is always a huge benefit for data analysis, as it gives you more space to view long code lines, datasets in wide spreadsheets and multiple files (e.g., PDFs, images, coding resources, etc.) open at the same time.
As monitor prices continue to decline, now is a great time to invest in a 4K or other high resolution, energy efficient monitor for your home office, like the very highly rated Dell S2721QS 27 Inch 4K UHD IPS Ultra-Thin Bezel Monitor.
5. Invest in personal items that will help you succeed, including blue-light blocking glasses, memory foam chair pads, and mouse and keyboard wrist rests
Beyond all of the technology discussed in this article so far, there are some smaller items that can also greatly enhance your comfort and productivity while working from home.
These include blue light blocking glasses, a memory foam ergonomic lumbar support pad, and a mouse and keyboard wrist rest. By using these reasonably priced items, you will reduce eye strain, while preventing common physical problems that might lead to fatigue down the road.
The bottom line
While the most recent software like R and Python is important to help you succeed in data science, having the right hardware and technology is also a key consideration to keep in mind in your home office setup for remote work.
If you found this article useful, please feel free to share with the buttons below! Take a trip over to our other resources on programming and finding success as a data scientist, including our list of the must-read books for acquiring data science skills, our reviews of online data science courses, and our guide to must-have technology for data science.