Affordable Tech: the best desk tech for freelancers

Affordable Tech: the best desk tech for freelancers

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Gemma Church gives the low down on how to perfect your home office using technology.

I spend a lot of time at my homeworking desk. Hours are spent tapping away as I research, write and edit articles, pitch for work, connect with clients and run my business.

It’s a privilege of my freelance life – the commute has been cut down to the time it takes to walk from the kitchen to the office. I’m very grateful for this, but working from home can have its drawbacks. There are the usual distractions of home life, the loneliness, the temptation to just surf Facebook and the need to maintain a productive working environment.

But for every issue there is a solution – and I’ve found quite a few rather brilliant ones in gadget form.

Too many wires

Despite using a wireless keyboard and mouse, my desk is still swarming with wires. One way to resolve this issue is a wireless charger. There are plenty of options available and I’m a fan of the iDOO ‘Thor’ charger (£26.98) as it's compatible with a range of devices, uses three-coil technology for improved connectivity and it stands your device up so you can easily view it from across your desk.

A multi-device keyboard also allows you to switch from tablet to laptop and back again without fumbling around for cables. The MoKo keyboard (£20.99) is a versatile option with great reviews and you can connect up to two devices at the same time.

You will never get away from every wire though, so these cable tidies are a reasonably priced option at 61p each, allowing you to stick small clips to your desk to manage the various cables you may need during the work day without scrambling under your desk to find cables and untangle cords.

The same four walls

Working from home can be a little lonely, but working from a public space can be logistically difficult. The worst part has to be settling into a cosy spot in a coffee shop, only to find your laptop is dying and there’s no power supply in sight. This portable battery from ChargeTech (£120.00) resolves that issue, works across multiple devices, is super-fast and light, and offers an AC outlet as well as USB ports so you can charge multiple devices at the same time.

If your public space gets a little loud or you suddenly need silence, a pair of noise cancelling headphones are a must-have. They’re also great at home if your neighbour decides to do a little DIY or turn up their stereo. A state-of-the-art pair from Bose will offer exceptional sound quality, but they come with a premium price tag (£229.95), and cheaper alternatives from the likes of Sennheiser are also available.

A sedentary existence

Sitting at your desk for long periods of time is not a good idea, but if you’re working to a tight deadline, there’s often no alternative. We’ve heard plenty about the benefits of standing desks recently and this hybrid option from Varidesk (£335.00) allows you to easily change your desk set-up for sitting or standing. If you can’t afford to buy a new desk then standing desk conversion kits are a great idea (£180.00).

If you want to take things one step further, the TreadDesk (prices vary) lets you work and walk, taking multitasking to a whole new level. There’s also a ton of other tech out there if you want to incorporate more exercise into your day, without leaving the office, including a dumbbell alarm clock by Itopanda that alerts you when it’s time to do a few reps or a chair that’s also an exercise bike by Office Fitness (£99.99).

But for those freelancers who prefer to just sit, you could always get a yoga ball to improve posture and improve your core strength – or try a balance ball chair from Gaiam (£79.99). There is also a huge range of ergonomic chairs out there, from backless designs to more classic shapes.

Constant disturbances

Without the threat of a boss looking over your shoulder, it’s pretty easy to get distracted as a freelancer. The Cold Turkey app, available for your computer or phone, keeps your self-control in check by blocking websites and applications, and it also lets you set timers and goals to keep yourself away from them until you get things done.

There’s also the peril of people who don’t fully understand the ‘working’ part of working from home and like to pop in unannounced. Ring ($199 + shipping) is a gadget that combines a wide-angle HD camera, smart motion detector and autocloud recording so you can see who’s at your door from your phone. You can even use it when you’re away from home to add another layer of security.

Perfecting your environment

Gone are the days of arguing with colleagues about air-con and temperature settings as a freelancer. There are several gadgets out there to make you even more comfortable thanks to smart home tech.

For perfect lighting, Philips Hue smart colour-changing light bulbs are dimmable and colour-controllable via a smartphone app or with uber-futuristic Siri voice control.

Smart thermostats also let you set the temperature and schedule when to turn the heating on from a smartphone app, simplifying thermostat control and cutting your bills as you won’t waste as much energy. Hive and Nest are both great options here.

For those freelancers (like me) who can’t live without a regular caffeine fix, you could splash out on the De'Longhi PrimaDonna Elite machine, giving you iPad-controlled coffee making. Or, if you have a more realistic budget, then the Smarter Wi-Fi kettle lets you begin boiling water remotely, or automate this arduous process.

Conclusion

Working from home provides a fantastic work/life balance for freelancers, but it’s not without the occasional hurdle. This desk tech gives you some relief from the common complaints of the homeworking lifestyle and could be a sound investment compared to packing up your home office and moving to a more expensive option, such as renting a permanent office space.

The flexibility of freelancing means you have the ability to pick as many gadgets as you want, pop them on your desk and all without impacting on anyone else in the office. You have complete control over your environment, which is one of the many benefits of life as a freelancer.

Technology