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Tech to suit new ways of working – a wireless mouse, laptop and more

A look at transferable devices as employees prepare for a hybrid working week

You might need a portable monitor, especially if you’re going to be sharing work with other colleagues, or delivering presentations when you return to your workplace

You might need a portable monitor, especially if you’re going to be sharing work with other colleagues, or delivering presentations when you return to your workplace

 

The kids have gone back to school, the surfboards and barbecue have gone back in the garage, and now it may be time for you to start going back into the office. Covid-19 restrictions seem to be falling away faster than the leaves on the trees, and employers are finding fewer reasons to keep staff away. You may already have got the memo about how your firm plans to adjust its working practices over the autumn months, and chances are it’ll be a blend of working from home and coming into the office. That’s fine – after a year and a half cooped up in the kids’ playroom, which you hastily converted into an office back in April 2020, you’ll probably be glad to get some time in a big, spacious and – hopefully – well-ventilated office, even if it’s only for a day or two out of every week.

Hybrid working will bring a few challenges, though: you’ll have to dig out the bottom half of your business suit because boxers won’t cut it at the board meeting. And, resuming the commute after 18 months of stay-at-home bliss, you’ll need to have those calming podcasts handy to alleviate the traffic tension. And your tech will have to be portable, and able to transfer efficiently between two distinct working environments. Your gear will have to do some double-jobbing, maybe even triple-jobbing, to help you to perform your tasks at home, in the office and on the journey to and from work.

We’ve also been used to knowing exactly where our gadgets have been these past 18 months, and we can be pretty sure no one else has touched our stuff while we were out of the house. Back in the office, though, we don’t have that same certainty, although there will no doubt be a rigorous cleaning and sanitising regime in place when employees are back in the workplace. But you may still want to bring some of your own gear, just be sure it hasn’t been pawed or breathed on by anyone else – so you may choose to pack your own mouse, keyboard, mouse mat and Rolodex for that twice-weekly commute.

As we make those tentative first steps back to the office, we don’t want to be weighed down by lots of stuff, so we’ll be hoping to travel as light as possible. This tech selection is chosen with minimal fuss and bother in mind, to make your return to the workplace as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Logitech MX Master 3 wireless mouse

€109, logitech.com

There’s no getting away from it: the return to the office will mean you’ll have to pick up a mouse again, and after a year and a half of using just a touchpad, that mouse might feel a bit alien in your hand. It’ll be hard enough to get used to holding this strange creature once again, but we certainly don’t want to think of anyone else holding it in their sweaty palm the whole previous week – no matter how well it’s been sanitised. Now is the time to make the minimal investment needed to get your own wireless mouse that you can pop into your pocket and bring to the office, negating the need to keep rubbing alcohol solution into your hands every five minutes.

The Logitech MX Master 3 is “designed for creatives, engineered for coders”, but it’ll do nicely for your everyday workload as well. “Mouse” might be a misnomer – this yoke looks more like a shark, and it’s got lots of sharp features to help you navigate your way round the screen. Logitech claims to have reinvented the wheel – the MagTech electromagnetic scroll wheel can zip through 1,000 lines in a second and stop on a pixel, and there’s also a handy thumb wheel to allow you to scroll horizontally. You can customise the MX Master 3 to work with the different apps you use in your work, and you can seamlessly glide from one computer to another without so much as a wobble.

Lenovo Thinkvision M14 portable monitor

€283.49, lenovo.com

You’ve been happily working off your mini laptop during the pandemic, and when you’ve needed a bigger screen for the bigger design work, you’ve been able to fall back on the home PC setup. But now that you’ll be hopping back and forth between the home and office, you might need a portable monitor, especially if you’re going to be sharing work with other colleagues, or delivering presentations. The Lenovo ThinkVision M14 is a good, all-round monitor that’s compatible with any device using a USB-C port, so you can plug it into your own laptop, or into the office system, and work away on your own or with colleagues.

It’s ultra-slim, lightweight and not too bulky, so you can pop it into your tech bag and pull it out when needed. The screen doesn’t need to be too big or too small – anything between 13 inches and 17 inches will do the job, so the ThinkVision’s 14-inch screen size should hit the sweet spot. The ThinkVision has a neat, solid stand, allowing you to tilt the screen from -5 degrees to 90 degrees, and there’s an adjustable foot that allows you to raise the monitor to the right height. Most importantly, the ThinkVision has great resolution thanks to its FHD display, and its advanced low-blue-light technology reduces eye-strain, ensuring that you don’t arrive home bleary-eyed after a hard day of hybrid working. 

Sandisk Extreme Pro portable SSD

€246.99 (1TB), €386.99 (2TB)

When you’re packing your tech gear to make the trip back to the office, you can empty out all those dinky little USB sticks and stick them in a drawer. They’re just not going to have the storage power you need to move all your data back and forth. What you need is a good solid state drive that can comfortably store all your files and leave lots of room for all the other info that’s bound to start piling up on your desk as soon as you stick your head back in the office. SSDs have no moving parts, so they can store data quickly and efficiently – very important if you’re racing against time to get the train and need to quickly transfer those client files.

But there’s a problem with many SSD drives – they’re usually big, ugly blocks of metal, more suited to wedging doors open than sitting neatly in your kitbag. The Sandisk Extreme Pro bucks the blocky trend – it’s a sleek-looking device in gunmetal grey with orange trim, and will slip neatly into your pocket or pocketbook, or even hook on to your belt loop if you like showing off your hard drive. The Extreme Pro is available in 1TB, 2TB and even 4TB if you really need that amount of storage.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

€1,069, harveynorman.ie

Ask yourself this question: when was the last time your laptop left your home office desk? Unless you brought it with you on staycation, chances are your laptop has taken root at home, and won’t take too kindly to being snatched out of its cosy spot and lugged back and forth to the office. That’s when it will start creaking, groaning and glitching in protest. You need a truly portable piece of kit to handle the heavy workload while not weighing you down.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 has the sleek design, robust build and improved performance you’ll need to keep the show on the road, and it’s versatile enough to use on desks, coffee-shop counters and picnic benches. The model featured here is a 12.3” i5 core with 8GB of ram and 128GB of storage, and its impressive speed and connectivity – and all-day battery life – means you won’t miss a trick at any time during the day.

Bose QuietComfort earbuds

€279.95, bose.ie

One of the great joys of lockdown was the chance to put on the giant headphones, shut out the world and listen to some of your favourite sounds. You didn’t have to worry about getting your cans wet, getting them bashed about in transit or getting them lost along the way. But with the prospect of commuting once again, you might want to keep the baggage down to a minimum – especially if you’re going to be cycling or jogging to the office in a bid to keep your carbon tyreprint down.

The Bose QuietComfort earbuds claim to have the best noise-cancelling features of any earbuds, so they could be just the job for your commute. You’ve been used to peace and tranquillity in your suburban haven, but once you start back to the workplace, you’ll be assailed again by all sorts of noises, from traffic to construction sites to street musicians, so you’ll need earbuds that keep you in that nice, quiet place wherever you are. The QuietComfort earbuds also have high-fidelity audio for optimum sound quality, and are fitted with StayHear Max tips so they sit more comfortably in your ear. Tap the earbud for three listening modes: full noise cancelling, full transparency mode, or letting some of the world in while still hearing your music in full hi-fi quality.