For many people, working at home means figuring out for yourself the best setup for getting things done. That means finding technology that helps you be productive, whether that's the right laptop, a smartphone, or the best Wi-Fi router to handle what may seem like an endless schedule of video meetings.
You can argue about whether you should have a desktop or a laptop, and you can make a case for either a PC or a Mac. You can even argue (as I would) that an iPad Pro is the best device for working remotely. All of that arguing, however, misses the point. The most important piece of tech for working remotely isn't your laptop. I mean that--most of the laptops you can buy today will do most things just fine.
All of that technology is important, but at least one thing is more so than all the others.
The most important piece of tech, in my opinion, is a good pair of headphones or earbuds. Hear me out. (See what I did there?)
Beyond the fact that I like listening to music to help me think, a really good pair of headphones solves another problem--two actually. Most of us who work from home regularly face the same two challenges. The first is the need to be able to hear--and be heard--on video meetings.
Which is why my favorite pair of earbuds are my AirPods Pro. I've written before about why the AirPods are perfect for remote working, and one of the biggest reasons is they sound great. More important, however, is the fact that they are so simple to use. They seamlessly connect to my Mac or my iPhone, and switching between them is about as simple as it gets.
They also have really good active noise cancellation, at least by in-ear earbud standards. Which leads to the second challenge--keeping sound out. That's the beauty of active noise-canceling headphones: They eliminate noise.
In fact, as I write this, I'm sitting on my back deck while my neighbor mows his lawn. I know he's mowing his lawn because I can see him, but, because of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones I'm wearing now in order to review them, I can't hear his lawnmower. At all.
(Makes a note to remember that for the review.)
I'm not even kidding. For all I can tell he's just walking back and forth with the motor off. I don't know why he'd be doing that, but unless I take these headphones off, I have to entertain the possibility.
You might think, "Who cares, it's not like someone is usually mowing the lawn while I work!" That's a fair point, to which I say, I have four children, ages 6 to 12. Lawnmowers are nothing.
In all honesty, though, there are times when I need to be able to block out the sound to really focus on getting work done. To say nothing of the times when I'm traveling (well, when I used to travel) and want to block out anything from airplane noise to the people in the hotel room above me who very clearly decided to turn their room into some kind of bowling alley.
Seriously, if you spend any time working from home, every piece of technology that helps you get your work done matters. You should absolutely get a laptop that can handle your work, and probably a Wi-Fi router that will hold up when your kids stream Harry Potter while you try to make that important sales presentation.
A good pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds, on the other hand, may not seem like the most obvious piece of gear, but I promise, it's easily just as important. Maybe even the most.