Many of us made the transition from a typical, corporate office environment to a hasty setup at home to keep us working, albeit remotely, and now it appears that post-pandemic either remote or hybrid working models are going to become a permanent offering by a number of organizations.
With warm weather on the horizon and summer fast approaching, you may find your home office is becoming now a stuffy, intolerable place to work effectively for long periods. Cameras, microphones, and monitors can be key in working outside of company grounds, but they can do nothing to regulate the temperature -- and few of us want to look hot and sweaty on our now-frequent Zoom and Microsoft Teams company calls.
As the WFH trend looks likely to stay, it is now time to consider investing in home office improvements for the sake of your comfort and health.
To help, ZDNet has created a guide listing useful gadgets and accessories to keep you cool during the coming months, as well as products that can help stop your laptop or tower PC from overheating and disrupting your workday and productivity.
If you intend to spend a lot of time at your desk at home, working remotely and attending virtual meetings, you may want to consider a desk fan to take the edge off the heat of summer.
The Ozeri Brezza III desk fan will not take up much space -- coming in at 14x10x14 inches -- and the dual oscillating motors will keep you cool with a minimum of noise. As a bonus, the fan comes with a remote control for users to select the flow and direction of cooling air they prefer, with four different speeds on offer.$45 at Amazon
Sweaty palms and foreheads are not the only consequences of temperatures rising -- our devices can suffer, too.
Overheating PCs can slow down, whirring fans can be an annoyance, and in the worst cases, frozen and crashed systems may need time to cool down before you can resume your tasks.
To prevent the temperature in your home office from impacting the performance of your laptop, a cooling pad is a worthwhile investment. Options include the Aicheson laptop cooling pad, a cooler suitable for laptops up to 17.3-inches, which covers the majority of consumer devices out there.
This model, which comes in either blue or red, is equipped with a silicone holder and four fans, and the pad's height can also be adjusted for comfort.$30 at Amazon
If you are looking for a small, portable cooler you can bring into your home office and also easily use in other rooms, the Mainstays personal space mini air cooler could be a great fit.
The mini cooler is tiny -- coming in at only 8x6.89x7.87 inches -- and uses tap water rather than ice or advanced filters to push cold air into a room. Users can pick from two speeds and will be alerted when water levels run low.$29 at Walmart
Another laptop-related product designed to keep your machine cool worth considering is on offer from Bestand and is likely to be a hit for home workers who use Apple Mac devices due to its aluminum design.
The stand positions your MacBook -- or other 11-16 inch laptops -- to maximize airflow and reduce the risk of overheating. The frame is made from aluminum which acts as a heat sink, too, allowing users to work productively without experiencing heat-based lagging or crashes. There is also a cable ring to keep connected wires tidy and out of the way.$37 at Amazon
To match your stand and prevent your hands from becoming too warm while working away in your home office, you might want to consider an aluminum mouse pad.
Available on Amazon in five colors -- black, rose gold, gold, silver, and gray -- as well as small or medium sizes --Vaydeer's product line layers aluminum together with artificial leather so the mousepad grips a desk's surface without sliding. Laser, optical, and mechanical mice are all compatible.$13 at Amazon
Staying cool while working from home can be achieved through air conditioning but it is important to stay hydrated, too -- and who wants a warm drink on a summer's day?
You could consider snapping up a small fridge such as the Cooluli mini fridge, available on Best Buy, to stash a few drinks in and to enjoy during work hours.
The Cooluli Classic, available in a variety of colors and patterns, cools down items by 35 - 40F below ambient temperature and has a 0.14 cubic.ft. storage capacity. If you don't have the means to hook it up to the mains, a USB-based power bank can be used as an alternative.
When the weather changes, the fridge can also be used to warm up food and drinks, too.$50 at Best Buy
When we consider heat levels in our home office, we can't forget tower PCs are also susceptible to overheating.
Inbuilt fans and other cooling systems can be hampered when dust and dirt collect over time in tower shells, and if this debris builds up enough, overheating is almost a certainty, thereby impacting PC performance and reducing the lifetime of your PC.
To combat this, you should consider picking up an air duster -- such as those offered by NXT Technologies -- which are dual-purpose: featuring a straw to gently remove debris from sensitive electronics while compressed air blows away the dust and mess threatening to disrupt your home system.$29 at Staples
The Dyson Hot + Cool fan heater, available in white or silver, is one of the pricier models on the list. If you're willing to pay for something stylish and multi-functional, this heating and cooling system can be used to evenly warm up or cool a full room, despite its small stature.
You can select direct airflow or oscillation, and as there are no blades, this may also be an option that is safer when children are around. The device also comes with a remote control.$444 at Dyson
The final offering you should consider to stay cool as you work remotely is a flask to keep your drink to hand and icy cold.
The Hydro flask, available on Amazon, is a flask made from stainless steel and is designed to maintain your drink's temperature -- whether cool or hot. When the lid is screwed on, this can prevent any accidental knocks from destroying your devices, and as it is portable, users can also use the flask on their adventures outdoors.$48 at Amazon
Why do I need to keep my electronics cool?
All modern electronics produce heat. If our devices are working too hard or airflow is interrupted, we may notice more warmth than usual emanating from them -- and this can also be a sign that hardware is wearing out and due for replacement.
By regulating temperature, this may extend the life of your electronics, stop your devices from shutting down or becoming unresponsive, as well as prevent any permanent damage to circuits.
What are other methods to keep my devices from overheating?
The easiest method is to keep your electronics out of direct sunlight. Stacking them, too, can put pressure on hardware already feeling the heat, and making sure that dust has not collected or is causing airflow issues on a frequent basis is recommended. You should always leave an air gap between a laptop or tower PC's vents and walls, too.
Which cooling solution is right for you?
It is important that you make sure that there is a comfortable temperature in your home office, but we can't forget to maintain and keep our devices as cool as possible, too, to prevent overheating and to extend their overall lifespans.
Beyond stands and the regular removal of dust and debris that can clog up our machines, you should also consider keeping your electronics out of direct sunlight, you should not stack devices on top of each other, and you should position them to allow for as much airflow as possible.
If your organization is mulling over a permanent work from home setup or hybrid model, it might be worth considering an investment for your home office that will keep you comfortable in the long term.
How did we select these cooling solutions?
We considered a range of cooling systems that could be considered long-term investments -- especially considering many of us will be working from home for the foreseeable future -- as well as budget-friendly options and products that are portable, multi-purpose, and travel-friendly, should users return to their normal working environments in the coming months.