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Everything you need to work remotely: The best laptops, desks, monitors, and more

Whether you're fully remote or hybrid worker, or you travel for work a lot, ZDNET has found everything you need to create the best remote work setup.
Written by Gabriela Pérez Jordán, Associate Editor
Reviewed by Allison Murray
Macbook Pro 16-inch | A powerful laptop
A close-up shot of the 16-inch MacBook Pro's keyboard.
Macbook Pro 16-inch
A powerful laptop
View now View at Best Buy
Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones | A pair of noise-canceling headphones
wh1000xm5-black-product.jpg
Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones
A pair of noise-canceling headphones
View now View at Amazon
Duex Plus monitor | A portable monitor
A MacBook Pro powering the Mobile Pixels Duex Plus monitor.
Duex Plus monitor
A portable monitor
View now View at Walmart
Vari Electric Standing Desk | A standing desk
Wooden desk with two monitors on it
Vari Electric Standing Desk
A standing desk
View now View at Vari
Logitech MX Keys S Wireless Keyboard | A productive keyboard
Logitech MX Keys S Wireless Keyboard
Logitech MX Keys S Wireless Keyboard
A productive keyboard
View now View at Amazon

Slowly but surely, hybrid work has become the new norm. While many companies have strictly prioritized remote work setups during the past few years, return-to-office mandates have demonstrated that the hybrid work model is here to stay. 

I am a hybrid worker myself, and I've found it difficult to adjust to this new norm, constantly switching from one environment to another – that is, until I found the right remote work setup: the perfect combination of tech devices and gadgets that allow me to have an office at home and on the go. 

Also: Everything you need for commuting to work

Just like most things in life, remote work has its benefits and drawbacks, but with the right tools, you can make the most out of every situation--or in this case, every environment--to be your most productive self at all times. As a remote worker for more than two decades, ZDNET's David Gewirtz believes "the more optimized your space is, the more productivity improves." 

ZDNET has tried and tested the following products to ensure you get the best remote work setup possible.

Also: 4 ways to make hybrid setups work long-term

A laptop

Whether you plan to work from a designated area in your house or at the local coffee shop, a laptop is a must-have essential for remote work. A laptop can provide the flexibility to work anywhere without being bound to a specific place, something desktops or PCs can't do. If you are looking for the best laptops to work remotely, here are some of our favorite reviewed and tested picks. 

Apple's 2023 Macbook Pro with the M2 chip is the best choice for writers, creatives, engineers, and even business leaders who seek a powerful top-performing laptop. You can work long hours without needing to charge thanks to its incredibly reliant 22-hour battery life and you can count on its loud speakers to provide the most crisp and detailed sounds while you work. 

Read the review: Apple 16-inch MacBook Pro (M2 Max, 2023): A content creator's dream machine

View at AmazonView at B&H Photo

A pair of headphones 

You are unstoppable with a good pair of headphones on your head, especially when it comes to remote work. Whether you are taking conference calls, zoom meetings, or simply listening to some tunes, the best headphones should provide an immersive audio experience. And unless you want to add an external microphone to your setup, we recommend getting a pair of headphones with a top-tier microphone.

When it comes to audio, Sony is your best friend. Whether you are looking for headphones or earbuds, Sony's WH-1000XM5 lineup delivers market-leading active noise cancellation (ANC) technology, incredible battery life, and an "outstanding" microphone quality, according to ZDNET's Matthew Miller. If you prefer earbuds, check out Sony also has an earbuds version of the 1000XM5.

Read the review: Sony's WH-1000XM5 headphones are basically perfect

View at Best BuyView at AmazonView at Best Buy

A monitor

Working nine to five on a laptop five days a week is not ideal--there is no denying after several hours, your back, eyes, and entire body just start to hurt from crouching over such a small screen. Besides, you can do so much more when you have two screens to organize your work. For at-home or on-the-go setups, here are the top monitors to work remotely. 

Also: How to choose the right monitor layout for work

Whether you are working from home, a coffee shop, or even the airport, the Duex Plus monitor gives your laptop that second screen you yearn for every time you step away from your day-to-day monitor. Seamlessly connect through USB or USB-C to any laptop model, and have a slick, lightweight second screen to organize your work. Talk about productivity on the go! 

Also: The best portable monitors

View at AmazonView at Amazon

A desk and a chair 

I've tried multiple times to work from my kitchen table, and let me tell you, it just doesn't work as a permanent fix. If you are working from home or remotely, you need a designated workspace where you can keep all of your work-related essentials. Not only will your significant other thank you for not hogging the kitchen table, but you will also be able to create a physical distinction between what is work and what is home. Here are some of our favorite office furniture, including desks and chairs.

Personally, I need to stand while working to prevent my head from slamming into my desk after having a meal. Standing desks have become popular options that allow you to raise the height of your desk so you can stand and work (and decrease the negative effects of sitting for hours a day). The Vari Electric Standing Desk has a gorgeous design, programmable height settings, and it is incredibly easy to set up and get working. 

Also: What are the best standing desks, and how often should you stand?

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon

A keyboard and a mouse

An external keyboard and mouse is definitely up to personal preference, but if you are using a monitor, having a top-quality keyboard and mouse can be more comfortable to use and can provide a better flow of work than performing functions directly on your laptop. Besides, unless you have your monitor higher than your laptop, your screens may interfere, or it may be uncomfortable to type with your computer on the side. 

When it comes to a wireless keyboard, Logitech's MX series provides the best features to optimize your workflow and productivity. With Logitech's Easy Switch, you can quickly alternate which computers or monitors your Logitech Keyboard and Mouse are connected to. And, with Logitech's Smart Actions feature, you can map certain routines or keystroke sequences to a single key in your keyboard.

Read the review: I found the best keyboard for students, and its ChatGPT shortcut proves it

View at AmazonView at Amazon

You might also need: 

Aside from the tech essentials above, we've included some accessories you might not have thought about for your work-from-home setup. Ultimately, all these products are meant to increase your comfort and your productivity. 

What does remote work mean?

Working remotely is often referred to as working at any location other than a company's central office. This means employees use online forums to meet, communicate, and go about their daily tasks. For some employees, working remotely can mean working from home, while for others, it can mean working on-the-go. 

What is the difference between remote work, work from home, and hybrid work?

Employees who work from home have their offices and work setups at--you guessed it--home. Remote workers are technically those who work at any location that is not the company's central office and, in turn, are nowhere near other coworkers. Hybrid workers work half their time in a company's main office and half remotely -- a trend that has surged since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What should I keep in mind when working remotely?

While working remotely offers immense flexibility, you must be mindful of certain "side effects." First and foremost, the lines between work and play can be blurred. If you want to succeed at a remote job, you must distinguish between your work and home setup. While this can be physical, such as a designated work space within your home or a specific work schedule, it can also be mental; this means creating boundaries of when and where you want to answer messages, send Slacks, or even log into your laptop. 

Secondly, it is essential to keep in mind cybersecurity at all costs. While you may consider you are not at risk since you are in the comfort of your own home or paying attention to your laptop at all times within your local coffee shop, you may be compromising your company's security. ZDNET's Jada Jones shares four ways to secure your remote work setup

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