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How to Optimise Your Hybrid Laptop to Bolster Productivity

How to Optimise Your Hybrid Laptop to Bolster Productivity

Harry Stewart
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The hybrid model benefits businesses and employees. Companies get more productivity from in-person collaboration, while workers enjoy extra flexibility and free time.
However, proper infrastructure is essential for this employment model to function effectively. Not only must you invest in a fit-for-purpose, hybrid-friendly laptop, but you should also optimise your device to switch seamlessly between the home and office.
In this post, we’re covering six handy methods for setting up a laptop effectively for work as a hybrid employee.

Optimise your software

optimizing hybrid work
Installing and optimising suitable software is the first step towards enhancing hybrid productivity. From communication to time management tools, a host of handy programs can streamline the work-from-home process.

Optimising the OS & applications

An updated operating system safeguards your laptop against threats and lets it perform at its peak. Likewise, updating your drivers and apps adds a layer of protection and improves overall performance. Don’t forget to check your anti-virus software is up-to-date.
Clogged-up laptops commonly suffer performance issues. Ensure yours has at least 20% free storage space to accommodate updates and temporary files. Running a system defragmentation can free up space and improve performance.
Hit CTRL + Alt + Delete to open Task Manager and identify programs running in the background. Uninstall any unnecessary apps hogging your precious memory.

Configuring collaborative tools

At-home work days mean missing in-person stand-up meetings and boardroom brainstorming sessions.
A quality video conferencing app mimics face-to-face interaction to optimise online collaboration. Install your company’s preferred program, such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and ensure it’s ready to roll from day one. Tweak the audio/video settings so you don’t have to do those irritating “Can you hear me?” sound checks on your first remote meeting.
Instant messaging apps offer an online alternative to impromptu meetings and water cooler chit-chat. Not only can they strengthen relationships and collaboration, but they also leave a written record for future reference. Again, install your company’s IM app of choice and get it set up from the get-go.

Installing time management tools

Most hybrid arrangements see team members work from home on different days, making it tricky to track who’s in the office and when. Calendar apps, such as Outlook Calendar, alleviate this issue by creating a real-time work schedule record accessible to all employees. Staff can also tee up meetings with collaborators or block timeslots to focus on specific tasks.
Time-tracking software creates a verifiable record of when a worker logs in, breaks for lunch, and clocks off for the day. Many programs offer advanced features like productivity monitoring to help workers establish focus-enhancing strategies.

Setting up virtual desktops

If you weren’t familiar with the term, a virtual desktop is a preconfigured desktop copy stored separately from a physical device. In other words, your operating system and apps exist on an external data server (AKA, the cloud) instead of your actual laptop.
The technology offers a multitude of benefits, especially for companies with a sizeable hybrid workforce. Rather than storing business data locally, this flexible solution lets you access day-to-day files from any device or location worldwide. Virtual desktops also enhance data security, offer substantial cost savings, and streamline company-wide updating/maintenance procedures.
Several Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) providers sell user-friendly solutions. Examples include Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop, Amazon WorkSpaces, and Citrix Workspace.

Fortify your hardware

Whether using a company-issued laptop or your own device, hybrid workers should ensure their hardware performs at its peak.
Many modern laptops have limited upgradability; most only let you ramp up the RAM. When your computer performs poorly, load Task Manager (CTRL + Alt + Delete) to assess whether insufficient memory is the underlying issue. If so, it’s a simple matter of slotting more in.
Should insufficient storage create headaches, you could add more internally or incorporate an external drive - run this by your company first. A low-performing CPU/GPU, on the other hand, requires upgrading to a new device.
As hybrid workers rely on high-speed internet (especially with virtual desktops), it’s worth reviewing your laptop’s built-in WiFi adapter. Not up to scratch? Consider investing in an external USB WiFi adapter. And remember: your home internet plan and router also impact speed.
Alternatively, bypass wireless technology altogether. Plugging an Ethernet cable straight into your laptop creates a speedier connection than WiFi.

Enhance your ergonomics

Working long hours on a laptop can wreak havoc on your neck if you don’t take ergonomics seriously. Any respectable company office will have suitably positioned desks and comfortable office chairs. But what about your home office?
The ideal height of a work desk is between 28 and 30 inches. Create plenty of space underneath for your legs and feet, which you should plant flat on the floor. Invest in an adjustable office chair with ample lumbar support.
A laptop stand will prop your device up to eye level so you don’t strain your neck gazing down all day. Better yet, purchase a height-adjustable monitor such as the HP M24h (23.8-inch) FHD. As an enticing ergonomic bonus, this display comes with HP Eye Ease, an always-on blue light filter with zero impact on colour accuracy.
m24h monitor
You’ll need a wireless keyboard to complement your external monitor or laptop stand. With adjustable legs and comfy contoured keycaps, the HP 455 Programmable Wireless Keyboard is a portable yet ergonomic option for hybrid workers on the move.
455 programmable keyboard
Although an ergonomic mouse isn’t strictly essential for a laptop stand/external monitor, it does come in handy. These nifty peripherals offer many benefits, from better cursor control to minimised muscle fatigue. Boasting US Ergonomics certification, the HP 925 Ergonomic Vertical Mouse reduces muscle movement by up to 12%. Plus, it’ll work on any conceivable surface.
925 ergonomic mouse

Investing in laptop accessories

An external monitor, wireless keyboard, and vertical mouse will do wonders for your work-from-home ergonomics. But these aren’t the only laptop accessories to consider.
You’ll make a steady stream of conference calls as a bonafide remote worker. While most hybrid-friendly laptops have decent built-in speakers and microphones, the potential for ear-piercing feedback means they’re not an ideal long-term solution.
Therefore, a high-quality headset is an essential bit of kit in any hybrid workers’ arsenal. Give those gaudy gaming headsets a miss and opt for something more subtle and office-friendly. The discreet Poly Voyager Focus 2, for example, provides crystal-clear clarity on conference calls.
poly voyager focus 2 headset
Need something more budget-friendly? The Poly Blackwire 3310 offers quality audio and a business-ready aesthetic at a low price.
poly blackwire 3310 headset
It’s also worth investing in a sturdy laptop bag as you’ll regularly whisk your device between the home and office. Some hybrid workers prefer laptop backpacks for extra storage space - the HP Prelude Pro Backpack is a popular option. Others like messenger or crossbody bags, such as the HP Value Topload Bag, for their professional aesthetic.

Strengthen your security

With cybercrime on the rise in the UK, hybrid workers are susceptible to a plethora of threats, from phishing scams to social engineering and data leaks.
A comprehensive anti-virus/malware program from a reputable vendor is a potent first line of defence. For top-tier security, invest in an enterprise-level suite such as HP Wolf for Business. Providing robust, end-point protection, this always-on service safeguards your device no matter how, when, or where you work.
Encryption tools such as Microsoft Windows BitLocker help secure your files. In addition, consider installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide your traffic from prying eyes. While a VPN may slow down your connection, the added security makes it a worthy trade-off, especially when working on public WiFi.
If you’re not using a virtual desktop, set up automatic data backups for your critical work-related files. Cloud-based solutions are best, although external storage drives may suffice in some situations.

Optimise your battery

Hybrid employees don’t just work from the home and office. From cafes to airport lounges and client sites, on-the-go professionals clock hours in all sorts of strange settings.
A long-lasting battery can prove a huge productivity boon, as many public places lack access to a charging point. If your laptop gets limited juice out of a full charge, consider replacing the battery. Although pricier, original batteries offer superior performance than third-party replicas.
Learn how to switch your laptop between performance and power-saving mode for those lengthy off-grid sessions. Leave a charging cable permanently plugged in at home and purchase a second cord to carry with you - that way, you’ll never leave the house without one. Some hybrid workers feel it’s worth buying a backup laptop battery bank.

Summary

There’s a myriad of ways you can optimise your laptop for hybrid work, from software tweaks to honing your hardware and enhancing ergonomics. Best security practices safeguard your computer on the road, while battery optimisation lets you squeeze the most out of a workday.
Adopt our recommended suggestions to get your laptop performing at its peak. Should you need a more powerful computer, browse our range of hybrid-friendly business laptops at the HP UK Store.

About the Author

Harry Stewart is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes covering everything from how-to guides to laptop reviews.

Disclosure: Our site may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

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