Hundreds of thousands of people have been asked to work from home for the first time during the Corona Virus Outbreak. Hit the ground running with our battle-tested guide.
Our Top 12 Tips on Working from Home Office & Equipment
1. Create A Separate Working Space with a Lockable Door
Ideally, you should have a part of the house that is separated with a door, and the door is lockable, for exactly this reason.
Ideally, you should have a part of the house that is separated with a door, and the door is lockable. In “Big Corp” and working across organizations and functions, 99% of people do not know you work from home. The fact is home workers are considered less serious than those who drive into an office. So, there is no reason to broadcast the fact that you work from home. In fact, don’t talk about it; just get the job done. A dog barking or your child screaming gives the game away, and you will not be taken seriously after that.
Make sure you have a private room, we all know the phenomena, on a conference call and someone is working from home in the kitchen where you can hear a crying baby or the wail of police sirens. To maintain the air of professionalism whilst in meetings, you need a quiet private room with no disruptions.
2. Make Your Office Nice
The fact is you will be spending on average 1,976 hours per year in your home office, that is the same time you spend in bed or even in the rest of your house or outside world. Make it nice, make it a place you want to go, not a dingy corner under the stairs.
Must-haves are natural light & fresh air; this is an important part of life and your work environment. Locking yourself up in your cellar or in the tiny back room with no windows is the quick road to depression.
It is more important to have light and air than a lot of space. You do not need to take over the biggest room in the house as you are mostly looking at the screen, but having enough space to walk around a little is recommended.
Put a plant in the room and pictures on the wall but not in view of the webcam.
3. Use Natural Light
If the sun shines, let it in. Unless you have no other choice, do not choose your cellar as an office. Plenty of natural light will make you feel good during the day, and you will feel at one with the world. My office for many years was on the top floor of my house, with huge skylight windows. This was amazing during spring, autumn, and winter. But at the peak of summer, it really got hot, but it was worth it for the sunshine. In summer it was so hot in my office I was forced to present at our all-employee meetings conference calls in my underwear, thank god it was not with video. Sorry, everyone 🙂
4. Use Ambient Lighting
Perhaps I am just fussy, but I literally detest the fluorescent lights installed in most offices, I find them soul-destroying. In fact, I cannot stand bright man-made lighting anywhere except for a sports arena. Ambient lighting can turn a horrible office into a cozy space of productivity and joy, tune your lights for a great place to work.
5. Get A Large Desk
Maybe it is just me, but when I see people working on a single laptop on a tiny desk, I just think how is that efficient, productive, or even comfortable.
Get a large desk with enough space for your equipment and for you to spread out with paper, pens, and other office equipment.
6. Get A Great Chair
As mentioned previously, you will be spending nearly 2,000 hours sitting on your butt in this room. How much did you spend on your bed, spend the same amount on an office chair, and your back will thank you?
7. Use A Real Keyboard And Mouse
Most people imagine working remotely to be like the image above. Sitting on your bed drinking coffee and working on a laptop. But only 6% of people work remotely from their bedroom
The reality is if you want to be effective and productive, you seriously need a proper keyboard and mouse. Connect them via Bluetooth, and you can hit maximum words per minute and not waste time.
Even more importantly, use a real mouse, not the touchpad on your laptop. There is literally nothing more effective than a mouse, not touchscreen, and certainly not a trackpad.
8. Get A Wireless Headset With A Mute Button
Now to try and reduce the 2,000 hours per year you spend chained to your desk, you should invest in a wireless headset. As a remote worker, all of your conversations mean you are chained to your PC. With a wireless headset, you can get up and roam around your house and still have that conversation. It is better for your body, and I found that when I am walking around and gesticulating when I talk, my voice and presence are much more effective.
Need a coffee during a meeting, just get up, go to the kitchen, put yourself on mute, and make the coffee.
9. Get a Microphone
Are you tired of having a headset clamped to your head every day?
You can go one step further, get a decent quality studio desktop microphone, run the sound through your speakers, and you can have all your conversations headset free.
This is actually how I do it most of the time unless it is a long meeting where I know I need to walk around the house, then I use the headset.
10. Get Multiple Monitors
After such a long time working from home, it actually annoys me to go into the office. I love the office for the people and the face to face meetings, presentations, personal contact, and having a laugh. So, when I go into the office, I literally do not do anything but people stuff.
Because when you go into the office, the only productivity tool you have is your laptop, with its tiny screen and touchpad mouse. It is such a backward step I literally leave the computer work until I get back home. Even email bores me on such a device.
Because at home I have three huge monitors connected to my work machine. Even two screens are five times better than one screen. Most laptops can support multiple monitor setups, simply buy the extra screens and plug them in. Then you can have your email and Skype running on one screen and your Excel and PowerPoints running on another.
Combine that with a full-size keyboard and mouse, and you have productivity heaven.
11. Get The Right Software
Microsoft Office is still the king of the corporate working world, I have created thousands of PowerPoint presentations over the years, and it certainly helps to get the message across visually. When it comes to Excel, you would not believe how even the largest companies in the world are still basically run on excel.
The integration of Skype, Outlook & Microsoft Exchange means you have simply the best way of scheduling meetings, managing your calendar, and connecting to conference calls with a single click.
12. Use The Cloud
Whether you are at home or in the office, it is always beneficial to have your key working documents in the cloud. I use OneDrive with Microsoft Office 365, but Dropbox is also an OK solution but expensive. Instant document backup and accessible from everywhere the cloud is your friend.