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
  2. Make Your Office Nice
  3. Use Natural Light
  4. Use Ambient Lighting
  5. Get A Large Desk
  6. Get A Great Chair
  7. Use A Real Keyboard And Mouse
  8. Get A Wireless Headset With A Mute Button
  9. Get a Microphone
  10. Multiple Monitors On Your PC
  11. Get The Right Software
  12. Use The Cloud

Create A Separate Working Space with a Lockable Door

For exactly this reason.

Children interrupt BBC News interview - BBC News

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.

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.

Make your office nice when you work form home

Must-haves are natural light & fresh air, this an 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.

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…oooh yeah.  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 🙂

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.

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.

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?

Use A Real Keyboard And Mouse

Now here is the thing, the image at the top of this post is alluring.  A nice woman, sitting on her bed drinking coffee and working on her laptop.  But 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.

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 is much more effective.

Need a coffee during a meeting, just get up, go to the kitchen, put yourself on mute and make the coffee.  Super productivity people…

Get a Microphone

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.

Multiple Monitors On Your PC

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.

Working From Home - Multiple Monitors Rock & Improve Productivity
Working From Home -- Multiple Monitors Rock & Improve Productivity

Why?

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.

Why?

Because at home I have 3 huge monitors connected to my work machine. Even 2 screens are 5 times better than 1 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.

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.

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 a great solution.  Instant document backup and accessible from everywhere the cloud is your friend.

Barry's 25 years of experience with Silicon Valley Corporations such as IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Hewlett Packard Enterprise & DXC Technology enables him to share his knowledge of succeeding in today's professional corporate environments and develop a great work life for yourself.

2 Comments

  1. Bella May 27, 2020
  2. Andrea June 8, 2020

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