May 19, 2020
Most of us are in the second month of the Stay At Home protocols due to the Covid-19 virus. Things have been a very tough adjustment for all of us, but thankfully many are able to transfer their office work to a home office. Because you’re currently stuck working from home, things are a bit different for your normal workday for the time being. However, its still very possible to have something resembling a regular day at the office, with a few helpful tips for you and your company to undertake in these difficult times.
Working from home has become a very large portion of many people’s daily life — back in 2017, 3.7 million Americans were working from home at least half the time, and over the last 5 years, the percentage of people working from home has increased 44%. In recent weeks, many tech companies especially have reported a permanent work from home policy for their employees — giving them the freedom they’ve been asking for for years. The convenience aspect of working from home has so many benefits to employees, that many people said they’d be willing to take a 5% pay cut in order to have the benefit of working from home as opposed to the office.
While we may have thought our home office setup ideas were perfect in the beginning, our bodies have likely started to disagree in recent weeks. Body posture is incredibly important, and as the weeks of our Shelter In Place have been growing, our bodies have started to develop quite a few sore spots from an inadequate setup. It’s best to make sure you’re comfortable for your new eight to ten hour day at home instead of in a cubicle. Having a full home office room is a perfect idea for working from home, as attempting to setup a full conference setup in ones living room can lead to both productivity decrease, and some uncomfortable living situations. You’ll need to account for some items that you’ll likely need your office to provide to function smoothly:
Office Printers — A professional model is a must have for a proper work at home setup. This printer needs to be able to printer, scan, fax, copy — you name it. Because of the number of needs a home office printer has, it will unfortunately take up a bit of space in your home office, so prepare accordingly. Currently there are a plethora of available models that complete all the tasks of an office all at a compact home size, so make sure to do some research and check out which one fits your needs.
Server Backups — While many of us have switched to the virtual cloud for everything from content sharing to backups, some people still prefer to backup to their own local devices in order to ensure information is never lost. Some people will only require a small amount of backup space, such as a backup hard drive with a capacity of around a terabyte. Business owners, however, will want to go with something more complex. Because a home office doesn’t quite have the amount of space as your normal office would, compact is definitely better when it comes to backups for your system information.
Business VoIP Phone — Your iPhone is a great resource, but unfortunately it won’t cut it when you’re stuck working from home. With a great VoIP business phone, you can do everything that you’d be able to do in your office. Conference calls, holds, transfers, you name it — it can all be done with one of these models. Some IT installers can even give you the ability to use same phone number as the office phone, which is something that is sorely missed in many work from home situations. There are plenty of models currently available to purchase, so find the one that speaks out best to your home office in terms of space, price, and usability.
A Good Chair — This one is a bit more common sense than the rest, but trust us when we say that a good ergonomic office chair will do wonders for your productivity. Uncomfortable chairs can lead to very uncomfortable people, and who wants to work when their back won’t stop aching?
Because of your new found home-stay experience, you’ll be taxing your existing wireless system quite a bit. If you’re a business owner, or a very important part to a business, you’ll need an upgrade. The amount of home equipment needed to run a proper home office setup is quite a bit more than a laptop and an iPhone can handle, so its best to upgrade to a business quality WiFi system.
To get the best quality WiFi in your home office, along with everywhere else, you’ll likely need a Mesh System. When you have a mesh system, your entire setup works together, with various access point devices (such as in an Ubiquiti system) or routers (such as with a Google Mesh WiFi setup) set up in various points around your home. This ensures that no matter where you’re located in the home, the signal won’t drop out or lag. Some home offices are required to be a bit away from the home’s AV rack area or shelf, where the main router is usually located. In situations such as that one, a simple router with antennas won’t be quite enough to reach to a home office, which can sometimes be quite a ways away from the central router.
Without video conferencing abilities, it would be very difficult to hold meetings outside of the office. Thankfully, many options are now available to host meetings from the comfort of your home. Not only can telecommuting be done with phones, but now very high definition video options are available as well — as seeing the others in the meeting can be a very large benefit in itself.
Zoom Rooms — Zoom is a fun and exciting new way to video conference. The software itself costs $49 a month for a business version allowing specific to your business virtual conference rooms, and gives a ton of available features with the compatible hardware. The best part of the hardware and software is the main office only requires a few components, such as an Ipad, Mac Mini, video recorder (such as the Logitech Meetup and Rally cam) — along with a monitor connected to the Mac Mini via HDMI. With this setup in the main office, people in the company can remote in from their own personal home office computers, and have a meeting just as if they were in the actual office. This video conferencing ability is a wonderful invention to help work at home employees, and is a definite recommendation at an affordable price for any business.
Cisco Webex — Another video conferencing software similar to zoom, Cisco Webex gives the ability to have home office conferences with the main office location as well. The Cisco Webex software is free, unlike the Zoom which runs $49 a month, however it is only a limited plan while other tiered plans cost more per month. Cisco sells their own equipment for the software, and third party options are not as available. However, they have a very fascinating option for hardware, known as the Cisco Webex Board, a touchscreen device that emulates a whiteboard. This device gives everyone involved in the video chat the ability to see what someone else is writing, making for perfect collaboration among teams.
What Is A VPN? A Virtual Private Network is the holy grail to running the most secure parts of your business from a location outside of the main servers. Many businesses still use physical servers for their data, creating a problem for those working from home. Thankfully with a VPN, its possible to access your servers and network remotely and securely, keeping those out who don’t need to see vital information.
Because of advancements in technology, its possible to run your entire business on the cloud. This prevents costly server rooms and equipment, and allows for much more collaboration with your employees and between employees themselves in order to get their projects completed in a timely manner. They’re a bit more secure as the cloud hosting allows them much more security than a typical server firewall would provide.
Because many of us have complex lives outside of work, including children and other interests, working from home can sometimes be the best of both worlds for many busy people. Working from home can give a good enough work/life balance for employees to be much happier in their positions, as found in a study where 71% of employees enjoyed their jobs more when able to work from home. While unfortunately once we’re out of this current COVID-19 disaster, many companies will have employees return to the regular office, this may be a great chance to set up the perfect home office and give them a reason to let you stay at home permanently — or at the very least a bit more than before.