Tech tips for the ultimate home office
Make your workspace awesome, even if it’s your living room.
As telecommuting and flexible working conditions become ever more the norm, increasing numbers of Australians are forgoing the five day working week in the office and instead spending one or two days working from home.
Others are mixing up their small business operation by spending some days in a connected co-working space, others logged in from a comfy and cosy coffee shop and then using their home as an office as well.
Working from home has its benefits – ample time for a morning run or swim, the opportunity to throw a load of washing on between emails and the flexibility to be there for the kids when they come home from school.
These gadgets and systems only require a small amount of investment and can make working from home a dream experience.
A reliable router
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average number of connected devices per household is now closing in on seven. If you listen to a recent Telsyte report, that number is as high as 11.
This includes desktop computers, laptops, mobiles, tablets and gaming consoles, among other gadgets and gizmos.
When working from home, you need a router that can handle the load and which will allow you to videoconference and download documents at a decent speed. This is actually a device that is often overlooked.
Speak to your tech dealer about a router with enough power to keep you working on multiple devices. A good idea is to make sure it has a broad enough range so that you can work through your tasks from the balcony or garden when the weather is fine.
Most modems these days come with a router built-in (in which case they are called a ‘modem router’), but you can always purchase a dedicated router and connect it to your modem, using your modem solely to make the connection to the internet and your shiny new router to distribute the connection to and from your multiple devices.
The right computer for you
Choosing a computer is tricky! If you’re often meeting clients, consider getting a lightweight laptop and back it up with a separate decent-sized monitor to plug into at home. Some other things to consider when selecting a laptop include:
- Internal storage (hard drive size)
- Battery life
- Preferred operating system (Windows, Mac, Chrome etc.)
- Screen display resolution and quality
- Number of screens in your setup
- Processing speed
- Built in camera for video conferencing
- Suitability for the tasks you will be performing most
Of course, it’s also a matter of budget. Many people will remind you that you get what you pay for, but you can potentially get away with a cheaper machine if you’re only performing basic tasks like browsing the web, sending emails and creating documents.
If you don’t have room or budget for a monitor, consider grabbing a laptop stand that will prevent you from having to slouch at your desk. Looking down all the time can be a strain on your neck!
A decent charging station
Got gadgets? Many of us refer to more than two while we’re going about our daily business.
Investing in a universal charging station that lets you connect multiple devices without cluttering up your desk will reduce the likelihood of running out of batteries when you need your tech the most.
You’ll also reduce the time you spend scrambling around for cables.
All-in-one wireless printer
While we’re increasingly working in the cloud, there is still at times call for printing, copying and scanning.
Modern wireless printers can talk to your phone, tablet and computer without needing to be physically connected to them.
To cover all bases, look for a model that will also print from Ethernet and USB. Before you buy, talk to your vendor about cost-per page and print quality.
Don't forget to recycle your printer cartridges!
Headphones and headsets
Modern flexible working sometimes means that you are required to be at your desk after standard business hours.
A good pair of noise cancelling headphones can help you focus while the rest of the family is going about their evening.
Invest in a wireless pair and you can pass them to your family if they want to watch TV while you’re on an important call.
While we’re talking headsets, if your business requires you to be on the phone all day, a Bluetooth headset will let you talk hands free – very handy if you need to take notes or share your screen.
Access to music streaming
No-one is an island! Create some virtual background noise while you work from home by streaming your favourite tunes while you work. A music streaming subscription lets you listen around the clock.
You’ll also be able to create playlists of your fave motivational tunes to help you stay focused.
Drifting towards Facebook or Twitter when you should be working?
There are dozens of tools that can boost your productivity and help you to focus on the important tasks.
Lots of people swear by the Pomodoro Technique, which has an accompanying app that encourages you to work in 25 minute blocks before giving you the green light to take short breaks. There’s even a simple website that covers the very basics.
If you want to go even more high-tech, you can install the software and buy the button for Saent, a connected device that sits on your desktop and will block your access to sites and apps that you nominate.
It will also encourage you to work in timed ‘blocks’ and will give you little challenges designed to increase your productivity.
If you’re serious about working from home, don’t forget to consider ergonomic furniture and to make sure you take regular breaks to stretch your legs and connect with the outside world!
Read about how more Australians are becoming their own bosses and creating small businesses, thanks to increased connectivity and the rise of the digital workplace.