Working from home can be great, if you’ve got the right equipment to create your home office.
Working from home is a privilege increasingly being offered to corporate employees, as well as entrepreneurs and freelancers. It requires a dedicated home office stocked with a few essential pieces of hardware, including the following:
- A laptop. Desktop computers have their advantages, but home workers are far more likely than office-based employees to attend meetings at client premises or neutral venues. Children, pets and one-off disruptions (such as home improvements) can lower productivity in a home office, and it’s useful to have a device more powerful than an iPad when making pitches or presentations to prospective customers. For all these reasons, a high-spec laptop represents a better investment than a desktop computer. With a docking station and separate peripherals (keyboard and mouse, plus speakers and a big monitor), a laptop can compete with a desktop in terms of daily usage, all without any productivity drop-off on the move.
- An all-in-one printer. Modern technology is a celebration of convergence and multifunctional flexibility, with games consoles doubling as DVD players and internet-enabled TVs bringing the web onto your 4K display. Separate printers and scanners take up too much space proportionate to their frequency of use, whereas an all-in-one printer can also scan and copy documents via a single USB lead. Stock up on print cartridges and high-quality white paper, and there’ll be no reason to bemoan those unfulfilled promises about paperless offices.
- Lamps. Some may raise an eyebrow at the idea of lamps being an office essential, but dull or ineffective lighting can cause problems such as headaches and fatigue to depression and seasonal affective disorder. If you’re spending thirty or forty hours in one spot every week, it’s vital to ensure there’s plenty of brightness even when the sun goes down. Full spectrum lighting is more conducive to productivity (and positivity) than standard lamps, while a desktop lamp will create more comfortable reading conditions than overhead spots or a central pendant light.
- A landline. Some entrepreneurs are abandoning traditional landlines, relying instead on their mobile handset or a Skype account. However, this is a mistake. Most telecommunications companies offer low-cost landline and call package deals for dedicated works numbers, helping to differentiate business calls from private ones. There are no embarrassing dropouts or signal degradation during landline calls, you’ll never miss an incoming call by having the phone on silent or leaving it in another room, and there’s very little danger of a low battery bringing a conversation to an abrupt end. Also, landlines can easily be diverted to your mobile when you’re out.
- A large monitor. Don’t cut corners by purchasing a 15-inch LCD monitor or utilising that antiquated CRT unit in the loft. Productivity demands a large flat-screen monitor of at least 20 inches, while the 1920×1080 pixel resolution of modern devices is ideal for having two documents open side by side rather than endlessly mouse-clicking between active pages. It is possible to spend more and acquire a higher resolution (such as the 3840×2160 displays of 4K UHD screens), but these are unnecessary unless you’re a games programmer or architect. For the vast majority of home workers, a 16:9 aspect ratio with over two million pixels will be quite sufficient.