Making the leap from office-based work to being located at home can be a considerable shock to the system. As well as missing out on conversations with colleagues and the familiar routine of set hours, there’s the need to establish a conventional workplace in a corner of your home. Achieving this requires a number of essential elements, from hardware infrastructure to software packages.
These challenges are exacerbated when you’re setting up a new business, potentially in an industry you have little experience of. However, investing in appropriate technology at the outset can make life considerably less stressful, as well as giving your fledgling enterprise the best possible chance of success…
A dedicated workstation.
It’s not practical to run a new business without a proper working environment. Your workstation ought to be a well-sized desk, situated in a distraction-free corner of the home (i.e. away from the TV). Ensure it has a combination of natural and artificial lighting, ideally with full spectrum bulbs. Drawer and cupboard storage is advisable for the mounds of stationery and paperwork inevitably amassed while establishing a new business.
An ergonomic chair.
Slouching on the sofa balancing a computer on your knee will lead to muscle discomfort, eyestrain, and headaches. It will also reduce your concentration and hinder productivity. It’s worth investing in a height-adjustable chair that provides effective postural and lumbar support. Armrests are vital, and we’d also recommend buying from a store where the chair can be tested in person, rather than relying on internet descriptions of its comfort and practicality.
Combining the flexibility of a tablet with the processing power and full-size keyboard of a desktop PC, laptops are ideal for new businesses. They have substantial hard drives, come with integral webcams for video conferencing and Skype calls, and enable you to work from the train or the spare room equally efficiently. Laptops truly come into their own when paired with our next recommendation:
A docking station.
This is an interface for peripherals which sits on a desk or workstation and connects everything from a large height-adjustable monitor to printers and scanners. A single lead plugs into the laptop, which instantly defaults to connected peripherals including a full-sized keyboard and mouse – the latter being far superior to any laptop trackpad. This gives new business owners the productivity of a desktop at home, yet retaining the flexibility of a laptop on the move.
An all-in-one printer and scanner.
Don’t be tempted to think “it’s 2019, do I really need this?”. From scanning and uploading signed contracts to retaining hard copies of important email attachments, we’re a long way from the paperless office we were promised a decade ago. Combining these peripherals into one saves space and cash.
Despite the simplicity and flexibility of Google’s cloud-hosted Docs and Sheets tools, it’s surprising how often Office files are sent as email attachments, or documents requested in Word format. Emulators work up to a point, but they often struggle to accurately replicate formatting. Buying Office 2016 is cheaper than the 2019 edition. 2016 also has fewer compatibility issues among those with older versions like 2010.
Given the wealth of digital data generated by modern businesses, not backing them up could be ruinous if the device gets stolen, damaged, or infected with malware. Open an account with a platform like Microsoft OneDrive, and regularly upload recent files and folders. For a few pounds a month and some overnight uploading, you’ll have a secure backup of files you’d otherwise be unable to replace.