Working from home can be both liberating and lonely, no matter if you only do it occasionally or every day. Many things can affect your productivity. Take a good look around your home office and you’re likely to think of a few things that can make it a more productive work space.
You may have already figured out your desk and chair, so it’s probably better to focus on the gear that will actually make you productive. You may have to think strategically or tactically on this one. Is mobility important to you? Would you rather be more stationary to stay focused on the task at hand? As someone who works from home every day, I can attest to how crucial some products can be to productivity.
It’s easy to take this one for granted, but if your job or business relies on a speedy connection, then you may want to look at it from two angles. First, there’s the connection coming into your place from your service provider, and second, is the router and networking gear you deploy to distribute it. A router, in and of itself, can’t give you a faster connection than what you’re paying for, but it can make the one you have more efficient.
Today’s devices now have Wireless-AC, the latest Wi-Fi standard. If your router doesn’t, then AC-enabled devices automatically connect using previous standards like Wireless-N. Upgrading your router not only makes the most of your overall connection, it also pays dividends for both your home office and the personal time you spend browsing or streaming from the Web. There are a number of different routers, too, so you’re not relegated to only going with one or two options.
Having a dedicated landline business number for your office can be really cheap if you go with a VoIP provider like Ooma or MagicJack. Since VoIP uses your Internet connection, it is an extension of your router’s capabilities. I’ve been using Ooma for over two years and have always been impressed by its quality and consistency. At a fraction of the cost of a standard landline, including calls to all of the U.S., it’s well worth trying. MagicJack is cool in that it’s portable and costs little to renew every year. Both have smartphone apps that tie in to your account, so you can make calls over Wi-Fi or LTE using your existing business number.
This one is pretty subjective, so it will depend on what you prioritize. If you prefer to have a desktop computer and want an older school PC tower, this one from Dell is worth considering, among several others. If you’re thinking a laptop is more realistic for what you need, there is no shortage of options to choose from.
Then you have computer peripherals. With such a broad base of product categories to choose from, you’re likely to find something. If you want to prop up your laptop or connect to a larger monitor, you might consider a mouse or keyboard that goes beyond the basics. A gaming keyboard like the Razer BlackWidow might seem odd if you’re not a gamer, but it’s a robust unit with plenty of features. Adding a cool mouse like the Logitech MX Performance Mouse can help keep things ergonomic and efficient. Not your style? More traditional and versatile devices are available.
An external hard drive to back up all of your files is also of paramount importance. You may even want two, just in case. There are few things as frustrating and devastating as losing everything because of some kind of glitch or malfunction. Don’t let it happen to you.
In fact, if you do plan to get two drives, consider keeping one away from home or in a safe (if you have one). You can’t put a price on your data, especially if some of those files are critical to your work or business. Treat all your files like photos you would never want to lose, and you’re unlikely to fall into a calamitous situation.
Being mobile devices, smartphones and tablets are naturally about portability, though they don’t have to be exclusively used that way. A tablet can play a supporting role at your home office desk, or be the device you use for certain apps related to your work when relaxing on the couch. You may also prefer to have something smaller and lighter to take with you, like the Samsung Galaxy TabPRO 8.4 or Apple’s iPad mini.
It helps that productivity apps have improved on mobile devices. Microsoft Office is now available on iOS and Android. Email and instant messaging is pervasive and accessing backup files from the cloud or even local network storage is just an app and tap away. You can even use apps like Splashtop, TeamViewer or LogMeIn (among others) to remote access your computer, viewing the screen and controlling your computer no matter where you may be.
Since no one will scold or reprimand you for playing music at whatever volume you want, you could always bring in a speaker or sound system to play tunes in the background. Sonos is one I always personally use, though I’ve also used many others, and still do go back and forth on occasion. The number of speakers to choose from is substantial, so you’re bound to find something that suits you acoustically and visually.
If you want to make it more personal, you could always opt for a pair of headphones, of which there is an almost endless supply to choose from.
I’ve been working from home for a long time, and I can honestly say that I don’t have a specific routine. However, I do have devices that I rely on to be productive and efficient, so that I’m getting work done more than trying to get things to work. A home office can be anything you really want it to be visually, except the products you use are what help determine how productive that workspace actually is.