The COVID-19 pandemic has affected virtually everyone’s lives across the planet. COVID-19 has impacted how we work, live, and enjoy time with others socially. One of the most notable takeaways from COVID-19 is how more people are working from home.
There was once a time where many companies wouldn’t have considered such flexible working for their employees. Nowadays, business leaders are hailing it as an excellent way to keep their companies afloat, regardless of their industry.
Have you been asked to work remotely from home? And have you never done so before? If so, you might be wondering how to prepare yourself for that. Especially if you live in a household with children! Without further ado, here’s what you need to do:
Convert a spare room into your office
Even though you’ll be working from home, you still need to concentrate on your work and carry it out efficiently and correctly. One of the biggest challenges that people face when they work from home is distractions.
Typically, those distractions come from family members, especially younger ones, that demand much of your attention. Other distractions might be people visiting your home, or other family members watching TV or listening to music loudly.
Keeping that in mind, it’s best to work from an area of your home where you’re seldom going to be distracted from your work. That usually means avoiding areas like your living room, for instance.
If you’ve got a spare room in your home, it’s worth converting that into your office. Having a clearly defined room means you can avoid distractions or having your work accidentally damaged. In effect, it can be “out of bounds” to your other householders (children).
Invest in some decent office furniture
Once you’ve allocated a room in your home as your office, the next step is to furnish it with ergonomic, high-quality office furniture. As a minimum, you should buy a desk and office chair so that you’ve got a comfortable place to conduct your work.
If you do a lot of desk-based work, it’s wise to invest in an office chair that best suits your posture. The last thing you want to do is buy a budget chair that will leave you in agony after just a short period.
You will undoubtedly have ceiling lights in your spare room. But, you may wish to invest in a small LED desk lamp for those times where you only need a bit of lighting. LED desk lamps are cheap to buy, and you can purchase daylight-effect LED bulbs to mimic sunlight.
Another item you might want to buy is a footrest if you’re likely to spend long periods working at your desk. They’re great for promoting good posture, and they don’t cost much money to buy.
If you’re a keen DIYer, you could always make a footrest out of wood. Alternatively, you could conjure up a crude footrest using a couple of old telephone directories or similar.
Upgrade your Internet connection
Your boss will most likely wish to communicate with you through electronic means, such as email or video conferencing. That won’t be possible to achieve if your Internet connection is lackluster at the best of times.
Fortunately, upgrading your Internet connection is easier than you think. Firstly, you can do an internet speed test to test the speed and quality of your internet connection from your current internet service provider. Then, you could ask your provider to increase your “bandwidth” (your Internet speed). Alternatively, get a high-speed fiber Internet connection set up in your home.
If you’re thinking of changing your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to get a faster and more stable connection, it’s worth comparing the different ISPs online. There are many ISP comparison sites online that you can check, along with real-world reviews from customers.
When you get your Internet connection upgraded, you should also improve any Wi-Fi “dead zones” in your home. Doing so will ensure that mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets will have a stable wireless connection to the Internet.
It makes sense to get the Wi-Fi connectivity sorted out in your newly-converted office room in your home. Especially if you’re not using a fixed method of connecting to the Internet, such as Ethernet cables.
Invest in the right technology
When you work from home, you need to have a reliable way of communicating with your employer. You already know why and how to upgrade your Internet connection. But, are the devices you’re going to use up to the task?
If the answer’s no, it’s time to look at upgrading your technology. As you can appreciate, buying a new smartphone is quite an expensive investment. You could always ask your employer to rent a iPhone 11 Pro for you to use for work purposes.
The same goes for other technology you need to conduct your work, such as a laptop or desktop computer. But what should you do if your boss cannot provide you with the technology you need to work from home?
There are many options open to you. For example, you could lease anything you need and offset those costs against your tax return if you’re self-employed. Or you could buy pre-owned devices that are still capable of running the software and applications you need.
Depending on where you are, you might be eligible for a grant to cover the equipment costs when you work from home. It’s worth doing some research on the subject to see which options are best.
Take advantage of online collaboration tools
Whether you use a computer or smartphone for your work, it makes sense to take advantage of online collaboration and remote working tools. Some of the most popular ones are:
- Dropbox and Google Drive – group file viewing and editing;
- Skype and Zoom – video conferencing;
- TeamViewer and Screenleap – screen sharing;
- Greenshot – screenshots.
The good news is you can use all of those tools listed above for free. Some of those products have paid premium versions with extra features. You might find that your employer is willing to pay for those premium applications for you to use.
Of course, the list of online collaboration tools above is just a small subset of what’s available. There are hundreds of different programs you and your employer can use. It just depends how they and your colleagues wish to collaborate with you.
Make sure your online connections are secure
You’re likely going to work with files or information that are commercially-sensitive. Keeping that in mind, you must make sure that your online connections are secure. After all: the last thing you want is for hackers to compromise your work and potentially get you fired.
To ensure all online connections are secure, the first thing you must do is check your Wi-Fi security. Use a strong Wi-Fi encryption like WPA2-PSK (AES). Your wireless passphrase should ideally have a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Next, if you’re using a Windows-based operating system on your computer or laptop, install good-quality and up-to-date Internet security software such as Norton 360 or F-Secure. Those two actions alone will beef up your Internet security from home.
Your employer might also want you to use a secure Virtual Private Networking (VPN) connection. VPN connections to the Internet encrypt all data transmitted and received between your devices and the websites or servers you use.
Some of the best VPN providers include ExpressVPN and NordVPN. The cost to use a VPN is only a few dollars per month, but your employer may also cover those costs for you.
Have a daily work routine
So far, you know how to set up your working environment and ensure that your Internet connection is reliable and secure. You also know of the different applications you can use to collaborate online with your boss and your co-workers.
But, there are other aspects of remote working that you need to keep in mind as well. One of them is having a daily work routine, just as you did when you worked from your employer’s premises.
Working from home is different to commuting to a place of work. However, you can instill a work routine in your life to keep you on-track with what you need to do. For most people, such a routine involves getting ready for work, starting, and finishing work at certain times.
If you live with other people, be sure to communicate your work routine with them. That way, they’ll know when you’re working or not. Plus, it decreases the likelihood of any distractions, especially when you’re calling people or video-conferencing.
Working from home can be something of a culture shock for some people. If you’ve never worked from your home before, the above guide will hopefully have given you some practical advice and inspiration.
Once you’ve prepared your home (and your mind) for working from home, you can confidently carry out your work with ease.
Plus, if your work is laptop-based, you could always have a change of scenery, such as working from your garden on a sunny day.