YSo you’re working from home. Regardless of whether this is a little glimpse of heaven or to a greater extent a horrible situation for you, there’s an entire world loaded with brilliant tech that can make your work-from-home weeks wonderful (or possibly tolerable).
The Desk Setup
First of all, the most important thing for everyone to understand is that your home office setup should reflect your personality. You have a very clean, organized, clutter-free space for deep, uninterrupted concentration. Then there’s your messy, unorganized space for cramming your desk with all those random pictures of you and your children and putting your dog in a mankini. A good home office setup allows you to work without distractions, be it someone coming in the door to say hello, or your toddler needing your attention. It’s important to create an atmosphere that allows you to stay in a high-performance state of mind. These things, while important, are not the most important factors for a productive, happy work-from-home situation.
The Smartphone Setup
By far, the coolest tech part of this setup. Without a doubt, your smartphone is your lifeline to the outside world. The challenge with working from home is that you need to physically be somewhere to get work done. If your sole objective is to stream Netflix and binge watch “Scandal” for five consecutive days, your productivity is sure to be zero. So how do you get work done? And how do you get work done when you’re at home but have friends and family texting you and calling you? It’s simple! You have an iPhone or Android, you can connect to Wi-Fi, and you’ve got data. It’s even easier if you live in a metropolitan area. Sure, you may have to pay for a phone plan, but for a lot of people that’s the cost of a cup of coffee a day.
The Essential Softwares
There are some excellent softwares that can bring your office space into the 21st century and for the most part, these are pretty easy to install. Microsoft Office 365 Microsoft Office is probably one of the best softwares for people that do their work in the comfort of their home, or even office. While Microsoft Office isn’t exactly a new concept, its ease of use, stability and available functionality make it a great option for remote working. It is available as a download, a cloud based service or is as if your company requires you to access it using a cloud server. The file sizes of the software are rather small and although this can be intimidating initially, the overall user-friendliness of the software means you can usually get by without knowing how the software really works.
The Must-Have Software
Communication software for the home worker, so you don’t need a constant connection to have basic contact with friends and family. TeamSpeak 8 ($39.99; available for Mac and Windows) has been my go-to for decades. It’s the number one choice for the large companies, because it can withstand millions of simultaneous users. Because it runs in a browser, it’s also very lightweight and easy to use. For some reason, it has been the only communication system I’ve actually found that I can manage to get software updates for. I’ll be recommending this to my clients. SmartBear TestComplete Pro (from $69 per user, per month, includes TeamSpeak 8 for individual use) is a powerful set of web-based tools for software developers that was developed by the folks at SmartBear.
While you can certainly get through your days on a regular laptop or even tablet (and we do, too!), there’s a ton of portable, multifunction tech that makes a great home for some crunch time. Here are a few of our favorite options that double as excellent personal tech, too. This is the smartest external hard drive we’ve ever seen. It stores up to 120GB of files and connects via USB. So you can back up all of your important documents, and even stream movies on the go. (Oh, and it’s portable, too.) It’s really, really smart, too — automatically back up your data daily and create backups of critical system files on-the-fly (including photos). I think we can be pretty certain that it’s going to make the biggest impact on how we work from home this year.
The Second Monitor
The Must-Have Apps
These are the must-haves for a productive work week if you work remotely (or at all) by staying off-site with your laptop. You might be familiar with Google Drive for PC, which is a really fast way to create documents on your computer, edit and share them, and view and share their PDF. It’s free on PC and mobile. If you haven’t used it yet, maybe try Dropbox, which has a neat backup option that creates a system in which you automatically save files to Dropbox. If your computer is slow, try Plex. It is like a supercharged YouTube, but on your computer. You can even make local media play and download easily to your phone or other devices, too. The main benefit to Plex is that you can have a simple solution for music that doesn’t require an internet connection.
The Must-Have Accessories
Entertainment While what’s on TV or your Netflix account is important, so is your mood at the time. Our personal brand of entertainment is a top priority and, with so many streaming services out there, it can be difficult to figure out what the best way to spice up your stay at home gig. By now, you should know exactly what I’m talking about. But, for those that don’t: don’t feel bad. The only way you’re going to get through these next few years is by experimenting with new tech and being open to new ways of connecting with your fellow internet denizens. Spotify I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about Spotify, but if you’re anything like me, you probably play music when you’re bored and usually after a long day of work.
No matter the degree of your comfort zone, there are literally hundreds of companies with dedicated tech that can help you do what you need to do to stay productive, mobile, and making the most of your time on the desk. The Tech That Has Made Us Work Here’s the real beauty of technology and the internet; in any situation, you can find a million solutions for a problem you might be having. Sometimes it’s not a company that solves it at all, but it’s a community. Sometimes it’s a kind of new and innovative product you didn’t even think of before. It’s really up to you to use what you’ve been given with empathy and the right mindset. Don’t just use technology because it’s there; use it because it works for you.