Working from home coronavirus guide: Equipment, software and tips
Coronavirus has seen many more of us working from home. Here's how businesses and individuals can WFH better.
While we’re all spending more time indoors during the coronavirus pandemic, millions of us are trying to work from home or even run a business remotely for the first time. Whether you suddenly need video conferencing, or you’re just desperate for a decent chair, we can help. We’re tracking down hard-to-find equipment and updating our guides each day.
Equipment you need to work from home
There’s no golden WFH checklist that suits everyone but there are a few key ingredients you should try to tick off:
- A quality monitor. The larger the screen, the more multitasking you can do. The better the resolution, the less eye strain you’ll suffer.
- A comfortable office chair. We’re in this for the long-term, so get yourself an ergonomic, adjustable chair with plenty of backside cushioning to minimise aches and pains.
- Fast Internet. You’ll be surprised how a better broadband plan, or even some tricks to maximise bandwidth, can help your Internet speed.
- Webcam (if you don’t have a built-in camera). Video conferencing has become a standard requirement for employees working from home.
- Headphones. This is especially relevant if there are kids in the vicinity.
- Desk. Even if it’s something small that gets you off the kitchen table, a desk gives you a chance to distance yourself from other members of your family.
- Software. Your home computer may not have all the software of your office laptop, so think about downloading the likes of Microsoft Office, Zoom, Skype, Chrome, VPNs and even Spotify.
- Mobile phone. You probably already have one, but for hot-spotting, staying contactable when away from your desk, and multitasking, you may want a new phone or an upgraded phone plan.
- Printer/scanner. Not all workers will need one, but if you do, the trick is to find a printer that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to refill with ink.
Where to buy essentials online
Five key tips for working from home
1. Set strict working hours
Set a schedule, and stick to it. Being strict with yourself about when to work and when to call it a day will help you to maintain that all-important work-life balance. You could even install an automatic time-tracking app, such as RescueTime, to alert you if you aren’t sticking to your hours.
2. Get dressed
For some people, the prospect of staying in their pyjamas all day is the most attractive aspect of working from home. But washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work. For some, dressing formally is helpful, especially if you need to dial into a video call that day.
Working from home can make some fall into sloth-like behaviour, especially in the beginning. But getting your sweat on, even if only briefly, will boost your energy levels and improve productivity. Some prefer to use the time they’d normally spend getting to the office in the morning to do a workout, while others enjoy breaking up the day by going for a run outside at lunchtime, or even after work.
4. Take regular breaks
It’s good to have a routine when you’re working from home, but work shouldn’t become monotonous. This means, don’t stay glued to your screen all day, especially at lunch. Getting up from your desk to move around just as you would in an office isn’t going to stop you from being productive, in fact, it’s going to help you. If you can get outside in the garden for some fresh air, do so, otherwise, take advantage of different rooms in your house to eat lunch or break up the day. It will do you the world of good.
5. Keep in touch
The worst aspect of remote working can be feeling isolated and ignored, especially if you live alone. Hopefully, there will be lines of communication open to your managers and colleagues, such as video conferencing software like Zoom and communication channels like Slack. A good tactic to avoid loneliness is to set up a video call with a colleague while you’re working on a shared project. Just the telepresence of a colleague and the familiar taps of their fingers on the keyboard might help. If video conferencing is not available to you, just pick up the phone.