Although the new year usually brings change, the one thing that seems destined to continue, at least for a while, is working from home. The only problem is, if you’re not accustomed to working from home, you may find it a little awkward.
Since we’re not in the business of presenting a problem and then saying, good luck with that, here are a few simple ways you can turn your home into the perfect home office.
1. Boost your internet speed
There are several ways to increase your home internet speed. First, test your current speed with a quick online tool like Google Speedtest or the Xfinity xFi Speed Test. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to download anything.)
To give your internet speed a boost, consider the following:
- Make sure your current internet speed matches your plan
- Connect to the internet using an ethernet cable
- Create an internet use schedule for your home to eliminate logjams
- Place the router in a better location, have it updated, or replace it
- Turn off wi-fi on all phone and tablets when not in use
- Ask your internet service provider about faster plans
2. Reduce eye strain
Working from home isn’t just about having the best internet speed or nicest laptop. It’s about being physically comfortable, too, and that includes your eyes.
You can reduce eye strain by adjusting your monitor’s color temperature.
During daylight hours, you want to adjust your monitor to a cooler (bluer) tone when your room is bright. If you work at night, you’ll want to adjust your screen to a warmer (yellowish) tone.
You can adjust your screen yourself, or download the free app f.lux to adjust it for you.
F.lux is a free app that uses your computer’s location to automatically adjust your display based on your time of day and preferences. F.lux is available for Windows and Mac users.
3. Back up your work
Back in the office, your IT team probably made sure that all work files were routinely backed up to avoid losing vital information. Is your home computer also equally protected?
This doesn’t need to be tricky: Simply use a cloud service to back up your important files. The last thing you need is to lose pieces of a project you’re working on the day before it’s due.
You probably already have a cloud account, like Google Drive or Apple iCloud.
Backup your personal files with Google Drive:
Download the Backup and Sync utility, and follow the set up instructions.
Backup your files on Apple iCloud:
Follow the official Apple guide to backing up your files on iCloud, for iPhone, iPad, Mac, or PC.
4. Upgrade your technology
Chances are, your work setup was pretty posh when compared to your home office, which means you may be lacking some supporting pieces of equipment.
If you’re using a laptop, consider getting an external keyboard and a mouse, both for reasons of comfort and ergonomics. If you’re short on USB ports, you can get a USB hub that will allow you to plug in multiple devices. If you’re tired of staring at a tiny monitor, you can get a large external monitor pretty cheaply. And don’t discount the productivity-boosting benefits of a comfortable, ergonomic desk chair.
Make sure to ask your employer about reimbursements. Your workplace may already have a program in place to get you the equipment you need.
5. Check your audio/video
Now that work meetings are virtual, you’ll want to make sure you’re able to see and hear everything that’s happening. First off, that means having a working webcam. If you don’t have one that works, invest in an external webcam.
A hands-free microphone headset is a great option to improve your comfort and sound quality, especially if your home office has noisy kids and pets nearby. You’ll also want to make sure you have the programs you need, like Zoom or Skype, and that your audio and video is working properly on each.
Finally, make sure you’re keeping all your computer device drivers up to date with a tool like WinZip Driver Updater.
All it takes is one out-of-date driver to kill your audio, your visual, your mouse, or your keyboard, and that’s a sure-fire way to create some fun stress five minutes before your important meeting is about to begin.