Posts in the ‘Working at Home’ category

Setting Up a Home Office – 5 Things You Need and 5 Things You Want

Here is a checklist to help you set up your own home office. I’ve listed 5 things you need and 5 things you want. I have been meaning to write this post for a while, but was inspired to do it this week by the ProBlogger Group Writing Project. Check it out after you’ve got your office set up.

1. You need a computer. You want a laptop!
You still get more bang for your buck with a desktop system but the price difference is decreasing every day. By choosing a laptop you gain mobility. Laptops allow you to work in other parts of the house; on the road; or in the office. The fact of the matter is that most hardware power these days is overkill unless you are a heavy gamer, big into video encoding, or perform lots of complicate CAD and graphic work.

2. You need a printer. You want a multi-function printer/scanner/fax/copier!
We simply haven’t achieved the paperless office yet. A printer is still essential. However, since you are taking up the desk space anyway, consider getting a multifunction printer/scanner/fax/copier. You will be surprised at how little these additional features add to the price. Even though you may not need them all the time, you will be glad you have the ability to whip out an occasional fax or copy a contract. Other features to look for are wired or wireless network ready and a document feeder. (Check out our review on the Brother MFC-420cn.)

3. You need a phone. You want VOIP!
Some may argue with me on this one, but hear my case. With VOIP you are paying far less for far more. Most VOIP plans come with all the features you can dream of and include long distance to boot. Many are now even including some international destinations as part of their unlimited plans. The sound quality isn’t always perfect, but VOIP certainly does the job 99.9% of the time and saves you a bundle. (Read and write reviews of various VOIP providers in our Resource Directory.)

4. You need an internet connection. You want broadband!
It’s the 21st century. You need the internet. You need to be connected. You can’t settle for dial-up. It just doesn’t cut it anymore. If budget is your primary concern, I urge you to look at entry level DSL in your area. I have been shocked at how cheap some of these plans have become. If you are still on dial-up and haven’t checked DSL prices in a while, run (don’t walk) to your nearest provider and see what they offer, you may find that you can get a faster connection for less money than you are paying for dial-up. (Read and write reviews of various Broadband ISPs in our Resource Directory.)

5. You need a dedicated space for your office. You want a door!
Designate a comfortable space in your house with the room you need to perform your job. Furnish it with a desk of the appropriate size, a chair with the proper support and make sure that there aren’t a lot of distractions. I highly recommend that your designated space has a door. A door serves two essential purposes. It keeps out noise and distractions when you are working in the office, and it keeps you out of office when you should be living. Work-Life balance is important and a simple door is a great way to preserve it.

Home Office Security: Protecting Information

An article on Yahoo! today reported that the personal data of 26.5 million veterans was stolen when a telecommuter’s laptop was taken during a home burglary.

Information security is a big deal for government and for companies. They need to protect employee, customer, and vendor data and privacy as well as intellectual property and trade secrets.

Data security is a big reason why many companies refuse to embrace telecommuting as a viable work option. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can have data security and a flexible work environment, but it takes planning, processes, rules, technology, education and enforcement.

In the coming months, we will be addressing this topic on a number of levels. Keep an eye out for articles on:

  • Network security
  • Physical security
  • Encryption
  • Writing data security policies.
  • Insurance for the home office or home business.

I want to hear your experiences with data security as a telecommuter – both good and bad. Leave a comment with your horror stories, questions, answers and suggestions.

Home Office Distractions

I love working from home, but sometimes I have to deal with the distractions that come with it.

For instance, today is a beautiful fall day. I would love nothing better than to go out with my son and kick the ball around. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have meetings scheduled most of the day and I can’t really act on these distractions and leave the home office.

I knew I would have trouble in the area of distractions so I designed my office in such a way that it is hard to act on the distractions. I have a door to my office that allows me to shut off most interruptions. I also chose a room with no windows so I am not drawn away from my computer screen.

What do you do to stay focused? Do you rely on physical tricks like me, or are you adept at the mental side? Add you thoughts in the comments section below to share your ideas and observations.

Home Office Facilities Manager

One of the things about working from home, is that you always have to do more than just your job. For instance, this week I had to play the role of facilities manager.

It started out as a regular day at the home office until the water started seeping in under the wall from the laundry room next door. The drain had become clogged and the laundry machine simply ejected its water onto the floor.

After dealing with the flood, I heard a rattling, clanging sound coming from the recreation room. I took a peek around the corner and low and behold there were birds in my fireplace… flapping around. I had to quickly changed hats from plumber to animal control.

I never really remember having to deal with floods and flying creatures when I supported computers in an office, but now they fall squarely in my domain.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the floods and birds would have happened anyway, but I would have had to deal with them when I got home. They are kind of hard to ignore when they are in your face like this. At least now, I know I will be at home when the repair guys come…