How to Set Up a Home Office Guide
Considerations When Setting Up a Home Office
Setting up your home office should be dictated by the kind of work you do. The following are some practical considerations to bear in mind when shopping for equipment:
- Do you use software more powerful than word processors and email? Desktops offer more powerful quad-core processors while laptops may only have dual-core.
- Is the software you use compatible with a PC or Apple Mac?
- Does your work require a fast internet connection? You may find that upgrading your router increases speeds.
- Does your work require you to sit at your desk for extended periods of time? OH&S is just as important in the home office and an ergonomic chair is vital.
- Do you often print in high volumes? A printer with high yield, low cost refills may suit your needs. Is scanning a necessity? A multi-function printer may be ideal.
Choose Your Computer
The computer is arguably the most important element of the home office. Desktop computers are ideal for anyone who works primarily from behind a desk and for anyone who uses software that requires fast processors and large amounts of memory.
- If your work involves using heavy software, you may wish to consider purchasing a desktop computer. Desktops tend offer more processing power, RAM and storage space than other more portable alternatives.
- Desktop PCs can be customised to meet your specific need. They can also be fitted with additional components that will enable them to serve as a gaming computer or a first-rate media hub so you can make the most of your downtime.
- If desk space in your home office is limited, you may wish to consider an all-in-one desktop.
If your work requires a degree of portability without compromising on power then you may wish to consider a laptop.
- It’s important to consider how much processing power and RAM is required to effectively operate the software you work with. If you only require a word processor and email, then you may be able to save money by purchasing an entry-level laptop.
- Depending on your work, connectivity may be an important consideration. If you work with photography, for example, you may wish to purchase a laptop with a built-in SD card reader. If you want to connect your laptop to a monitor or TV, look for mini Display Port or HDMI output.
- Do you take your device between your home office and work? If so, ensure the laptop you purchase is lightweight and battery efficient.
2-in-1 devices offer the highest level of portability and convenience — perfect if your work takes you out and about.
- Most 2-in-1 devices include touchscreen functionality, which may be ideal for sharing your work with others and easily navigating your software.
- For creative professions, a touchscreen device is perfect for writing or creating beautiful artwork while avoiding the hassle of scanning or the cost of graphics tablets.
- 2-in-1 devices offer the best of both worlds, usually including a portable keyboard that can give you the flexibility of a tablet and laptop in the one device.
Select Your Software
Having the right software for your home office is essential. It will help you maintain productivity, collaborate efficiently and keep your files and personal information protected.
- Every home office needs some form of productivity software. Microsoft Office (available for Mac and PC) is by far and away the most popular. Its various programs equip you to perform any manner of tasks and prepare a wide variety of documents.
- Ensuring that your computer, your files and your details are protected is an essential part of maintaining an efficient home office. Regardless of your computer’s operating system, it is vital that you safeguard yourself against online threats by purchasing and installing the latest antivirus software.
- If you run your own business from your home office, you may find that purchasing bookkeeping software reduces the amount of time that you have to dedicate to compliance. This will in turn allow you to focus your energy on completing the tasks that pay the bills.
Outfit the Office
Computer peripherals and accessories can help you maintain high levels of productivity, protect your equipment and work without distraction. They are available in a wide range of styles so you will always find an option that works for you.
- Adding a new keyboard or mouse to your existing equipment can help you work in greater comfort, particularly if your principal computer is a laptop or a tablet. Consider opting for wireless models to keep your desk free from clutter.
- If your work means you regularly use chat programs such as Skype, you may find that adding the likes of a headset improves your overall experience. Headsets allow you to communicate with greater clarity so you can focus solely on tending to the issues at hand.
- If you work primarily on a laptop or a tablet, then you should consider purchasing a protective cover or case. Protective cases allow you to safely transport your computer and to safeguard it against incidental damage when not in use.
Printers & Scanners
Regardless of how you manage your data, it is highly likely that your home office will require a printer. Printers come with a range of functions and features, most of which come at a premium, so it is important to consider how often you intend to use your printer to ensure you get the best value for money.
- MFCs or multifunction centres are ideal for home offices where space is at a premium. They include a printer, scanner, photocopier and, in some cases, a fax machine. Look for devices with built-in WiFi for remote printing from, and scanning to, mobile devices.
- Establish how much printing you expect to do before making a purchase. If you only expect to print a few letters or invoices per week, an everyday inkjet printer will suffice. If, however, you expect to engage in high volume printing, consider a laser printer with high print speeds and duplex functionality.
- It is also important to bear in mind the cost of ink and toner cartridges before you buy. You may find that buying a more expensive printer with lower operational costs saves you money in the long run.
No office can thrive in the digital age without a robust Internet connection and the home office is no exception. While it is likely that you already have the Internet in your house, you may wish to consider upgrading your equipment to ensure your connection is as secure and efficient as possible.
- Upgrading your router can improve your Internet connection so you can download quickly, upload effortlessly and stream without interruption. Certain routers also comes with a host of security features so you can keep a tight rein on your data.
- If your home suffers from WiFi blackspots, consider purchasing a WiFi extender. Easy-to-use, these extenders simply plug into a mains socket in your home and increase the range of your router for whole-home coverage.
- If you don’t already have a smartphone with tethering capabilities, you may wish to consider upgrading so you always have a failsafe if your home Internet connection is interrupted.
Setting up your home office will require you to invest in digital storage. As with every other aspect of your home office, your need will be dictated by your work — in this case the volume of files you need to keep.
- If you only work with light documents such as word files, then you may find that a relatively inexpensive USB flash drive offers you all the storage space you need. Compact and lightweight, a USB memory stick fits neatly in your pocket so you can take it with you wherever you go.
- If your line of work involves dealing with a higher volume of heavier files such as photographs then you may wish to invest in a portable hard drive. They range from 500GB to 4TB in size and can be used to back up your computer so your files are always safe and available.
- If you need to create a centralised storage system that multiple users can access, you might consider opting for NAS (network attached storage). Many offer expandable storage space of up to 16TB, and NAS can also allow you to create personalised cloud storage to access your files remotely.
Working from home is likely to mean that you will need to upgrade or add to your existing telecommunications. Thankfully, there is a wide range of products available so you will be able to find the phone that meets your need and matches your budget.
- Your basic choice when it comes to home phone types is simple: corded or cordless. Corded phones almost always offer outstanding reception; cordless phones offer the freedom of wireless connectivity and, thanks to DECT technology, can also deliver crystal clear chat.
- To ensure that you can always be reached, you may wish to install a second, separate work line in your home. Purchasing a dedicated work mobile will also help to make you as accessible as possible.
- Wireless headsets bring handsfree communications to your office. They also offer superior audio when compared to the speaker functions on most phones so you can multitask without having to strain to communicate with the person at the other end.
Adding the right furniture to your home office can help you stay comfortable and productive. Office furniture is available in a wide range of styles and sizes so you can match it to the décor throughout your home, your taste and the shape of the room that will become your place of work.
- When shopping for a desk, first try to ascertain what is a comfortable working height for you. You may also want to look for desks with lockable drawers so you can keep your accessories safe and at hand.
- Purchasing a desk chair could prove to be one of the best investments you make for your home office. It is advisable to shop for desk chairs with lumbar cushioning and five legs as they offer superior support, even weight distribution and increased stability. Take note of office chairs that can offer you extra features, such as a tilt mechanism or adjustable arm rests for maximum comfort.
- Adding the right storage solutions to your home office can prevent the build-up of clutter on your desk and throughout. Consider the likes of bookshelves, filing cabinets and desk tidies as they will allow you to establish greater order over your work space.