I was asked to do a bit of radio this week, talking about hybrid working. You can find me...read more
Looks like many working dads will be working from home for the foreseeable. Here’s some kit to make life easier you might have overlooked so far
We’ve all learned recently that working from home requires little more than a laptop and a can-do attitude. Lots of people had to adapt at short notice when lockdown hit last year. And many have not been back to the office since. Government advice at time of writing remains that you must work from home if you can.
And even if and when restrictions are eased in the spring it’s likely many working dads will want to retain an element of working from home. Hybrid working is the future. So now seems a good time to think about your home working set up. Sure you don’t need much more than some decent wi-fi but there are a few items it’s worth investing in to make home working easier, more pleasant and more efficient.
Having a good wi-fi connection is essential for taking the tech stress out of home working. But employers and employees alike ought to give some thought to cyber security when out of the office. It’s one thing sharing with a hacker what your favourite shows are on the iPlayer, it’s another matter if they can access your company’s payroll.
Basic steps like using a strong password and locking your laptop when you’re not using it are vital. But it might be also worth investing in security measures such as a decent antivirus product (there are free ones that are perfectly serviceable) or a VPN. The latter encrypts your info and is vital if you’re using a public wi-fi network such as that in a cafe. Because one day home workers will be able to work in cafes again.
If your laptop and notebooks are still strewn over the kitchen table at the end of the day they may nag away at you. Tidy up, put everything in a drawer when you’re done and you make a mental break between work and home. By all means go further and get a proper filing cabinet or an in-tray/out-tray type set up.
OK, so you immediately invite jokes from colleagues about looking like a pilot. But they wouldn’t be joking if they could hear your son practicing drums all through the Zoom meeting (speaking from experience here). Almost as annoying as participants failing to handle the mute button effectively is those sporting cheap headphones, holding the tiny mic to their face to be heard or sticking their finger in the ear a la David Coleman. A decent set of headphones makes virtual meetings much smoother. Leave them on when the meeting ends to cut out noisy distractions around the house. Worth looking into whether you can claim them as an expense if you’re self employed (almost certainly) or if you’re employed, or if your employer has a scheme to pay for vital home working kit in light of the pandemic.
In an ideal world you’ll have a separate office with a swanky desk and an ergonomic chair. In the real world it’s worth considering a standing desk. There’s some evidence that standing increases productivity and it’s usually good for your back.
There’s expensive standing desks out there. But there’s also cheaper versions that you can plonk on a table or worktop and choose a height that works for you.
Houseplant sales got a boost from the first lockdown apparently. And it’s easy to see why. Research has shown folk work better with a bit of greenery around. And since we’re all at home a lot more we’ve the time to look after them. Not that you need to give some plants that much care and attention. Ask at your local garden centre (allowed to stay open during lockdown) to find the right plant for you or there’s online stores that claim their vegetation is virtually impossible to kill.
Dressing in colourful clothes should perk up your mood and there’s growing evidence that the most successful virtual meetings are the ones in which participants are wearing bright colours. It commands attention, makes you and your contributions memorable and generally cheers the place up in winter
Bit of a punt this one. But there’s boffins right now looking into how to marry virtual reality to the home working revolution. If you could be at home and virtually in the office it may solve a number of issues that home working raises; particularly around onboarding new staff, mentoring and seeking face to face advice. Might be trickier to snaffle this one past the taxman on your expenses but it could put you ahead of the game if it catches on.
Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash