For many of the ‘office-workers’ how have been forced to work remotely in 2020, working from home may well have become a permanent element of daily life. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic passes (whenever that is!), Twitter has stated that it will allow many of its employees to work from home on an ongoing basis and with many businesses struggling to navigate their way through the financial aftershocks, it is likely that expensive commercial real estate will be on the proverbial chopping block when it comes to cutbacks and budgeting.
Whilst the pandemic has had tragic consequences and has affected everything from people’s mental, physical and financial health and wellbeing, for some there may be a positive to come out of it all. Albeit, a relatively small positive in comparison to what some have been through…
The option to work from home permanently, or on set days per week, will allow office workers a huge amount of flexibility, that could greatly improve their wellbeing. For parents who normally commute to busy city centres from the suburbs, this could mean an extra 10 or more hours per week with the family and a reduction in the overall stress that comes with the rushing around that time-pressed parents are all too familiar with.
Embracing the future also tends to mean embracing technology. With this in mind, we look at the latest home office innovations, and how you can turn a cramped space into a high tech productivity hub.
Wellness is the new trend in the world of HR. for good reason too, staff who feel looked after, feel more appreciated and staff who feel appreciated and have a great sense of wellbeing will tend to be more loyal to a specific company. Which is great, because recruitment is a real time-consuming pain for many.
Having said that, there if you want a high tech home office, you will probably have to shell out for your wellbeing equipment and nothing is more important than furniture.
Posture impacts the state of your muscles and your rate & depth of breathing, which in turn directly impacts one’s mood and levels of productivity. Sitting is far from optimal when it comes to posture, that’s why standing desks have become increasingly popular in recent years.
A Yo Yo Desk is a great addition to most home offices, you can quickly adjust the desk so that you can sit and work for an hour or two, and then take a break from sitting by adjusting the desk to a great height by expanding the legs – allowing you to stand and work.
From personal experience, if you don’t have the budget for a Yo Yo desk, an ironing board can work pretty well too!
The nucleus of the home office, is the computer. Many of us will be supplied with a computer by our employer, whilst others who perhaps work for themselves or are lucky enough to get a choice will have a decision to make in the Mac vs PC conundrum.
In this particular article, within which we are going to assume money is no object, we are going to opt for a Mac Pro. For our state of the art, home office of the future, the foundation will be set upon several Apple products which we will connect together to create an Apple ecosystem.
The Mac Pro itself is a thing of beauty, it has Time Machine and great resilience in regards to viruses and malware. With an iPad, you can create a nifty second monitor or ‘sidecar’ and with an Apple watch, you can feel like James Bond as you unlock your screen with a touch (or a shout).
If you prefer a laptop or a Macbook, so that you can hotdesk around the house, then many home-office veterans would suggest also investing in an old school keyboard to go with it. You can switch between the iPad and the Macbook quickly via Bluetooth and the keyboard feels much more tactile, which is a preference for some, especially if they do a lot of copywriting.
With the Apple Homekit, you can link up your Mac computer to a number of smart devices. These include the blinds so that you can easily control the amount of daylight.
You can also buy an install a smart-thermostat and control the temperature of the home office and the rest of the house from your computer. This is great if you have a family who is not home during the day. Instead of having to go around to each of the radiators and turning them off and then on again in the afternoon, you can just turn them down with a few clicks of your mouse.
There are several smart thermostats to choose from, take a look at this great article from MoneySavingExpert for more information.
There are also lights and light switches that you can buy, that work with the Apple Homekit. The Phillips Hue Colour and White Start Kit allow you to add colour or warm white light to your home office, that can be adjusted via your Mac computer. The manufacturers claim that the kit allows millions of different shades of colour.
The setup process has quite a few steps to it, but if you are converting a shed or outbuilding into a home office, consider installing a wind turbine and/or solar panel to provide renewable energy and future-proof your HQ.
If you are a business owner and you are no longer using commercial property as the HQ for your company, then outsourcing may also be a great way to mitigate any losses that might otherwise be on the cards thanks to the pandemic and the direct impact on the economy.
Virtual assistants are potentially a great asset to many an entrepreneur. Virtual assistants in Asia are known for their great work ethic and customer service and can be hired for less than $5 or £3.50 per hour. A great way to assign jobs or to identify which jobs a virtual assistant could do is by keeping a journal of all the work you do in a given week. Those jobs that take up lots of time, but don’t require a high skill level, such as filtering through emails, or researching & buying business or personal items online, could be assigned to a virtual assistant.
A virtual receptionist is also a great addition to any home office. A provider such as Moneypenny has a dedicated receptionist service and an option to subscribe to the 24.7 services. The dedicated receptionist will get to know and represent your business exactly as if based in your office, whilst 24/7 cover will mean that you will never miss a business call again. For more information on phone answering services, see Moneypenny’s complete guide.