For many people, having their boss say “working from home” can be the most scary thing they have heard in the last few months.
As someone that has a virtual office, or home office, or whatever you want to call it, I humbly present a few hard earned tips.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you the sugar-coated, vacuous tips that every blogger, newscaster, and least-favorite son-in-law seems so willing to foist upon you.
No reserve a special spot, keep to a schedule, don’t raid the fridge, maintain a work/life division and balance, or other touchy / feely stuff.
And yes, I understand the irony of mentioning these hackneyed tips in a sentence about not mentioning them, but had to get that out of the way first.
Fix your Wi-Fi
A great, not just ok or even good, network is essential. Everyone is relying on the Internet for communication, entertainment, and work.
This will cost a little bit of money, but there are affordable mesh Wi-Fi solutions and good wired routers so you don’t have to spend a fortune.
Secret tip – If you need to fix a dead spot in part of your home, or maybe just want to convert part of the garage or yard to a quiet zone with Internet access, an Ethernet wire is still an option.
A 50 or 100 foot length of Ethernet cable is really cheap. Just lay it down when you need it and roll it up when done so no one trips over it.
It’s not pretty or elegant, but gets the job done when necessary.
Do you have more devices to connect? Check out this info on how to add Ethernet switches to expand your wired connections.
Use a password manager
Even if you have resisted in the past, dig in get onboard with a password manager system to automate creating, remembering, and filling in all those passwords everything needs these days.
A good password manager will work with websites, apps, services, and work on smartphones, tablets, and computers.
Password managers give you the benefits of enhanced security, peace of mind, and increased productivity.
Beyond working from home a password manager is especially useful for keeping work accounts separate from personal and recreational ones.
Video conferencing tips
“Let’s hop on a Zoom call” may be the latest craze, but remote workers have been using FaceTime, Google Hangouts, WebEx, GoToMeeting, and other conferencing systems for a while.
These are the things I’ve found to be crucial that cost nothing:
Position the camera properly. Don’t stare into your laptop with the camera from a low-angle. Prop it up with a pile of books or boxes so the camera is close to eye-level.
Use headphones. Wear earphones or headphones to eliminate audio echo and feedback.
Get close to the microphone. Even a cheap microphone sounds much better when you are close to it. Inverse square law and all that.
Spend a little, get a lot
Consider buying a webcam and a plug-in microphone. The hardware built into most laptops and computers is terrible.
For less than $100, you can buy a great quality USB microphone that doesn’t need external power, is easy to use, and works without special software with most modern systems.
Webcams are a little more expensive (and mostly out of stock right now!), but Wyze, the company that excels at decent but cheap smart home gear, has created a free firmware upgrade for their popular $25.99 Wi-Fi camera that converts it into a USB webcam.
Control your Apple SmartHome from your computer
As an Apple HomeKit user, you are familiar with the Apple “Home” app on your iOS iPhone or iPad.
It’s the built-in app for interactive control of your HomeKit compatible devices including lights, thermostats, smart plugs, and more.
But did you know you can also control your HomeKit devices from your computer?
Starting with macOS 10.14 (Mojave) introduced in 2018, a version of the Home app has been available for laptop and desktop computers.
Nothing fancy, but it looks and works virtually the same as the iOS version. The only thing you can’t do is add new devices. For that you’ll still have to use your actual iPhone or iPad.
All work and no play..
Working from home has it’s advantages with your luxurious couch and smart just begging for a “binge break” to catch up on your latest TV series.
Need something new to watch? Check out our cord-cutter guide to services and content worthy of your consideration.
What working from home tips have you discovered?