Home Office Essentials: Four Top Buying Tips
1. What do you buy for a home office?
Many of us have spent much of the last year working from home, yet it might well be a question we’re only now starting to ask ourselves seriously.
That’s because, even with the prospect of places of work re-opening again in the not-too-distant future, a lot of people have decided they don’t want to go back full time. As many as half of workers are expected to continue working remotely in the future.
That means a lot of people no longer see working from home as a temporary, make-do thing. They’ve spent a year working from the sofa or the spare bedroom, without a proper desk and only a laptop and smartphone to get by.
Now, they are contemplating home working becoming a permanent thing. And in making that step, it’s natural to start to think about setting up a proper home office, with all the mod cons you’d get back in your main place of employment.
So what exactly do you need to create a comfortable, productive workspace in your home? Here are four key things to think about when upgrading your home office.
2. Think about your comfort and health
You can’t put it off any longer. It’s time to get off the sofa or bed and invest in a desk and a proper ergonomic office chair. Putting your body through the stresses of slouching on the couch for eight hours a day is more than enough and could cause long-term damage, including developing any number of musculoskeletal disorders.
At-desk ergonomics is not just about sitting up straight and having the right amount of support for your back and arms, however! Debilitating conditions like tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive strain injuries can develop in your forearms, wrists and fingers from how you use a mouse or type.
Mouse and keyboard wrist rests can play a big role in avoiding these risks, and they make clicking a mouse and typing all day that much more comfortable. Something as simple as an adjustable monitor stand can make sure your screen is naturally positioned at eye level, meaning your head is always up and your neck straight.
Something else to consider if you are spending all day cooped up at home is an air purifier. It goes against the grain of what we are generally led to believe about air pollution, but the air quality inside your home is likely to be anywhere between two and five times worse than what you get outside - even if you live by a busy road.
3. Think about security
One of the high-profile knock-on effects of the massive increase in remote working has been the spike in cyber-attacks specifically targeting workers at home. Put simply, personal devices and domestic broadband connections tend not to have the same high level of cyber defences that business IT systems benefit from. So yes, it is well worth investing in a higher grade firewall and anti-malware package (and talking to your employer about cybersecurity in general).
But it is equally important to think about physical security for your home office, especially when it comes to data protection. There is a tendency to think about regulations like the GDPR as being all about digital privacy and data security, but that’s not actually true.
Under the terms of the GDPR, you (or your employer) can risk a big fine these days for something as simple as putting a piece of paperwork containing private information about employees or customers in the recycling for the wrong person to find.
If you handle office paperwork at home, you need to think about data-secure disposal. Throwing documentation that contains sensitive information straight into the rubbish or recycling is technically a data breach.
4. What is a good home office shredder?
Get yourself an office paper shredder. In terms of what makes a good paper shredder for a home office, you are unlikely to need to shred your way through mountains of documents, so a manual feed model should suit your needs. They are also smaller than high volume, auto-feed office paper shredders.
Despite their compact size, the whole range of Leitz Home Office paper shredder are cross-cut types, which means they shred documents into small enough pieces for there to be no realistic risk of anyone putting the pieces together again.
5. Think about organisation
If you do handle a lot of paperwork when working from home, you are also going to want to think about storage and organisation. Aside from the fact that having piles of unsorted papers strewn all over the house is unlikely to impress your co-habitees, sooner or later you will lose something important (if you haven’t already).
Depending on what the missing document contains, that’s not just inconvenient. As discussed above, it’s also a potential data breach.
6. Think about resilience
One final important thing to think about for your home office is what happens if/when something goes wrong. When you work from home, all the ‘business resilience’ side of operations is taken care of for you. If the network goes down, if your computer breaks, if a server fails, there is an IT team there to fix whatever issues arise.
Not so when you are working from home. Sure, if there is a problem with a work app, you can get in touch with your IT Help Desk and they will probably be able to do so something remotely. But that’s not the case with your home WiFi, your laptop or PC, your home power supply and so on.
There are things you can buy to help protect your home office from tech calamities. A pay-as-you-go mobile hotspot modem is a handy thing to have as a back-up if your home WiFi goes down (plus it gives you the option of working on the move, if you choose).
Similarly, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a useful thing to have in case you suffer a power outage, while a surge protector for your plug sockets will stop your computer frying if there’s a serious electrical fault somewhere in your home.
Finally, get yourself a good quality external hard drive and get in the habit of backing up your work systems on a regular basis, just in case you ever suffer the double whammy of an internet outage and a computer failure that means you can’t save work locally or upload it to the cloud.