Working from home? 9 tips for home office set-up
A few months back and overnight, the entire world started to work from home. Unfortunately, many were not prepared to start working from home. Thus, many of us ended up trying to work with whatever environment we immediately had, and for some it really showed.
For myself, I’ve actually been working from home for over 4 years. Over that span of time, I’ve moved three times and crafted many different types of “work from home” office set-ups. I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way in hopes that it will help you stay productive in this remote work environment.
Where are you working?
The first thing you’ll need to consider when working from home is where you’ll be working. I know that most work interactions are going to happen on screenshare platforms like Zoom or GoToMeeting when working from home. You’ll want to make sure you’re ready to be seen on camera and be heard by prospects and colleagues.
- When working from home, I’ve found that it’s important to have a variety of different work positions - both sitting and standing. I purchased an adjustable desk at Ikea and it’s been well worth the investment. I also purchased a comfortable drafting stool-chair from Modway. It’s allowed me to sit from different heights in addition to standing when I’d like.
- Doist covers has a few great tips in their article “13 Home Office Upgrades You Need If You Work Remotely”
- Working from home is challenging. It can be distracting for yourself but also for your colleagues and clients. It’s important to take appropriate measures to reduce as many distractions as possible and it all starts with your set-up. I’ve moved my desk so that the camera is facing a blank wall. I added in a photo and a lamp. It’s important to choose a simple background that won’t distract from what you’re working on. Or of course, you can always select a Zoom background if you prefer. I would recommend against the animated virtual backgrounds though - they can be very distracting.
- Last but not least, noise management. The environment you set up is enclosed and isolated from any potential noise. For me, I have a pup at home so anytime I’m presenting or on a work call I’ll have to leave her out of my office in case she decides to get excited. Also, be ready to manage the “mute” button in the event you can’t prevent any noisy situations. Managing the noise can be a challenge so do whatever you can to mitigate and be ready to laugh off any mishaps. We’re all in the same boat, people will understand.
Are you set up to be seen and heard well?
Can you hear me?
- When working from home, the ability to communicate over a Zoom call is paramount to success. To do this well doesn’t require a significant investment. I use a variety of different audio sources throughout the day to take the guess work out.
- Movo VXR10 Universal Video Microphone - When I know I’ll have a quiet environment or my ears are tired/sore I’ll utilize this audio method. The mic is always connected to my computer so it defaults to this source anytime I start a Zoom meeting.
- You might also need this adapter
- E-Home Recording Studio also released this article “The Best USB Computer Microphones for Home Recording”. They have a lot of great alternatives listed there.
- Wireless Headset with Microphone - Any time I need to switch up my audio source or don’t have a chance to mitigate for noise, I’ll utilize this bluetooth headset to communicate with colleagues and prospects.
Can you see me?
- After you’ve got your audio set up, the next step is making sure your prospect can see you.
“Knowing that 93% of all communication is nonverbal, ensuring that your prospect can see you is important.
- Out of the box Laptop video cameras are okay for remote work. It can get the job done but won’t differentiate or impress. The way I see it is I’d rather spend $50 on a decent camera so I can give myself the best shot at connecting with my prospect.
- 1080P Webcam with Microphone - I picked up this inexpensive camera on Amazon that has worked well for me. I love that it’s a movable camera so if I decide I want to change the camera angle, I can do it.
- Last piece of advice around video in work from home situations- don’t be like this guy. Make sure the camera is at eye level and you have good lighting. It’s ideal to find a location where you have a lot of natural light - placed in front of you, not behind.
- When using my laptop camera, I’d make sure it’s at eye level by grabbing a simple laptop stand on Amazon.
Are you set up to run a great remote call?
You can have all the best office set-up in the world, but if you aren’t prepared to show your desktop and the proper screen - all of that is worthless. This prep work is paramount to ensuring you reduce distractions during any remote meeting.
Is your desktop ready to share?
When starting a remote meeting be sure to prepare your computer to be shown. Meaning, make sure you don’t have icons on your desktop, the toolbar has minimal applications open and if you have a background, make sure it’s purposeful. I have a blank black background because it helps to distinguish the applications I’m showing.
If you’re showing a browser on your remote meeting make sure you’ve reduced possible distractions there.
In Google Chrome, uncheck “Always show Bookmarks Bar” and “Always Show Toolbar in Full Screen”. This will remove your bookmark bar when presenting and keep prospects focused on what you’re showing.
In a blog post called “6 Winning Tactics of remote sales demos”, Step Three reviews the specific around how to get your computer ready to show.
What web tools are you using?
Depending upon the type of remote meeting you’re having and what you’re wanting to show, there are a variety of tools that can help you in a remote setting. You’ll want to purchase and familiarize yourself with your screenshare tool. I’m a big fan of Zoom Video but have seen success with others.
Zapier wrote an article called “The Best Screen Sharing Software”. They discussed the tools that could be the most relevant for the different remote meetings you might find yourself in.
Yes, we can see your screen but is this the correct screen?
This is a simple but very important part of running any remote meeting or remote presentation. Sharing the correct screen.
Zoom released a great video overview of how to do this: “Sharing your Screen.”
Simply put, when you go to share your screen, you’ll want to be purposeful about the screen you share. If you’re okay with a recipient seeing your entire desktop, share an entire screen. Know that this will share any website, file, etc that is visible to you on that desktop.
I like to share the application I’m presenting. This allows me to keep other notes or files private and allow me to be more purposeful about what I’m showing at any given moment.
We’re living in a different world now. The work from home world. A world of endless Zoom meetings. As a result, there are new ways to be professional in your meetings and my hope is that this article helps you level up your remote game and communicate more effectively with colleagues and prospects.