Working from home is more common than ever. While remote work may be on the rise and here to stay, it’s not the kind of environment where someone can make do with what they have. Remote work means workers really do need to set up a functioning home office.
Not only does a highly functional remote work environment ensure work will be efficient, and time will be productive. It also ensures the worker will look professional and remain competitive among an increasingly casual but fiercely competitive workforce.
Workers may not need to wear a tie for remote video calls anymore, but they do need to maintain a professional environment. For one thing, it helps to separate home life and work-life to help avoid the two bleeding together, which causes burnout, confusion among the household, and reduces overall productivity. A professional environment with the right equipment will also ensure workers are able to do all the work needed without inefficient backlogs, bottlenecks, and wasted time.
Lastly, maintaining a professional work environment will help clients and managers see, at least during video calls, that work is important and valued enough to the worker that they’ve set up a real home office instead of a makeshift one. This simple act of making sure the remote office is set apart and fully functional will help workers stand out in an increasingly competitive remote work ecosystem.
Remote Office Equipment You Didn’t Know You Needed
Most highly competitive and proficient remote workers realize they need their own space, so they pick up a desk and a computer. Some even take a bit far, reaching for expensive microphones and ring lights just so their Zoom meetings will look spot on. However, there is more to a productive space than desk decoration and extra video call technology. In fact, it's office technology that supports the meat of a worker’s day-to-day that makes a space-efficient and keeps the workers meeting deadlines and producing high-quality work.
Here are just a few examples of remote office technology you probably didn’t know you needed, but will be glad you invested in if your job involves more than video calls and checking email.
A multifunction printer or copier
That little printer you keep stowed under the desk and occasionally use to print a recipe or a worksheet for your next book club meeting may have served the needs of the family. Now, you need to design a professional office, and it will most likely benefit from a multifunction printer.
Multifunction printers (MFP) can print, copy, and scan. If you need to occasionally fax, they can do that as well. They can email documents, eliminating the need to scan something, save it to your computer and then attach it to an email. Anytime you can skip a step, its one more way to save time and money.
Larger organizations will understand the security benefits of MFPs. Cybersecurity is hard enough in a workplace, but trying to remain secure from home while handling sensitive documents with private business documents and protected client information is an added concern. MFPs can encrypt information, manage document workflow, and secure documents so an organization can better control access, continue to meet industry compliance guidelines, and ensure their teams' security and safety.
A secure internet connection and robust IT infrastructure
An MFP can help with document security, but the entire office needs to be protected. When employees work in the same building or across several locations that are all managed by the company, security is more simple.
However, when there is a separate internet connection for each and every employee, managing and directing oversight for security becomes more of a challenge. Cybersecurity isn’t just a reactive job. It requires anticipation of criminal activity and patching gaps. Businesses need to practice safe internet protocols, have one-on-one troubleshooting discussions with remote workers to ensure their systems are everything they need to be, and minimizing susceptibilities and weaknesses should be a top priority.
A phone system and accessories
While a ring light and pro mic may be attractive and even necessary for some, connectivity and communication boil down to the remote technology that’s available. No one should have to scramble to set up a call and get it to work. Every company should have a single go-to system requirement for a few applications and platforms as possible.
Telecom tools such as noise-canceling headphones to help minimize distractions in remote environments where distractions are more common than ever are becoming a crucial home office staple. Back-up chargers, the ability to seamlessly switch from computer to tablet to mobile device, are also achieving higher demand than ever before. This is mostly because if one device fails, workers need a way to switch to another device and continue.
A comfortable workspace with creature comfort technology
Here is a list of just a few more office technology examples that will create a comfortable workspace at home to keep you productive, distraction-free, and healthy.
- Blue light blocking glasses. Screens, such as computers, TVs, tablets, smartphones, emit harmful blue light radiation. Lighting, such as LED and fluorescent bulbs, also emit this harmful blue light radiation. While some exposure is just fine, more than two hours leads to eye strain and sleep pattern disruption. More than six hours is suspected of leading to eye and vision deterioration as well as mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. Simply wearing glasses with blue light blocking lenses will help reduce and eliminate this risk.
- A ferrite ring, also called a ferrite bead or choke. As more electronics are brought into the home, many people notice an increase in the noise emitted from those devices. This includes appliances, light bulbs, and office tech. Everyone has a different sensitivity to the sound. For some, it’s a low, white-noise murmur that falls into the background. For others, it can be a constant irritation and distracting, mind-numbing rumble. Ferrite rings are typically made of ceramic and are less than an inch long. By clipping them onto the cables of any electronic device, it muffles the superfluous sounds (i.e., electromagnetic interference, or EMI) coming from those electronics.
- Humidifier and diffuser. For those who live in arid environments or who experience cold winters, humidity can be the answer to a much more comfortable work environment. And a diffuser, when used correctly, can be a significant mood booster. Be careful to use highly rated, healthy essential oils. Candles, melts, and their scents, particularly those that are commercially produced, contain carcinogenic impurities. When you breathe carcinogens, you’re risking your health. Research the essential oils’ origins and choose a humidifier that will benefit the entire square footage of your remote office space.
- Air purifier. This is one of those areas where you can spend a lot or a little. While you get what you pay for, particularly when it comes to vital office tools like multifunction printers, other office technology can be researched to find a high-quality machine for a reasonable mid-level price. These days, air purifiers are not only crucial for those with allergies and asthma. COVID-19 has awakened everybody to the importance of sanitation and cleanliness. Choose an air purifier with a medical-grade H13 HEPA filter. These filters are capable of removing a minimum of 99.95% of particles and microorganisms. An air filter like this won’t keep you 100% safe, but it will make your workspace safer. While you’re at it, pick up a few air-purifying houseplants, such as a jade plant, snake plant, English ivy, or spider plant.
- Quick brew coffee or tea maker. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, there will inevitably be a few late nights or early mornings where a quick caffeine boost will be helpful. Having an option nearby will keep you working while you leverage a little caffeine. A trip to the kitchen is often too distracting. You may be faced with children who want to play, roommates with questions, a partner watching your favorite Netflix show, dishes in the sink, and reminders that a run to the grocery store is needed. A comfortable workspace means giving yourself purposeful breaks, not asking for distractions when you need to work most.
All-In-One Technology Providers
A final tip about office supplies and technology - try to stick to a single provider. Even though technology makes our lives easier when it works, everyone is familiar with the maddening frustrations that accompany the inevitable breakdowns and malfunctions.
All-in-one technology providers can be your go-to source for the bulk of your office supplies, and sometimes even service contracts and warranties. Having one company to reach out for a maintenance call or operating instructions and assistance will minimize stress and, most likely, get you up and running faster.
Final thoughts on Technology You Never Knew You Needed
Adjusting to remote work can be tricky. It requires new habits, new hacks, and sometimes a completely new mindset. Office technology can already be enough of a struggle for people whose job isn’t in the tech industry.
To keep you focused on the work you need to do and working within your zone of native genius, design a comfortable office space that serves your individual work needs and will help you be more efficient and productive.
The definition of what is essential to your office may vary. Still, everyone needs some sort of office technology, making these tips and this list of remote technology you didn’t know you needed that much more helpful.