With an increasing number of us quitting the rat race to become our own bosses, Jessica Jane Sammut looks at what you need to create the ultimate home office.
With modern technology at its best these days, there has never been a better time to start a business from home. You can even go global, all from the comfort of your own armchair. Isn’t that what maternity leave is for, after all?
But if you are starting a business from home, knowing what you are going to need for your office to make your day run smoothly is vital. So let me spill the beans.
Clearly, the greatest issue one can have when trying to work from home is technological difficulties, and let me tell you now, ain’t nothin’ more annoying.
From the kick-off therefore, I would advise on investing in a fast and powerful laptop that has the capacity to keep up with your demands. The Macbook Pro has to be the best in this regard. With speed, reliability and ease of use guaranteed, it is well worth the investment. As an accompaniment to this, the iPad mini is a great little walkabout tool, offering compact control of all your vitals, no desktop required. Off to a meeting? It’s all you’ll need. The apps alone will get you excited!
If you are going mobile, cases for both laptop and iPad mini are imperative with Kensington offering some great quality in this regard, especially the iPad mini Portafolio Me Customisable Folio Case, which allows you to make the case your own with a photo/picture of something that inspires you (or even your business logo).
And if you already have an iPad, you can easily adapt it for work with the Folio Case and Stand, the Folio Executive Mobile Organizer, or even the Keyfolio Pro 2 which includes a Bluetooth keyboard, making it quick and easy to work on the fly (or in bed!) Checking emails last thing at night has never been more fun.
If you are looking for something a little prettier, Modapelle makes the most beautiful genuine leather cases in a range of colours.
STAND AND DELIVER
As for stands for the iPad and iPad Mini, the pick of the bunch has to be the Coolermaster DUO (holds both the iPhone and iPad) and the Coolermaster REN, both smart and sleek, with the REN able to hold the iPad in any which way or angle you like – GREAT for conferencing over FaceTime or Skype!
BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP
When it comes to backing up, the only way to do it is PROPERLY! Many a meltdown could have been avoided by backing up, so don’t be tempted to risk not doing it. In today’s modern age, thankfully it’s pretty brainless (no techno knowledge necessary, yahoo!), with wireless the way to go.
The Seagate Central shared storage hard drive not only backs up, but can also share, centralise, protect and stream your entire media library, storing all your home entertainment and files so that you can then access them from anywhere via your Wi-Fi router, which is rather cool. DVDs be gone!
The WD My Cloud, is a storage device that sits at home and connects to your home network, but can be accessed from anywhere where there is a secure Internet connection. Basically you get all the benefits of cloud storage, while holding on to the security of knowing where the drive and information is located (safe at home, NOT online) while also avoiding the monthly fees that come with regular cloud-based storage. Less ongoing costs = always good.
For a professional office, a colour laser printer is a must, and the good news is it doesn’t have to cost the earth!
The best in its field for the home office is without doubt the Brother MFC-9340CDW, a high speed Wi-Fi enabled multifunction centre that colour laser prints, scans, copies and faxes. It’s smart, it’s compact and it is truly professional. I’ve got one and I couldn’t do without it. Simple to set up and use, offering wireless printing from all devices on the same network, it makes life a breeze. Need to print an important email as you are curled up on the couch? No need to move, just one click and it is done. Hate scanning documents in one by one? Stick them in the feeder and watch them go.
If it’s an inkjet you are after (so you can print photos, for example), the Canon Pixma MG7160 is a great one to go for – the ultimate all-in-one photo inkjet printer for quickly producing high quality prints, as well as scanning and copying. The intelligent touch screen menu makes printing simple, while its extensive connectivity features give you the flexibility to print anytime, anywhere. The extra-large size ink cartridges also offer added value, which is always important when talking printers.
Which brings me to your desk. What will you need?
Certainly a phone, with the Panasonic DECT Cordless Phone Answer Machine the future of home phones, capable of connecting a smart phone as an additional handset, not to mention having the functionality to undertake a three-part conference call.
And then there’s the desk lamp – with the Decrolux COMO Desk lamp and the Scoot Halogen Desk Lamp smart additions to any space. Plus, the much-needed stationary organiser, with the recent Martha Stewart stack and fit accessories (available exclusively at Officeworks) adding some girly fun to the occasion.
Looking to plug and play with your laptop? Then you might need the Kensington Docking Station, which turns one USB into six, so that with one swappable USB connection you can access all your additionals. Plonk your lappy on the desk, plug in the USB and everything is connected.
Plus, you can’t concentrate with cold toes (I know I can’t!), so the Kambrook Micathermic Heater is perfect for providing instant toasty warmth and cosiness.
If it’s awesome sound you are after, the Logitech H800 wireless headset from Officeworks is an excellent choice with great connectivity, allowing you to take control of your computer/iPad’s sound and make Internet calls without anyone else getting in on the action.
As a mobile speaker, the compact Bluetooth UE Mini Boom makes an incredible noise for its size, and not only has an amazing, crisp sound, but also a 10-hour battery life. And it can take calls when bluetoothed to your phone, so perfect for the office.
For hardwired desktop speakers, the Logitech Z623 speakers offer an incredible sound, complete with a subwoofer, and at a very reasonable price too compared with some of their competitors. The Philips Soundbar Speaker is also a nifty tool if you want to conduct Skype calls via your Skype-enabled smart TV, offering a smart yet powerful enhancement to your call. Neat!
TOP TEN WAYS TO MASTER YOUR WORKSPACE
My go-to place for home office supplies Officeworks (who are always super friendly and helpful having come to my aid many-a-time when in home office overwhelm) has partnered with Lissanne Oliver, author, TV Presenter and organisation expert from Sorted! to bring you ten tips in creating the ultimate home work space.
- Clutter is often simply rubbish or recyclable waste, however many people struggle when deciding which items to file and which to ditch. Keep in mind we only access around 4 per cent of the paper we keep – so be ruthless! Invest in a shredder that will shred 100 pages or more – this is the most efficient way to dispose of confidential files.
- Have a place for everything. Drawers – either built into your desk, freestanding or desktop – will eliminate all those bits and pieces that clutter horizontal spaces. Don’t put it down, put it away!
- Wall-mounted shelves are a huge help if you’ve got a small space to work with and allow you to have easy access to everything in your immediate workspace. Wasting time looking for items eats into your productive working hours.
- Be sure to archive documents you’re merely holding onto for tax purposes. A sturdy double walled cardboard box with a hinged lid will do the job, or alternatively try investing in plastic tubs – they stack perfectly.
- Always label. Don’t rely on memory or waste time investigating the contents of a box or file. The larger the label the better.
- Process financial paperwork by drawing a clear diagonal line across the page once paid. Include the date and method of payment. You’ll clearly see it has been paid and never have to waste time guessing or revisiting.
- Manage your clutter into one accessible place using Evernote on your mobile, tablet or computer – a brilliant place to store key information. Capture photos of your handwritten notes (Evernote will read your handwriting!), web clippings, scanned documents or pretty much anything else you can think of.
- Struggling to remain inspired? Surround yourself with photos, pictures, inspirational quotes, or even a large DIY photo print canvas. Also, display your achievements and feel inspired to keep achieving – certificates, diplomas and degrees deserve to be on show.
- Tangled cords or faulty tech equipment in the home office, are a sure way to hinder productivity. Reassess the current tech in your home office to ensure they’re working to their full capabilities. If your outdated printer is slowing you down, consider upgrading to one with Wi-Fi to maximise your time and space.
- Finally, maintenance is essential. Make it routine to clear your desk regularly, ideally at the end of each day. Write a to-do list for the following day, tackle some filing or revisit older files for revision (archive, shred or recycle). Make time to get organised today for a more productive tomorrow!