Get Your Home Office Right

NOTE: Alan Percy is one of the great thought leaders in the unified communications industry and his thoughts will help you get the technology right in your home office right.

By Alan Percy, CMO @TelcoBridges

Work-from-home (WFH) – we are in this for the long-haul. Question is, how do WFH employees establish a long-term work environment that is productive, effective, and safe?

In early March 2020, millions of knowledge workers, who had been working from an office were suddenly send home, many with a laptop in hand and little more, told they had to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. During those first few weeks, millions of kitchen tables were pressed into service as temporary offices. It was not easy for many.

Soon thereafter, on-line collaboration tools like Zoom, Webex and Teams have skyrocketed in subscribers and adoption. The once-shy employee was thrust into a video-enabled work environment. The post-a-notes had to come of the laptop video camera and users began participating in previously shunned video calls with friends, colleagues and customers. The video-enabled WFH workforce was born.

Looking ahead, a resurgence of COVID-19 and Flu is forecast for this winter and many employers are not rushing to have their employees back in the office. Google is telling their employees to work from home until the summer of 2021. Bloomberg reported that Verizon expects 115,000 of their employees will be able to work from home going forward. Analyst firm Frost and Sullivan forecasts that post-pandemic, 25-30% of office workers will be working from home.

Now that WFH employees have had a few months of experience, there is a realization that there are genuine benefits (and a few remaining challenges) to WFH. For many, the WFH experience is likely to be a permanent part of their work experience. Whether part-time or full-time, WFH is here to stay.

Smiling office worker wearing scuba mask with negative business chart on background.

The time is now to get off the kitchen table and establish a long-term WFH workspace that is productive, effective and safe. To help others learn from my 20+ years of working from home, I offer my “Top 10” video-enabled home office of the 21st century tips:

  1. Establish an ergonomic workspace – since we are in this for the long haul, this is important. Time to get a real desk and office chair that you can work from days on end and not end up in physical therapy. No need to buy new – used office furniture stores are a great source for lightly used and sturdy solutions
  2. A door on your office that allows you to keep the kids and barking dogs out during important calls. This might be a folding screen, re-arranging some furniture or cleaning out a space in a spare room or basement. Don’t forget a sign or other means to tell the family when you are not to be disturbed
  3. A stand/sit desk that elevates/lowers easily, giving you the opportunity to stand while delivering important presentations and stretch your legs
  4. Treat yourself to either one large or two monitors on an adjustable mounting system, solidly affixed to your stand-up desk. Your eyes will thank you
  5. Look your best with a high-quality USB video camera (or two) that sits on top of your screen(s), giving eye-level perspective. This will be a huge improvement over the built-in camera on the laptop gives us a less then attractive view up your nose
  6. Brighten your office and improve your video calls with good natural and/or artificial lighting – Search YouTube for “cinematic key lighting”
  7. Feel free to roam the house thanks to a good quality DECT wireless headset that allows you to leave your desk while participating in long calls
  8. Manage your “videoscape” (the area that people can see from your video cameras). Make it personal and interesting, but not distracting. A bookshelf filled with industry and good self-help books or awards is a starting point. Add some personal items that you enjoy. Don’t depend on Zoom or Teams backgrounds – they are distracting and worse than seeing your messy office
  9. Keep the home office running with an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) large enough to power your whole office and network equipment for 20+ minutes during power failures
  10. And finally – dress for success by keeping a branded golf shirt and hair brush in a nearby bathroom, allowing you to look your best on short notice