Setting up a Home Office for Serious Productivity

Photo credit: Oqvector | AdobeStock (above), courtesy of Progressive Computing (below)

Progressive Computing COO & Founder Robert Cioffi advises us on how to make the transition to telecommuting as painless as possible.

As the novelty of working from home wears off, Westchester residents may be finding the constraints of working from the dining room table or coffee table to be a bit, well, constraining.

Luckily, Yonkers IT expert and Progressive Computing Founder/COO Robert Cioffi has five easy reminders to help us simplify, organize, and streamline our telecommuting experience into something a bit more productive and less of a headache.

1. Prepare your work-from-home environment in advance.

It’s important to have a comfortable and productive workspace planned out in advance of needing it.

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  • Consider how much physical desk space you will need, lighting conditions, noise levels, etc.
  • Did you test your home Wi-Fi signal from where you just set up in the basement? Don’t assume Wi-Fi works well in every part of the house.
  • If you have pets, be sure you know how to keep them away or occupied elsewhere. All cat owners know how much they love to walk upon or sit on keyboards. Dogs always seem to go into a barking frenzy just when that conference call starts.
  • If you have kids, be sure to establish some rules about where they can play, how much noise they can make, or at least know when mom or dad need some quiet time.

2. Test your equipment for video calls.

If you will be participating in video conferencing, be sure to test your home setup in advance.

  • Download and install necessary software before a planned call.
  • Do a mock or test call with a colleague to test sound, lighting, background noise, video positioning, etc.
  • Learn the tools if you are unfamiliar with them. Video conferencing software is very user friendly but can still make first time users nervous.
  • Be sure to learn how to turn off video and your mic at a moment’s notice as abrupt home interruptions are inevitable.
  • Some software (like Microsoft Teams) have a “blur background” feature which can help cut down on the distractions behind you.

3. Make sure your home PC is secure.

Connecting home PCs to the corporate network invokes some security concerns.

  • Make sure Windows Updates are up to date.
  • Make sure you are running Antivirus software on your home PC and that it is up to date.
  • Optimize your PC performance by removing unnecessary software.
  • If possible, be sure you are not sharing this computer with other members of your family. Think ‘user distancing’ instead of social distancing. This helps reduce problems inadvertently introduced by other users like changing settings, changing the physical setup, installing or uninstalling other software, or turning off corporate mandated security.

4. Clean your keyboards and mice.

Keyboards and mice are known to be some of the dirtiest places in the home and office. Yes, even dirtier than the bathroom.

  • Always power off electronics before attempting to clean their surfaces.
  • Never spray liquids directly onto electronics – especially screens.
  • If you have disinfecting wipes, wipe down all surfaces that you touch. If you don’t, spray mild cleaners into a soft cloth then use that.
  • A Q-tip dampened with a little isopropyl alcohol can clean out those hard to reach crevasses on mice and keyboards.

5. Internet Sharing

Be mindful of your home Internet usage.

  • Most people have very fast connections, but some don’t.
  • Now that entire families are sequestered at home – either working remotely or doing distance learning – Internet bandwidth could be a problem during peak demands.
  • On top of this, others may be bored and using streaming services like Netflix. This too will eat up bandwidth.

Think ahead, talk with family members, plan contingencies, and establish priorities.

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Read More: The Yonkers Firm Doing IT Right


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