Freedom Makers from the beginning has consisted of virtual assistants who work from home in remote offices. But now more than ever as the world is forced into remote work, home offices are popping up in most homes. People are even moving homes to better accommodate home offices.
When I started as a virtual assistant about 5 years ago, my office was sad. I had a computer, some notepads and, of course, a great assortment of pens. As my business grew and my experience broadened, I discovered some non-negotiable items that I needed in my home office.
The day I added a second monitor to my laptop changed my life. No statement was more true than this one and I am not alone. More than anything else when I surveyed our Freedom Makers, their obsession with more than one monitor is real. I, personally, have two for each of my computer setups (I have two separate computers in my office--a PC and a Mac). When I need to take my work on the road (literally), it is always a challenge adjusting to one screen and moving between browsers rather than between screens in my home office.
Having a second screen allows you to have more tabs open and you can cross-reference items as needed without closing out and opening items. Before making the additional monitor purchase, ensure that you know your computer or laptop’s capability. It takes a little amount of research to find how to add the new monitor and then the set up is easy from there. Monitors range in price and you can find one to meet your budget. The first one I added was $150 and the next one was a bit nicer at $229. I guarantee once you make the jump, you will wonder how you were able to get work done without it.
Separate Keyboard and Mouse
A majority of our Freedom Makers work off of laptops that are connected to second monitors. Laptops are great for mobility. One drawback can be the keyboard and mouse setup. Many of our virtual assistants when asked said they have separate keyboards and mouses to complete their home offices. Wireless options are the most flexible and clean looking. Bluetooth allows for easy set up and use. There are ones that take batteries and ones you can charge to keep their power. It is not a large investment for your office but one that can make your work life easier. When looking for a new setup, it is also important to make sure you like the angle of the keyboard so it is comfortable on your wrist.
In the beginning of my remote work life, I was able to do video calls and meetings on my computer with no headphones, because everyone in my house was at work or school. I rarely held meetings while I was out, so I was able to sidestep headphones for a while. However, now more than ever I need my bluetooth headset to ensure that no outside noise from my family or house makes its way into my meetings. There are many out there from a range of prices. Again, you want to think about comfort. Do you prefer in-the-ear or over-the-ear? Many of our Freedom Makers like the Apple AIrPods while I really like my Plantronics over-the-ear model. I actually have both and use them in different ways on different computers. My Airpods travel with me and connect to my Mac laptop while my Plantronics model is for my PC setup and stays at the house.
When I finally entered the world of headphones, I realized that it was easier to take calls while out and when the house is full of people. I could zone out with them and focus on the call or meeting at hand. They are a real game changer for your remote office.
The first upgrade I made in my home office besides a new laptop was a new padded chair. The former was wooden and not comfortable at all. I went for a combination of comfortable and good looking to match the room. Over time, I learned that it was not that comfortable as it did not have arm rests or ergonomic support for my back. I spent a lot of time researching desk chairs and finally found one on Amazon that I LOVE! I really wanted a Herman Miller Classic Aeron chair but it was out of my price range. So I found a more affordable option in the Hon Exposure Mesh Task Computer Chair.
After a few days, I was floored at what a difference it made in my work life! It is so comfortable and makes me wonder why I wasted so much time waiting to get a new chair. It is something you use constantly in your home office, so it is definitely worth the investment. Perhaps not a Herman Miller but one that is comfortable!
Pens, Highlighters and Sticky Notes
In talking to our Freedom Makers, a few mentioned that colorful pens and highlighters made their work more fun. I couldn't agree more. I have always loved fun pencils and pens since I was a little girl. They always made the school day better and I still feel this way today. My favorite kind are gel pens in a variety of colors. So when I am talking to a client on the phone, taking notes, grabbing a new color is a simple delight that moves the day along. I think we can all agree that everyone has a preference in writing devices. Embrace it! Having highlighters on hand is important too. Though a lot of the work we do is on our computers, I still use yellow sticky notes and highlighters to jot down reminder notes and highlight important information. Though these items are small, they make a difference in my home office.
Plants & Personal Items
It is imperative to make your workspace inviting and comfortable. If it is stark and barren, you may feel uninspired. By adding plants and some personal items like photo frames, you start to feel more at ease in your workspace. There are probably many scientific reasons why plants are good for your workspace but they are pretty and add color to your office. I have even brought in a candle that I light sometimes to calm me. You want your space to be inviting. Though work needs to be done, it is nice to look around and see the people that remind you why you are working. I know looking at my two teenagers who will be attending college in the near future is inspiration enough for me to complete my work each day.