Daniel Anens, 2020-03-23
How to get your home office up and running
With working from home becoming increasingly common, we look at what buyers of technical equipment should bear in mind, and also how you can create a functional workspace at home.
There is plenty to think about when it comes to effective distance working, and one of the most important is being able to easily communicate with colleagues, partners and customers. Here are four key factors to include in your planning.
1. Focus on sound
One of the greatest challenges when working from home is actually sound. We often need to speak to colleagues, both individually and in groups, and a computer’s built-in microphone and speakers are rarely up to the task. A laptop can’t handle disturbing echo or perform other audio optimization processes needed for a smooth-flowing dialog. You should therefore always invest in a good speakerphone that can easily be connected to both a computer and a mobile phone, or buy a good headset. Some people find a headset uncomfortable for longer calls and meeting after meeting, in which case a speakerphone is the better option.
- Also remember that the person working from home also needs to be able to clearly hear their colleagues back in the office. It is thus important to have professional products at both ends of the conversation.
- Relying on the computer’s built-in microphone and speakers is rarely good enough.
- Choose speakerphones that can easily be connected to both a computer and a mobile phone.
- Make sure you have good conference phones, or other devices, at both ends of the call.
- Choose products that don’t take up too much space in the home office.
- Our design award-winning Konftel Ego speakerphone delivers professional sound when connected to a mobile phone or a home computer, and comes with a good case for full portability.
2. We like to be able to see each other
We need to see each other, even when we are working from home. There are communicative benefits to video conferences, compared with the audio-only alternative. Find out more about effective video conferencing and how togetherness keeps the reptilian brain calm. A computer’s built-in camera is rarely of a high enough specification, and may need to be supplemented to make a video conference effective. If the home office is equipped with an extra screen, this makes an ideal stand for a professional conference camera.
- Being able to see each other during a distance meeting creates greater understanding and reinforces the social interaction.
- Choose products that will fit in a home office and are easy to use.
- An extra screen is often needed at home as much as it is at work, and this provides the perfect place to fix a conference camera to lend a good scale to the image.
- Our Konftel C20Ego video package is a great value solution that works in most home offices.
- With the Konftel OCC hub that is included in our video packages, all you need is a single USB cable to connect the camera, audio device and extra screen to a laptop, cutting down on the potential mess of cables in a home office.
- You can also just buy the Konftel Cam20 camera to upgrade existing speakerphones.
3. Collaboration tools
We have always argued for flexibility when it comes to all the collaboration tools available on the market, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex or a more traditional conferencing service. At the office, Bring Your Own Meeting (BYOM) means the user can take their laptop into the meeting room with their choice of collaboration app installed and then connect the computer to the speakerphone, conference cam and screen using a single USB cable (Konftel OCC). The same choice is important for effective home working, although it is good if the internal team or other project groups have agreed on a collaborative platform for running work-related processes and meetings.
- Remember to choose a meeting app that is also open to external users with no license of their own and one that makes it quick and easy to launch a distance meeting.
- Home offices have to be able to handle calls and distance meetings from meeting apps on the computer and via mobile phone, with good audio quality.
- The person hosting a major distance meeting, on whichever platform, should always test the technology beforehand – by far the most common source of error is not selecting the right audio and/or camera settings on your computer. In the case of particularly important meetings, it can be a good idea to invite all the participants to test their connection and equipment in advance.
- As far as possible, everyone in distance meetings with multiple participants should use professional sound sources, in order to avoid problems with echo and noise, which will disrupt the whole meeting.
4. Rigging up your home office
Not everyone has masses of room to set up a home office. So the key is to find professional products that take up little space but still deliver the highest quality. The environment plays a significant role in both audio and video conferencing, so try to find a workspace where the sound doesn’t bounce around, and where fans or other noise sources won’t disturb you. Try to avoid changing light sources and blinding desk lamps or direct sunlight.
- Preferably use a fixed connection rather than WiFi, if available.
- If there is a lot going on in the workspace, use the function that obscures the background in a video conference, if you have such a function, to make it easier for your colleagues to focus.
- Video conferences benefit from having few, but good light sources, so that the video camera can adapt to the light. Also remember to avoid strong background light as far as possible.
- Try to choose a workspace with no disruptive background sound or large reflective surfaces that will bounce the sound around.
- It can be a good idea to switch your microphone off when you are not speaking, particularly in a meeting with many participants.
- Always update whether or not you are online, to allow for easy contact within the team.