For a fortnight now I’ve been working from home. In fact, for almost 6 years I’ve been working partially from home and partially at a large office building in the City of London. The set-ups are, needless to say, very different and will not suit everyone. Today’s reality, however, means that many of those who can are being asked to self-quarantine and take their laptops with them.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. My investment banker brother has opted to work from his garage, and IT has been sent round to hook him up to all the dealing apparatus he needs. Sounds to me like a really dreary choice but he explained that with 2 young daughters – who are not at school for the foreseeable future – he daren’t have them barge in and interrupt him.
Living alone, I’ve opted to set up my desk facing the French windows (through which the sun streams in on the off-chance that it does) overlooking my courtyard garden. I make sure I keep clutter and paper to a minimum with a neat filing box on the bookshelf. I have an old Mac Book Pro with a big screen and full-size keyboard – important considerations when spending long stints on it. The downside is that it’s so heavy I’m exhausted by the time I get to the Apple store if it needs fixing (also an issue with a full-size PC box).
A landline is important as the voice quality is, I find, much better than a smartphone – something you’ll need for Google security codes, if nothing else. I’ve added WhatsApp to my new, smaller, Dell Business series laptop so that I can make video calls; video conferencing technology in the ascendant too. Logitech has a StreamCam which clips to the top of your screen and can be accurately angled. Just remember to make sure there’s nothing unsightly behind you! Practice first to get the lighting right too.
I don’t have a printer because it’s just another piece of kit that might go wrong. Instead I’ve got a delightfully old-fashioned stationery shop and professional printer close by, so I store material on a USB stick, or email the things I need printing directly to them; ‘click and collect’, as they say, when it suits me. Make sure to get receipts for this work. I also make sure that I have a proper selection of note pads and envelopes, and the requisite stamps for them. I’ve also made friends with the chap who runs the scuzzy little internet cafe by my local tube station; open all hours, quick with fixes and with an amazing depth of knowledge across many devices.
Make sure your desk and chair are at the right height and support you, remembering to take breaks at regular intervals. I would also suggest sticking to sort of office hours. Sending out urgent emails at midnight smacks either of inefficiency or procrastination.