Working at least partially from a home office has become the norm for most professionals and business owners. You may find yourself trying to clear space on the kitchen table or perhaps you are starting a new career where the team is fully remote or maybe starting a business yourself.
I work every day with CPA’s and business owners who are looking for advice on what tools to use. They want to know the best way to ensure that home office time is as productive as possible. Lately, I have been getting so many questions that I thought it may be helpful to compile a list of my most recommended pieces of hardware for setting up a proper home office. I did my best to sprinkle some of the “why” behind the need for professionals to make this investment. (In case you’re hesitating on the costs). I also tried to keep things cost friendly as we all know how a trip to Best Buy can get out of hand!
This may be the most important piece of a home office and yet the piece most don’t have! A docking station allows you to plug in a laptop (via USB or USB-C) and connect it to multiple other devices like monitor(s) keyboard, mouse, etc.
This is what a lot of modern offices do vs having people work on a stationary PC. They simply bring their laptop to the desk – plug into their dock and they are good to go on all the hardware at their desk. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit down at your home office – plug in one chord and your work laptop shows on your screen and your keyboard and mouse at your desk, just work? The kicker here is this can work with your home laptop or desktop too! No need to constantly plug in mice, keyboards and monitors.
It is no coincidence that modern offices provide employees with at least 2 widescreen monitors at their workstations and it also no coincidence that if those same people were to have one taken away, they may just lose their minds! So why would you choose to work from just your laptop screen at your home office?
The amount of screen real-estate you have is truly you’re workbench – it’s worth having the right setup. In fact, having dual monitors has been proved to increase productivity by 20-30 percent!
Personally, I find 3 screens the perfect set – up. At my home office I have 2 monitors plugged into my dock and my laptop acts as my 3rd monitor. The dock I recommended can handle 2 of these monitors!
Now, this is the most costly part of the setup but it’s important to note that it’s also going to last you the longest. Monitors are generally very reliable and there isn’t much about them that is going to go out of date if you are just using for office work. I have had mine for 5+ years.
Understanding Your Connection
For most of you this may not be an issue but it’s important to know what connection you are working off of. Assuming your connection is fine because you can watch Netflix is where you can get into trouble. Netfilx and YouTube use buffering. This means while the connection is “good” it downloads more of the video so it’s staying ahead of you, and if you see that buffering wheel – it fell behind. When working from home you can run into scenarios on your company’s VPN, Remote Desktop Service or just needing to upload files for your graphic design business where this connection can let you down. Consistency in your ping and having enough upload bandwidth are what can make the difference. If you want to check what you have or just want to make sure you’re getting what you are paying for… You can check your connection at speedtest.net
Here is an example from my connection, notice that we are paying for that extra upload.
If you aren’t getting what you are paying for or things are jumping around during the test, you may want to give your provider a call.
Some Other Stuff
If you are looking to make a few upgrades to your setup – here are a few additional things I recommend and are more “nice to have’s” (still with reasonable prices)