Work From Home Tips and Tricks – DIY in 5 Ep 119

While many of us are self-isolating and doing what we can to keep our loved ones safe and healthy, lots of us are finding ourselves in a work from home situation. Let’s talk about setting up a dedicated office space to maximize both productivity and sanity while working from home.

Dedicated office space ideas
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have a dedicated home office room where we live. If you do, great! But for the rest of us, creating a dedicated space with a table, chair and some type of makeshift workstation will go a long way. Brian at Kingston suggested grabbing a small kids table used for Legos, puzzles or holiday parties and repurposing it as a desk. Or you might section off a part of your dining table or place a flat surface horizontal between two shelves to make a desk, provided it can handle the weight you plan to put on top of it and has room for your legs underneath. You’ll also want to pull up a chair, preferably with a back on it. Long days on a stool will start to take a toll on your posture for sure.

Connected Peripherals
Once you have a desk space it’s time to look at your workstation. If you have a laptop you normally use for work, you are off to a great start. A few extra peripherals can really make that laptop experience feel more like a desktop experience for prolonged work sessions. If you have any old or extra peripherals lying around, like a mouse or keyboard you might make use of those. Most desktops come with a standard keyboard and mouse that can get stored in closets in favor of specialized gaming, wireless or ergonomic options. Once you are using a standard sized keyboard and a mouse again instead of a trackpad and laptop keyboard, you’ll never look at the standard keyboard/mouse the same way again.

2nd Monitor
If you have an old, small tv or monitor laying anywhere in your home, chances are good you can use that to make a two monitor setup. Check the connectivity options and search the house or online retailers for adapters if need be. Anyone who’s ever gone from 1 to 2 monitors can vouch for how wonderful this upgrade is so if you can do that at home. You might want to consider getting a Laptop Docking station like the Plugable USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station. It has Dual Video HDMI & DVI/VGA outs, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio and 6 usb ports so that all your peripherals connect to the docking station and the docking station connects to your laptop via one USB 3.0 cable. This way if you need to take your laptop to another part of the house, it’s much easier to disconnect and reconnect without re-setting up your workstation each time.

Video Conferencing
Next let’s talk video conferencing, should your job require that. Again, if you have a laptop, you already have a built in webcam and mic that will work for a variety of free video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype or Bluejeans. If you are working off a home desktop, you may need to invest in a cheap webcam like the Logitech C920, a staple for years and my personal favorite. It features 1080p resolutions and has dual microphones. Another thing to consider if you do a lot of video conferencing is what your background is – not just for aesthetic reasons – but because I’ve personally seen more than a few half-naked family members who were just getting ready for the day unaware that cameras were broadcasting their morning routine. If your camera does look into sensitive areas, consider putting up a divider, curtain or even using a software background removal tool. Zoom offers Virtual Background solutions and Skype has a toggle to blur the background – better than nothing. XSplit also offers a background software removal tool called VCam that can be used with any video conferencing solution. And as a bonus for many of these, you can replace your background with any image you want.

Headsets
If you have a job that discusses sensitive info that you don’t want your family, neighbors or roommates to overhear find a headset. While a nice big cushy one like the HyperX Cloud will help keep out the noise around you, even a set of earbuds that came with an older phone will get the job done and as a bonus, may even have a built in mic with better audio quality than what’s onboard your laptop or webcam.

VPN
If your work involves sensitive information and your company hasn’t already installed security software on your device, suggesting that they invest in a VPN or virtual private network is highly recommended.

Working from home isn’t easy, but taking some time to up your space with the right tools can make it a lot more bearable. Share your at home setups using the #workfromhome hashtag. A lot of people are using this hashtag to share cute pictures of their pets which is also a bonus and make sure to #DIYin5 so that we can see it as well. Take care everyone, stay safe and we’ll see you next time with more DIYin5.

#stayhome #wfh #workfromhome