With a large number of us now staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak, it’s time to change how you go about your normal workday. What may have worked for you in an office environment may not translate properly when you’re working at home, so it’s important to recognize what you need to do in order to stay productive.
Here at TechRadar Middle East we’ve made changes to our workflows as well With 99% of the time spent at home, working and collaborating with each other on different projects. Some of us are experts at working from home, while others may only have done so very rarely. The interesting thing to note is how each of us have similar methods of keeping our focus while working at home, each with very different working environments.
So if you’re new to the working from home concept, here’s how we’re managing to get our work done just as well as if we were working in our offices.
Abbas Jaffar Ali - Editorial
The best thing about working remotely is that you can be in your PJs from 9-5. However, the screaming kids in the background don’t help so the first thing I did was find a quiet spot. The dining room only gets used thrice a day, two of which are before and after working hours so that has become my office.
I use my MacBook Pro 16-inch for all the work with my mobile phone next to it – that's either an iPhone or an Android (some days both.) I specifically chose the larger screen laptop to work as that acts as a desktop replacement whenever I need it to.
My apps are usually arranged in spaces or virtual desktops with the browser taking one space, Microsoft Teams taking another and then everything else on the desktop space. Most apps I work on are browser based- such as Microsoft Office / Outlook, Hubspot or the CMS for TechRadar.
For calls and conference, I prefer using the phone more than my laptop - I just find that more convenient. However if need be, I can use Microsoft Teams to do a video conference using my laptop.
I hate adding “extra” things such as mouse/trackpad, a headset or a monitor to my laptop and thus, pretty much use the laptop’s built-in features. Which is why #donglelife doesn’t apply to me as I don't need to plug in anything extra. Cloud storage and emails helps move files around.
I will also experiment with using the iPad Pro for all the above one of these days...
Nick Rego - Editorial
I’ve worked from home plenty of times before, so my setup remains the same as it always has. I work on my MacBook Air from my kitchen bar, so I can avoid feeling sluggish if I’m working on the couch or on my bed. I can also use my laptop to quickly look up recipes for lunch, while also staying on top of my emails or any messages from my co-workers on Microsoft Teams.
For more taxing work such as video editing or typing up long reviews, I swap to my desktop setup. I mainly use it for streaming while I game, but it’s a perfect multi-monitor setup for work as well. It’s also what I use if I need to do a quick video call with the team, as I’ve got a much better webcam equipped than the one on my MacBook Air.
Lastly, I’ve also got my Amazon Echo speaker playing some light music in the background, so my mind doesn’t totally wander. I can easily mute it with a quick voice command, or even check what’s on upcoming calendar appointments while I’m working on something else.
Ammara Rounaq- Editorial & Social Media
Working from home is a familiar concept for me as I’ve freelanced for the better part of my career. What’s helped me most is setting guidelines and prioritizing tasks to make the best of my time, having a dedicated working space and setting ground rules for people in my space.
Focus has always been an issue for me but having a decent setup and dedicated space has gone a long way. I work on a MacBook Pro (late-2013) hooked up to two 24-inch monitors for a desktop setup feel. I’m not a fan of working in laptop mode unless it’s for some light writing. I much prefer having a dedicated keyboard and multi-button mouse, which come in handy for tasks like video editing and long-form writing.
On my monitors, I keep my email, browser and Microsoft Teams open on one monitor and the second is for whatever task I’m currently working on. A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones helps when I want to have complete focus on a task, and my Bose SoundLink Color helps with ambient noise when I get tired of wearing headphones.
Following a routine helps most since it can be difficult to draw clear lines between work and home, so take frequent breaks to clear your head with some light reading, a quick cup of coffee -anything that helps boost productivity. There are temptations all around and it’s important to know when to take a break and when to strap yourself down to meet a deadline.
Sam McClusky - Sales
I’m mostly relegated to my couch since my laptop power cord isn’t long enough to reach my desk. Most days I’m on my MacBook Pro, running Microsoft Teams to keep in touch with colleagues and do quick voice or video calls.
My biggest advice for those working from home is to not break your normal routine. Wake up and have breakfast as if you were going to the office – even change into different clothes to keep your brain focused and alert. Try to avoid going down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos or shopping websites as these will easily waste hours of your time.
If you feel your brain starting to wander, then get up and take a little walk around your apartment. Have a snack, drink some water, and then get back to work. You can even do a short burst of exercise if you like to keep up your energy levels.
Tech to get you through
If you need some tech to keep your home office experience more productive, then here are some products we’d recommend:
Noise cancelling headphones
Great for listening to music or jumping into a quick call, noise cancelling headphones are a must-have, especially if you’re in a busy household or your kids never seem to give you some time to yourself. We’re fans of the Sony WH-1000XM3, but you can opt for other great noise-cancelling headphones that can keep you focused on your work.
Get a better webcam
If you’re doing a lot of video conference calls, then you’ll want to have a better camera than the one bundled on your laptop. The Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro webcam is a great choice for its super-sharp quality, low-light performance, and smooth framerates for streaming and recording.
Up your Wi-Fi network
Okay, so this one is a bit of an investment to make, but it’ll benefit your entire household. If you’re running into speed problems on your current Wi-Fi network, then consider switching things up to a mesh Wi-Fi network. Not only will you have better Wi-Fi throughout your house, you can also configure your network to automatically prioritize certain devices over others, so that you can still enjoy remote access or a smooth web conference while someone is streaming Netflix at the same time.
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A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys reviewing PC components, 3D Printers, projectors, and anything shiny and expensive. He can also be found baking up a storm in the kitchen, which we are more than happy to encourage.