Working from home can be a jarring and stressful experience for those of us that were not expecting it, or those that are not properly setup to handle the technical aspects associated with not having a dedicated home office. You might lose productivity. You may find yourself not being able to join online meetings or be able to connect to your company VPN. Use these tips to help get yourself setup quickly in any area of your home.
Tips For Working From Home For An Extended Period Of Time
If you suspect you will be working remotely for a while, it is best to get your home work space setup for the long haul. Obviously, you can work on a laptop over your WiFi, but that will not be suitable for weeks at a time. Below is a list of items you should consider when setting up a home office to work remotely.
- A universal docking station
- An external monitor you can use in addition to your laptop monitor.
- An Ethernet cable to plug into your router.
- An external mouse and keyboard (wireless, if possible).
Which Universal Docking Station To Buy
A docking station is a device you connect your laptop to that gives you the ability to have an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other external components connected to your laptop to expand its functionality.
There are a lot of universal docking station brands on the market. The only real difference you need to consider is the type of connector your laptop has. If you have a newer computer, your laptop may have a USB C connector that handles both the laptop charging and the connection to the docking station. But if your computer is a few years old, you may need to buy a docking station that has a standard USB 3 connection. Another thing to consider is whether you will be sharing the docking station with anyone else. Make sure you buy a docking station that supports all of the models in your home.
Above is a comparison of a standard USB connector and a USB C connector (on the right). If you are unsure which type of docking station to buy, get the USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station for maximum compatibility.
Here are some examples of Universal Docking Stations.
External Monitor Setup
Having an external monitor will allow you to use both your laptop screen and your monitor at the same time. The monitor will connect to the universal docking station. When you plug the USB cable from the docking station into your laptop, the second screen may display an exact duplicate of the laptop screen. Here is how to fix that:
Type Display Settings into your Windows 10 search bar. You should see something similar to the image below.
Click on your main monitor to highlight it, and then scroll down the page until you see Multiple Displays, and then select Extend These Displays. You should now see your main screen in addition to the background of the second display.
Try dragging your cursor over to the second display. If you find the cursor will not go over to the second display, try dragging it to the opposite side. If the cursor appears on the second monitor, the orientation of the second monitor is backwards. Left-click and drag the second monitor over to the other side of the first monitor and this should make the orientation correct. Click Apply to save these changes.
Here are examples of 24-inch monitors if you do not already have a spare monitor at home.
Ethernet Cable Or WiFi Extender
Probably the most important aspect of your new home office will be the network connection. An unstable WiFi connection will prevent you from connecting to your company VPN, or will cause your Skype or Microsoft Teams meetings to become almost unusable. It is always best to physically plug your computer into your home network. It will be the most reliable and fastest connection you have. If you have a universal docking station, plug one end of the Ethernet cable into the dock and the other end into an open port on your router.
Here is an example of an Ethernet cable.
There may be situations where you cannot physically plug into your router, however. If not, you may be OK, anyway. But if you find your connection is too slow or inconsistent for work, you should consider buying a WiFi extender. A WiFi Extender will take the weakening signal from your router, boost its strength, and extend it a little further. You will install the WiFi Extender about mid-way between you and the router. This device will plug into an electrical outlet and often be very easy to setup.
Here are examples of WiFi Extenders.
Other Considerations For Working Remotely
Now that you have all of your technical devices ready to go, here are some other ideas to integrate your work space into your home environment.
- Zip tie or Velcro your universal docking station to the back of your monitor for a cleaner, more portable experience.
- Purchase a dual muff headset with microphone to keep the external noise out and give you a better Skype experience.
- If you can’t find a good place to permanently setup your work space, considering buying a rolling cart to keep all of your equipment on. You can roll your office away at the end of the day and then roll it back into place the following morning.
If you have any problems or questions regarding working from home, leave us a message and we will try an assist you with any technical problems you have. Or if you have any tips of your own for working from home, please let us know.