Harry here again with more strategies for working remotely! In my previous post about remote work, I mentioned that over-communication is one of the habits that we’ve learned is a huge factor of having a remote team. Communication tools are really important, but those aren’t the only kinds of tools you need.
There are three main categories of tools – physical tools, software tools, and social tools. I’ll cover the hardware and physical tools in this post.
Your surroundings have a huge impact on your day-to-day productivity and happiness at work. Even though everyone on our team has their own twist on the exact office set-up, here’s a general overview of what they’ve got in their office.
As a company, we’re split roughly 50-50 between Apple products and PC’s. We tend to replace laptops every few years, because this is the primary piece of hardware that we rely on. If the machine is being touchy, it’s better to replace it because the cost of our time being frustrated or fixing hardware isn’t worth it. I think I’ve currently got the oldest laptop at Moraware, and I’m hoping to switch to a Chromebook for my next device. Everything I do is cloud-based, and I’d like to make my computer hardware completely disposable.
One of the unsung heroes in your office is the screen you look at every day. More real-estate translates to more usefulness. I’ve typically got open my email, Slack, and about 20 other documents, spreadsheets, or website tabs – if I can see everything easily without shuffling screens around, that’s ideal.
Keyboard, Mouse, & Other Accessories
As much as I like using a laptop for portability, I am planted in place most of the time. I’ve got a decent mouse, good keyboard, and a high-quality webcam for our frequent video chats.
Our customer-facing team is on “the phone” much of the day, and even our product folks spend a lot of time collaborating via Zoom. Having a comfortable headset with good sound is essential. Most of us use wireless headphones, either with boom mikes, and a couple of us are using Apple Airpods.
Great Office Furniture
About 10 years ago, I had the conventional setup of a big office desk and “executive-style” chair. But, I started getting back pain. I switched to an exercise ball to sit on, tried a couple of different chairs, and nothing seemed to help. Then, I switched to a sit-stand desk. For the first couple of months, I worked up to standing most of the time. And my back pain disappeared. Now, I stand 100% of the time, and I’m on a balance board much of the time. Other folks at Moraware have a variety of office solutions, (including fancy Aeron chairs and walking treadmills) but this is one area not to skimp. Your health depends on it.
This is one that’s really hard if you weren’t planning on working from home. In one of our previous houses, my home-office was close to the living room and kitchen. That meant that when my wife was cooking or my kids were playing, I would get distracted and interrupted. Having physical separation from the other folks in your house is essential, and it might be worth re-configuring what you think of as an office, bedroom, or closet to achieve it.
We’re a “paperless” company. Every document resides in software; we even take pictures and digital scans of actual physical paper like receipts or official paperwork. But even with all of our great technology, I love having a spiral notebook at my desk. I’ve found the habit of writing helps me focus more on the conversations I’m having, and helps me remember important points.
I think that’s all of the big stuff when it comes to your physical surroundings. If you need recommendations, I’ve included some links throughout the article. I also really like the recommendations from Wirecutter, and combing through Amazon reviews.