The COVID-19 outbreak has caused companies around the world to go fully remote almost overnight. For many employees, working from home is a foreign experience that will require significant adjustments in how they work and communicate with coworkers. If you’re one of the 51% of employees who did some or all of your work from a home office prior to the coronavirus pandemic, you know that working from home can be challenging and a bit isolating. Whether you’re a full-time blogger or work for a large corporate company, you face the same challenges.
Fortunately, video conferencing has the unique ability to create a more connected workforce. Even though the camera built into your laptop or phone can make and receive calls just fine, now that you work from home full-time, you might be interested in setting up a dedicated video conferencing system to help build out a more productive home office. As the world continues to shift to the WFH lifestyle, there are a few essentials you need to make your office transition as smooth as possible.
7 Essential Tools for Your Home Office in a COVID-19 World
1. High-Speed internet
It’s hard to effectively work from home with slow or unreliable internet. Most conventional internet plans are designed for faster download speeds than upload speeds. While this is great for typical content consumption and media downloads, sending files to coworkers or joining a video conference call can be tricky if your upload speed is too low.
For a better WiFi signal, place your router high off the ground, close to your workspace and away from any clutter or appliances. For additional information on WiFi networks and bandwidths, check out our blog Requirements for Video Conferencing: Your Checklist for Hardware and Software.
2. A VPN
A VPN (virtual private network) is an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic that provides an additional layer of security to protect your privacy. When you connect to a VPN and are “inside the tunnel,” it becomes very difficult for anyone else to view your data and web-browsing activity. A secure VPN will help protect your sensitive and confidential documents from falling into the wrong hands.
3. Secure video conferencing
Due to the massive increase in video conferencing usage, security issues with some video conferencing providers have recently come to light. Do your research and look for a provider that has a history and reputation for securing their customers’ data and privacy. Lifesize employs enterprise-grade encryption and data privacy practices to protect customers from unintended access to their sensitive communication and content.
4. Quality lighting
One of the most important considerations for a quality video call is the lighting in your home office. Sitting with your back to a window or other bright light source can negatively impact the quality of your video conference calls by giving you a harsh silhouette effect. Whenever possible, sit facing the window or light source to ensure your face is well illuminated and clearly visible. If you don’t have good natural light in your home office, consider adding additional lighting to the space.
5. A proper desk
Since you will spend most of your day at your desk, you want to make sure it’s ergonomic. If you have room for it, consider buying a standing desk or standing desk extender. Studies show that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health. Most standing desks or extenders have adjustable heights, so you have the option of either sitting down while you work or quickly raising the desk to standing height.
6. Dual monitors
If juggling between multiple windows on your computer as you work is not your thing, a second monitor should be at the top of your wish list. Expanding your workspace across two screens can give you more flexibility to multitask and help boost your productivity. For best results, buy two identical monitors so you will have the same screen fidelity and experience.
7. A comfortable chair
While you may be tempted to just use a dining room chair or kitchen bar stool, you may want to invest in a comfortable office chair since you will be sitting for long periods of time. Be sure to check the chair for proper lumbar support for your back. Investing in a comfortable and quality chair will make a noticeable difference in your workday.
3 Benefits of Creating a Home Office Video Conference Room
1). Add Working Real Estate
Using a video conferencing system in your home office gives you a dedicated screen for your daily video meetings. That way you don’t have to navigate away from the video call to open a separate app to take notes or to present. Separating your video calling system from your working computer creates a more consistent face-to-face experience and helps remote employees feel more connected to the in-room participants.
2). Improve Video Quality
A purpose-built video conferencing system will always produce better quality audio and video compared to an embedded laptop camera and ear buds. For remote employees that rely on video communication on a daily (or hourly) basis, a true-to-life 4K solution will help you present your absolute best self in every conversation. This is especially important for customer-facing employees and sales teams that want to make a good first impression when connecting face to face.
3). Increase Meeting Flexibility
Having a Lifesize account paired to a Lifesize video conferencing system in addition to the apps on your laptop and phone gives you the flexibility to answer a call from any device. If you’re in your home office and at your desk, you can easily make and receive calls from your video system. But if you’re out and about, you can still connect right from your personal device. All devices paired to your account will ring, giving you the flexibility to answer the one you wish to use.
3 Video Conferencing Solutions During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Lifesize App
The simplest and least expensive way to conduct video conference calls in your home office is to use the Lifesize app on your personal device. Lifesize supports a wide range of devices to support BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies and user preferences with apps for PC and Mac computers, Android and iOS phones and tablets and a browser-based web app for Chromebooks and anything else that cannot download applications. Guests can easily join a Lifesize call directly from their web browser without having to download an app.
In response to pandemic, Lifesize is offering free, unlimited video conferencing service to all global businesses for six months. Our goal is to support businesses as best we can during this difficult time and keep the world working.
Lifesize Dash is a cost-effective video conference kit that you can use to make your home office video enabled. This software-based video collaboration solution connects to a TV using an inexpensive Chromebox device and third-party USB camera and audio devices.
Lifesize Icon 500
For an upgraded experience, the Lifesize® Icon 500™ gives you a dedicated video conferencing system with support for single or dual displays. The additional working real estate makes it easy for you to work while still having a consistent face-to-face conversation with 4K video quality and stunning 4K content sharing. The Icon 500 is the perfect sleek fit for your credenza or wall mount, with pan/tilt/zoom capabilities so you’re always captured on screen in 4K.
For more tips on optimizing your meeting spaces for more productive and impactful meetings, check out our Complete Guide to Amazing Meeting Spaces.