New Year, New You, New Office?

Think Cirrus Home Office working cosy living room

The essential guide to setting up a home office network.

Several of our clients not only run businesses associated with a venue, such as hotels, bars, restaurants, or agencies, they also work from home as well.  We know all too well, that sometimes working from home is often more productive than being in the office.  Yet who do you call when something doesn’t work?

If you are a small business owner with a home office or you’re a start-up business owner seeking to work professionally from your spare bedroom, 2018 is the right time to think about it properly.

There are many considerations to think about when it comes to setting up a home network

1. Self Assessment

Take time to look at what you’ll need to work effectively and efficiently. Think about a desk, your chair and neck alignment. Think about equipment you’ll need, such as phone, a monitor, a printer, some lighting. Will all this need to fit on one desk? Will these aspects help you to focus and become more productive?Don’t just make do, you know as well as we do, that you’ll probably spend a lot of your time in this space, so it’s worth investing.To help you out, we’ve come up with things you need to create your own home office setup checklist:

  • Technology
  • Connectivity
  • Communication
  • Software
  • Data Storage

2. Technology: Laptop, desk top or tablet?

There was a time when the desktop PC was replaced by a laptop as the device of choice for working from home. In recent years, smartphones and tablets have taken over as the preferred device over a laptop PC.

Although mobility is convenient, you may find you get better performance from a desktop PC at a reduced cost. Then you can choose to add mobile devices such as a laptop or tablet to provide yourself with some flexibility.

In terms of repair, a desktop is fairly easy to maintain and repair simply by popping the side of the console off.  A laptop PC takes a little more effort when something malfunctions. Plus, the replacement parts are often specific to the make and model of the device.

On the other hand, a laptop PC is more energy efficient and lends more portability to your work routine. Plus, you can always add a full-sized keyboard and monitor for improved functionality.

Finally, you should decide if you want to work with a Mac or the Windows operating system. Depending upon your work purpose, there may be some compatibility considerations such as software and applications.

Other Technology: printers; scanners; docks…? So much to think about.

If you are going to spend a significant amount of time in your home office, take an inventory of your requirements including monitors, printers, scanners, fax machines, keyboards, an ergonomic mouse, device docks, external storage devices, and more.  Avoid going for the cheapest devices.  Remember, you are going to be using them on a daily basis so you will need technology that is reliable.

If you are limited on space, a high-quality printer that provides a combination of functions may be more suitable. A combination printer can provide you with scanning, copying, and faxing services without having to purchase each device separately. Most of them are also equipped with wireless connectivity which expands your options when considering your printing, copying, scanning, and faxing requirements.

3.Connectivity: Wired OR Wireless?

Regardless of your business type or occupation, connectivity has become an essential in a home office. But, should you choose a wired or wireless Internet connection?

Wireless.

With a wireless connection, there is no need to run an Ethernet cable from your wireless router to the device you want to connect to the Internet.  The main reason for the use of a wireless connection is convenience and mobility.  If you have devices you must move around, a wireless connection can offer more flexibility.

Wired.

On the other hand, if you have devices such as a desktop PC that you do not have to move around, a wired connection is typically faster and more reliable.

Choosing a wired or wireless connection is usually a matter of personal choice and your requirements for connectivity speed.

Internet Connectivity.

Most home offices are equipped with a high-speed broadband connection which allows you to transfer large amounts of data over a short period.  Fortunately, internet connectivity speeds have come a long way in recent times and most residential areas now have access to cable broadband connectivity, which guarantees a consistent (and usually very fast) internet connectivity speed.

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    4. Software: Considerations.

Depending upon your type of business or occupation, your software requirements can vary.  However, there are two main software requirements that almost every business needs which includes an office productivity suite and an email system.

Many home office users choose to subscribe to Microsoft Office 365 for Business. You pay an affordable monthly fee for access to enterprise level applications and email.

For example, the Premium Office 365 subscription provides access to the following capabilities:

  • Outlook
  • Exchange Online
  • Business class email, calendar, and contacts with a 50GB (gigabyte) inbox per user
  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • Excel
  • Skype VoIP for Business
  • OneNote
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • OneDrive for Business with 1TB (terabyte) of file storage and sharing
  • Unlimited online meetings
  • IM and HD videoconferencing with Skype for Business
  • Access to work management tools for team collaboration and multi-tasking
  • Access to a social network to make collaboration with your clients easier
  • Professional digital storytelling tools to create interactive presentations, projects, reports, and more
  • Access to Office apps on tablets and phones for the fully installed mobile Office experience on up to 5 tablets and 5 phones per user
  • Access to online versions of Office in the cloud including Excel, PowerPoint, and Word
  • Small businesses have access to enterprise level tools and applications all at a very affordable price of £7.80 per user/per month.

Microsoft Office 365 is cloud-based which means it can be accessed from anywhere and on any device.  You can choose what applications you want to download on your computer or mobile device which enables you to complete work tasks even when you are not working in your home office.

Additionally, Office 365 is scalable allowing you to add or subtract capabilities as your business needs change.  You only pay for what you use and there is no IT infrastructure to implement at home.

Microsoft oversees all security using a team of IT professionals at each of its data centre.  Each data centre is required to meet ISO certification standards to ensure data security and compliance.

  1. 5. Data Storage.

Storing files and data is critical to your business. And, depending upon your industry, you may face specific compliance requirements for storing and archiving data.

The good news is, there are lots of options when it comes to data backup and storage.  The first place to start is by assessing exactly what your storage needs are. Then you can proceed to use a combination of backup and storage options to ensure you always have access to your data.

Some of the questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Which applications produce the largest files?
  • How much of your data has been duplicated over time?
  • How far back in time are you required to store data?
  • What amount of data is not relevant to your business?
  • From what location, do you plan to access your files and documents?
  • How quickly do you need access to your files and documents?

Once you have an idea on how much data you are working with, you can decide on storage requirements.

6. Cloud Storage.

Many home office users choose cloud storage which is remote backup and storage that is transmitted over your Internet connection to a secure location.  The cloud storage provider is responsible for securing the infrastructure in its data centres using encryption and redundancy practices.  You can share and access files using your web browser using a high-speed broadband Internet connection. Recovery of data is fast and easy in the event of a disaster.

Think Cirrus are experts in setting up offices, venues and home offices. If you’re ready to have a no obligation chat about what you need to make the most of your home office – let us know.

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