Home office

Congested roads and bridges, closed schools, the vagaries of the weather and road construction! In Toronto & GTA, Calgary, Vancouver or other cities, inevitably the ordeal of commuting leads to frustration for workers and employers alike. Teleworking from a home office represents an increasingly popular solution to remain productive, despite the headaches of commuting to work, while at the same time achieving a better work-life balance. Does your type of work lend itself to teleworking and is your employer open to the idea? Here are the 10 essentials for successfully organizing a home office:

1. An appropriate physical space for teleworking.

Set up your home office in a quiet space, away from noise and family activities. As far as possible, devote this space only to office work and not to general tasks around the house.

2. An ergonomic desk or worktable

To be really productive when working from home, it is important to equip yourself with an ergonomic and comfortable office desk. Office desks comes in all sizes, colours, materials and prices. You will surely find just what you need to furnish your space dedicated to the home office.

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3. An ergonomic chair

Even if your home office is not used on a daily basis, buying an ergonomic, comfortable chair should be high on your list of priorities. Many ergonomic and affordable models of office chairs are available that are perfectly suitable to working at home.

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4. Appropriate computer equipment

For most teleworkers, a computer, a screen, a mouse and a keyboard are sufficient. If you don't work regularly at home, a laptop may be quite suitable, but you should still consider purchasing a screen, a keyboard and a mouse if you expect to spend long hours in your office in front of the computer.

If you use a laptop at work, don't forget to bring it home each evening. You never know if the next day will bring a snowstorm or a colic in your latest bundle of joy!

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5. Ergonomic accessories

To be really comfortable and productive in your home office, it is often smart to invest a little more to acquire practical and comfortable ergonomic accessories. A keyboard and mouse drawer, a monitor stand and a foot rest are really affordable accessories that can make a significant difference in your well-being as a teleworker. But be careful, you may find your home office so comfortable and attractive, that you won't be able to live without it!

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6. Good lighting

Natural indirect light, general lighting and localized lighting on the desk are the complementary components of the ideal lighting system. If your home office doesn't meet all these criteria, don't worry. Make sure you have a natural light source to avoid too much contrast between the screen and the rest of the room, and use a work lamp on the desk to help in reading or drafting paper documents.

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7. Telephone access

Depending on your type of work, you may need a cell phone for teleworking. Make sure you transfer your calls from the office to the right line if you don't want your children amusing themselves on the phone while you are speaking with a client or with the boss!

You'll want to be sure that your line is always free and that your colleagues know how to reach you. Another possibility is to adopt an Internet phone service such as Skype.

8. A good Internet connection

There are not many jobs you can do today without relying on the Internet and regular access to email. Make sure your home office Internet connection is fast enough to handle your work traffic and stay in contact with the office.

9. Appropriate software

If you're not using a laptop from the office with all the necessary preinstalled software, be sure you acquire the necessary programs to carry out your work from home. Some companies offer their software as "cloud" services (Office and Adobe are good examples, among others).

Otherwise, arrange for the installation of the software versions you need in order to work on your personal computer.

There may be free programs which can replace your main work software, for example OpenOffice – a free program – that can "replace" the Office suite (Word, Excel, etc.).

And finally, make sure you have remote access to your office email or configure your home computer for direct email access.

10. Remote access to your files

If you don't use a laptop from the office which contains all of your computerized work documents, be sure you can easily access them from your home office. Some companies employ a remote access system, while others prefer that their employees use USB keys or external hard disks to transport their documents. In any case, you will need to comply with corporate policies concerning the legal and security aspects related to the use and transport of data between offices.

Increasingly companies are promoting the use of virtual storage such as Google client tools (Drive, Gmail, etc.) or services like Dropbox. Whichever technique is mandated, you should have access to the latest versions of your documents. Just as when you are working on a paper document, don't forget to bring it home when you need to work on it!

Now that your home office is fully equipped, you know you are in control and can enjoy it at any time of day!