Like many people, in recent years Dave Michels has taken to working from home. Not long ago he posted some advice garnered from that experience. In this post he offers makes some excellent observations. While I agree with most of what he offers, there are a couple of points that I’d like to add or emphasize.
You’ll need a good desk and chair. Don’t scrimp on these items. A desk needn’t be fancy, but it does need to large enough. In fact, usually the larger the better.
The chair is really an issue relating to your health & welfare. It’s easy to just run down to OfficeMax and get something affordable, but you will not be well served by such moves in the long run. You back will appreciate a more carefully considered approach.
As opposed to something solid or upholstered I like chairs with shock cord support. This reflects the fact that I live in an area with warmer temperatures most of the year. It’s easier to stay cool given this kind of ventilated chair.
Since taking up my new gig with ZipDX and Polycom a splendid HDX-4500 has graced my home office. It’s without question the most sophisticated end-point device that I’ve encountered. It’s a real treat to use, especially since I do so many calls using video these days.
The HDX is large enough that it gets a desk of it’s own, located across the room from my primary desk, desktop PC et al. When I’m using the HDX I always have my laptop on that desk as well.
The trouble is that I’ve had some difficulty getting the lighting correct for video calls. I’ve muddled along trying different solutions with what I’ve had on-hand, and playing with moving things around the space. Recently I’ve come to think that I need to take more significant steps to provide consistently good lighting.
A few weeks back Mashable ran a post entitled “Can Employees Be Trusted to Work From Home.” The post was really just a wrapper around an infographic created by OnlineDegrees.com. I must say that some of what they present I find at least mildly offensive. Perhaps “offensive” isn’t quite the right term. Let’s just say that it doesn’t apply in my case, and probably doesn’t in yours either.
They report as follows:
“One recent study found that more than 40% of employees who work from home pull double-duty watching TV or a movie. More than a quarter nap or cook dinner while on the clock, and 20% play video games on the company dime…”
Wow. This certainly doesn’t describe my working life. But then again, over many years I have constantly been reminded that I’m not normal.
My belief is that since your home office network is your network, and under your control, it should actually be more reliable than the network that your office-bound associates a) enjoy or b) suffer. If you operate from a home office on anything more than an occasional basis I think that you should give some serious consideration to maintaining redundant sources of IP connectivity. This is especially true if you rely upon VoIP for your office phones, as we have here for many years.
Redundant IP connectivity can be achieved in a variety of different ways, each with advantages and disadvantages. Performance and price vary widely depending upon the access methods available in your area. For us the best solution has been to use Comcast Business Class cable as our primary internet access, with backup provided by a dry loop DSL circuit from Covad.
It’s important that your two sources of connectivity are different modes of connection, in our case cable & DSL. We could bond a couple of DSL lines and achieve higher speeds, but we’d be susceptible to a single mistake with a backhoe taking out both of our circuits.
I’ve walked down the street, examined the lines and know that the copper goes south down the street while the coax cable goes another direction. No one silly mistake will take them both down.
Power is out in Petaluma. TWiT Live is down until it returns but no ETA. Thank goodness for the iPad 3G. http://j.mp/dt8Oii
I must admit that I am surprised and a little shocked that such an incident would take TWiT Cottage off-line. Leo Laporte is unusual amongst the online media community. His TWiT related endeavors are an unparalleled success. His transformation from traditional to online media is the stuff of future textbooks.
An enterprise such as TWiT should not be taken down by something so simple as a power outage when standby generators are sold at every Lowe’s and Home Depot across the country.