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COVID-19: How to set up a Home Office

setup a home office
setup a home office

In this article, you will learn what you need for a cheap and effective home office, how you organize your work among each other and which programs are available for homework.

Communication, solid software, stable hardware

Communication is everything. The exchange via email is then no longer sufficient. Video conferences via Skype, team management via tools such as Slack, Trello or Meistertask and online document processing take the place of the familiar open-plan office atmosphere. From our day-to-day editorial work, we can make the recommendation to set up free feedback channels. Dissatisfaction increases when nobody can report concerns and problems.

The hardware used in the home office must allow a certain freedom of movement. Always sitting at the desk is tired. To hang out on the couch for a few hours or to keep the device out of sight is beneficial.

Laptops for home office use

Today’s work is digital and the home office can only be realized if an internet connection and the appropriate devices are available. The heart of every home office is the laptop, in rare cases a standing computer.

For digital homework (also called WFH), the following applies: battery, display, ergonomics, and performance should be right. This principle helps to filter out the suitable ones from the abundance of available devices.

The final decision should depend on your wallet and operating system. Windows is certainly the best known and most compatible operating system and installed on a large number of work computers. A common alternative is Apple’s Mac series, notebooks with Chrome OS or Linux are less common in-office use. Your employer probably defines the system and therefore also specifies the software to some extent.

Three suggestions in different price ranges

Cutting-edge devices with the powerful 10th Generation Intel Core processors are suitable Windows notebooks for a small budget as well as long-term investments.

The Acer Aspire 5 is recommended for standard digital work with Microsoft Office, emails and image processing. The laptop with a 14-inch screen in full HD resolution, offers a fast SSD hard drive, fast WiFi adapter and one long-lasting battery with up to 12.5 hours of runtime.

Acer Aspire 5 14 Inch FHD 1080P
  • 【Upgraded】 Seal is opened for upgrade ONLY, 2-years…
  • 【Quad Core i7-8565U】Intel Core i7-8565U Processor(1.8…
  • 【High Speed】RAM is upgraded to 8GB DDR4 memory for…
  • 【Enormous Space】Hard Drive is upgraded to 256GB SSD…
  • 【Authorized NexiGo Bundle】 Bundled with NexiGo 2.4GHz…

In the mid-range segment, you can get the Lenovo IdeaPad S340. The display resolution, screen size, RAM and SSD capacity are similar to the Acer notebook. Performance upgrades include the graphics card (Nvidia GeForce MX230 with 2 GB VRAM) and the interface equipment. The anti-glare display is easy on the eyes even during hours of PC sessions.

Lenovo IdeaPad S340
  • 8th Generation Intel Core i5-8265U, 1.60 GHz Quad Core…
  • 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD Hard Drive
  • 15.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) Resolution, LCD with LED…
  • 2x USB 3.1; 1x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C); HDMI; 4-in-1 SD Card…
  • Windows 10 Home

Do you see the home office laptop as a long-term investment? Then the Lenovo Yoga S730 could be something for you. It is similarly light and compact as the aforementioned devices. Additionally scores with a more powerful processor unit, 16 GB of RAM and excellent workmanship.

Lenovo Yoga 730
  • Unprecedented Power – The Yoga Series are the world’s…
  • Visual Enjoyment and Swift- With the razor-thin 5 9mm…
  • Designed for Flexibility – Weighing in at a featherlight 1…
  • More than just connectivity – Featuring the revolutionary…
  • Best Windows Yet – The Window 10 defends your desktops using…

Periphery: Monitor & Mouse

As an extension of your notebook, you can think about buying a mouse and a monitor. While the purchase of a PC mouse makes sense (after all, it is easier to work with), we have to say a few words about the monitor.

A monitor expands your workplace. You can expand or duplicate your desktop on this screen and adopt a healthier posture. You should pay attention to sufficiently large screen size and high resolution. A refresh rate of 120 Hz (via HDMI) or 144 Hz (via Displayport) is easy on the eyes. You can tell from the video outputs whether your notebook supports this high frequency. HDMI 1.4 or higher and Displayport are compatible for this. If you can adjust the screen height, you automatically take a healthier sitting position.

Take a look at our monitor guide or mouse guide, where we show you what you should pay attention to when buying.

Webcam for Video Conferencing

Almost all laptops offer an integrated front camera. This is enough to skype or record short video messages. For video conferences, the demands are a lot higher, which is why you can consider buying an additional webcam.

Your colleagues will be grateful for the purchase of a decent webcam with a high-resolution sensor, decent lens, and microphone. From our own experience, we can recommend the Logitech C920. The price is fair because the quality is beyond any doubt.

The Microsoft LifeCam HD 3000 is significantly cheaper. The Skype certified video device offers 720p resolution and passable sound. The picture noise was only unpleasant in darker rooms.

Headsets & Headphones

Be quiet for a moment! Do you hear that too? The noise of the construction site around the corner. The children’s laughter. Or – quite profane – the background noise in the apartments next door, which will probably hold in the coming weeks if everyone works from home because of the Coronavirus. Headsets with Active Noise Canceling isolate you from the environment and keep your concentration above.

The eavesdroppers are no longer expensive. A recommendation on our part would be the Logitech G430 headset. At the push of a button, you activate the noise barrier and benefit from the good sound quality when calling with colleagues. The headset works with all Bluetooth-compatible devices such as Windows laptops, Macbooks, Android and iOS smartphones.

Do you want alternatives to this model? Then take a look at our headphone guide, where we show you what you should pay attention to when buying.

Printer: From compact to massive

Not all documents are or remain digital. Sometimes you are forced to print out a letter or hold a script to study. So you can’t avoid a printer.

Your field of work decides whether color printing is a must or whether the printout in black and white is sufficient. If you want to keep printing costs low, laser printers are a good choice. Their price has dropped so far in recent years that they can keep up with the top dogs in inkjet printers.

Advantages of laser printers: fast printing, razor-sharp text output and the low follow-up costs already mentioned.

The disadvantages: The higher space requirement, which is due to the construction.

For a small surcharge, your new home office printer can handle two-sided printing, scan and fax documents and at best wireless.

Software: Commercial software and free alternatives

Are you working for a company that relies on certain software solutions such as CAD programs? Then clarify whether a second seat license is available. The in-house IT administrator, if available, can also explain how to set up a secure data connection. A common practice is the password-protected VPN connection to the company network.

Microsoft Office 365

However, if they are “everyday documents”, solutions are quicker and easier to implement. Microsoft offers an all-in-one solution with Office 365 Business Premium for Windows 10 and modern Mac OS versions. The desktop programs Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote are included in the subscription for a monthly price.

At the same time, you acquire mobile file access via a tablet, smartphone and any other computer via OneDrive cloud storage. Online calendaring and team communication for video conferencing are also included in the subscription.

Microsoft Office 365 pricing can drive companies crazy. Functionality and comfort are high, each office wheel engages in the other. Do you want to save yourself the money? Then take a look at the free alternatives such as Libre Office, Google Docs or WPS Office.

Thunderbird: Outlook Alternative

The free mail program Thunderbird comes from the Firefox manufacturer Mozilla and is available for Windows and Mac computers. Writing, sending and receiving emails are among the core competencies. The range of functions goes even further. You can create contacts, note appointments in the calendar and start text chats with colleagues.

Online document processing with Google Docs and G-Suite

Text documents, presentations and spreadsheets? Offers Google for free. The basic version is available to any user with a Google account. Do you have an Android smartphone or Chromebook? Then you can already access the search engine giant’s office solution.

The fact that you can always edit the documents online and they are stored directly in the Google Drive cloud storage ensures data security that offline solutions do not guarantee in the event of a system crash. The user interface is based on the office primacy Microsoft, shortcuts like Str + C and Ctrl + V work as usual. You release documents with just a few clicks, colleagues can actively intervene in the processing after approval. Google Docs automatically saves the individual document versions in the background.

In the basic version, Google Docs is free of charge. For companies, the search engine operator offers a three-tier model called G Suite. The price levels differ in terms of convenience functions, storage volume for Google Drive and interfaces to third-party programs.

Video conferencing with Skype and Hangouts Meet

The two top dogs among the video conferences are Microsoft’s Skype and Google’s Hangouts Meet. What speaks for Skype is widespread use. Almost every Windows computer has the app installed. With the PC user account, you can also log in and start video and audio conferences.

Since the application also works on smartphones and tablets, the barriers are low. The benefits of Hangouts Meet are that the integration of G Suite and Google Docs show their advantages in document exchange. Both are equal in terms of voice and video quality.

You have already set up a home office and valuable tips on what to watch out for? Write to us in the comment section and share your knowledge with other readers!

And stay healthy!

Last update on 2020-09-21 | Source: Amazon Affiliate