10 tips to setup your home office or home school?
In recent past, things have rapidly changed. Like many of you, I am on calls using Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Ring Central, or any other tool. My wife is doing the same for teaching her students and my 8 year old is attending classes or talking to his cousins. As I say - "life is a bit zoomed out". Initially, we bootstrapped running between rooms, shuffling on the bed, dining table or other arrangement much to the chagrin of our ergonomics.
My son started complaining about headache, I started feeling fatigue in my fingers and my wife the strongest of three of us never complained irrespective of her feelings! Here are the steps I took to alleviate our troubles and hoping it will help some of you looking for the same!
First, identify your office locations. If you are fortunate enough to have rooms for each one of you, then go into different rooms. Otherwise, find your corner!
Second, work on lighting. The most ideal setup is to face a window. The natural light allows you to reflect well in a virtual video call. If this is not possible, then the second best arrangement should be to have sufficient lighting behind the computer screen. You can also try this ring light that is used by bloggers to look like a pro!
Third, work on Internet. Depending on where you sit, your modem may not be able to beam Internet to its full strength. I installed a Eero Pro Wifi Mesh System. I already see a marked increase. My modem is on ground floor and a Eero pro on first floor helps a lot. You can also get Orbi or Google Nest Wifi
Fourth, work on your Desk Settings. We bought ourselves two tables - one for adults and one for child. A work table that allows me to stand up and sit down. It is approximately 2 feet in depth and 3 feet in width. My personal favorite is Tresanti Adjustable Desk sold at Costco. I couldn't find a web link for it but an Amazon equivalent would be something like this. For my son, we bought a standard and rugged Costco table and chair it is 3 feet by 4 feet in width. You can get as fancy as you want with it. The point is you need a desk and if you have USB ports to charge your phone/iPad etc. that is an extra layer of convenience.
Five, work on your Chair. There are several ergonomically perfect chairs. I won't go into specifics. As long as you get a great chair you are fine!
A big monitor. I got my son a ViewSonic 32 inch monitor and myself a LG Widescreen monitor. The monitors are key to make sure you don't strain your eye in the process. These big monitors can be connected to your laptops via standard HDMI chords.
A bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I am a Mac user and I got myself an Apple Magic Keyboard and an Apple Magic Mouse. My son is a Chromebook user. We got him a Logitech Keyboard and Mouse. It is also sold as a bundle with ViewSonic monitor.
A Webcam. Given my computer is now hooked to the big screen monitor, we need a webcam. My personal favorite is this 1080 pixel webcam with a built in microphone. I can just speak into it and it simply works. If you want to go all the more fancy, you can optionally add a Blue Yeti Podcast Microphone. I had one at home. It helps me lean back on the chair when needed.
A Headset or no headset. It is a matter of personal preference and space availability. While it was fun to be on a bluetooth headset, sitting like that all day can be a pain! If you have big enough rooms, you can simply use your computer's speaker to listen and be handsfree. You speak into the webcam microphone or your bluetooth microphone and listen from your computers speakers.
USB Hub. Now that's a lot of things to connect. Chromebooks have only one USB port and Apple Mac has the dongle issues. Irrespective, we got ourselves a hub of USB Ports. It allows us to simply connect all the devices.
Now that you have the setup, launch Zoom or Teams and run the appropriate audio/video check process. You will have to change the video source to your HD Webcam and audio source to HD Webcam or External microphone. Once you are setup, you can simply hit a join button to join any meeting and talk / get out without a headset or straining your eye constantly.
Below is a link to all the key products referred in this post. Please note that these are affiliate links.