JUL 3, 2022 / PC Help

Tech tips for working or studying from home

With flexible working arrangements here to stay, it’s important to get your home workspace set up correctly. Some people are still working from a kitchen table or using a dresser as a desk – but there are better options. Here are our top tech tips for anyone working or studying from home.

Consider your hardware needs

Your workplace may provide a laptop, but that’s really just the start. There’s some solid productivity benefits to having a separate keyboard and mouse, and for some jobs multi-monitor setups can also greatly boost what you’re able to do. Obviously this one comes down to budget as well, and whether your work is happy to provide any kind of additional hardware, or if there’s home gear you can temporarily repurpose to this effect.

If you don’t think an additional monitor will help you, we recommend picking up a laptop riser. This will help reduce neck pain as you won’t be looking down at your screen all day – instead, you can set it to eye level.

Work out how to meet virtually

Meetings can be uncomfortable at the best of times, but sorting out how they’re meant to work when you’re not face to face used to be a real headache. These days there’s plenty of choice in the online meeting space market, from solutions such as Zoom or Google Hangouts to more bespoke software depending on your needs for shared workspaces and documents.

We’ve written up a guide to the best video conferencing apps depending on your needs. It compares the big four in the video conference space – Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, and Google Meets. Read it here.

Get the right software to do your job

This could be a mix of online packages, like Google Docs or Dropbox, but it’s also wise to have some offline capability for if your broadband is shaky. On the schools front, if you’ve got kids who aren’t attending school but have options for online study – especially for those in year 11 or year 12 – then they’ll typically have access to software packages such as Google Docs and Office 365 that can be installed on their laptops or tablets to keep them as productive as possible.

Check your broadband

The typical peak hours of broadband usage in Australia are in the evenings, when folks return from work and school and go online to do everything from online gaming to video streaming. That could well change as thousands of workers try to send documents and conduct video meetings during the day.

If you’re on a cheaper NBN plan at a lower speed tier that’s done you just fine because all you do is a little light Netflix at night, you may want to consider bumping yourself up a speed tier to ensure that everyone in your house can actually work, study or relax if you’re forced into a two week or longer isolation period.

Declutter your computer desktop

Most blogs will tell you to keep a clean workspace – but here at Geeks2U we think you should declutter your digital space. If you turn on your computer every morning and there are dozens of icons saved to your desktop? If so, it’s time to get organised. Make some folders, and file documents, images, and worksheets in the appropriate space.

Better yet, chuck everything on the cloud. You can easily set up a Google Drive or Microsoft SharePoint so that you can easily access and share your files at any time. It’s not too complicated to set up, but if you need assistance, the Geeks are always there for you.

It’s OK to take breaks

Most bosses won’t like me saying this, but it’s true. In the average office, you stop to chat to colleagues, or hit the bathroom or go out to buy a “quick” coffee. That break might be 10 minutes, but at home breaking out that time can feel like you’re “slacking off”. It’s not true, though – you need regular breaks from work to actually remain productive. Here, timing apps that follow ideas like the Pomodoro technique can make it easier to log your time and allow your brain periods where it can cool down.

Set out a space

This isn’t a technology tip, but it can make a huge difference. The mobile nature of devices like laptops make it possible to work from your sofa, but that’s generally a bad idea unless it can’t be avoided. If it’s feasible, set yourself an actual “home office” space to work from, because that way you can block yourself off when you’re in that space to work-related tasks. Obviously a spare room is ideal, but even a defined corner of a kitchen table can make a huge difference in letting you get your head into that “work” space – and out of it when it’s time to clock off.

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Alex Kidman
Tech Journalist