As many of you know, I’m the Online Marketing Manager for Fluency Media, an Ann Arbor, Michigan based internet marketing agency. I live in Lansing, which is about 80 miles from Ann Arbor – and no, I don’t make that commute every day. Most of the time, I work from my home office.
I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to work from home. Not only do I save time and the environment by not driving 160 miles every day, but I get to see my kids off to school every morning and greet them when they come home in the afternoon. I also have the luxury of large uninterrupted blocks of time to manage PPC accounts.
I wouldn’t be so successful if it weren’t for the great tools in my home office. While these tools may seem obvious to many of you, I’ve heard from a surprising number of individuals that don’t have all of these tools – so again, I know I’m blessed.
#1 – My cell phone. Like I said, while a company-provided cell phone may seem like a given, it’s really not. I know more than one home worker who has to use their own landline for work, or their personal cell. While I’m sure they’re reimbursed for these expenses by their employer, it’s still a pain. My phone is nearly 3 years old, and it’s just a cell, not a Blackberry or smartphone. Still, it’s small and durable – I’ve fumbled it in parking lots and on tile floors more than once, and it comes out without a scratch every time.
#2 – My laptop. Again, seems like a given, but not everyone has a company laptop. My HP is my main PC, so I can take it anywhere. On the days I go to the office (about once a month), I just set it up at my desk there. If I’m at a conference or in a client’s office, I can still get work done. I’ve gone to coffee shops & wifi cafes more than once for a number of reasons – power or internet outages at home, family stuff that’s distracting, or whatever. If you work in an office and your power goes out, you’re screwed. For me, I pick up my laptop & my cell phone and drive 2 minutes to the local Biggby, grab a latte, and keep going without missing a beat.
#3 – My corner desk & laptop docking station. When I found out I’d be working from home, I needed to create a workspace. While our house is a decent size, the floorplan is pretty open; and I didn’t want to take over any of the main living spaces. We have a small dining room that we weren’t really using, so we turned it into my office. We found a great corner desk that doesn’t take up much space, and fits nicely next to a big window that overlooks our back yard.
I think people overlook the value of windows in office spaces. Our Fluency office has huge windows, so it’s not an issue there. But I’ve worked in plenty of places where most of the employees are stuck in cubicle hell with nary a window in sight. It’s depressing and dreary. What’s even better about my home setup is that I’m looking out at our own yard instead of a parking lot or industrial space. I love it.
I also have a docking station for my laptop, which enables me to connect a full-size (albeit old-school CRT) monitor, an ergonomic keyboard, a mouse, and a printer. Laptops are awesome, but they’re not very ergonomically friendly. The docking station makes it feel like I’m using a regular desktop computer, and it’s way more comfortable.
Incidentally,if you work from home, you really need to read the WebWorkerDaily blog by GigaOm. Many of the posts are geared toward freelance workers, which I’m not; but it’s an indispensable resource for even infrequent remote workers. In fact, this post was inspired by this post on WWD.
What are your favorite home office tools?