The last article looked at organizing the mounds of paper in your office. Almost there, but first let’s take a quick look at the basic tools and equipment you might need in a modern office. Simple really is better.
Here’s a few questions you can ask that will take money, productivity and the environment into consideration.
- do I really need this item?
- can I hold off for 30 days to make an informed decision?
- what are the alternatives – used or multi-function device?
- could I rent to see if I really need it?
- can my computer do this?
- is this the most energy efficient and environmentally conscious device?
- can I get a tax break, capital expenditure break or environmental tax credit?
- will this device or software save time?
- will it save me money?
- does this really give me an advantage?
If you have an existing land line in your home office then it may be all you need, but perhaps it is a distraction and you want to remove it or turn it off while you are working. Alternatives to the land line are cell phone and personal organizing devices like the iPhone that do so much more than provide voice. They allow you to organize, surf the web, listen to music, take pictures…etc.
If a land line is proving to be costly you could also look at computer phone options, the most popular one being Skype. You can call from computer to computer and speak or video conference (even 3 way) all for free. They also have services that let you call from your computer to over 50 countries for less than $10 a month. That’s right – no gimmicks. So, you guessed it, I do all my local and long distance calls from my computer for less than $10 a month and use my cellphone for texting, messages and calls when I am out of the office. They also have Skyped In services which gives you a land line for the same type of pricing. The quality of calls is near perfect – all you need is a headset ($10-100) and a webcam if you want.
Since most of you will be working on a computer the question remains – what type of equipment do I need? I can’t give you that answer but suggest that for as little as $200 you can set yourself with a netbook or used desktop. A laptop (mac or pc depending on your preference) is powerful enough to give you all you need for a reasonable price and saves you a ton of space and equipment. It’s also very versatile and allows you to work outside when you are feeling creative or take your work with you to a business meeting or even when you go away. For those of you that need more a desktop may be the answer with a large flat screen, saving you space and helping with productivity.
A printer is one of those devices that you could apply the 10 questions to. Alternatives include all the tablets and eBook readers. Great time and money savers. Nowdays, most of us don’t need a fax machine but if you need to send documents that require a signature then it may be a useful device. For the few times a year I use a fax, I simply go to the copy center and get it sent for me or fax directly from your computer imaging software.
Internet connectivity is also something to consider. You want a reliable service provider and maybe even one that offers mobile service so you can connect anywhere. Take the time to check out your options paying close attention to the bandwidth (download and upload amounts & speed), mobile devices and how reliable the service is. You can usually check with consumer and business reviews to find out the best option.
Don’t forget your lighting. Good overhead lighting and a bright window should be complemented with a desk lamp to provide you with extra light and keep you from straining your eyes. You may also want a camera to take pictures for your website or to share information in a visual format with clients and while networking online. Speakers could be a distraction. Other devices that connect your computer and equipment can be considered as you go. As you may gather, you can have a virtually empty desk with just your laptop leaving you with ample working space.
Since you will probably be spending a large portion of your day in your home office make sure it is comfortable and organized. This will help create a productive and enjoyable environment that you need to get and maintain your business. I hope you enjoyed the series, please share your thoughts and ideas on anything that may be missing or you would like elaborated and I will be sure to respond.