With working from home becoming the new normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s never been more important to ensure you and your business has the essential IT equipment and software.
For employees to continue working productively and proactively during lockdown, businesses must be prepared to offer the same level of support they would in the office. E2E Technologies is an IT support company , and they have put together a handy guide to some of the most essential equipment you’ll need when working from home.
First up, you will need a computer, which can either be a laptop or desktop, depending on your requirements. There are advantages and disadvantages with both, but if you are looking for something portable, a laptop is probably the best choice. However, if price is an issue, desktop computers are usually cheaper and easier to update.
If you opt for a laptop, you need to decide which type would work best for you. Laptops come in many shapes and sizes, from the traditional hinged ones, to convertibles that have detachable keyboards. For the best value, traditional laptops are preferable and should feature a good quality trackpad, keyboard, be 9th or 10th generation Intel i5 or i7 processor, have a good-sized hard drive and a minimum of 4GB RAM.
However, if you decide to use a desktop computer, you’ll need to choose from an all-in-one device that has the computer built into the monitor, like an Apple iMac, or a tower with external monitors. Similar to a laptop, your desktop should be a 9th or 10th generation Intel i5 or i7, AMD’s Ryzen 5 2500 or at the very least Intel’s i3, with a good hard drive and a minimum RAM of 4GB.
When working from a desktop, you’ll need at least one monitor to work from, although it can sometimes be beneficial to have two, depending on the type of work you do. An extra monitor is also helpful when working from a laptop, as it gives you a much larger display. Good monitors will usually be around 21-24” in size with 1080p or similar resolution, and have an adjustable stand.
Laptop stand (if necessary)
If you are working from a laptop, it’s good practice to use a laptop stand to improve the ergonomics of your workstation. Your screen should ideally be at eye level when you are working. This will reduce the risk of back and neck pain from looking down or straining. You will find a range of different laptop stands, from foldaway designs, to lightweight wooden ones.
It may be obvious, but you will need a good-sized desk or table to set up your computer and equipment on. Make sure it is sturdy and provides enough space for everything you need, including accessories and notepads etc.
An ergonomic chair
To ensure you stay productive whilst working from home, it’s important to have a comfortable, ergonomic chair. It should have a high back, arm rests and be adjustable. Chairs with wheels can also be great if you need to move around easily in your home office space.
External mouse and keyboard
When working from a desktop, you will obviously need an external mouse and keyboard, but they can also be great additional extensions when using a laptop. When it comes to keyboards, go for a wireless or USB model and buy some rechargeable batteries for it. However, you will find that one set of batteries lasts a long time. An external mouse is also a great addition, but try to choose a mouse that is ergonomic rather than stylish, the modern flat ones have been known to cause wrist ache.
Fast internet connection
Alongside the actual computer equipment, ensuring you and your employees all have access to a fast internet connection is one of the main essentials when working from home. The broadband package you used to have at home may have been sufficient for out of hours, but with most people now working from home, this increase in connections in your household or neighbourhood could result in slower speeds. To get a faster internet speed you will need to look at upgrading your broadband package. However, you could also look into buying a more advanced router, if your current one has become outdated.
Wi-Fi range extender
If your home office is situated at the other side of the house to your router, you may have a weaker Wi-Fi signal. If it’s not possible to relocate your office or router, you may need to look at purchasing a Wi-Fi range extender to boost your signal strength. You can usually find good quality ones for around £30.
Cloud storage service
When it comes to software, your employees will benefit from being able to access company files remotely. To ensure everyone has access to documents, you should invest in a cloud storage system like Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox. If your company already uses Office 365 or G-suite, you will already have access to cloud storage systems.
By moving on-site data to the cloud, you will ensure your employees have access to everything they need, and your files will be kept secure. However, don’t forget to always back up your data, even if you are storing everything on the cloud.
Video calling software
One of the most essential IT software that you and your business need whilst working from home is a high-quality video calling platform. Whether it’s Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Google Hangouts, maintaining strong communication channels is vital to keep the business running smoothly. If your company already uses Office 365, all employees should already have access to Teams.
When working from home, it can be difficult for companies to maintain the same level of collaboration and project management. However, there are a range of online tools and software that business should utilise to improve this. Apps like Asana, Microsoft Teams, Monday.com and Trello allow managers to keep tabs on projects and ensure work is completed on time.
As well as a high-quality video chat platform, your business may also investigate using a live chat service to help your employees keep in contact. When working from home, it’s easy for employees to find themselves out of the loop with business updates and news. An online chat service like Slack, Teams, Skype and Chanty can solve this problem as colleagues can instantly give updates and socialise. ON many of the platforms, you can also assign channels for different chat topics and projects.
Working from home can increase the risk of cyberattacks for many businesses. For cybersecurity reasons, it’s important that you ensure all of your company devices have updated anti-virus software to protect against malware, phishing and malicious links. Alongside this, you should also be using a virtual private network, or VPN, especially if workers are using remote access software to access on-site systems. You can easily set up a VPN for your company by ensuring your employees use a business-grade VPN service.
E2E Technologies are an IT support company based in Merseyside.