The beauty of remote working is that you can work from anywhere, at any time, and still have the ability to complete client work to a high standard. However, we can say from experience that there are certain things that you might want to consider when you set up your workspace, so here are our 5 ‘top tips’ for creating a functional space that you can work productively in:
1.) Clear backdrop – having seen hundreds of zoom based interviews on the news, etc. over the last few months, I think we can all agree that the backdrop for zoom calls matters. Cluttered bookshelf behind you? Yes, we all love to see your reading material but it can be a little distracting when you are trying to have an effective meeting with a client or colleague. A plain wall or tidy backdrop behind you can help to keep the focus on the discussion at hand during a Zoom conference call. If there’s no hope for a clutter free space, why not try a Zoom background? There are some useful tips for setting one up here: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/204674889-Zoom-Rooms-Customized-Background
2.) Stationery Stash – despite the fact that you have approximately 8,000 pens in the house, and possibly a similar number of notebooks, you can guarantee that when you need to take a number down or jot down some ideas, you won’t be able to find any of them. Keep a selection together in one place (possibly in your pop up storage cube? See below!), either in your office or with your work equipment so that you can find it quickly and easily.
3.) Distraction free zone – It’s not always easy to find a ‘distraction free zone’ when you are working remotely and don’t have a dedicated office. The dining room or kitchen table can present its own unique challenges, as a pile of not-yet-done washing up or the sound of the washing machine can make it challenging to concentrate. If you don’t have a dedicated office space, why not invest in some noise cancelling headphones and work with your back to anything interesting going on? Just remember, if you’re working in a co-working space or café, for example, you might want to work with your back to a wall to ensure that anything you are working on for clients is kept private.
4.) Be aware of Data Privacy and Security – not necessarily an office set-up issue, but an important consideration if you are working remotely, particularly if you are travelling or working from public spaces. A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) is an incredibly useful tool if you are working from public areas, as it allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the internet and encrypt data. You need to think carefully about accessing websites and client data from unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, about protecting existing data on your laptop and devices, and ensuring that your passwords are strong and updated regularly. If you fail to consider the importance of Data Privacy and Security, you are putting your customers personal data at increased risk of a breach and could face an investigation and possible fine as a result.
5.) The multi-purpose ‘collapsible storage cube’ (for example: https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/droena-box-blue-floral-patterned-blue-20457545/) is a VA essential, from my experience! Whether you are using it to store your stationery, transport your equipment (if you are working from a remote location temporarily) or using it to work outdoors in the gloriously sunny weather, it’s a must-have. If you haven’t used one as a screen-shield from the sun before, try placing a box on its side on a table in the garden when the weather is lovely, and putting your laptop inside so that you can still see the screen despite the glare of the sun… instant outdoor working area! You can thank me later!