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Setting Up Your Work-from-home Office: What You’ll Need

Working from home is a new environment for thousands of employees who adapted to working remotely. There are multiple reasons for this transition, but mostly tied to the need to maintain safety and compliance with regulatory mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, working outside a traditional office environment is a growing trend across many industries. New home workers can benefit from the experience of those who have transitioned to the new normal, to learn the best practices for setting up your work-from-home office.

Equipment for Your Home Office

Depending on the expected duration of your work-from-home experience, your workspace will require specific office hardware to make the environment healthy, productive, and secure.

For instance, working remotely for a few weeks may be feasible on the kitchen table or from a bedroom. Investing in proper work furniture and a dedicated workspace will better serve longer remote assignments.

Workstation Setup

Working productively from home means setting up a desk or workstation that supports your computer or laptop at a comfortable height for sitting and typing. Ergonomics come into play to avoid fatigue or pain from improper positioning.

Ideally, invest in a desk or add-on accessory that allows you to stand periodically as you work. Studies have shown that long periods of sitting are unhealthy whether working in the office or at home.

Getting the Right Chair

One of the most important elements of a home office is your chair. It toned not be an extraordinarily expensive office chair, but it should meet some basic requirements:

  • Allow for proper positioning of your feet on the floor comfortably
  • Adjust the height for proper typing and mouse usage without undue pressure on the arms or wrists
  • Support your back properly to avoid back strain

Displays

Working with a laptop or tablet display is fine for short-term use, but when setting up your work-from-home office, consider providing a full-sized quality monitor. This will help avoid eyestrain, and will even boost productivity. This will also be beneficial when using video conferencing.

If space allows, many home workers prefer the use of multiple monitors, to reduce switching windows when working with multiple applications or reviewing documents while conducting online team meetings.

Keyboards and Peripherals

For many home workers, laptops are the most frequent devices used for day-to-day work. This can also cause stress on wrists and hands. If so, select from the many keyboards and mouse tools that feel best for your use.

There are specially designed ergonomic keyboards that are worth considering and trying out, but regardless of the keyboard style selected, a full-sized keyboard can be more efficient than small laptop keyboards for many remote workers.

Consider mouse and stylus peripherals for their ergonomic and functional qualities that may contribute to comfort and productivity.

Printers

While many offices strive to reduce hard-copy documents, eventually someone will print something, whether it’s a Word document, photograph, contract, or to-do list.

Small, wireless multifunction printers are ideal for home offices. Units from leading manufacturers can provide quality results for scanning, printing, copying, and faxing. Several suppliers provide high-quality home desktop printers including Sharp, Lexmark and Epson.

A Secure Working Environment

Working from home, employees don’t have the same advantages of corporate anti-spam filters and sophisticated firewalls.

To provide a secure work environment, remote teams should use virtual private network (VPN) software and services for business purposes. VPN ensures encrypted communications that unauthorized individuals cannot intercept, whether at home or on public WiFi networks.

Use malware detection and anti-spam software to guard against cyberattacks.

Don’t allow other family members to utilize business computers for other use, whether it’s for games, video streaming, or homework. Connecting a flash drive or loading non-business files introduces the possibility that malware could compromise the computer.

Communicating from Your Home Office Effectively

It can be challenging to keep in touch with management, coworkers, and customers from your home office, but technology can simplify the process.

Video conferencing of all types is enabling remote teams to collaborate and stay in touch effectively. Now, more than ever, people need to know that their conversations are private and secure. Microsoft Teams and Sharp’s Windows Collaboration Display, provides secure communications and collaboration across any teams regardless of location.

Phone conferencing via internet through smartphones and computers will free up home phone lines for other family members.

Managing Work and Family Life

When working from home, it’s important to keep a balance between work and home life. Family members need to understand that working from home is still working. A dedicated working area work discipline easier for others in the home.

Health officials point to several factors that allow home workers to maintain good health, reduce stress, and maximize productivity:

  • Set and keep a regular schedule
  • Take regular breaks to refresh, have lunch, and move around
  • Communicate with coworkers to avoid feelings of isolation or loneliness

Benefitting from Managed IT Services

Managed IT services and print services from Smile Business Products, Inc. (Smile BPI) have been assisting our customers with effective office technology solutions since 1977. We can do the same for your business in setting up a productive environment for remote work teams with quality office hardware, document management, and IT support.

Contact the office experts at Smile BPI for the best in office technology service and support.

Effective Printer Fleet Management in Windows 10

Managing the printers can seem like a lot of work, but Windows 10 helps make it easy. Companies looking for a lightweight, convenient solution to keeping their printers up and running can take advantage of the numerous built-in printer fleet management tools in Windows 10.

The current Microsoft operating system is used on 51 percent of the world’s computers, and for good reason. Microsoft has been committed to creating agile, intuitive software that drives productivity and achievement. Unlike previous editions of the operating system, Windows 10 comes loaded with many useful features for an office environment not found in previous Windows versions. Among those are advanced printer fleet controls to truly customize the office’s workflow and digital environment.

Need a quick, easy printer fleet management solution? Try out the native Windows 10 tools. Here are six tips and tricks to get the most out of a print environment while still enjoying cost savings.

6 Tricks for Printer Fleet Management in Windows 10

The average multifunction printer is a sophisticated, versatile device designed to support the office with all of its document processes. Whether printing, photocopying, scanning, or faxing, office workers can accomplish whatever they need from the convenience of a single workstation.

However, to truly unlock the efficiency-driving power of these devices, a business must first configure them. Windows 10 makes that easy to do.

1. Quickly Add or Remove Printers

When it comes to adding or removing printers from the network, Windows 10 does all the heavy lifting with its Wizard. Simply go into the Settings tab (the gear in the Start Menu) and type “Printers” into the search box. Select Printers & scanners to quickly add a device. To remove one, select the device from the list and select Remove device. In both cases, Windows will do the rest.

2. Customize Printing Preferences

Printing preferences refer to the way that all jobs are printed from a particular computer regardless of the printer. These need to be set on every device in the office and are useful when multiple computers or users print different jobs. From Printers & scanners, find the device on the list. Then click Manage. From here, there will display an option to adjust the Printing preferences. (Choose the Advanced tab for more specific choices such as document options).

3. Adjust Printer Settings

In contrast to printing preferences, printer settings affect all computers printing to a specific printer. To access the printer settings, navigate again to the Manage pane. Select Printer properties or Device settings. This window enables users to change things like the printer’s name, whether or not duplex printing is automatic, things like color management, and security settings for the device.

4. Manage the Print Queue

The list of jobs that have been scheduled to print constitutes the print queue. It’s where the computer sends jobs when the printer is busy to prevent the printer from becoming overwhelmed by commands (thereby causing it to freeze). Accessing the print queue can be helpful in many cases. If a job has been sent to the wrong device, or the wrong job sent to print, deleting it from the print queue prevents it from printing.

Each printer has its own print queue. From Printers & scanners, select the device to which the print job was sent. Click Open queue to see a list of documents sent to print, including who printed it, how many pages, and what the file size is. To pause, delete, or resume the print queue, use the options under the Document tab.

5. Set Printing Availability Times

A print fleet management feature new to Windows 10 involves the ability to enable or block access to printers from computers during certain times. This is useful for preventing unauthorized printing in the office. To set the printer’s availability, navigate to Printers & scanners. Then, choose Printer properties. Availability times are found under the Advanced tab.

If the Advanced tab is grayed out, return to the General tab. Select Change Properties, then navigate to the Advanced tab and change the availability settings. Click Apply, not OK when done.

6. Assign User Printing Permissions

Windows allows administrators to set user-specific document permissions, including whether or not a specific account can print. This is a valuable feature for controlling access to printers and documents alike. It’s possible to set permissions for individual printers under the Security tab of Printer properties.

However, to manage user permissions for all printers, log into the computer as the administrator. Click the Start Button then type “run” into search. Select the Run app and type “spool.” In the folder that appears, right-click on PRINTERS. Under the Security tab, choose Advanced. Set individual user permissions here.

Printer Fleet Management with a Smile

Printer fleet management doesn’t need to be complicated – with the native tools of Windows 10; it’s not. Windows 10 offers offices everything they need to manage their printer fleets without blowing the IT budget.

Whether setting printer permissions or configuring settings, offices can enjoy the full potential of their multifunction devices with a lightweight, easy-to-use management solution. That’s just one of the many benefits that this operating system offers to keep a business running.

Are you not running Windows 10 yet? All previous Microsoft operating systems are now obsolete. Contact a specialist at Smile to update to Windows 10 today.