Work from home has consistently been gaining popularity in Canada and work over for the last decade or so. As much as 47% of employers in Canada's in service sectors have some sort of work from home arrangement. The trend suddenly gained dramatic momentum recently due to public health concerns in light of Covid19 as for the safety of their employees and community stakeholders many more employers asked their staff to work from home where possible to effectively do their jobs remotely.
As a blogger I've been working from home or remotely for more than five years. So if it's your first time working from home you’ll face some unique challenges due to your lifestyle as well as the type of work you do. However, the core issues for most of us looking to work from home are common that can be overcome with a bit of planning.
Do you know that an average American spends about 6 hours of workday sitting on their work desk? Therefore it is imperative that you invest in suitable home office essential tools and gears to meet your personal and working style.
A. Work Desk or standing desk:
Figure out what your working style is before you start your search for your perfect work desk. This is to ensure that whatever work desk you end up settling for, will suit with your day to day work patterns. Sitting as they say is the new smoking and has been attributed to several health disorders due to longer sedentary positions. On the other hand, standing desk is an ergonomically designed table that lets users read, write, or work on their computers while standing or sitting on specially made stools. Standing desks come in different styles. Some standing desks are built with adjustable heights, so you can sit whenever they please. I am currently using mount it standing desk that is light weight, perfectly sized and fold-able that fits well for my compact space. For health conscious professionals this can be a great option.
B. A Laptop / Tablet
Perfect for home office use. If you are in market looking for something that does job of Laptop and also provides convenience of a tablet this is what you’d need. It is everything I expect in a PC with the bonus of portability ease. The Surface Pro X has been lauded for its ability to handle files like a laptop, while being light and portable like a tablet. It even uses a stylus. Surface is a competent laptop and my third purchase and I've never thought of buying anything else after using Surface Pro X.
C. Wireless Printer
When you are in office most of you may be used to the office printer, however when you work from home if your work requires paperwork, you may want to have a home office printer possibly a wireless printer so fewer cables you have to hide and avoid tripping over, the better. This Brother wireless color printer is not only highly rated but also is budget friendly. This means you can print from any device, including laptop, smartphones and tablets and even email the printer from a remote location, very convenient.
D. High power Wireless Router
Now that most of us including the children are staying home, expect more stress on your wireless gear. If you have school going kids, most schools in Alberta and Canada are now actively focusing on online learning, the burden on your home Wi-Fi now needs to cater to more devices. So keep your wireless from slowing to a crawl by installing a high-powered router like the top rated D-Link Ultra Wi-Fi Router that takes care of all of my family and office needs to maintain internet speed blazing fast!
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For most people working from home means less distraction be it other staff members speaking loudly or people hanging out at their desks or passing through their cubicles. However, when you are working from home you may have different types of distractions of your own. If you have a barking dog or a noisy road outside your windows, consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones.
I found Apple's AirPod Pros do the work best providing not only immersive sound, best comfort but are also sweat and water resistant. And if the kids are home and you're without childcare see if you and your spouse can take turns with care that means you have to talk to your manager about flexible working hours. Another option can be the highly rated Jabra Evolve Stereo Wireless Headset. It’s hands free wireless connection provides a range of 100 foot range from your PC or laptop and 10 hours of talk time and the standby time is up to whopping 15 days. Please also check our 5 must have home office essentials below!
Unnecessary indulgence: Working from home may also mean that unlike eating small breakfast way to the office, you may be tempted to have a bigger breakfast that may slow you down for morning meeting. Alternatively, you may normally get off at 5 pm, but your kids may come home at 4 pm, so you may need a shorter lunch so you can get all your work done earlier.
Dealing with personal calls: Some recommended simply turning off the phone during work hours, while others recommended putting the phone on vibrate and turning it face-down so you can't be distracted by notifications. These tips will help you minimize your distractions and maximize your productive times when you are working from home.
Brush up on your communication skills. Because you’ll be doing your work remotely, you’ll need to have excellent communication skills. Often you won’t have the visual and verbal cues that normally help. You will need to make sure that you are able to covey what you mean clearly and concisely.
Even if you try to communicate frequently by video or phone calls, much of your interaction with your team as a remote worker is likely to be done in writing. You’ll be thankful to yourself and your colleagues to game up your writing skills. On top of that written content is searchable that colleagues can find easily in emails, documents or shared work spaces.
Many people pride to be multi-tasking experts. However new research is exposing how multitasking can have alarming consequences. A recent study found that found that people who were frequent media multi taskers had reductions in their brains’ grey matter specifically, in areas related to cognitive control and the regulation of motivation and emotion.
Also, when you are trying to multi-task, its easy to start one task and then bounce to another without completing the first and yet at the end of the day being exhausted without accomplishing as much as planned for the day. So, stay focus on a task and accomplish a certain number of tasks every day. Some days you’ll be more productive than others, but overall, you’d be more productive than if you multi-task
Take time to work out
Take care of yourself! When you are working in your own home office, you might not be getting a chance to walk much at home as you spend most of your work time looking over your laptop. Therefore a good yoga mat is a must-have for you! Do some stretches in the morning and again in the evening after you're done working. Keep it up every day and you'll really notice a difference. Manduka PRO Yoga is impressive not only because it is 100% Zero-waste yoga mat but also offer cushion on hard or soft surface.
If you are one of those working from home due to health emergency situation due to COVID-19, you might be able to claim a portion of your household work from home expenses on your income tax next year if you are using part of your house for work purposes, according to tax experts. The application conditions for this are;
What expenses you can claim
Work from home allowable expenses from CRA perspective include utilities, property taxes and insurance. Additionally you can write off 100 of office expenses e.g. paper, pens, internet fees, printer and ink toner etc
How much you can claim
The amount you can claim for your work from home office expenses from CRA viewpoint are directly in proportion of your work from home area or home office of your total home area. For simplicity, lets say your home office area is 250 sq ft in your 1000 sq ft apartment, you can claim 25% of applicable expenses on your next years tax. For more details about work from home expenses and CRA guidelines check here
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