Do a search for home office gadgets, and you’ll find a plethora of items that are “essential” for your office. However, while USB mini-fridges are cool, they aren’t exactly necessary for your business to run effectively.
What you need are technology tools that help you stay connected, communicate effectively, and facilitate the inner workings of your business. Ditch the old school water cooler, and think awesome business technology.
No matter how much some companies try to create a “paperless office,” there are some things that just have to go down on paper: messages on official letterhead, packing slips, invoices, tax documents, hard copy files, and more. And sometimes, there are items that need to be scanned, saved to your hard drive, or forwarded through email. A good printer-scanner combo is essential to keeping your business running.
- Estimate your current and future printing needs. The frequency at which you print items and the quality at which you need those items to be printed – black and white versus color, low versus high dpi – will determine what kind of printer you need to purchase..
Just as you’re always going to need to print things, you’re also going to need to shred other things. Employee documents may contain Social Security numbers, while invoices, bills, and bank statements have secure account numbers. Leaving these at the curb for anyone to find invites identity theft and fraud. If you want to throw that paper out, but it contains secure or confidential information, shred it first.
No longer is it enough to have a basic phone system in your office. Whether you use a laptop that already has a webcam, or utilize a desktop computer that doesn’t, you need a high-quality webcam in your home office to facilitate video and web conferencing.
The cameras that come pre-installed in many laptops and tablets tend to be on the low-quality side, which will make your videos grainy and fluorescent. A good webcam can give you a much better picture, and give you more flexibility in camera placement.
- Look for a webcam that contains a built-in microphone for better audio quality during your video conferences.
Modem & Router
You need the internet in your office, and it’s not enough to leach off the public wireless or your neighbor’s connection – you need to be able to control the connection. Interruptions in service or poor quality connections can disrupt your business and make it difficult or impossible to hold web conferences, stream videos, or make VoIP phone calls.
Your internet service provider will provide you with an internet modem, but it’s up to you to purchase and connect the wireless router. Be sure to choose one that can handle the bandwidth you’ll be using. Since this technology can be finicky, check online for product reviews before purchasing.
Whether it’s a Bluetooth headset connected to your mobile phone, or a full call-center-style headset, you need something that will enable you to talk on the phone hands-free. When you’re working from home, much of the business you do is remotely – online or on the phone.
If you’re spending hours a day on the line with your customers, you need to be able to type or write while you’re on the phone. Avoid a perpetual crick in your neck from holding the phone with your shoulder, and get yourself a good headset.
Speakers shaped like cartoon speech bubbles and Samurai-sword letter openers may nifty, but they’re not going to help you run your business. Concentrate first on acquiring the essential gadgets you need in order to function in your home office. Once you have them in place, then you can start shopping for the perfect USB-powered stapler.
Bio: Megan Webb-Morgan writes for a variety business blogs worldwide. At a blogger for ResourceNation.com, she writes about business technology and home office gadgets. Follow Resource Nation on Twitter.