Regular readers of this blog will be completely unsurprised astounded to hear that I don't function well in full-time, office-based employment. According to my last appraisal, I have "issues with authority figures", or something. Pfft.
Anyway I've worked freelance, from home, very happily, for around 10 years now, and I've learned a thing or two about how to make a home-based office work for you.
Today, I thought I'd share some of my favourite products for home workers. Obviously, this being my blog, most of them are not strictly work-related. But, hey, they make the day go a little smoother…
Coffee forms a big part of my average day, and so I love this One Cup hot water dispenser that I was sent by Morphy Richards – it gets used every day in my house. Just pour a mug of cold water into the machine, pop your cup under the spout and 30 seconds later you have a mug of boiling water. This speed is very handy, considering the heating in my kitchen hasn't worked for three years. As an aside, it's also fab for mixing up small amounts of stock. You know, if you like cooking, and stuff.
I've worked as a technology journalist for many years and am pretty smug about the fact I back-up my hard drive regularly. Or at least, I was smug until the day I accidentally dropped my hard drive. Fortunately, I stuck it back together with parcel tape and it still works (although it makes a noise it never used to) but I was glad when a kindly PR person sent me the Hitachi Touro back-up drive.
This back-up is only a little bit bigger than an iPod but you plug it into your computer and it simultaneously backs up your hard drive to the Touro AND to Hitachi's cloud-based back-up service. Perfect for when you drop your hard drive – or if you need access to any of your files from another computer, for whatever reason.
3. WARM FEET
A couple of weeks ago, Hi-Tec sent me a winter survival kit. Now, I differ slightly from them on what consistutes "survival" – there was no hot chocolate in the box, for starters. But there WAS a pair of fantastic Hi-Tec St Moritz snow boots, with a fleece, insulated lining and some furry trim. You might ask why this is an office-based solution but when you are the only person at home, it gets hard to justify turning on the heating JUST for you. Which is why I've been wearing these boots at home, while working, for the past couple of weeks. They are seriously toasty, and I recommend them whole-heartedly.
4. MAN JUMPER
The only possible accompiment to the snowboot is the Man Jumper. This needn't be bought because the best Man Jumpers are those that are stolen from a male acquaintance. They will usually be emblazoned with a sporting logo that means NOTHING to you, but it will cover the tops of your legs, and the sleeves are extra long – which allows you to type at your desk with only the very tips of your fingers being exposed to the elements. Sadly, no PR has sent me a Man Jumper recently, so I stole one. From a man. He wasn't that happy, but we did a coin toss, and I won.
Working from home can become lonesome, and some people might be reduced to reading their words aloud, as they type, in a variety of comedic regional accents. Some people. Not me. Obviously.
Anyway, to prevent his happening, I suggest investing in a Squeezebox. I've reviewed this item before, but basically all you need to know is: all your music, everything in Spotify, everything in iTunes, all available, at the touch of a button, and wirelessly streamed through speakers. You need this technology in your life. If you don't have Spotify – seriously – what are you waiting for? The moment you finish reading, I absolutely insist you go and sign up.
6. CALL SCREENING
With coffee, cosy clothes and music, your work from home experience is almost complete, but there's one more element you need to consider – a phone that allows you to screen your calls. It might sound harsh but when you work from home, most of your friends and family will assume you don't REALLY work, and are available to chat at any time of day. With call screening you can listen to someone leaving a message and if it seems like a call you should take, you can answer the phone with a breathless, "Ooh, sorry, just had to rush to get the phone!"* and nobody's any the wiser.
* Apologies to everyone reading who I've actually done this to. But the added bonus of using this kind of technology is actually being out of the house and returning to a voicemail from your Mum that says, "Sally, stop screening me… Sally? …. Sally, I can't believe you're not picking up to your OWN Mother… Sally? I know you're there..are you? ..Sally?"
Honestly, it's amazing how long she will persevere before accepting I'm not just ignoring her, and am actually out of the house.