A lot of companies have closed doors since the spread of COVID-19 virus as many countries around the world decided to quarantine their cities. Months has passed and even with a vaccine being on its way, life does not seem to go back to normal at least within the next year or so. Consequently, the only way for companies and offices to resume working is to adapt to teleworking.
When the virus was spread for the first time, companies had to shut their doors as soon as possible without any preparation for teleworking. A lot of them were not structured properly for working remotely, and since the virus took everyone by surprise, no one had the time to prepare for this situation either. No one even expected the dangerous situation to remain this long! But now, considering the fact that things are not going to be like before for at least a considerable amount of time, it is better to prepare and avoid further loss of money and time. But how? What are the requirements?
In another article, we covered the required software, apps and other important issues for teleworking, and now we like to take a look at the necessary devices and pieces of hardware that are needed to work remotely from home. Most companies’ employees do not have any proper equipment to make their home as efficient as an actual office in order to work on their projects.
Unfortunately, most of these devices are also really expensive to acquire for a lot of employees; therefore, it is recommended that companies provide the necessities as much as they can. After all, they want their developments and projects progress as fast as it could be done in normal situation. Billions have been invested in all sort of different things while companies’ expectations for annual revenue is supposed to be met. So it’s only reasonable for them to invest more money on required teleworking equipment right now to gain their investments back sooner.
But what types of equipment and devices are needed for teleworking?
Computers and Hardware
There are a vast variety of companies working in completely different industries with each of their work differ from one another. However, employees in most companies cannot work without a proper computer with sufficient power and quality. For instance, people are programmers, software engineers, or video game developers obviously need high-quality PC with advanced hardware to work on their projects. In these cases, a personal laptop that an employee might have will not suffice. So companies with these situations should try to provide their employees with proper computers to let them resume working on their projects in their homes.
As we stated in the last article, employees need to be in touch with each other and communicate with one another. These online communication are usually done via online calls, throwing meetings and conferences, video chats, and so on. In order to take part in these types of engagements, employees need suitable devices and equipment such as a proper webcam or a headset with high quality of audio.
There are a wide range of headsets out there with each one having their own specific features. However, there are some specific factors to consider when it comes to choosing a proper headset for work. The first important factor is the quality of audio. Whether it is the audio that the user receives or the audio that he/she sends via the microphone, it should be in perfect quality. Obviously, no one likes to be misheard or have trouble listening to others in an important business conference!
Also, since we are talking about teleworking and everyone is working from home, we should take house noises into account. Some employees have children and their house is usually noisy; so it is really important to choose a headset with a proper noise-cancelling feature. Everybody’s lives are busy these days and their house can be really noisy, but high-quality noise cancelling headsets can filter out distractions so you can keep your focus on work.
The next important note to pay attention to is the compatibility of the headset. There are a lot of different devices that each person work with: Different Brands of Smartphones, Windows PC, Mac, Tablets, etc. So one should really be careful on choosing a headset that would easily connect to the devices and applications he/she uses. The last thing you want is paying for an extra headset in this economy just because the first one is not compatible with your devices!
Another important factor: Comfort. Everyone has experienced chaotic work weeks with meetings and conferences being scheduled back to back. You could end up with headaches or feeling pain around your ears if your headset is not comfortable enough. Apart from that, having audio customization as an option in your headset is a plus. We use our headsets for different range of activities including calls, watching videos, and listening to music while working. So it would be helpful to have the ability of customize your headset settings to your own preference.
There are also other options and features in headsets like wireless connection by using Bluetooth and USB connectivity, LED Screens for managing your calls, and so on. While these features are not really necessary, you can still consider them if you have the luxury.
Resolution, audio and frame rate are the most important factors in choosing a good webcam for work. In 2020, having a webcam with HD quality of video would suffice as their 720p resolution delivers a clear image with high enough quality. It is definitely much better than VGA cameras that are built into some old laptops, that’s for sure! Still, you can always go for higher resolutions such as 1080p or 4K. However, since you are considering business and teleworking in which there will be a lot of video calls and online conferences, limited internet bandwidth can be an issue for 1080p or 4K image qualities. A smoother and lower-resolution video tends to be much more desirable for video conferencing than stuttering high resolution footage.
There is also frame rate to consider. A decent webcam should have a frame rate of at least 30 frames per second to have a smooth image quality. Anything below 30fps can result into having some shakes or vibrates in your video. There is also 60fps which is much smoother and delivers the best outcome possible in video for webcams but 30 works just fine for work and business.
Even though most people would already have a headset, audio is still a key factor in choosing a suitable webcam. It can be even more important than video when it comes to conferencing. Most webcams have a built-in microphone to help improve sound recording, and some of them even offer stereo. The strength of the microphone and the quality of its background noise filtering are the two features that need to be paid attention to in choosing a webcam; both of which are especially important in video meetings and conferences.
Again, there are some extra luxurious features in different webcams that make them more unique, but also more costly. There are some Logitech webcams, for instance, that remove background pictures without the need of any green screen. These features are nice and handy in specific situation, yet are not needed in normal business and work.
Docking stations which used to be called port replicators in the past, are neat little devices that let you enjoy the experience of a desktop computer without needing a second device. You can simply plug in your keyboard, mouse, monitor, or even headphones to a docking station. This way, you can still use your laptop on an external monitor with your preferred set of keyboard and mouse.
With a docking station, you can work using the keyboard and the mouse you are the most comfortable with, look at the monitor with the best image quality that you want, enjoy the extra USB ports that the docking station add to your Laptop, all while you are still using your own laptop with all of its data.
Having a docking station can also be helpful in normal situations when you work in an office if you are one of those who take their laptop to work every day. This way, you don’t have to plug in the keyboard and mouse in your office to your laptop every time. Instead, you just use the docking station to connect your laptop to all those devises to use your office computer but with all of the data in your laptop!
Interactive Flat Panel Displays
Interactive Flat-Panel Displays (IFPD) are large-format touchscreen displays ideal for meeting rooms, collaborative spaces, white boarding, video conferencing, screen sharing, and more. Designed as replacements for outdated projector technology, these Interactive Flat-Panel Displays simply are collaboration solutions with high quality displays, enhanced connectivity, and built-in software solutions. In other words, these displays are just a type of interactive whiteboards with new features and technologies.
Users can connect to interactive flat panel displays from their own devices, or they can use multi-touch capabilities on the display itself. They are very easy to navigate and work with and their pre-installed software such as ViewBoards, vCast, or Chrome are really helpful. Thanks to all these, IFPDs are a good option for throwing remote conferences.
Home Office Equipment
Last but not least, employees need a set of office equipment to feel comfortable while working. They should have the right setup in order to avoid the risk of developing back and neck pain or just simply feeling exhausted and lose their productivity after some hours. A proper chair designed to keep back and neck comfortably in a standard shape is really necessary for teleworking; having a suitable desk with enough file cabinets is also important. Choosing a monitor with a qualified screen that would not hurt one’s eyes is really essential too. There are also some other office items such as paper shredders, electrical multi-outlets and surge protectors which are less essential, but still useful. Apart from these, employees might require an additional monitor, a printer, or a scanner for some specific roles. All of these should be provided in order to achieve the most productive and desirable teleworking.
Long story short, there is a considerable amount of equipment required for teleworking, and each one of them are costly in their own way, much more expensive than the necessary software and apps we covered in our previous article. Yet again, companies should consider these expenses as investment that would pay off in long run and help them meet their revenue expectations. With the current situation and the misty future, every dollar and penny spent will make remote work more productive, enjoyable and sustainable.