Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 Tips for Setting Up a Smart Home Office

Many of us are continuing to adjust to working from home - or just learning how to. Setting up a home office doesn’t need to be overly difficult or expensive. There are also a variety of ways you can harness technology to help you work more effectively from home.

Photo by Prathan Chorruangsak |

1. Get enough bandwidth – Working from home will put a greater strain on your internet bandwidth – especially if there are other bandwidth-hungry users in the home. If you don’t have enough bandwidth, web pages can take longer to load and video calls can freeze or drop off. Consider upgrading to a Dual-Band Router that uses a faster 5GHz frequency for your work devices, with the rest of your home devices running on a 2.4GHz frequency. Or, if your office area is far away from your router, consider a Mesh Wi-Fi Network to extend your Wi-Fi signal.

2. Be seen – The telephone is passée – you need to be seen as well as heard. Sign up to a video conferencing service and make sure you know how it works before you attend your first video confer­ence. Top-rated apps include Zoom, Webex Meetings, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.

3. See more – Regardless of the computing device you use, get yourself a large high-definition monitor. Your eyes will thank you at the end of the day and you’ll be more productive. A large screen enables you to view more content with less scrolling, peruse multiple documents with greater ease and participate in audiovisual calls with panache.

4. Hear and be heard – Having a good-quality noise-cancelling headset and microphone enables you to stay focused on your work (and politely zone out other people in your home). Get a set that allows you to make and receive hands-free phone and video calls.

5. Off your butt – Sitting for long periods of time is a strain on your health, especially if you have back issues. At the very least you want a comfortable, ergonomic chair with good lumbar support. You could also consider a motorized standing desk which makes it a breeze to switch between sitting in that comfy chair for short periods of time and assuming a standing position for even longer periods of time.

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6. Light up – The best light is natural light and you should try to get as much as you can. If you can’t position your standing desk next to a window, opt for dimmable daylight LED lighting. According to lighting experts, LED bulbs are closer to natural sunlight, produce better visual comfort and generally help us put on a happy face.

7. Store it in the cloud – Cloud storage for your data makes it very convenient to share data with people anywhere and have access to data when you’re not in your home office. It’s much safer than you might think and it’s fairly inexpensive. Some services, like Google Drive and iCloud, offer free storage up to about 15GB.

8. Stay safe – If you’ll be having a lot of deliveries or visitors to your home office, invest in an outdoor Wi-Fi security camera so you can keep an eye on what’s outside for better protection of what’s inside. You can also control entry into your home (even when you’re not there) with a smart doorbell. They’re equipped with an integrated camera so you can see and record who’s at the door and two-way audio so you can talk to whomever is there. Optionally, you can open the door to give them access.

9. Don’t be a patsy – What happens if someone trips over Fido in your home office? Or inadvertently knocks over your pre­cious 17th-century porcelain urinal collection? Check to see whether your homeowners’ insurance covers costs related to a home business. And if not, get covered.

10. Take 5 – Use a timer on your smartphone or computer to remind you to take breaks throughout the workday. If you have a digital assistant (e.g., Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant), set it to turn the lights off, switch off your monitor, play some dance music – anything to get your head out of your work.

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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