Setting up home office for first time

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yolli71
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 9:53 am

Setting up home office for first time

Post by yolli71 »

I'm in the process of setting up a home office as I plan to start teleworking a little bit this year. I'm a Fed and have a Dell laptop for work. My agency doesn't cover my home office setup, so I was hoping to get some advice since I'm not a computer expert.

Can someone tell me:

1. If I want dual monitors, should I go that route or should I go with an ultrawide monitor such as the Dell U3417W? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IOO4TIM?ta ... AAAAXFy04w

2. Do I need to purchase a docking station or can I connect the laptop via USB or some other type of wired connection to the monitor?

3. Any other advice as far as keyboard and mouse? Should I go wired or wireless route?

Any general advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for the best bang for my buck.
123
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by 123 »

Maybe you should start by cloning the equipment you use at work to your home situation. If an arrangement works at work it could very well work at home as well. By adopting the approach taken by your employer you may find the most cost-effective situation for home situation, employers are not known for adding features that not cost-effective.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by Epsilon Delta »

Have you ever tried to do your job using just the laptop? I find dual monitors and docking stations to be mostly useless. Depends what you are doing of course, but in many organizations they are status symbols rather than work enablers.

Probably far more important is who else will be at home when you're working, and what type of door do you have on your office.
WildBill
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Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 10:47 pm
Location: San Antonio, Texas

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by WildBill »

Howdy

One outstanding productivity-enhancing feature of home offices is the couch for naps, equipment regrettably lacking in most federal office complexes.

Happy snoozing

W B
"Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way." Virgil, The Aeneid
Jeep4Life
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Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by Jeep4Life »

OP, retired Fed here. I had a similar case, so I asked my IT guys for their advice for monitor, mouse, and keyboard. Here's my two cents:

USB for keyboard and mouse usually cheaper and easier than wireless.

Find out if your laptop has DVI, HDMI, or Display Port outputs, then buy the biggest monitor for a comfortable price that supports that interface. At work I had the two-display set up, worked for me to have email up on one and then active work in the main one in front of me, but at home I just used one big monitor, kept email up in a small window, and the big screen let me compare/edit two documents, drawings, spreadsheets, etc.

Don't know if that is enough to get you started, good luck!
123
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:55 pm

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by 123 »

Reliable high-speed internet and wi-fi connections that provide service to you without regard to what others in the household may be doing. Have a household connection that has enough bandwidth to service all users with no impact on you. If there are 3 or 5 users in the home steaming HD video you may need a higher level (cost) internet connection.

You won't be working at home any more after you say "My internet connection was slow" the first time.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.
Trism
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Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:34 pm

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by Trism »

I've worked from home for almost 10 years. A 14" work-issued laptop with a wired mouse does the trick for me, and I can throw it in the drawer on the weekend.

I had 5 Mbps service from my ISP and used it for all home and work tasks, including connecting to the company network over WiFi+VPN and VOIP phone service (Ooma). I live on conference calls.

Cox recently discontinued the 5 Mbps service, however, so now I have 10... currently the slowest they offer. Zero issues.

What do you have at the office currently that you can't live without?
lightheir
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Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:43 pm

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by lightheir »

I think things have changed a fair amount in the whole home office setup due to tech.

The young <30 tech crowd does a surprisingly large amount of work on a mobile laptop and minimal additional equipment. No 2-4 multimonitor displays, and they prize mobility. Especially if they used shared office setups.

I'm not that young anymore, but I've def moved away from the big home office setups with the giant tower PC, 2 big monitors, $$$ office chair, big giant bookshelf, and all the other stuff that makes you look like a faux-megacorp CEO at home. I'm not set up much more like those mobile millenials.

Admittedly, I don't do a ton of work at home, as my home office is really for family-related stuff and not a workplace where I earn my income, so that def changes things.

Still, I've been amazed with how little I need now to run what I think is a smooth, efficient home office, both on the cheap and with a small space footprint.

- Laptop computer. My laptop is 8 years old, probably worth <$100 now, but runs fine, still using it. Nice to have the mobile option, but honestly, never use it that much.
- Fujitsu scansnap - Required hardware for me. If you go alldigital, you NEED a sheet-feed scanner.
- Normal desk. Nothing crazy/fancy. And I try and keep as FEW items as possible in it. I have 2 small portable hard drives that I backup my stuff to a few times a year, but most of my data lives on the cloud.
- I also try and reduce my digital footprint as well - I find it easier to stay really organized and I worry less about both losing data or having it stolen because I have too many backups of it. I can fit my entire family office scanned .pdf file into a free Google drive account, easily.

Stuff I've def gotten rid of through this method:
- Big bookshelves (I almost have no bookshelves anymore)
- Filecabinets - def permaban on those!
- Big desks - Takes too much room

I like this small/micro setup for a light use home office. Obviously if you're a computer architect, programmer, etc., you're going to have a more involved setup specific to your needs, but I think most folks would actually be best served with this low-budget yet really efficient and flexible (space & costwise) setup.

My only planned upgrade in the next year is to ditch the laptop completely and go full Chromebook. I've found I really like being able to use ANY computer as a 'terminal' and be ready to do my home office needs on it without any added setup. I'm pretty much there already - I can literally lose my laptop today, yet still be 100% up AND running in seconds with any new computer connected to the internet, no restoring files needed and no software installation needed.
IowaFarmBoy
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Joined: Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:19 am

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by IowaFarmBoy »

Your monitor needs will be affected by what type of work you do. I'm a software dev and have three monitors at work and use them heavily. If I was using it more for "normal" business functions I might be fine with the laptop screen.

The big advantage of the docking station is being able to connect/disconnect your computer by docking vs having to connect multiple cables for monitors, keyboard, mouse, maybe network, etc. You may be able to find a used docking station in ebay for cheap. I found a used one for my HP laptop for $18 shipped.
GatorFL
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Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:07 pm

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by GatorFL »

OP, I am in my mid 50's, been telecommuting full time for the past 3 years and I am in IT. I also have a Dell laptop. Here is what works well for me.

Dell, makes some decent docking stations, that is what I use.

I have the logitech wireless keyboard and mouse. The little "dongle" takes up a USB port, but I love the freedom of reclining in my leather chair with the laptop in my lap. I travel and just leave the dongle in the USB port. I never even think about it, it just always works.

Monitor: If you have tired eyes like mine, make the invstment and get a nice large monitor. I actually use a 32" Viewsonic that is fantastic. Having the real estate to work and not have to wear my reading glasses all day makes a big difference for me. I don't use the dual monitor setup, never have. I find dragging things from screen to screen annoying.

I have video conferences daily from my home office. I bought a nice USB HD camera that sits on the monitor and plugs into the docking station. I made my home office look somewhat "corporate" and most people have no clue that I work from home.

Chair: I spent $600 on my chair. The chair was the best investment, far better than the junk chairs at work and is a lifesaver on the back. Highly recommend doing your research there.

Hope this helps, and welcome to the telecommute team. I am a huge fan of the increased productivity.
Gator
Topic Author
yolli71
Posts: 426
Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 9:53 am

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by yolli71 »

Thanks for all the replies. To answer some questions, I have 100Mbps so internet is good. My wife works for the same agency I do and she really wants a home office (which is the main reason we're doing this) and she was the one who wanted dual monitors (or a large monitor). She has dual monitors at work. She works on budget stuff and deals a lot with Excel spreadsheets and databases.

My current laptop is a 12.5" screen Dell Latitude E7250 I think. I'll check tomorrow to see what type of outputs my laptop has. The screen is just too small for me to effectively work at home which is why I've only teleworked probably around 5 times in the 10 years I've worked at my agency. I need a bigger screen and a "normal" setup with a desk if I'm to work at home.
PhillyPhan
Posts: 115
Joined: Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:35 am

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by PhillyPhan »

1. I would recommend 2 monitors versus one ultra wide. For around 200$ you can purchase 2, 24" monitors, while an ultrawide is usually north of that amount, so it is not so much a cost issue.

2. I do not use a docking station. I can see the value and convenience in one, but for starters you can just start by plugging in your HDMI's and power source, which does not take much time.

3. My logictech USB Keyboard and mouse works well. Cost is only 20$ at Best Buy

I also have a powered adjustable desk which is nice to have to force myself to stand more frequently.
Don't forget a comfortable computer chair. Costco has a nice fleet of chairs ranging from $100-200


I was once a work from home laptop guy. Ever since upgrading, I feel much more comfortable and productive. For an all in price of ~600 bucks, you can set yourself well.
yolli71 wrote: Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:53 pm I'm in the process of setting up a home office as I plan to start teleworking a little bit this year. I'm a Fed and have a Dell laptop for work. My agency doesn't cover my home office setup, so I was hoping to get some advice since I'm not a computer expert.

Can someone tell me:

1. If I want dual monitors, should I go that route or should I go with an ultrawide monitor such as the Dell U3417W? https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IOO4TIM?ta ... AAAAXFy04w

2. Do I need to purchase a docking station or can I connect the laptop via USB or some other type of wired connection to the monitor?

3. Any other advice as far as keyboard and mouse? Should I go wired or wireless route?

Any general advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm looking for the best bang for my buck.
stupidkid
Posts: 188
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:11 pm

Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by stupidkid »

I've worked from home/remote for over ten years. I spend all day staring at spreadsheets of data, emails, and teleconferences.

I have a fancy stand up desk with a treadmill. I rarely raise the desk or use the treadmill.

I got a nice chair, worth the money. It's not a big executive chair, but it's ergonomic.

I have dual monitors on free moving arms hooked up to a docking station for my primary laptop, and I have a secondary laptop that sits to the side. I find the dual monitors useful because I'm often researching something on one to reply to an email in another (or draft slides, etc), also useful for web meetings as I can share one monitor and do something on the other.

I have a USB mechanical keyboard, it's great. Wireless mouse. I had a fancy ergonomic mouse but it died, replaced it with a simple one, it's fine.

Brother laser printer, don't use it much but it's great.

Jabra speaker phone thing, fantastic. Got it last year on a colleague's recommendation, I use it all day. Use it connected via USB for web calls, Bluetooth for phone. Much better than a headset.

I have a mesh router and give preference to my work equipment on the network.

Office door, priceless. I tried working in open areas over the years but I love having an office, I can shut the door when I'm done which is the best.
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Bogle7
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Location: Mountain state

Perfect home office

Post by Bogle7 »

23 years of working in my home offices
Aeron chair
27-inch iMac
Headset for phone
Cats, 2
Napping area
Cruise
Posts: 1305
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Re: Setting up home office for first time

Post by Cruise »

OP: Just curious, does your agency have any regulations requiring you to implement a data security plan? How are you managing that in a relatively insecure home environment?
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