Keeping in touch from your home office

A guide to the different forms of home office communication

If you want to work effectively from home you’re going to need more than just a computer. You need to be able to stay in touch and communicate with the outside world. A few things you’ll almost definitely need to have are:

  • A telephone . You should consider a separate business line if you need to track the cost of business calls or if you’re likely to compete with others for use of the home phone. Consider using a phone with a built-in answering machine as it will allow you to let clients know how and when to contact you when you are away from home.
  • A connection to the internet . Depending on your local provision this will normally be a Broadband connection via cable or your telephone line.
  • A WiFi router. If you want to be able to access the internet from anywhere in the house via a laptop or if you do not wish to have network cables in your house but wish to connect several PCs together, you will want to have a WiFi router.
  • A backup connection to the internet . If you create a Broadband connection, you should also consider making sure you can use a dial up modem connection for the times when your broadband connection goes down. Most laptops have modems built in but you might need to buy one if you use a desktop.
  • A fax machine . This is much less important than it used to be because people are now more familiar with Emailing diagrams and most diagrams are produced on computer anyway. However, many businesses still send and receive faxes for signed documents.

Working at home can also be quite lonely for some people. You might find the following useful ways to keep in touch:

Email – Particularly useful when you want to stay in touch with someone that is difficult to get hold of. However, Email has some severe limitations. Not least it is a poor way to:

  • Conduct discussions
  • Convey sensitive information
  • Address difficult issues.

Instant messaging – Basic Instant messaging systems allow you to see whether others are available, or not and allow you to exchange messages in real time. Communication is therefore more immediate and less formal. More sophisticated IM tools allow you to:

  • Use voice as well as text
  • Use video as well as voice
  • Conduct conferenced discussions
  • Exchange files

Common instant messaging tools include:

Collaboration tools – These allow you to create online environments that can be used to:

  • Store files, documents and data
  • Manage workflow
  • Share applications across the Internet

Source: Setting up a home office

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