How To Turn An Office Computer To Work From Home Computer

How To Turn An Office Computer To Work From Home Computer

In 2020, many of us are forced to Work From Home. This article is about how to turn an office computer to a “work from home computer”, so your staff can work from home without needing to buy a new laptop.
#WorkFromHome #WorkFromHomeGuide

Last Edited: 29 August 2020

1. Differences Between Office Computers & Work From Home Computers
2. Video Conferencing From Home
3. High Speed Internet Connection
4. Webcam
5. Headphone & Microphone
6. Printer

1. Differences Between Office Computers & Work From Home Computers

Hardware Requirements & System Specifications
Working at the company office and working from home is similar aside from:

  • Video Conferencing
  • Individual Internet Access
  • Individual Printer

Before discussing these however, the main question is:

“Is the office computer currently performing well enough?”

The last thing you want is to send a computer to your staff to work from home, but the performance is inadequate for their tasks. If the computer was bought before 2019, chances are it will require some upgrades or maintenance.

Does the computer need some upgrades?

Here are a few points to help:
i. It is running on a Hard Disk Drive instead of Solid State Drive
This is perhaps the biggest factor on why the computer is unbearably slow. Simply adding a Solid State Drive and moving the Operating System to it will make the computer much more responsive than before.

ii. It has less than 4GB of memory (RAM)
2GB is ‘ok’ for office usage without other programs running.

But for video conferencing 2GB simply is not enough, video conferencing needs at least 4GB of RAM minimum.
(I’ll personally recommend 8GB. This allows you to open multiple Google Chrome tabs and have Microsoft Office running during video conferencing.)

iii. Video Card (or Graphics Card)
Despite the name, you do not need a video card to host or join video conferences. Most modern processors are capable of processing the video during video conferencing.
However, if this is not the case, the computer badly needs an upgrade.

2. Video Conferencing From Home

Work from home means besides the usual office work involving Google Chrome and Microsoft Office, applications like Zoom and Skype are needed to communicate with customers and co-workers. That means you will need a computer capable of video conferencing.

One frequently asked question is:

“Why Can’t I Just Use My Smartphone For Video Conferencing?”

Although the cameras on smartphones are more than capable for video conferencing,
using a smartphone for video conferencing have the following disadvantages:

  • Inability to Share Your Computer Screen,
  • Incoming Phone Call Might Disrupt the Entire Video Conference,
  • Difficulty Viewing Another’s Screen When They are Screensharing,
  • Difficulty Taking Notes During a Video Conference,
  • Difficulty Monitoring Staff Activity,
  • And Data Security Concerns.

So, what will you need for a computer in order to do video conferencing?

3. High Speed Internet Connection

The minimum recommended needed to video conference is 4Mbps (megabits/second) without other devices connected to the internet. I’ve was doing video calls back in Streamyx days (yes, before Unifi, and before everyone had smartphones) and even when I upgraded from 2Mbps to 4Mbps it still wasn’t a reasonable experience.

Go for at least a 30Mbps Unifi plan if video calls with your customers or clients are necessary and there are other devices accessing the internet.

Tip: Avoid Using Wi-Fi/Wireless Connection.

Do you experience stuttering or lag during video conference?

While it is normal to have a little delay during video conferences, if you are being cut off and must repeat yourself, it will affect the experience and your company image.

Here are several causes:
-Using the Modem supplied by TM
-Weak Wi-Fi signal
-Weak Wi-Fi receiver
-Too much wireless interference at home

Solution: Using a wired connection will most likely solve all the problems.

4. Webcam

For video calls with your customers or clients, I recommend getting at least a 720p Logitech Webcam. Your staff will look professional on camera and Logitech provides additional features in their software (adjust lighting, camera angles, and controls for zooming in/out).

5. Headphones & Microphones

Personally, I am using the Logitech G430 headphones. It is not ideal for business calls because it has the “gamer look” which may appear unprofessional. But there were not many options for mics with noise cancellation back then.

Mics with Noise Cancellation significantly improves the video call audio quality for your audience because noise cancelling microphone eliminates unwanted background noises.

Now the new model G433 from Logitech looks more suitable for business use, and it has noise cancellation. So, I recommend it for a premium video conference experience.

Why I Don’t Recommend Using Speakers

Your audience will be hearing you twice (like an echo, but much worse) which will seriously impact the video conference experience.
Click the video below to hear how it sounds when someone is using speakers instead of headphones during a video call.

Microphones (Optional)

You do not need a microphone if you are using good headphones.

But if you need a high quality mic without spending too much, I will recommend the BM 800 Condenser Mic.

6. Printer

“Do We Need To Buy Printers For Staff To Work From Home?”

When MCO started, I was reluctant to get a printer for myself at home. I am so used to the office printer which prints fast, has a photocopy feature and duplex printing (printing on both sides of the paper).  Because I wanted to save money, I normally bring my laptop to the office and print it the next day or I would email it to my co-worker and get them to print it for me.

However, there was that one time when I needed to prepare a proposal at the last minute (sounds familiar?) and print it before I met with a client. That was when spending a few hundred ringgits for a printer does not sound so bad as compared to losing a sale.

And yes, I bought a printer that same day.

So, do you need to get a printer for every staff who is working from home?

The short answer: It depends.

If your staff is involved with meeting clients, customers or suppliers, the answer is probably yes.
If your staff is only interacting with co-workers, you might want to skip buying the printer.

What Printer Should I Buy?

Forget inkjet printers, the operating cost is simply too high and does not make sense. You’ll be paying more for the ink than what you fork out for a proper laser printer. Besides, your clients will be able to tell if you printed your business proposal with an inkjet printer.

Get a laser printer for business or work purposes.

Here are some considerations when deciding what laser printer to buy:

  • Space: How much space does your staff have at home? A full feature laser printer occupies a lot of space and might not fit in every staff’s home.
  • Color Printing: A color laser printer is more costly. Unless the staff needs to print colored materials and present to clients, most of the time a monochrome printer will do.
  • Photocopy: How likely is the staff going to need photocopying or scanning documents?
  • Duplex printing (Double Sided Printing): Does your staff need to print on both sides of the paper?

At the time of writing this guide (29 August 2020) our Prime Minister just announced MCO will be extended to 31st December 2020. This means more and more companies will be seeking options for staff to work from home.

I’ve helped Malaysian businesses and corporations transition smoothly to a “work from home” workforce.
If you would like a more mobile and productive workforce without the hiccups, trial and error, please email [email protected], WhatsApp 012-6160101 or fill out the form below:

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