In the fourth part of our series on hybrid working, we assess the key equipment the voluntary sector’s new army of permanent home workers will need
As lockdown eases, many charities and organisations are preparing to re-open their workplaces and welcome staff back into the office, following more than a year of home working during the COVID-19 crisis.
But the workplace can never be the same. The genie of home working is now out of the bottle for many charity staffers, who now favour hybrid working arrangements – sharing their time between home and office.
According to Blackbaud’s Future of Work report this year, eight out of ten charity staffers back working from home more often. It is also clear that blended working arrangements are popular, according to this report. A fifth of charity workers say they would like to mostly work from home, while a similar proportion favour working part of the week at home.
Here we run through some of the key equipment the charity sector’s new home workers will need to make their life easier.
Let’s start with the basics. The immediate place in your home where work takes place – the desk.
For some charity workers, in 2020, this has been in a spare room converted into an office. For others, the desk has been the kitchen table or a foldaway table in the corner of a bedroom or living room.
Now is the time to consider having a permanent desk in your home.
For those looking to improve their health and avoid back pain, a stand-up desk may be the ideal solution. These help with posture, improve circulation and can help productivity and wellbeing. They can be added onto a traditional table or desk to provide standing and sitting options during your working day. Specially designed sit-stand desks are also available.
There are a range of options available for all budgets and tastes. For example Fellowes has a range of sit-stand workstations that can be added onto tables and desks. These cost around £400-£500.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams have transformed daily meetings during lockdown, a trend that is set to continue as home working proliferates further.
Charity workers are also increasingly appearing on social media videos and being interviewed by broadcast media from their homes. Podcasting from home is likewise increasing in popularity among charities.
Often charity workers are using their computer’s internal mic and camera, where quality can vary. Instead, investing in affordable external options can make all the difference.
In terms of USB microphones, Blue offer a range of options for between £50 and £200, depending on budget. Shure is another popular brand, although at the more expensive end of the USB microphone market.
Regarding cameras, a resolution of 1080p is ideal to spruce up a charity worker’s look in a home meeting and 4K resolution will transform any interview, video blog, or meeting appearance with a professional look. These are often less than £100. Logitech’s 1080p model and EastPoint’s 4K webcam are among budget options.
Whether on a call or wanting to block out distracting noise, wireless Bluetooth earplugs and earpods have become more affordable and an essential piece of kit for home workers.
Not only do they end confusing wires and mess around a home working desk, but they also allow charity workers to walk and talk, and further improve their health.
Using two monitors can significantly boost productivity and efficiency when working from home. After an initial adjustment period using a second monitor quickly becomes second nature.
A key benefit is the way two monitors can support a wide range of tasks home workers carry out on their computer, from reading emails, setting up Zoom meetings, engaging with colleagues on Microsoft Teams or another collaboration tool such as Slack, to researching via the internet, writing documents, and checking figures on a spreadsheet.
This is a lot of activity for just one screen. By using two monitors, home workers can maintain focus more easily and concentrate on tasks, rather than having to break concentration by opening and closing boxes.
It can also help us compartmentalise tasks and information, with one monitor for research and writing, with another for video calls, emails and other collaborative functions.
The increase in home working has led to a rise in dog and pet ownership over the course of the pandemic. Around 3.2 million UK households have acquired a pet since the start of the health crisis.
With more time at home, there is more time to look after a pet. But having a dog can also help home workers with their mental health, as Simon Blake, Chief Executive of Mental Health First Aid England, explains.
He says that running, playing with his dog, and riding horses help him to self-care for his mental health.
Talking about his dog and home working companion Dolly, he says “throwing sticks and putting on my doggy voice to tell her she is the best girl in the world, on repeat, is all consuming”.
Could a dog lead and a stick be the best equipment home workers need for their emotional wellbeing?