Covid-19 has had some tragic consequences as the virus has swept the globe. It’s also had a significant impact on the way millions of office employees go to work. Now working from home is touted as the new normal, even as we at some point, hopefully, put the whole pandemic behind us.
Most reports and surveys show that even once the pandemic has gone, office workers would still prefer to work remotely, at least some of the time. It’s not surprising that people do not want to spend hours in traffic or on a train each day. One study conducted in Europe concluded that married individuals with a commute that lasted over 45 minutes were 40% more likely to get divorced. Long commutes can directly impact our work/life balance, and the more time we spend commuting, the less time we have to exercise, socialize, and cook healthy meals from scratch.
With a hybrid working model likely to be the happy medium, many people are now looking to move from the temporary space created at the start of the pandemic to a more comfortable, spacious, and high-tech home office that they can use for the long term. With this in mind, a smart home office can make remote working not only more efficient but more enjoyable!
BUILDING A SMART GOOGLE HOME OFFICE
To begin with, the one thing everyone needs for any smart office or smart home is WiFi. You will also need your Android phone and your smart appliances.
To begin with, it’s a good idea to start with a Google speaker smart appliance, such as the Google Nest Hub Max or the Google Nest Mini. You can use the speaker devices to control all the other smart gadgets you have linked to your smart home. The speaker devices are also great for setting reminders, playing music, and making calls. All the Google nest devices can perform Google searches and come with pioneering voice recognition technology.
So you’ve decided to go for it and make your home office a smart, high-tech, Starship Enterprise of an office. First, you need to download the Google Home app onto your mobile phone or tablet.
This app will allow you to set up, manage and control all of the smart devices. Download the app and open it. On the top left of the screen, you should see a plus icon (+); if you click this, you should be able to link up any compatible smart devices that are in your office or home. Once you’ve selected a device, it should appear on the home screen of the app. Give the device a relevant name so that you can remember it, and create a “room” for your home office to help organize your devices depending on where they reside in the house.
You don’t have to use Google-branded devices in your smart home. There are thousands of products, from smart plugs to smart cameras and washing machines! You may need to use a separate app to set up the smart device, but once installed, you should be able to connect them to your Home app. Although you probably don’t want a washing machine in your home office!
GOOGLE ASSISTANT CUSTOM ROUTINES
When you have downloaded the app and connected a Google speaker product such as the Nest Mini, you can set up “custom routines.” Google Assistant custom routines can group specific commands and operations to be set off at a specific time of the day or upon particular voice command.
You can use custom routines with your Android phone, tablet, or speaker. For example, at 8 am, you could set your smart-thermostat to turn the temperature to 70 degrees and turn all the office lights on. The Google Home app comes with pre-designed routines, such as “Good Morning” and “I’m home.” You can edit these routines to add or remove actions such as “Tell me about the weather,” and you can also edit the time or the verbal command which initiates the routines.
You can create your own routines from scratch too. For example, you can create a weekend morning routine to play your favorite song at 8 am and to turn on the smart plug on your kettle at the same time. Just be sure to leave some water in the kettle the night before.
REMOTE BUSINESSES & DISTRIBUTED TEAMS
Apart from smart devices and the Home app, many other Android apps can also make a remote-based business much easier and enjoyable to operate.
For example, if you run a remote business from your home office, consider using a telephone answering app or service such as Moneypenny. With a high-quality telephone answering service and app, you can generally use a toll-free professional phone number and automated switchboard in conjunction with a virtual receptionist. This can be excellent for building your brand and reputation, as you can use the professional number on your website and company literature, and any callers will be greeted by either a switchboard or a polite and professional receptionist. With Moneypenny, for example, you get a dedicated receptionist who knows your business and your employees. Your receptionist will be an in-house full-time employee for all intents and purposes and will provide a great level of customer service while you focus on the core of your work.
Communication with clients and distributed team members who are also working remotely is vital. Slack is arguably the best chat tool available for remote work. You can group conversations by channels, which function a bit like different meeting rooms in an office. Rather than residing in meeting rooms physically, the channels allow you to have in-depth, focussed discussions. Zoom is also great for video conferencing; the reliability and speed are touted as superior to its competitors, allowing for dozens of users to communicate live via video, with no performance problems even from a mobile connection.
For collaboration, the Google Suite of tools is excellent. You can use Google Sheets, for example, to create spreadsheets that can be edited in real-time. There is also a free version that should provide enough storage for small business owners.
If you are going to be working remotely permanently, then a comfortable home office is essential. While Google’s technology can make your work environment more comfortable and enjoyable, remember that getting outdoors and in nature is one of the best ways to deal with the isolated feeling that can occur if you work alone. In addition, having plants in your office and a view of the outdoors through a nearby window can also improve well-being. With the combination of technology and nature, working remotely can be an excellent way to get the work/life balance just right and make your working week both enjoyable and efficient.