Is Your Home Office Ready for the New Normal?

Three steps for updating: technology, furniture and aesthetics.
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Built-in shelving and desks with cabinets, like the Blakely Interior Design setup seen here, help hide unsightly office supplies while also keeping them within reach. Photo by Andrea Pietrangeli.

We’re all demanding more from our home technology: remote work and video conferencing, Zoom classes and family reunions, plus streaming entertainment on multiple devices. Fortunately, Rhode Island is one of the most broadband-ready states in the country according to Ross Nelson, vice president of Cox Business, Northeast. Read on for some of his top technology tips.

CHECK YOUR WIFI CONNECTION

Most broadband providers offer a range of speeds and prices depending on your needs. If you’re only checking email and browsing the internet, 50Mbps might do the trick. But if you’re a high-usage household, you might want to bump up to something like Cox Gigablast offering up to 940Mbps to ensure everyone has a stable connection. You may also want to consider WiFi range extenders if your signal doesn’t reach everywhere you need it to. Cox subscribers can check their network’s performance with their app.

UPDATE YOUR EQUIPMENT

Older modems and routers will slow down your signal, as will computer viruses. It’s also important to make sure your modem is centrally located, away from other devices that emit electronic radiation such as baby monitors. “Panoramic WiFi is a next generation modem-router combination that delivers great coverage and comes with tools for managing in-home WiFi networks,” Nelson says. “It also comes with advanced security for network protection, a mobile app for easy network management and Elite Gamer to reduce PC gaming lag.”

ALWAYS PROTECT YOUR WIFI WITH A STRONG PASSWORD

Creating a strong password will ensure your neighbors or passersby won’t siphon off your bandwidth. Also, be aware of vulnerabilities to scams and malicious attacks.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF CLOUD SOLUTIONS

Protect business documents and homework with cloud- based backups, which also enable access to documents from anywhere.

CONSIDER BUSINESS SOLUTIONS IF YOU’RE A BUSINESS OWNER
For example, Cox Work-at-Home enables companies to provide remote staff with company-provided services including broadband, WiFi, McAfee endpoint security and MalBlock to ensure the same security connectivity they would have in the office.

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The Cox Panoramic WiFi Gateway combines a cable modem with a powerful wireless router, for one less device on the shelf.

ONCE YOUR TECHNOLOGY IS SET, TAKE A LOOK AT YOUR FURNITURE
Do you have a proper desk and chair? They can make the difference between a productive day and an achy one.

“Sitting and lift desks are the most critical, along with a supportive chair,” explains Pete Cardi of Cardi’s Furniture and Mattresses. “A chair that is designed only for sitting behind a desk is different than one that needs to adjust for a power lift standing desk. Come in and get fitted for a desk and chair that complement your living space and support your body in comfort. Try out a lot, and once you’re ready to narrow it down to a few, spend at least five to seven minutes in the chair to be certain it’s a good fit.”

A well-functioning home office doesn’t have to be institutional-looking. “Incorporate a media center, perhaps one with a fireplace, to keep you warm and cozy during long Zoom calls,” adds Ron Cardi.

The key to making your space as work-friendly as possible is to balance function with aesthetics, says Janelle Blakely Photopoulos, owner of Blakely Interior Design. Incorporate a credenza or built-in behind the desk to hide your printer and file folders while keeping them in reach.

“If your space allows, it’s nice to have another seating group where you can take calls or have a change of scenery for a bit of a mental break,” she advises. “It also gives you an opportunity to bring in more color and texture through different design elements.”