Working as a virtual assistant allows you to work remotely, meaning you have the privilege of being a designer in your workplace. The first thing you should consider is that while working from the living room sounded great while you were stuck in your cubicle, now, it might not be such a good idea.
Here’s how to optimize your home for remote work as a virtual assistant.
1. Get the right furniture
Getting adequate furniture is the first step in outfitting your home office. You should start with the desk and chairs. Ideally, the desk would be adjustable, and you wouldn’t take its default height for granted. Pick the height that suits your field of vision and your posture.
As far as the chair goes, ensure it’s ergonomic because this will affect your posture, health, and productivity. After all, how focused are you if you’re simultaneously thinking about back pain?
Then, because you’re keeping everything in the cloud, you don’t need that much storage (although you still need some). This means you can focus on aesthetics rather than just fixating on functionality.
You also want to add a few décor items, like some framed art pieces, a nice mural, or a decent wallpaper. Enriching your space with some pot plants is also a great idea. The bottom line is that you need to adjust the space, not just to your needs but also to your preferences. This is arguably one of the biggest advantages of working from home.
2. Prepare your setup
Your setup is what matters. While it’s true that a dual monitor increases your productivity by 42%, why not get a third one, as well? Remember, the increase in productivity is not exponential or linear, and adding a third monitor won’t make as big of a difference as adding the second one; still, it’s an upgrade.
Getting a mechanical keyboard can be so satisfying. Remember that the clicking noise while on a call or a meeting can be quite distracting. This mostly depends on what type of virtual assistant you are (in what industry).
Remember that you’re your own boss as someone working from home (even though you’re an assistant). This means that you’re in charge of hardware acquisition. Since these are your labor tools, as a craftsman, they can affect the quality of your work. This is why you should never see this as a luxury but rather an investment.
The bottom line is that this setup is what you’ll be using and sitting behind 95% of the time while working. This makes it extremely relevant to your productivity.
3. Get the right internet
The most important thing you need is the right internet. Now, if you have access to a home fiber optic, this is the option you should get; there’s no doubt about it. The problem is that this won’t always be an option.
You see, optic internet is a relatively new concept, which is why the infrastructure is not so widespread.
On the other hand, cable internet uses the same infrastructure as cable television, while DSL uses traditional phone lines. Both of these are available virtually everywhere.
Some people choose the career of a virtual assistant because it’s remote. This means you can work in some of the most remote locations (even cabins without DSL or phone lines). In this scenario, your only option is to go for satellite internet. Sure, this method is less potent than fiber and more expensive than DSL and cable internet, but it does give you a chance to set up your infrastructure where there’s none.
Also, this is probably the most essential business expense, but unless you’re uploading stuff online, you only need so much.
4. Agreement with the other residents
Now, this is a bit abstract and non-material, but without this verbal agreement (and consent), you just can’t work in this field (at least not successfully). Even with the best soundproofing, your family or roommates can raise much noise. They can also disturb you by barging into your room unannounced (although sending a message or knocking doesn’t take much effort).
You need to sit down with them and have the talk.
First, remote work is still a bit too abstract for many people. You may have to explicitly state (and explain) that just because you’re home, this doesn’t mean you’re available.
Second, be ready to make some concessions, as well. It’s still their home, so while asking them to keep it quieter is not unreasonable, you can’t expect them to tiptoe around their home 24/7. So, try to make a schedule or work hours that would also work for them.
You can do no wrong if you’re open, fair, and transparent. Just make sure to approach from the position of a compromise.
5. Separate work area
Having a separate work area is important for several reasons. First, you may get some utility tax deductions if you run a home-based business. For instance, if your home office takes 9% of your home, you can get 9% off your power bill, etc. The thing is that this only works if it’s a single-purpose office. It doesn’t apply to closet offices or bedroom offices.
Another thing to understand is that you must separate your work area from your leisure area for productivity. It’s hard to focus in the kitchen or the living room. Instead, you need a place that’s designed with productivity in mind.
Lastly, remember what we’ve talked about in the previous section. You can’t ask people to keep it down while you’re working and then move your laptop to the living room or their bedroom. Making your place of work and doing the best you can to soundproof it will make honoring the above-mentioned deal a lot easier. While at it, you might also want to consider getting noise-canceling headphones.
In the end, productivity doesn’t always depend on external factors, but they do have the potential to make your life easier. Therefore, to be a successful virtual assistant, you should try creating an environment that will make it much easier. These five steps will get you close to this objective.