Our homes and workplaces are more 'connected' now than they ever have been thanks to the advent of Wi-Fi, smart devices, conferencing equipment and other technological advancements. But is your home or workplace completely future-proofed? Advances are being made on a daily basis and if you don't want to be left behind you should really make sure that you're up to speed. Being more interconnected in both the home and workplace means more convenience, more opportunities and more options and as you no doubt already own many of the tools necessary, it should be a surprisingly cheap system to setup in both instances.
Below, we've detailed just a few of the systems and tools you might want to consider using if you decide to 'get more connected'.
Cloud storage essentially refers to a massive server that can potentially hold hundreds of terabytes worth of data. The main benefit of a cloud storage system in the office is that employees can upload files and documents to the cloud that can be remotely accessed by other employees and clients if they are given permission. Chances are that your office won't need its own server (unless it's a particularly large office of course) and that you'll be able to hire out a cloud storage solution for a deceptively small fee. In terms of cloud storage in a home situation the major benefit is that once something has been uploaded to the cloud it is 'safe' so that if your own hard drives or computers fail, you have a backup waiting for you on a secure server that could be thousands of miles away but can still be accessed in seconds.
Although everyone in your home or office will undoubtedly have their own mobile phones, it's useful to have a central 'base' through which to route landline connections. The liGo Bluewave for example is a device that acts as a hub between all of your Bluetooth enabled mobile phones and digital cordless phones. This means that your employees will be able to connect to the hub remotely from their desks and call clients from the businesses landline. The positives here are obvious, not only will it look more 'professional' if the companies dedicated landline is making the call but the reception will be far more stable. A Bluewave (or a device like it) would be especially beneficial in a home office environment where even when you're 'on the clock' you might be called away at a moment’s notice. With the Bluewave, you can always be within reach of a phone and the hub can even be setup to act as a base station for your mobile network. The flexibility of being able to turn your mobile phone in a house phone or vice versa makes it an essential purchase for home offices.
Wireless internet access has revolutionised the way most offices are run, with no more potentially dangerous cables dangling about just waiting to be tripped on. Of course the main worry with any wireless network is that it is far easier to 'hack' into, but as long as you take the right precautions (a unique password, a decent firewall) there should be little to worry about. At home, Wi-Fi has provided less of a 'revolutionary' and more of an 'evolutionary' step, primarily in how we absorb our entertainment. Through our wi-fi 'hubs' we are able to connect our televisions, digital TV receivers, games consoles, computers, smartphones and tablets into one entertainment 'network' that facilitates easier and more convenient file sharing. The only negative thing about a wi-fi setup is that it's prone to occasional interference but most hubs are also equipped to handle ethernet cables so a physical connection can be used as a last resort if you're really having serious connection problems.
Video and audio conferencing is a big business that has been brought into the mainstream over the past few years thanks to free-to-use software such as 'Skype'. Video conferencing is still used primarily in professional situations though as it allows colleagues and clients to converse over potentially thousands of miles as if they were in the same room. Video conferencing has a few obvious boons over simple phone conferencing and the speed and reliability of both software and dedicated hardware used for conferencing is always on the rise.
Every business (whether it be home based of office based) will no doubt process a considerable amount of data on a daily basis. This could be digital data or physical data but either way, the more connected your environment, the easier your data will be to process and manage. A connected environment should completely negate the need for outdated filing systems and slow, temperamental USB printers and will make your life so much easier that you'll wonder how you'll ever lived without it!
A freelance copywriter based in Kidderminster in the UK, Sean R has a fully connected home office setup that has made his work days so much more productive he genuinely couldn't fathom any other way of working.