In some businesses, data security or confidentiality means cloud solutions aren't possible

We all live with unexpected sounds.Sometimes, rare noises like a search and rescue helicopter flying low overhead or a first responder vehicle with sirens blazing catch our attention.More typically, unexpected noises come from roommates, spouses, children, and pets.In this context, accommodations are the adjustments we make to ensure that our office is accessible to all.Whether someone uses a wheelchair or is visually impaired, careful forethought can prevent lots of frustration and, worse, harmful accidents.Of course, if you work alone in your home office and you require accommodations, you’ll already be planning around your own needs.You might need a hardwood floor to minimize tripping hazards or a magnifying monitor to be able to read computer output.Planning accommodations for future unknown visitors is trickier.Think, in general, about mobility.What are the hazards or barriers for a person with impaired mobility?Are there uneven paving stones, door jams, rugs, or general clutter that create tripping hazards?Can a person in a wheelchair enter the office easily?Should you put the office on the ground floor so that visitors don’t have to navigate the stairs?What about the restroom facilities?Do they include securely fastened grab bars?And so on, it’s a lot to think through.In truth, many home offices aren’t set up with accommodations in mind until there is an urgent need.Be prepared to make adjustments to make your workspace accessible to a new employee, colleague, or client, who will visit your location.Typically, there are fewer desks than there are workers as not everyone uses the space at the same time.On crowded days, you may have to share a desk or decide to work somewhere else.Business professionals, entrepreneurs, and students all gather to work in this shared space.Matt shares, You can work from anywhere.You don’t need an office space but people crave connection.Depending on your home office design, you may need meeting space, permanently or temporarily.5.1 When you need more spaceYour workspace should be big enough for your everyday work tasks.When you design your home office, you’ll make decisions based on what’s usual for you.If you work alone, you’ll plan on a workspace for one.Sometimes, those meetings require a bigger space.Visualize the kinds of meetings you’ll host.Is there a monthly board meeting?Are you hosting a workshop?Do you offer your services in a group setting?You might even host a social event now and again.If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll need to source your own spaces.Coffee shops have long been used by entrepreneurs to fill these gaps for small or informal meetings.If you plan to use a coffee shop as your home office away from home, be sure to be a considerate patron.Be alert to those around you.If the café is filling up after an hour or two, it might be time for you to move on to make room for other paying customers.If gratuities are common in your community, tip the staff generously.If you frequent the same coffee shop repeatedly, get to know the staff as best you can.A friendly greeting and a little bit of banter can boost your spirits and theirs.A smart phone, a computer, and an internet connection will let you get a lot done, whether you’re a rancher managing livestock or a medical office administrator updating patient records.If you work for yourself, you are responsible for all the technology you’ll use.Other employers will assume you have a computer at home and that you’re willing to use it for work.Before you invest in too much technology, reflect on how you will use it.Do you want to be able to pick up and go with a mobile office setup?While technology infiltrates every aspect of our private lives, the way we use technology for work involves a lot more word processing and a lot less streaming Netflix.Consider Your HardwareHardware will be a significant business investment.You might spend $750 on a smart phone or $2,000 on a computer.Purchasing business technology is an investment in the success of your work.Then, after the initial purchases, you’ll need a budget to replace outdated tech at regular intervals so you can keep working.Your computer will be a workhorse in your office.It can hold financial records, facilitate communication, create documentation, store information, and support creativity, to name a few functions.You’ll have to choose a computer that will do the work tasks you need to accomplish.Today, the decision is more a matter of personal choice than functionality.Both types are compatible with typical business functions like word processing, spreadsheets, databases, email, videoconferencing, and more.However, there are still areas where one might be better than the other.In general, Apple’s computers are perceived as better for graphic design and video editing.As you make your decision, functionality should be your top priority.Does the computer do what you need it to do?Then, decide if a suitably powerful laptop or desktop align with your workflow and budget.While laptops have become significantly more powerful in recent years, they may not be cost effective if your work requires working with large files, graphic design, or video editing.Your phone line will be a necessary connection to your work colleagues, clients, suppliers, and others.While you can have a business land line installed in your home, it’s more common today to have a cellular phone line.This allows you to take the phone wherever you go and saves the inconvenience of modifying your home with a conventional phone.Again, you have choices when buying your next mobile phone.The industry leaders are Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android.You might choose an iPhone to better integrate with your Apple computer or, maybe, you pick an Android device to align with the models your colleagues are using.In general, iPhones are more expensive than Android phones and you’re more likely to find an inexpensive Android model if money is tight.If possible, test the quality of the microphone and speaker to see if voice calls are crystal clear.Find out how long the battery will last and how quickly it will charge.If you’re at your desk with power nearby, battery life is less of an issue but it can be annoying if you’re constantly having to switch to low power mode or, worse, be unavailable by phone.If you work for a medical clinic, your office’s telehealth app should function on your mobile phone.If you’ll be taking photos, recording videos, live streaming, or video chatting, you’ll want to pick the phone with the best camera.If you’ll be using maps to help you get around on the job, you’ll want to compare the interface for Apple Maps versus Google Maps.Which one helps you navigate?Meanwhile, Android phones work on various versions of the Android operating system.If you need accommodations to use your phone effectively, consider Android’s easy mode to simplify phone features or rely on iPhone’s accessibility customizations such as multitouch, voice, and more.Many workers will rely solely on their mobile phone to take photographs and shoot videos.However, your work may require higher quality images and audio.Shoot still images or make videos?Are you doing food photography or action shots at a corporate event?The bigger the sensor, the more data there is in the image file.That data gives you higher image quality and, in turn, more options to use the photograph.How rapidly can you take photographs?Nikon, Canon, and more.Within each brand, there are a range of cameras from beginner to intermediate to advanced.Typically, the more advanced the camera, the higher the price point.How much can you afford to spend?Your technology spending isn’t complete until you’ve picked up any needed peripherals.Think of these items as accessories that help you make full use of your computer, mobile phone, or camera.While not required, you’ll find some of these other tools handy to get the job done.Whether you prefer earbuds or earmuff style, headphones can help you improve audio quality, enhance privacy, and reduce ambient noise.If you select a wireless headset, check to make sure it works with the software you’re using.Some applications may need a specific version to work correctly.While your headphones may include a microphone, you might want to invest in a more professional mic.This will improve communication on calls and elevate your brand in recordings.While computers and mobile phones come with charging cables, it’s helpful to have extras around.Sometimes cables fail or get lost so this will reduce your stress.Also, look for longer cables to give you more distance from the power outlet while charging.When we’re reliant on our devices to do business, no charge in your mobile phone or a power outage impacts your productivity.Purchase a couple of power banks and keep them charged for emergency use.They’re also handy when traveling!Add a power bar to your kit so you can use one plug to power several devices at once.If you’re going to be creating videos or participating in video chats, a tripod will stabilize your mobile phone or camera.This leaves your hands free to take notes or complete other tasks.To secure your mobile phone on your tripod, invest in a tripod mount.An easy way to try this is with videoconferencing tools such as Zoom.You get to choose your virtual backgrounds.If audio is important to you or your work, consider investing in external speakers to pump up the volume and improve sound quality.Light will help you capture better photographs and higher resolution videos.You can start with an inexpensive household lamp, try a ring light, or invest in studio lights.Sometimes light doesn’t land where you need it.Reflectors help you bounce light to illuminate you, your products, or anything else you want to feature.If you’re taking your own product shots, you’ll definitely want a lightbox.This simple frame creates a light reflecting backdrop to showcase your work.If the budget is tight, make your own out of foam core from the dollar store.If podcasting or other audio work is part of your job, then think about investing in a sound mixer to give you more control.While your laptop screen or computer monitor might be enough for you and one colleague to see, you’ll want a projector to share your work with a larger group.If needed, pick up a projection screen, too.Pick up the essential items as soon as your budget allows and then plan to add more to your collection over time.In my 12 years in business so far, I’ve found a pattern of one major tech purchase and three minor tech purchases each year with some big spender years now and again.Don’t worry if the occasional peripheral turns out to be a dud in your workflow.They can’t all be winners.Don’t Forget the SoftwareYour computer will be useless without the software to do your work.Ditto the apps on your mobile phone.You’ll need software.Some software is available for free but the majority is sold on a license or subscription basis.Let’s look at what you’re going to need.A suite of standard office applications is a good place to start.Others will use Google tools including Docs, Sheets, and Slides.Communication tools are central to every workplace.You and your team may also use a messaging app like Slack, Signal, or WhatsApp to share information.Additionally, you need a video chat tool.While I have firsthand experience with most of those mentioned, please don’t consider this an exhaustive list.Beyond standard office software, you may need access to a database or cloud storage to do your work.If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll need to plan for data access.Another great use of your data storage is to keep backup copies of your hard drives.While your computer and mobile phone will have onboard data storage, it’s best practice to back up that data regularly, just in case you lose your phone or ruin your computer with a spilled cup of tea.