My mom is a professor at the UCLA School of Nursing. In March, when Universities in California switched to distance learning for the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, she asked me for recommendations on setting up a professional virtual office since I’ve been working from home since 2018 with an increasing desire (and demand) for virtual services. I figured if she was asking as an educator, maybe others were wondering the same. I’ve compiled two essential virtual office necessities and four additional “nice-to-haves.”
1. External HD Camera
The video quality is so much better with an external camera than your built in webcam. Plus you can mount the camera higher (like on a monitor or tripod) for a much more flattering - and professional - angle.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 $70 at Best Buy (Amazon third party sellers are price gouging this right now for $250. What a shame.)
We may not all have office desks in front of windows to give us great lighting. Purchasing some adjustable height lighting with adjustable warmth will help your virtual sessions look more professional - and again, flattering.
Ring Light $63 on Amazon
Here are four other items that I’ve learned to appreciate while working from home with a virtual office. They are a bit more expensive, but worth it if you think this will be a longer term situation for you.
This is more ergonomic and much easier to look at for longer periods.
New monitors start around $100 on Amazon, but buying used monitors on Craigslist or FB Marketplace is another great option.
2. External Keyboard and Mouse
The ergonomics are crucial if you think you’ll be working from home for long periods of time.
Amazon has a wired bundle of both for $15.
3. Ergonomic Desk Chair
When I first got my home office set up I cared more about aesthetics than functionality. What a mistake. I had bought a beautiful teal chair to “pop” in my almost all white office. Three months later my husband successfully talked me into getting a true office chair and I’ve been SO happy with it. My husband is an ex-Googler and knows a thing or two about nice office furniture. He had always enjoyed his Steelcase chair and encouraged me to invest in one too. New, Steelcase chairs can cost around $800, but I was able to find a used one for $250. Check Craigslist as well as discount office furniture places if you have one near you.
I can get very wrapped up in my work and totally lose track of time. Before I know it, I’ve been sitting for over 2 hours. I started setting the timer in my kitchen for 50-60 minutes. This ensures that I actually GET UP every hour to at least walk to turn it off! Usually I try to walk around the house picking things up or switching laundry as a little physical - and mental - break.
I hope you have found these recommendations and tips helpful as we all adjust to this new normal as educators. Please reach out with any questions. I’m here to help!