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Working From Home Tip – Start With Your Headset

Posted by Keith Elder | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 15-04-2007

I’m a Software Engineer so it is easy for me to work from home.  Give me a high speed Internet connection, VPN into the office, forward my calls and I can work.  I’ve been working at home now for almost two years.  When I first started working remote from Hattiesburg I didn’t know how things would work out.  But after several months I got into a really nice routine.  One of the things I noticed initially was I am WAY more productive than working in the office.  I gained anywhere from 1-2 hours of chair time each day by not having to drive into the office.  And since I was at home, it only took me about 5 minutes to fix a sandwich and I was back at my desk.    

We actually have a fair amount of people that work from home at Quicken Loans.  A lot of team members get to work from home for several months at a time as a perk.  I usually get asked for pointers and tips on how to work effectively from home by fellow team members.  Some of the things I tell them are company specific but others are just general.  The number one thing I tell people is to invest in a headset.  And by invest I don’t mean $20, $40, or even $100.  When I first started working from home I immediately started researching which headset I was going to use.  I settled on the Plantronics CS50/HL10 headset as I discuss below.  For those working from home, start with your headset.  You’ll be happy you did.

Plantronics CS50/HL10

Your headset is something you will use everyday.  It is important you pick a great one.  Notice I said a “great” headset, not a good one, not a cheap one, not a descent one.  There is a difference in getting something that is good and getting something that is great.  I spent a lot of time researching my headset of choice before making the plunge.  I knew I was going to spend the majority of my time in conference calls, meetings, etc.  The features I wanted were wireless, enough battery life to last throughout the day, ability to answer if I was away from the desk and ability to get as far away from the desk as possible.

In the end I settled on the Plantronics CS50/HL10 which met all of my requirements. 

The Plantronics CS50 is a wireless headset that has a range of 300 feet from the base station and 8 hours of wireless hands free talk time.  You can buy the CS50 by itself, but don’t.  Without the handset lifter (HL10), the headset isn’t near as useful since you will not have a way to answer your phone if you are away from the desk.  The link I included above does include the HL10 bundle by the way.

The handset lifter sits on your home office phone and physically lifts the handset when you want to answer a call and drops the handset back down when you want to hang up. VERY COOL!  To use the lifter you do have to have a standard office phone the lifter will fit onto.  After mine arrived in the mail, I went to Office Depot with the lifter to fit it to a really good office phone.  The key is to not get one of the phones that are built at a high angle.  This causes the handset to fall off the phone when the lifter picks the phone up.  The flatter the better.

I’ve had my CS50 for about a year and a half now.  I haven’t had any problem with it except for some reason sometimes it takes it a few seconds to pickup the lifter after hitting the talk button.  All in all it has been the best thing I purchased for my home office. 

When I’m on long calls I don’t sit at my desk much.  I leave the desk and walk around the house.  Sometimes I jump on the treadmill if I am just listening in.  When I’m on long calls I pace around my house like a hamster in a cage.  My wife is worried I’m going to wear out our carpet pacing in circles from the kitchen, to the music room, to the living room and back to the kitchen.  If you think about it for a second I am at least getting some form of exercise.  If I’m on an hour conference call I may actually walk 30-40 minutes of it.  That’s a lot of walking if you think about it.  Yesterday for example I was on the phone for over 5 hours! 

The 300 feet range on the CS50 is impressive.  Example. Let’s say you are in the kitchen fixing a sandwich for lunch or on the way to the restroom and the phone rings. If you have your headset on just press the button on the side when the phone rings and it will answer (again, you need the HL10 lifter). 

The mute feature and volume control is located on the back of the headset and comes in handy as well.  I hate to admit it but I do some weird things while on the phone sometimes.  Sometimes I do light house work like sweeping the floor or venture outside play with the dogs.  I may even go all the way to the mailbox or water the flowers.  Without the mute button being accessible on the headset and the fact that it is wireless this wouldn’t be possible of course.  Now some of you may say, dude, your not paying attention if you are on the phone then.  Actually, wrong. I pay less attention if I sit at my desk.  Emails come in to distract me or instant messages.  I have found if I do something physical which takes zero brain power then I can still concentrate on the conversation.

As you can see, without my investment in my headset I would be severely tied my desk.  If you are working at home, take it from me, get a good headset, you’ll be happy you did.

Comments (3)

Great blog article about this topic, I have been lately in your blog once or twice now.thanks for the information providing.I have met some really neat people through the comments, I certainly want to encourage more me to comment.

I completely agree.

It is much easier to productive at home than it is at the office due to far fewer distractions. I don’t work from home everyday of the week, but I probably do so 3 to 5 days out of a month. It always makes me wish I could get away with it on a regular basis.

It typically isn’t necessary for me to be on the phone that often while working from home, but I can definitely appreciate the desire for a wireless headset when it is necessary. I will have to take note on the CS50.

And, you are definitely right about walking away for a phone call. I can’t count the number of times I have been on a call sitting at my desk when someone asked me a question, and I had to get them to repeat it because I was too busy reading an email or something else.

Excellent advice. I’m on the PC day and night, and I use skype for calls – I’ll need to look into a “great” wireless USB headset. This way I can at least walk away from the screen when I’m on the phone.

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