by CAROL DOROTHY
If you are a freelance reporter or are about to start your career as a freelance court reporter, chances are you will need a home office to work from. Some court reporters are given office space within their firm, but many are expected to do their transcription work outside of the office.
It is worth investing some time and money to set up a home office that is well equipped. Your freelance work is a business. You should build your office accordingly. The right tools will make it easier for you to earn your living.
So what are the right tools? Here are a few essentials every court reporter should have for their home office:
You, of course, need a computer to produce transcripts, and also to run your business. Choosing a laptop computer is practical and flexible. With a laptop, you will be able to take your work with you. If you have depositions that are spaced several hours apart, you can bring your laptop along and make good use of the downtime. Laptops also make it easy for you to work from anywhere. Whether you’re working from your home office or your favorite coffee shop, a laptop will give you choices on where and how you choose to work.
If you do use a laptop, it is a good idea to have an external monitor set up in your office. You will be able to easily hook this up to your laptop and work from a larger screen. An external monitor also allows you to adjust the height of your monitor. Be sure to set the monitor up so that you do not have to bend forward to view the monitor. This can cause neck issues that you will want to avoid.
An external keyboard is another great tool you can use with your laptop. An external keyboard will give you a couple of advantages. One is that you can purchase a keyboard that you are most comfortable using. There are even special ergonomically correct keyboards that will help you combat musculoskeletal issues.
If you are using an external monitor and keyboard, you may want to consider finding a docking station that is suited to your laptop. A docking station provides an easy way to plug in your laptop when returning to your home office. You will not have to unplug and again plug in cords each time you leave your office and return. Check the maker of your laptop computer to see if they offer a docking station for your model.
Because you will be spending so many hours in your office, you will want to purchase a good desk. In a home office, often size is limited. One good remedy is the L-shaped desk. These fit in a corner and make good use of the space. An L-shaped desk often provides more desktop area to work on.
No matter what type of desk you choose, make sure it is a good level for you. You do not want one that is too high causing you to reach upward as you work. Try out many different types of desks before deciding which type fits you best.
As court reporters, we spend many hours looking at a computer screen. This means we already have a higher risk of eye strain. Do yourself a favor and make sure you have good quality lighting in your home office. This will allow you to avoid further eye strain due to bad lighting. Think about adding task lighting to your desk top, the type of lamp that you can adjust to place lighting where you need it most.
In your home office, you will have traditional office supplies that you will use on a daily basis. If your desk does not have a lot of drawer space, you will want to add cabinets to hold supplies. Cabinets will allow you to stay organized, making it easier for you to accomplish your day’s work without struggling to find supplies you need.
A good office chair is a must for your home office. You will be in this chair many hours every week. If it is not a good chair, you will eventually develop back fatigue and possible longer-lasting back and neck problems. Court reporting demands a lot from your body. By finding a good chair for your home office, you will be much more comfortable as you work.
When choosing a printer for your home office, first evaluate how often you will need to use it. Some court reporters print out all of their own transcripts. Others send digital files to their firm, who then prints and coordinates the transcripts when they are finished. Once you know how often you will need to print, now you can go shopping. Almost all printers will tell you how many pages per minute they can print. Ask to see a printer actually printing before you buy it. By observing the test, you will be able to better gauge how fast the printer is and whether it will meet your needs.
As you set up your home office, you do want to make sure you have these basic tools. It is worth spending some money to invest in good reliable equipment for your home office. Good equipment will save you time and allow you to work long hours in comfort.
What have you found are helpful tools in your home office?