We've compiled a list of must-have tools for outfitting your home office, optimizing your time, and staying connected to your existing and new clients.
As an insurance agent, chances are a lot of the tools you used pre-COVID-19 are “in the cloud” — but that doesn’t mean there won’t be growing pains when shifting to a work-from-home process.
Outfitting your home office with the right tools will help you optimize your time, serve your clients, and quote policies seamlessly, and your clients will be none the wiser that you’re spending your lunch hour in your own kitchen.
Large offices typically have the budget and the inclination to spring for ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and other office equipment that keeps your posture where it should be.
In order to stay healthy and productive at home, you’ll need to recreate that environment in as much detail as your budget and available space will allow. Consider picking up these products if you don’t already own them.
Physical Support Products for the Home Office
- Monitor — A large, bright monitor helps you avoid eye strain, as well as a desktop bottle of eye drops.
- Keyboard — Try an ergonomic keyboard, particularly if your work requires data entry.
- Mouse Pad — Along with that keyboard, pick up an ergonomic mouse pad or standalone wrist support for your existing mouse pad.
- Desk Chair — A desk chair with wheels and adjustable positions provides ample back support and is easy to move around.
- Lumbar Support — Still feeling it in your back? A lumbar cushion can support your lower back and give you some relief.
- Chair Mat — A chair mat allows easy movement of your wheeled office chair.
- Standing Desk — A standing desk or a standing desk add-on (for your traditional desk) gives your back and legs room to stretch and move.
- Lighting — Make sure you have adequate lighting in your workspace area, preferably natural sun or full-spectrum bulbs. Lighting is important for both mood enhancement and eye fatigue.
- Tension Relief — Include massage products or heating pads to relieve tension in the neck, shoulders, or back. A stress ball can work wonders as well.
Using these tools as you work helps you stay focused on the task at hand, rather than shifting around in your chair in discomfort. They’ll also eliminate painful stress on your joints, carpal tunnel, or blurred vision at the end of a particularly demanding day of policy quotes and paperwork.
In a more traditional insurance office setting, you’d typically have access to large file cabinets or a central database of client files. At home, you’ll need to adapt to a smaller “world” while still keeping important data nearby.
A small two-drawer locking filing cabinet allows you to alphabetize your client files and secure them whenever you aren’t in the office.
Scanning apps or physical scanning devices can help you digitize your notes, business cards, and other important though not necessarily sensitive papers and pieces of information.
Organize your computer desktop to reflect the way you work, and make desktop folders as needed to quickly and easily store scanned information. When storing client information, always be sure to follow policies and procedures as they relate to privacy.
Always lock up physical files and make judicious use of passwords or physical computer-securing tools, which prevent outside attempts at hacking into your home network.
Connecting At Home
Now that your comfort and security are taken care of, it’s time to connect! Your internet connection should be as reliable as possible in order to work productively; this may mean having a conversation with your service provider about increasing your service tier.
If your office is in an area of the home with a weak wi-fi signal, you may need to purchase boosters or a wi-fi mesh system to ensure consistent coverage. This will be especially important if you’re planning on videochat meetings with clients through programs like Skype and Zoom — first impressions are everything, and pixelated, jumpy video quality doesn’t inspire confidence.
Investing in a high-end webcam and microphone can also help you look more professional to peers, clients, and other work-related contacts. Always test your visual range on the camera to be sure nothing overly personal, unprofessional, or distracting shows up in the background. Wear professional clothing, both top, and bottom, if you anticipate needing to be on camera.
If you live with a partner or children, come up with a signal — a closed door, a special note on the door, etc. — to indicate you’re in a voice meeting and that you shouldn’t be disturbed. While pets are a great way to relieve stress, they should also probably be escorted out before any video-related meetings to avoid interruptions.
Beyond your home office setup, it’s also important to stay “in the field,” even when you can’t physically be there. Connecting with insurance industry communities to better yourself professionally will help you stay sharp and on your game, even if you stay in your home office stretches on for many more months.
If you’re worried it will just look at the bright side: when you work from home, the commute is virtually nonexistent and you never have to wait in line for your morning coffee.