If you’re a huge fan of DIYs, then setting up your own home office is no sweat. Be the architect of your environment and start taking control of your life no matter what your current circumstances are. Your workspace doesn’t have to be spacious or over-the-top. If you try the minimalist way of setting up a home office —it’s going to be an easy task.
I use Pinterest and Ikea to find some inspiration and get the ideas I need. They’re my go-to sites when it comes to beautifying my home, organization tips, and everything in between.
When working remotely, the importance of power supply is often underrated. People tend to focus more on other things than pay attention on their current.
This is a very common mistake of teachers when they’re just starting out. While experience is the best teacher, it isn’t a bad idea to prepare in advance.
If you’re in an area where power outage happens very often —I strongly suggest having a generator. Well, the best maybe is to move out from your place, but if it isn’t doable for you, then generator is your best bet. You can also buy a portable backup power generator for your laptop or desktop, so in case there’s unscheduled power interruption —a handy generator intended for that device can save your day.
Your power supply is as important as your internet connection, so make sure to not take for granted neither one of them. Checking your electric utility for schedule of power interruption is very important to help prepare you for emergencies. If the electric power goes out unexpectedly (which is common here in my country), the best thing you can do is to notify your first point of contact in the company. Normally, companies will ask for a proof when you’re issue is related to power outage, and that’s when the information you got from your electric utility can help.
Your future depends here. Well not totally but sometimes literally.
Starting your home-based online teaching job can be aggravating if you don’t have a reliable source of internet. For Filipino teachers living in the Philippines, this is a nightmare because internet sucks in most parts of the country.
Nowadays, many people’s lives are profoundly saturated with digital technology, and for individuals like home-based online ESL teachers, their livelihood is reliant to the internet. Without it, there’s no point of working from home.
That’s why it’s crucial to have a reliable internet service provider. While there’s no such thing as ‘reliable’ for many of us, we can still make the most of what we have: having a backup internet, regularly checking the schedule for internet outage in your area, or making sure that you can contact someone from your company in case your connection is suddenly disconnected. These simple things can save you from getting penalties, to say the least.
The size of your desk doesn’t matter when you work from home. Unless you’re not using 2 computers (like we usually see in a call center office), right? As long as it’s not messy nor distracts you from being productive and effective , then you can have the cutest table in the world.
Your keyboard and mouse should be at elbow height when you are seated, so it’s important to consider the height of your office table. For people who work long hours on their desks, having a ‘too short’ or ‘too high’ desk is pretty much agonizing. There are many ways to solve this without spending a dime: adjust your chair up or down, sit on a pillow or some books, etc. DIY it!
When you work with a comfortable chair, it’s never difficult to come back to a seat after lunch or dinner. No one wants to have an awful feeling after sitting for an extended periods of time. That’s why investing with the right office chair is something you won’t regret doing, and I suggest looking for ones with adjustable features.
It’s vital to be extra cognizant with our sitting posture, so we can combat the stress and strain that come from working in a sedentary position. If you prefer using whatever table you have available at home, then putting a support pillow or folding up a fluffy towel for your lower back can go a long way.
Your chair should have a support or cushion, so you can avoid back, neck, and shoulder pain. Alternate or vary your posture throughout the day. You can do this by transitioning to a standing position, stretching up, and trying a different posture every so often. Rest your feet on the floor or don’t make your feet dangle.
This is particularly important for learners who need to see how you pronounce a word, your gestures and facial expressions when you explain something, or the TPR teaching style (Total Physical Response) which is crucial when teaching young learners. If a teacher has a bad lighting, it can be bothersome to both the instructor and the student, and when a student is adult, it is likely that you get a complaint.
Lighting creates a visual mood and thereby persuades a learner to direct his/her eyes to you. It facilitates learning and prevents eye fatigue. Not to mention, a well-lit face is a perfect camera filter. You don’t want to be a black silhouette, do you?
If you don’t have a window that’s positioned near your workspace, you can use electric lights as your alternatives: lamps, ring light, and bright ceiling lights.
When teaching online especially in a company that offers a video class, it’s obviously mandatory to use a camera when conducting classes. That’s why a clutter-free background is one of the requirements in applying for a home-based teaching job position. It isn’t something that’s done only during the application process but for the whole duration of your work in the company. Most ESL companies if not all, record all the teachers online sessions with students, and since there’s monthly evaluation, teachers have to maintain a background that’s free from mess or at least make sure that their clutter isn’t captured on camera.
This can be very challenging for those teachers who have young children. However, there are ways to prevent kids from interrupting your classes, and one of them is to separate your workspace away from the area where your children usually do their business. You don’t need to have a spacious area to work, trust me. Alter the spaces where you live and work, and redesign your environment to suit your needs.
This is probably one of the trickiest aspects of working from home. Though there are ways to eliminate background noises, it’s not always doable for everyone. Whether you live in a city or countryside, the sounds of the earth will always be there —unless you soundproof your entire room.
Choose your workspace wisely so that you won’t deal with complaints from students nor get a markdown during quality evaluation. Creating the perfect work schedule that fits your routine will help too. This is when time management comes into play. Another thing is investing in a noise-canceling headphones. These days, online ESL companies added this as part of their requirements, so it’s important to check that the headset you’re buying is the ones with noise-canceling features.
There are also programs or software out there that claim to prevent noisy distractions. I won’t mention brand names because I haven’t used any of them yet, so I can’t really give a feedback about the product or service.
We all want a space that has a natural ventilation, don’t we? While this isn’t always the case for many of us, there are other ways to have a good indoor air quality and avoid dripping in sweat while in class.
To someone who lives in a tropical country like the Philippines, this can be a significant challenge to your motivation to work. By simply creating a better internal atmosphere for your home like opening your window, keeping your space tidy, minimizing moisture production, and reducing pollutants will really make a difference.
Everyone will surely nod in agreement that this is one of the perks of working remotely. Imagine working on a pair of pajamas with a formal button-up blouse on top.
In the ESL teaching industry, regardless if you’re working home-based or not —it’s a must to wear a professional-looking outfit. While the appearance of a teacher plays an important part in getting more booked classes, it’s important to not confused it with what we call ”dress code”.
Like any other industries, online ESL teaching also has its dress codes. For females teachers, the usual attire is something with sleeves and collar: button up blouses, polo shirt, loose straight tops, sheer tops, etc. If you like wearing sleeveless tops, try pairing it with a cardigan. For men: collared polo shirt and short-sleeved shirt are acceptable.
ESL schools are very strict when it comes to dress codes. Impressions of students toward their teachers are crucial to maintaining trust, professionalism, and establishing a proper student-teacher relationship. Many students tend to judge teachers by how they appear from the outside. This is why wearing revealing clothes or showing some skin is a serious matter. Learners of English are mainly from Asian countries, so a lot of them are very conservative when it comes to clothing.
11. Laptop or Desktop
A laptop or personal computer with a webcam is a basic prerequisite when teaching online, unless you’re working for a company that only offers an audio-only class. All legit ESL companies do a technical check before getting you on board, so it’s important to know the specifications of your device as well as the company’s requirements listed on their job ad.
Here is a sample technical requirements from a reputable ESL company:
Since many teachers live in areas where background noises are inevitable, companies require headphones with noise-cancelling features. Imagine having a class with a dog barking from your background or a loud engine sound coming from your neighborhood. That would be so distracting, and it’s unlikely that the student will book another class with you. A noisy or distracting background is a very common complaint of online learners, and the ugly part is, 99% of the time, it’s taken against you. So, having decent headphones at work will enable you to have a peace of mind, be more productive and avoid the repercussions caused by such distractions.