Thursday, March 31, 2016

Useful Office Tools in Small Packages

The Small Footprint Workstation
In my earlier Treadmill Walking Desk post, I mentioned that I had replaced my wife’s (Jennifer) old tower-style workstation with a small footprint model. For convenience she wanted a PC that could sit on top of her desktop, as opposed to mounted underneath, without taking up too much of her limited desktop real estate. The Dell Optiplex 9020 Micro (see image below) filled the bill nicely by providing workstation like power in a compact 7x7x1.5 inch box.

Source:Dell Computer

Given Jennifer’s specific office configuration needs, we focused on two of the 9020 Micro special features. First, the 9020 Micro includes two DisplayPort ports and a solid graphics card to drive my wife’s dual 27” monitors. Second, it comes with built-in wireless and wired connectivity (see Dell’s specification sheet for details) to help reduce Internet down time. We also appreciated the 9020 Micro’s use of standard laptop components which makes part substitution easier as you will see shortly.

The Big Three Computer Modifications
First, I replaced the stock 500GB SATA hard drive with this Samsung 850 PRO 1TB SSD (solid state) hard drive. The overall operational speed improvement, especially on boot up, was worth the extra cost. In addition, Jennifer needed plenty of disk space for her work-related video library.

The stock 500GB SATA hard drive did not go to waste, it simply was added to our spare hard drive collection used to power our household’s Drobo file backup unit. You’ll also need SATA to USB adaptable cable (StarTech adapter cable) to clone your factory default SATA drive to your replacement SSD drive.

Next, I bought a Velocity Micro’s VMultra external, USB-powered DVD drive to plug into the 9020 Micro unit. It’s a nice little portable DVD player at a reasonable price.

Finally, I purchased an Anker USB 13-port powered hub for all the other office extras -- printers, scanners, headphones, speakers, etc. -- that require USB 3 or USB 2 connections. I mounted the  Anker hub on the backside of Jennifer’s treadmill desktop using Velcro tape (see photo below).

Source: Koch Capital

Is Hardware Customization Worth the Effort?
So what did all this hardware customization provide beside a chance for me to show off my inner dweeb? Well, Jennifer is an Internet/ Windows power user beyond compare. At any given time, she’ll have 20 browser tabs open across multiple browser instances all accessing the Internet. She’ll have 4 to 8 Windows programs running concurrently in the background accessing locally stored data. She can’t afford slow power-up or slow application response time or being limited to a small number of concurrent applications. FYI, the 16GB of memory RAM doesn’t hurt either.    

Between the customized desktop on Jennifer’s treadmill walking desk and her customized computer configuration, Jennifer and I invested significant time and extra dollars to build a work environment that fits her unique office operational needs. Any technology-induced slowdown in her otherwise efficient daily workflow goes straight to her firm’s bottom line. Jennifer is now free to focus on her business whether sitting, standing or walking, and not worry about her office environment holding her back.

Source: Koch Capital

The customized office environment is a great example of a time asset in action. Yes, it takes discipline and dollars to get pass the “commitment period” to make your custom office environment a reality, but the payback can be huge in both profitability as well as well-being, given the additional health benefits of the treadmill walking desk.

In closing, utilize a smart work environment that fits your personal working style, otherwise you’ll just be unhappy and unproductive day in and day out. And don’t be afraid of technology tweaking when it makes sense for your specific office environment needs…..Jim

About Jim Koch
Jim Koch is the Founder and Principal of Koch Capital Management, an independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) in the San Francisco Bay Area. He specializes in providing customized financial solutions to individuals, families, trusts, business entities and other advisers so they are better able to achieve their financial planning goals. Jim sees himself as an “implementer” of financial innovation, using state-of-the-art technology to provide practical investment management and retirement planning solutions for clients.

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