Nine Tips for Setting up your Remote Office
Facing the reality of how COVID-19 has and will continue to change our lives in multiple ways, we are starting to recognize that working from home may be what is most realistic and safe for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, many of us are looking for ways to better improve our work-from-home equipment, skills, and environment. Here are nine tips and tricks that can assist you in providing better remote deposition services and are also great resources for your clients:
- Use your iPad as a Second Monitor: This can be extremely handy when you are taking a remote deposition or scoping/proofreading your transcript. Through the app Duet Display, you can convert your iPad into a second monitor, whether you use a Windows or a Mac computer as your primary computer. Simply download Duet Display onto your iPad for the cost of $9.99 and follow the setup instructions to download onto your computer. Then, connect your iPad to your computer, change your display settings, and use your iPad screen as you see fit. I personally use it to view my Zoom meeting while I reference any documents being displayed on the full screen of my computer. This is also a great tool to suggest to clients if they express frustration when trying to view electronic exhibits and the videoconference at the same time. Here is an article walking you step by step through how to make your iPad a second screen (again, a wonderful resource to be able to forward to clients).
- Purchase an External Microphone: If you are unable to be heard during a deposition, then an external microphone is an easy and affordable solution. There are many varieties based on your needs and they run anywhere from $20 to a couple hundred. The TONOR Conference USB Microphone works with both Mac and Windows as a “Plug and Play” device. This means that there is no need to download software to use it. This is easy to just set up and go, but be aware some of your computer’s audio settings may need to be adjusted.
- Purchase an External Speaker: If you are unable to hear participants clearly, getting a high-quality external speaker can make all the difference. Both the Bose SoundLink and the Bose SoundLink Mini are extremely high quality, compact, and affordable. They also connect to your computer or phone via Bluetooth, which means you’ll have one less thing to plug in for a deposition. These are a great option for telephonic depositions.
- Check for Zoom Updates Prior to Every Deposition: Zoom is constantly making updates to their program to introduce new features, fix bugs, and update current features. To stay updated with all the changes Zoom is making, make sure to check for updates the night before or the morning of each Zoom session. Simply log in to your Zoom desktop app, select your initials in the top right-hand corner of the screen, and select “Check for Updates.” It will either let you know you are up to date or ask you if you would like to update. For more detailed instructions, please check out the Zoom Help Center.
- Use On/Off the Record Indicator: It can be hard for parties to be one-hundred-percent sure when the proceeding is on or off the record while on Zoom. This is when having a sign in front of your camera to indicate when you are off the record comes in handy. It might even allow you a little time to get something done off-camera.
- Set up a Folder Ahead of Time on your Desktop for Marked Exhibits: To make virtual handling of exhibits easier, create a folder by right-clicking on a blank portion of your desktop, select “New” and select “Folder.” This will create a new folder that you can then name with the date of deposition, case name, witness name, job number, or however you would like. This will keep your exhibits organized and in one place. Remember that some remote platforms allow online access to documents for only 24 to 48 hours, so be sure to download and move your exhibits to your folder during breaks or at the conclusion of your proceeding.
- Do Not Use Headphones with the Laptop You are Writing To: When taking a virtual deposition, if you plug your headphones into the laptop you are writing to you will lose your CAT software audio. If you have no other option than using one computer for both Zoom and to write to, you can use a USB splitter you can purchase here. Be sure to test the splitter prior to starting a deposition to ensure that your audio is synching properly.
- Use Noise-Canceling Headphones: Being able to focus and report a virtual deposition can be exceedingly difficult when at home due to all the distractions that might be happening around you. This is when noise-canceling headphones/earbuds become game-changers. These headphones/earbuds will run you anywhere from $30 to hundreds of dollars depending on the brand you choose. Some highly rated choices are: TaoTronics Active ($44.99), Sony WF-SP800N ($168.00), and Bose QuietComfort ($249.00). These also come in handy when you are seated next to a crying baby or a loud talker when traveling.
- Check your Internet Speed: Strong and steady bandwidth is necessary for all parties in a remote setting. To test your bandwidth, go to speedtest.net and find out what your network’s download and upload speeds are. For participating in most videoconferences, you will want to have download and upload speeds of at least 2 mbps. If you need to increase bandwidth, turn off all other programs on your computer and any other devices that might be connected to the internet.