Create the Ultimate Home Office Setup in 5 Steps
Many workers will continue to work from home, at least in some capacity, long into 2021 — and perhaps even permanently. That makes today a prime opportunity to reevaluate your home office setup, especially if you’re looking to move into a new apartment or house.
The ideal office space will account for both your physical and mental health to ensure that even when the work itself isn’t easy, getting into a comfortable work mode is a breeze.
1. Pick a spot for your home office setup
Are you still working at the kitchen table? If remote work will be a long-term arrangement, consider a more permanent and comfortable setup for your home office.
Ideally, your home office will have a dedicated space of its own, such as a converted spare room. That’s because working from home can blur the lines between work and leisure time; it’s all too tempting to get the laundry done in between meetings and let your work hours bleed into the evening. Designating an entire room for work helps to switch your brain into a working mentality — when you’re in that room, you’re at work. When you’re not, you’re taking time off.
However, having a totally separate office space isn’t always realistic. If working from home is going to be a permanent feature and your home just isn’t quite big enough to fit a dedicated home office, it might be time to think about moving. We’ve put together a guide to the best places to live for remote work, and you’ll want to make a plan for negotiating virtual home tours during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When looking at a potential home or apartment, envision where your home office could go. Having that in mind ahead of time will give you a leg up on some of the preparation that goes into your ideal home office.
2. Purchase comfortable furniture
First, you’ll need a desk. You may have been getting by with the kitchen table or sitting on the couch with a laptop but having a designated working space can really help to get you into the work mindset.
It doesn’t have to be boring; one of the best things about creating your own setup is that you don’t have to simply reproduce a bland office space in your house. You might purchase an antique writing desk complete with brass-handled drawers or opt for a chic Scandinavian-style table. If you’re feeling up for a challenge, you could even try building your own desk!
Most important of all, you’ll need a comfortable and ergonomic chair. After all, you’ll be sitting in it for roughly eight hours a day; a dining room chair or a cheap swivel seat just won’t cut it. Save yourself from future back problems — even if you’re on a tight budget, your office chair is the one thing you shouldn’t cut corners on.
3. Beef up your broadband
If you’ve been getting by with a DSL connection, you may want to upgrade to speedier cable or fiber broadband. Working from home is much more pleasant if you don’t have to wait for minutes at a time while files download, or you connect to your online video conferencing meeting.
If you already have fiber or cable and it still seems frustratingly slow, check your connection speed with an online speed checker and use an internet comparison tool to find an alternative internet package with a bit more oomph.
Take a thorough look at your router to ensure it effectively connects to multiple devices at once. If your home office is a long way away from the modem, use a WiFi extender to boost the signal around your home.
4. Give your laptop some love
If you spend a considerable amount of time hunched over your screen, consider stepping up your office tech. Connecting your humble laptop to a high-resolution monitor — or multiple monitors — gives you a more ergonomic sitting position and lets you work with multiple documents at once. Similarly, an ergonomic keyboard and mouse help protect the wrists. Keep any new gear safe (and gain a few extra sockets) with a surge protector.
5. Above all, look after yourself
The most important consideration in your home office setup is building a space you feel comfortable in, both physically and mentally. Working from home can be isolating and sometimes stressful, so give yourself the freedom to design your office however makes you happiest.
- Light the space. Lighting in particular affects your mood in a space. Soft lighting from well-placed lamps can boost your mental health and prevent screen squinting. Try to soak in as much natural light as you can — a view of the outside world through a window or skylight is preferable to staring at a dark wall.
- Personalize your spot. Fill the space with mementos such as family photos, paintings, prints, and models or toys. Painting the room in a cheerful color can lift your spirits, and this guide to house painting can help you get started. Plants also cheer up small, drab spaces and act as natural air filters.
- Prioritize physical activity. One of the hardest things about working from home is staying active without a daily commute. An under-the-desk foot peddler can help to keep blood flowing while you work. Alternatively, simply set a timer to remind you to get up and move every hour or so. If sitting down all day is causing back problems, switch to an adjustable-height standing desk and stay on your feet for part of the day while you work.
- Keep water within reach. Get a water filter or smart water bottle to help you drink more water. It might not replace chats around the watercooler, but it will keep you hydrated during those long workdays.
Small considerations like these add up to make a massive difference when working from home. By the time you’ve finished perfecting your ultimate home office, you might never want to go back to a “proper” office again.