Working from home is something that many people aspire to. Whether it’s a job that enables you to work from home or taking the leap into self-employment, it has its advantages over the traditional alternative of trudging into an office day after day. Even before coronavirus hit, the number of employees in the U.S. working from home jumped by 173 percent from 2005 to 2018.
Setting up a home office is a critical part of being productive at a job or business. There are certain essentials you need for this, and several of the most important are listed below.
Finding or Making Your Own SpaceSource: Shutterstock
It is important to have a space set aside for your work. If available space in your home makes it a possibility, a separate room for a home office is, of course, ideal. Failing this, it should be a corner of a room that is infrequently trafficked by family members, so you are disturbed as little as possible. To clearly demarcate your working area, you might even buy some screen dividers that are translucent enough to allow illumination while keeping you from seeing distractions.
An Ergonomic Chair
Just as in an office outside the home, most modern-day work entails a lot of sitting. Your chair should be one that is comfortable while sitting up in a position to be typing. Don’t try to re-purpose some lounge chair around the house. There are specialized task or office chairs that are made to be ergonomically adjustable. The best ones will allow you to adjust the height, the seat back and the angle of the bottom of the seat. After hours of sitting, your butt, as well as your back, will thank you for not skimping on your budget on this item.
A Desk That Fits Your Needs
What kind of work will you be doing from home? This will help you determine what kind of setup you will need. You should get a desk with sufficient space for a keyboard, room to use your mouse and enough area to push all this aside and be able to write when needed.
You should also think about your long-term health when choosing a desk. Sitting for long periods of time is known for being unhealthy. It increases your chances of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A desk that can raise up to morph between letting you sit and stand would provide ideal versatility for comfort and long-term health.
A Printer With the Functionality You Require
Most home offices will require a printer of some type. While we do live in an increasingly digital world, sometimes, you do still need a hard copy print out of things for various purposes. As long as you’re buying a printer anyway, get a multifunction printer. You never know when you may need to be able to scan something into your computer, so a built-in scanner, at a minimum, would be a nice feature.
You should also keep an eye on a printer’s operating costs. If you buy an inkjet printer that has tiny, expensive ink cartridges that run out frequently, you’ll discover that the up-front cost of the printer was the least of your expense. Inkjet printers are great for color printing, but you should evaluate whether you’ll need color printing capability at all. If you think you’ll be doing a fair amount of printing, an economical black and white laser printer might be your best option.
Headphones and Background Noise or Music
Let’s face it, the main disadvantage of working from home is the potential for distractions. You can take certain steps to minimize them. For instance, when you know the kids are away at school and your significant other is out at their job during the day, then schedule most of your work during these hours. When you have to get work done with distractions present, however, a good pair of headphones is priceless.
What you play over those headphones will largely be up to personal preference. You might want to play some type of droning fan noise or water flowing down a creek nature background sounds simply to drown out any distracting sounds in your environment. Alternatively, you might be the type who likes to play background music while working. You should probably make it instrumental music in this case since lyrics in songs can be kind of distracting in their own right.
Sufficient LightingSource: Shutterstock
Don’t give yourself eye strain. Just as with a good office chair, your comfort is key to being able to work for long hours. If the overhead lighting in the room is insufficient, then consider getting a separate lamp for your desk. This, coupled with a screen divider, can also enable you to get work done if you’re using a corner of a bedroom, and the room light needs to be off while your partner sleeps.
Cleanliness and Organization
Anything that distracts from getting work done should be handled as much as possible. There are the obvious distractions at home of noisy kids, a barking dog or interruptions from loved ones. This latter situation is why a ninth item on this list could be making clear to your family that when you are working, you’re not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. Good noise-canceling headphones with music or background sounds can handle the rest.
There is also the matter of the cleanliness of your workspace and how this can be a distraction. Even if you are not thinking about that pile of papers or boxes right next to your desk, it can be demoralizing and depressing to be surrounded by clutter. This is in addition to the possibility of having allergies, asthma or other health conditions and how bad all the dust and dirt can be for you in such an environment.
A Computer That Does What You Need It To
What type of work are you doing from your home office? If it’s simple word processing, then a simple, cheap desktop or laptop computer will probably be sufficient. If, on the other hand, you are editing video or doing something else that really taxes a computer’s CPU, you should look into buying a more powerful system with more available memory. Make sure your computer is up to the task you are using it for, so you’re not wasting time waiting for it to complete tasks.
Enjoy Working From Home!
Many people love the flexibility of working from home. So much so that 25 percent of remote employees would take a pay cut to work from home. Due to coronavirus, 62 percent of U.S. employees currently work from home. Since we don’t know how long it may last, this could be a new normal that many of us had better start getting used to. The above list of home office essentials can be helpful in enabling you to be more productive from home.