Many people dream about working from home, but it can also be a logistical nightmare. What can you do to turn your home into an office? Even though working remotely is awesome, it can also get quite noisy, like when your neighbour bolts up all sorts of power tools across the street, or when one works on a DIY project near your front door.
So, we’ve compiled a list of 10 items you’ll need to create a workspace right in your home. With these, you’ll be able to create a comfortable and productive work environment that allows you to enjoy working from home. We hope our list inspires you to take that first step!
Having the right mindset about working from home
Working from home has become a new norm, and no matter what our opinion about it is, it’s here to stay. Like everything else, it has its pros and cons. You can choose to work when it's most convenient for you but at the same time, it's difficult to separate work and home. Working from home can be a struggle. There are always distractions, and it's hard to maintain the same routine when you're in your pajamas all day long!
Jokes aside, you should try to set the right expectations before going out and invest in your home office by asking yourself the following questions:
- How much space do you have?
- How many hours will you be working every day?
- What is your budget?
- Will you have your own space or where you’ll be sharing with your partner?
- Will you be working exclusively in your home office?
The non-negotiable items
High-speed internet is the backbone of any home office. You need to have a reliable and fast internet connection for your business needs, as well as all other tasks such as streaming videos, downloading files, and streaming music.
The last thing you want to happen when trying to close a deal with a client is your meeting turning to a broken record of “hello, can you still hear me?” and the freezing frame, embarrassing moments.
The best work-from-home equipment can be found in any office supply store. You'll need the following for starters:
- Pens and pencil holder
- Papers and notepads
- A filing cabinet or shelves
- Tape dispenser and scissors for starters
Work from home office essentials
Choosing the right work from home office essentials can take some time, even when you already have a checklist because it depends on the individual and their lifestyle. Some people may prefer an ergonomic chair that keeps them comfortable and healthy, while others may prefer a standing desk. If you're the type of person who spends hours on end at your office, it's important to invest in an ergonomic chair or similar furniture that will limit the risk of back and neck injuries.
An ergonomic chair
Ergonomic chairs are typically designed to promote healthy posture and movement, which will help avoid back pain or other physical problems that arise from long hours of sitting in the same position.
Just as how important your bed is to ensure you have a good sleep every night, you should look at your office chair the same way during work hours. That’s why a good-quality ergonomic chair is one of the most important purchases.
The “best” ergonomic chair is different for different people. However, these are the common features to consider when you’re shopping for an office chair:
- Make sure that your desk and chair are levels with each other, so you don't have any strain on your back.
- It's also important to have good back support, so you don't slouch. Lumbar support would be a good idea for your back in the long run.
- The armrests should be the same height as your desk.
- Avoid sitting where the area near where your tailbone is dipped compared to the front of the base.
When choosing an ergonomic chair for your office, especially if you’re sharing the space with someone, make sure that its seat height is adjustable. It’s not just for short people — taller folks need this too! The ideal seat height should allow you to place your feet flat on the floor. And, because everyone's height is different, choosing a chair with an adjustable seat height is crucial. The seat height should also be adjustable, since most work desks are fixed! An appropriate seat height for most people falls between 16 and 21 inches from the floor.
True story: I splashed out to invest in the Secretlab chair last year after going through a ton of reviews and reading about its features last year, and still ended up with an injury known as coccydynia.
The chiropractor said that although the share might feel comfortable at first, it wasn’t the right fit for me since:
- It was a little bit bigger than what I needed.
- The seat pad was slightly reclined backward, causing my weight to shift towards the tailbone the whole time.
I didn’t even think that the chair was to blame until that visit to the chiropractor. Needless to say, after switching to another chair with the right support, the pain was gone the next day. It goes without saying, that while a good chair can help you stay comfortable working for an extended period of time, make sure to take regular breaks to stand up and do some stretching. Here are some simple exercises you can do near your desk to stretch your arms, shoulders, neck, and legs.
Worth the splurge: If you’re looking for a chair worth your hard-earned money, then this one is definitely it. We've seen some great reviews about how happy people are with their new Herman Miller Aeron Chairs, and all agree that they're well worth purchasing!
HATTEFJÄLL Office chair in Smidig black from IKEA
Sturdy but not bank-breaking: IKEA's office chairs are a good buy, especially for those looking to work from home. The collection has items that will fit different styles of homes, and most people who own one say they are satisfied with this purchase!
External Keyboard & Mouse
While the built-in laptop trackpad can do the job most of the time, any decent mouse will help improve your productivity by making it easier to scroll through long documents or glide across your screen effortlessly. If you do any kind of design work, having a mouse is almost non-negotiable.
Similarly, an extended keyboard allows you to enjoy the benefit of full-size keys to reduce typing errors. However, the most important benefit to buying a separate keyboard and mouse is to reduce stress and fatigue on your hands and allow them to work in more natural positions.
I have tested a fair number of mice and keyboards and have found the following to offer the most comfortable typing experience paired with some very smart features.
Logitech K380 Keypad on Best Buy
Wireless Gaming Mice Razer Viper Ultimate
Surge Power Strip with USB
Both Logitech and Razer have consistently been among the best of all keyboards and mice. I got my wife a Razer mouse in 2011 and only 2 weeks ago did she start having some issues with it. That’s almost 10 years of great use from a single mouse!
As soon as you start setting up your home office, you would realize that you need power for more devices than you can count: laptop, printer, phone, monitor, label printer, etc. Plugging too many of them into a regular power strip is risky because, in case of a power surge, your devices might not be protected.
A surge power strip is designed specifically for this. A power strip with surge protection helps you to protect all of your devices from a sudden spike in voltage. The newer models also come with a USB port to charge your phone or other devices.
Tip: Get a strip with 2 bars of plugs because you will need space for some bulky adapters. There are ones with an easy-to-read LED charger status indicator.
Surge Power Strip from Amazon
Two in One Printer and Scanner
If you work at home, there are many essential items that you will need to be successful. One of these items is a printer scanner. For those who do not know what this does; it is an all-in-one machine that prints, copies, and scans documents. This device will help save time eventually by not having to switch between machines when you need to do print.
Tip: Portable printer and scanner combos that are lighter and more compact than traditional printers and scanners may come in handy if you often move your setup around the house.
Do: Consider the cost of ink. It's often a factor that people forget about until they run out. If you're looking to avail of printer deals, make sure to do some research on how much it is and its availability. The best way to optimize for ink is to get a B&W laser printer with a scanner, and a separate inkjet color printer (if you need to print color from time to time). For the laser, I got the Brother DCP-L2550DW All-in-One Monochrome Mobile Ready Laser Printer. Make sure to also check if the brand offers a one to two-year- warranty for peace of mind.
Pro-tip: You can use a scanner app on mobile to scan docs, so you don't need the scanner feature on the printer, saving you some extra $$$!
Two in One Printer and Scanner from Brother
Well Designed Desk
Our team who all work remotely shared how important it is to get a dedicated workspace (a.k.a. a dedicated desk or table). It turns out the space you sleep, relax and work in is important for your mental health. Working on the couch or bed actually puts us into an unproductive state of mind!
Do yourself a favor — keep those zones clear and separate from each other to become more focused and productive.
Home offices are typically designed to be very functional, but they don't have to feel “soulless” or corporate. A contemporary home office can feature artistic pieces that complement the rest of your house instead! Remember, you're also in charge when it comes down to how much storage space you need for your desk.
When picking out your desk, consider:
- Is my space large enough for one specific model, or does something else offer more than functionality without taking up too much valuable real estate (such as adjustable shelves)?
- Will this one withstand daily use based on the equipment and things I'm putting on top of it?
- What kind of wood surface should I pick? Especially if you have coffee or cold drinks on the desk when you work, you’ll need a table that can withstand these temperatures.
- Do I need storage compartments and shelves for stationery, supplies, and books?
- What is the overall design and mood do I want my home office to have? Remember, the colors and lighting in the room also affect your productivity!
Standing Desk: There’s also a growing trend for these desks with adjustable height. Standing or stretching while you work can help relieve stress and tension. It will make it easier for your body to stay alert, focused on the task at hand! The Flexispot standing desk has different height options that are easy to use. It has a wide range of surface space, so setting up anything is simple — whether it’s paperwork from home during lunch break or emailing back/forth between team members.
Headphones (and mic)
The importance of calls — audio and video — has reached a new height. And so has the need for good headphones to help you concentrate and be heard. For those who work from home, the best pair of headphones for them is one that picks up your voice well and cancels other sounds like barking dogs or crying babies. You need a comfortable fit so you can wear it all day without discomfort. You might also want multiple connectivity options in case something goes wrong with either a wired or wireless connection.
Headphones vs. Earbuds:
Picking between earbuds and headphones can sometimes be a real head-scratcher. After all, they both serve the same purpose, so why choose?
Consider these key differences that might affect your decision: sound quality, is there a built-in mic, comfort, and others. Before making this hard choice, though, here’s a quick rundown on the pros and cons, which is better suited towards our needs.
Pros and Cons of Using Headphones
Pros and Cons of Using Earbuds
Need additional information to decide? Check the rest of the details of the pros and cons, as well as other recommended brands in this article.
Best all-around headphones: The Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 offer slightly better sound and noise cancellation, along with top-notch headset performance for voice calls. They're a strong all-around audio performer that can last up to 20 hours when charged, providing you comfort during your listen.
Pro-tip: If you want to avoid spending so much, you can save up by using the headset or earbuds that come with your smartphones! Use apps like Krisp to filter out background noises. The free plan gives you 240 minutes of noise cancellation for one week. And it’s good enough for most people who have minimal calls week in and week out.
Ready to Set up Your Home Office?
Having a proper setup for your workspace can make a world of difference. The ergonomic factors can help prevent strains and injuries that come from the wrong postures, while a thoughtfully designed workspace can improve productivity and focus. Remember, you will be working in your home office area for hours every day, so it’s important to think of it as an investment. Make sure you can work effectively and comfortably. If you’re even more serious about investing in your home office, watch out for our next article on work-from-home items you should splurge on!