Working from home has a multitude of advantages. It’s a flexible work environment, you set the schedule, and best of all there’s no commute which saves on both time and money! While there are a lot of advantages to working from home, one of the biggest challenges is setting up the right environment with the proper tools to help you succeed.
But before you head out to the store and fork over a handful of cash for the newest office equipment, take a moment to consider what you actually need. For example, are you a creative designer, will you be video-conferencing a lot, how much time will you spend in the home office? All these things should go into your planning. Regardless of what you will be doing from your home office, here are some tips that everyone can follow to create the ultimate home office!
1. Set up a dedicated work area
Let’s be real. If you don’t set up a dedicated work-space and make a concerted effort to get up in the morning and actually do work, you’re planning to fail. It is best if your work environment is completely separate from the rest of your house. A quiet, well lit room is the perfect sanctuary to get work done. A dedicated work area becomes more important if you share the space with your family or friends so that you can shut out the noise and distractions to focus on the tasks at hand. Make sure to have the office within close proximity to your WiFi router and phone line for optimal connectivity, and close to the front of the house if you’re meeting with clients.
2. Set some boundaries
In the same spirit as #1, personal/work boundaries are just as important as having a dedicated space. When you’re on the job, be on the job. At home there is no boss looking over your shoulder and checking up on you to make sure you’re staying on task (unless, perhaps, you still live with your mother!). While a work-from-home setup might seem like the ideal way to mix business and pleasure, this can be the ultimate slippery slope. Instead, remove the temptation and all the distractions. This means shutting off your cell phone, staying off social media, keeping your Xbox in the living room and most importantly, setting dedicated work hours where you actually sit down and focus on your daily priorities.
3. Lighting, lighting, lighting
As in Films as in the office, lighting is everything! In this case, the more the better, and try to include as much natural light as you can. Studies have shown that exposure to natural light improves both physical and mental well-being, which also improves productivity. If big windows and natural sunlight aren’t an option, there are plenty of day-light light-bulbs that can stand in as substitutes. It also pays to invest in a good desk-lamp for days when you’re working late and burning the midnight oil.
4. Get the right gadgets
A home office just isn’t complete with out a few neat gadgets. Here are some must-haves to make your work-space both functional and enjoyable:
- Wireless mouse – Logitec MX Master is the best work-mouse on the planet.
- Wireless ergonomic keyboard -Microsoft’s Sculp Ergonomic Keyboard will keep the carpel tunnel away!
- Webcam – Unlike laptops, most desktops do not come with a webcam. Great for high-quality video-conferencing.
- Noise cancelling headphones – Bose Quiet Comfort II are amazing for conference calls, music or just tuning out the noise.
- Smart speaker – Amazon Echo is a great virtual assistant, and ideal for playing a few background tunes.
- Surge protector – Protect your electronics from going kaput.
- VOIP – Internet-based landline phone. Save money on your phone bills, or just keep as a back-up if the phone line goes down!
- Scanner/printer – These aren’t obsolete yet! A good multi-functional printer is a god-send for productivity.
- Clock – Set deadlines, take breaks, and know when to call it quits!
- Back-up hard-drive – Don’t lose all of your previous work! Back all your files up on this 8 Terabyte drive.
5. High-speed internet
Lost connectivity is lost productivity, which ultimately means you’re losing money! The last thing you want is to be waiting for a big file to download or constantly dropping video-conference calls with an important client. Just bite the bullet and get reliable, high-speed internet (with at least 50 Mbps download, 10 Mbps upload speed). Most cable companies offer business plans. They cost more, but guarantee the connection and have MUCH better support. No more waiting for hours and going in endless circles with a sales rep.
6. Dedicated work phone
It might be a cost-saver to have a shared line for both your personal and business calls, but those upfront savings will likely lead to lost business down the line. With a dedicated work phone and line you can have a business-facing voicemail that sounds proper and professional. And you’ll avoid picking up the call thinking it is your significant other, when it is a actually a priority client on the other end. If you really want to have everything on just one phone, you can always call-forward to your personal cell.
7. Invest in an adjustable workstation
Standard desks are sooo last year. Adjustable workstations and standing desks are the wave of the future! If you’re working at a desk that is the wrong height it will cause havoc on your health and well-being. Make sure to also have a comfortable, adjustable ergonomic chair to ensure your posture doesn’t suffer. If an adjustable workstation is not an option due to the price, make sure to get a desk that is the correct height from the get-go (test drive it before you buy).
8. Go wide-screen
You might be thinking: I’ve got a perfectly good laptop screen, why on earth would I spend money on a monitor? Well, you might have the fanciest laptop on the planet, but after hours, days and weeks of strained work squinting at a tiny screen, you’ll wish you’d invested in a proper monitor. A good monitor is adjustable and will align perfectly to your height. It should also be big enough that you never have to squint. Plus, a bigger screen means you have more real-estate to work with, so you can have multiple applications on the screen at the same time. A nice big wide-screen monitor is a huge productivity-booster.
9. Fire-proof filing cabinet
Stay organized, safe and protected. The last thing you want is to spend hours sorting through piles of paper on your desk, or losing critical documents after an accident or catastrophe. There are a ton of protective filing cabinets available, so pick one that suits your needs. If you’re on the fence about getting one, just think of it like good insurance. You probably won’t need it, but when you do you’ll be eternally grateful. And unlike insurance, this is a one-time expense so the pain on your wallet is fleeting!
10. Add a personal touch.
We spend 8-10 hours per day (or nearly a quarter of our lives) at work. Make it a place you enjoy spending time. Fill the space with art you enjoy looking at, some personal photos or memorabilia, and some unique furniture! If music helps you focus, play something soft in the background. Here are some fun design ideas for an office that you will actually look forward to spending time in!
Bonus tip: Don’t skip the greenery
Go to your local garden-center and grab a low-maintenance indoor plant. It will 100% help brighten your mood and pump a little bit of extra oxygen into the air. You’ll definitely notice the difference after being cooped up in your office for hours on end.