With the rise of remote work and widespread internet access, working from home has become much more common in recent years.
While working from home has its obvious perks (like no more stressful commutes!), it also requires some thought about just where and how you’ll be working in your home.
How Do You Set Up a Home Office?
Setting up a home office may sound complicated, tempting you to forget about it and just work in whatever part of the house you feel like at any given time. But intentionally setting up your space is a process that will surely pay off once you start working.
A well-planned workspace is an investment for your own health. Research shows that poorly designed daily routines can quickly add up to discomfort and eventually even injuries from sitting too long in a less-than-ideal posture—not to mention the effect this has on your productivity.
What to Consider When Setting Up a Home Office
How your home office will look depends on several factors, and the following questions can help you get started on planning your home office setup.
1. Do you have a dedicated room to use as your home office?
If you have a room allocated for this, well and good! You will likely have more freedom in deciding what you want to do with the room. If you answered Yes to this question, you can jump to Question #3.
2. Are you sectioning off a portion of an existing room?
If you don’t have a dedicated room, think about your existing space: is there an area you can section off, such as in your living room, kitchen, or dining room? Do you have a basement or attic area that you can convert into your office?
3. What is your budget?
Do you have the budget to hire decorators, or would this be a DIY project?
If you want a really fancy office, you will likely need to hire decorators. However, setting up your home office—whether you have a designated room or are sectioning off a space—can be done all on your own, if you’re willing to spend the time and effort.
If you choose the DIY route, you can start by setting up a Pinterest board to collect creative ideas for personalized home offices. Pinterest may also give you lots of creative ideas to repurpose things you already own.
4. Do you want to prioritize function, aesthetics, or both?
First, understand that setting up a home office is not simply getting your equipment together in one place, although it does start with that.
You also have to think about proper posture, especially for prolonged sitting, in order to avoid future injuries.
In addition to that, the way your home office looks will have a bearing on your productivity. Studies show that colors have an impact on mood, with blue, green, and other cool shades being the most preferred for a home office.
Being able to organize the items and reduce clutter in your home office will also create a more relaxing effect.
Home Office Setup Checklist
With all these considerations in mind, here is a list of things that all home offices need, along with suggestions for setting them up for optimal work productivity:
Whatever room you choose to put your home office in, the first thing you need to check is lighting. Is there a window that provides enough natural daylight? Studies show that natural light helps improve both our health and our productivity.
What about at night? Is the room bright enough for you to work, if you need to, during the evenings? If you feel the existing lighting in your room is not enough, consider getting a desk lamp to help light up your work area. This will go a long way in helping keep your eyes in good shape.
The first piece of furniture you need to consider getting for your home office is your desk. This is the centerpiece of your workstation, and you need to get one that meets your needs.
In order to decide on the size and type of desk you need, think about what kind of work you need to do at your desk.
Do you work mainly at the computer, or do you need space to write or draw on paper? Do you need space to put hardcopy documents beside you as you work?
One important thing to remember is that your workstation needs to be ergonomically correct, so you can sit long hours at work without feeling discomfort.
If you’re looking to splurge on a new desk, this model with a built-in shelf is perfect for staying organized and productive. Made by IRONCK, it’s available on Amazon for $143.99.
Another great alternative, also by IRONCK, is this L-shaped industrial workstation, available on Amazon for $129.99.
Chair (and footrest if needed)
Next to your table, your chair is the second most important piece of furniture in your home office. In order to remain efficient, you need to have a chair that is comfortable and keeps you at the right posture.
With most work nowadays being on a computer, an adjustable chair is probably your best bet for getting the most ergonomic working posture. Why? This is because most desks are not designed for you specifically, but an adjustable chair allows you to move it up or down.
Experts recommend adjusting the chair not based on your height, but rather the height of your computer keyboard. Your elbows need to be at a 90-degree angle when you sit at your desk.
From this ideal position, depending on your height, sometimes your feet will not be able to reach the floor. In this case, a footrest will help.
This ergonomic mesh office chair with roller blade wheels provides the support you need to work hours at a time in comfort. It’s available on Amazon for $299.95.
A slightly more budget-friendly alternative could be this swivel ergonomic task office chair with flip-up arms, available for $119.86.
A computer is the most basic equipment needed for most home offices. This is because most of the work done nowadays requires a computer: word processing, data entry, design, and just about everything else.
The kind of computer you choose will depend on your business or work. If you are a designer, you will definitely require computers with higher specs than a writer. Also, consider whether you want to invest in a desktop computer, or maintain mobility with a laptop.
If you choose to use a laptop computer, do note that you may have to invest in a few other pieces of equipment in order to meet optimal ergonomic standards.
For example, one tip that experts agree on is that your computer monitor should be at arm’s length and at eye level. Clearly, this is impossible to do with a laptop.
The following are possible options for improving your posture when working with a laptop:
Although laptops already come with a monitor, you may want to consider investing in an external monitor for better neck posture.
An alternative to external monitors a wireless keyboard. Having a keyboard you can keep away from the laptop lets you prop up your laptop on a platform to get the monitor at eye level.
High-Speed Internet Access
Nowadays, high-speed Internet access is a must. Make sure you get at least a broadband connection so you can continue working undisturbed and without the unnecessary waiting time of slower Internet connections.
Working from home means that you will likely have more distractions than in a typical office. Consider investing in either of the following:
- Noise-cancelling headphones: Nothing beats the concentration you get from having outside noise tuned out. Whether or not your job requires you to make calls, noise-cancelling headphones can surely add to your productivity.
- A white noise machine: This device produces a soothing noise that calms the listener, such as rushing waters or rain.
Relying on electronic equipment for your daily work means you need to protect them from power surges. A power surge, no matter how small, may eventually harm your electronic circuit board.
A surge protector goes a long way in providing this confidence. You can set up your surge protector below your desk to keep your desk uncluttered.
Printer, Scanner, or Multipurpose Equipment
If your work is mainly all on the Internet with no need to print hard copies, you may not need a printer or scanner.
But if your work requires you to print or scan documents into a PDF, look into investing in a multipurpose printer-scanner device.
Then, set it up on your desk where you can easily plug it into your computer. Make sure you allow ample space for your printouts to come out without falling all over the place, too.
Backup Hard Drive or Cloud Access
Working from home means you are also responsible for making sure you have a backup of all your important data. Find a large-sized external hard drive that you can use regularly.
You may also want to invest in cloud-based services for backup purposes, but it’s still wise to continue keeping a hard copy backup in your home.
Research shows that having plants in your office can increase your productivity by 15%. This may be linked to the presence of plants helping workers become, as the research describes, “more physically, emotionally, and cognitively involved in their work.”
Plants are known to add color to any space, and having something that relaxes your eyes will definitely go a long way at improving your work output.
Setting Up a Home Office on a Budget
The right equipment definitely helps in creating a home office setup for optimal ergonomics. But if you have a tight budget, it’s still not impossible to set up a home office where you can work your best.
Here are some quick tips for setting up a home office on a budget:
- Consider what items you already have and work with them. Get creative: For example, a board placed over two drawers can work well as a desk, while you can use boxes lying around as a footstool or platform for your monitor.
- Check out flea markets and thrift stores. Instead of buying things brand new, you can get the same quality from secondhand shops as long as you know what you’re looking for. Of course, do check that any furniture you get is still in good working condition.
- Get creative in setting up your space. Instead of renovating an entire room, simply cleaning up and arranging things may work. Alternatively, if you can’t spare an entire room, you can section off a corner for your work using an inexpensive screen.
- DIY everything. Instead of hiring other people to do the work, such as renovating or repainting, consider doing it yourself. This will save you big bucks. Of course, do take into account the time it will take you to get everything done.
Home Office Setup
When it comes to your home office setup, don’t be afraid to get creative—add your favorite soothing candle, family photos, vision boards, or other inspiring images that make you feel comfortable and motivated to get work done.
After all, you’ll probably be spending a good part of your day here, so take the time to make this space yours.
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