Setting up a home office has gained popularity for most people since 2020. More and more people have the option to work from home than ever before, and so having a productive home office setup is extremely important.
A dedicated room for office space, a large desk, comfortable chair, a high speed internet connection and a phone line are must-haves for any good home office. A webcam, large monitor, powerful laptop or desktop, good lighting, good quality headphones and external speakers further improve the utility of the home office.
Its also important to take short breaks to simply stretch, or for a small fitness routine or eye exercises. Coffee/ tea breaks work great to stay refreshed as long as they are kept to a moderate level of frequency.
Setting Up A Small Home Office
Here are things every home office absolutely needs for uninterrupted and focused work.
1) Dedicated Office Space: Having a dedicated room as the office space is the first and foremost thing that everyone needs to function effectively with remote work. It’s best if you have a good-sized room that’s strictly your home office room for working without any distractions.
But if space is a concern, look for any small room or even a basement or attic space that has atleast a door and a window. If this too is not possible and you are unable to dedicate a separate room, make a partition in an existing room using some room dividers.
Your work is an important part of your lifestyle, so when you have the option, setting aside a separate work room is always a smart move.
2) Large desk: Though a desk is mainly needed for the laptop or monitor and accessories, over time, there may be a need to keep notepads, stationary, files and folders, some decorations and so on, so setting a larger desk right from the beginning will mean that you will have a more organized and neat setup.
3) Comfortable Chair: A good chair with adjustable height is an important requirement. A chair is something you’re likely to sit in for many hours every day, so choose a chair that’s comfortable and supports your posture without any strain on your body.
When in doubt, simply visit your neighborhood HomeDepot or furniture store to try out their different varieties of office chairs and desks. Here is a whole series of ergonomic office chairs from Home Depot, so you can choose the one that’s just right for you 🙂
4) Fast Speed Internet: Choose from Xfinity, Mediacom, At&T, Verizon or any other internet service provider that can offer 1 or 3 Gigabits (Gbps) per second download speed and an unlimited or high data cap per month.
5) Good Phone connection: A good quality smartphone or cell phone is best so you can take calls even when you’re away from your desk, our for a quick walk or a coffee break. This way, your home phone can be set aside only for private phone calls and will not take up your work talk time.
6) Good lighting: Good lighting will help you see better and will reduce eye strain. A proper room lighting also energizes a room and makes it easy to get work done.
7) Good keyboard and Mouse: Many people make the mistake of sticking with an old keyboard and mouse and never even realize that this might be unknowingly disturbing their work productivity.
Most remote work will require emails and written communication. Software developers write a lot of computer code. Marketers use their CRM software to manage customer information.
Computers are a part of our daily life for most professions nowadays. So everyone needs a good keyboard and mouse for efficient working.
Here is a great Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse combo with a single USB wireless dongle that connects with the keyboard and mouse.
8) UPS/ Surge Protector: Though most people in the US or the developed world have a more reliable power/ electricity, is is still possible to experience some voltage fluctuations which can suddenly make the computer go dead without an in-built battery.
It is always best to protect the computer parts from fluctuations in voltage which is what a surge protector provides in a smaller way. But if you want to be absolutely sure to provide a complete power backup for a few hours in case of a power drop, purchase a good UPS which will act as the computer’s power backup.
9) Computer Backup/ Storage: A 1 or 2 TB of storage can come in handy for keeping system backup images that can be used to recreate the entire system including the O/s such as windows, the applications, settings and all the files.
What Are Some Good-To-Haves In A Home Office?
Here are additional things to have for a more functional home office:
1) Powerful Laptop: A laptop is always ideal as it can be moved with you when you travel or when you simply want to work from a different location. But since laptops are more expensive than desktops, it’s important to have a laptop with good CPU (2 to 4 cpus), good RAM (about 64 GB), and hard disk space (about 2 TB) or more.
Choosing a good brand laptop will also ensure that it’s reliable and more durable.
Here are a few different laptop options to choose from:
2) Large Monitor: Many hours of staring at a laptop display/ monitor screen can cause considerable eye strain. Also, there is often a need to view large spreadsheets, graphs or charts which are much better displayed in a larger screen.
So a large monitor, say anything at or above 21” inches is preferable for a good display.
3) Webcam/ Camera: It’s always nice to talk face-to-face and doing so when remote is possible with a good webcam or computer camera. Many laptops come with an inbuilt camera and microphone, or you can simply attach a good webcam in front of the display screen.
5) Headphones and Speakers: Though laptops have their internal speakers, it’s more convenient to have good speakers, a microphone and a headphone for all the online meetings, chats and for any other videos you need for work.
6) Portable SSD: A portable external SSD (solid state disk) can be plugged in to the computer from the USB slot. This can be useful for taking periodic backups of files, application and even images of the entire O/s setup.
Here is one from Crucial with storage space of 2 TB.
7) Personal Printer and Fax: A printer is useful for taking a hard copy of documents for reference and for any time when a physical printout is required. This is especially useful for filling forms where a signature is also required.
There are likely to be various company benefits such as 401k, medical and so on for which you need to fax signed forms to your company. There might also be a need at work for taking printouts of important documents.
So its always best to have a simple printer-cum-fax machine for your home office needs such as this one.
8) Docking Station: There are times when you need to move the laptop so you can work from the comfort of your sofa, or perhaps you need to get lunch ready and still be notified of emails or messages from your office.
At such times, instead of removing all connections from your laptop such as monitor display connections, keyboard and mouse cables, and speakers and so on, with a docking station, everything stays connected to the docking station. When you want to move your laptop, simply unplug from the docking station and then connect back to docking station with all your other wires and connections staying intact when you’re back at your desk.
Here are a range of docking stations to choose from.
Comfortable Home Office: Items and Accessories
Here are some additional items and accessories that will make your home office more productive and comfortable for working.
1) Good Coffee/ Tea maker and Kitchen: Having a good coffee maker or tea kettle if you’re a tea-person is a must to stay alert and refreshed throughout the work day.
It’s nice to have a simple and clean kitchen for an occasional snack or meals as well. So be sure to keep the kitchen clean before the start of your work day.
2) Screen protector/ Eye Guard: In this digital world where almost everyone uses a computer for work, it’s important to protect the eyes from the glare and rays from the monitor display screen.
Anti glare screen protectors come in very handy by reducing the UV emission from the display in reaching your eyes, and also by reducing the glare from sunlight. This will also greatly reduce eye strain even when you work on your work computer for many hours at a stretch.
3) Multiple lights: As the daylight comes and goes, it is helpful to have different lighting in your home office to create varying moods and brightness. So having multiple heights of lights in various spots of your home office will add to the work-ability and comfort of your home office.
4) Comfy Area Rug or Pillow: If it gets cold where you live, a thick and soft area rug will make it warm and soothing. In case you’re in a place where its cold during the early mornings and late evenings, but warm during the day, choose a cotton area rug instead.
5) Comfortable Sofa for breaks: If your room is large enough, place a 2 or 3-seater sofa nearby for taking occasional work breaks or to working from the sofa with your laptop.
6) Plants/ Flowers/ other decorations: Place some live plants or even artificial ones and some room decor for a nice feeling when you work. This way, you will have the feeling of more air and being closer to nature even if you end up constantly working.
7) A Good View: Having a view is great to prevent that closed-in feeling and makes for a more relaxed work environment. It’s always best to not feel boxed-in, so make sure your room at least a window with a view.
8) Fold-able Table: A small fordable table is great if you want to work from your sofa or if you need to sometimes work in bed in the late night or early mornings or even on holidays.
9) Have a Pet: If you have a family or a room mate who also works, this will make for a nice feeling to have some company at home. Or if you are all by yourself during the day, perhaps having a pet, either a dog or cat will add warmth and prevent loneliness when working from home.
This will even give you an excuse to take occasional walks in the park which is always fun to do with an active dog or two.
Or if you’re just not a pet-person, simply meet a friend for lunch during your work day.
10) Patio Space: Since you will be sitting by yourself in a room all day for work, having a patio can open up your space with a good scenery and breathing space. This has been a great relief for many people during the pandemic to have a patio space to look out from.
Placing a small table and chairs with some plants can make your patio all the more attractive as an alternate work space.
11) Yoga mat/ Fitness Equipment: Depending on whether you prefer yoga or aerobics-and-weights, set aside some space in your house for some fitness exercise. It is always nice to breath deeply or indulge in some aerobics routines to stay fit and active.
This will maintain both your body and mind health by giving you a different activity to do while still staying indoors. This will also help prevent shoulder or neck pains or back pains so you can stretch for a few minutes before getting back to your work desk.
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