Working from home has slowly grown in popularity over the years, and has now become the norm for many Americans. In fact, over 40% of adults in the United States currently work from home full-time.
If you’re new to working from home, you might not have your work area set up with all of the home office essentials quite yet. Maybe you’ve been working from your couch, or even worse, your bedroom.
It’s okay to do this for a day or two while you get your office space together. However, working in an area not specifically designated for that purpose will negatively affect both your productivity and your physical and mental health.
Even if you don’t have an entire room available to make into an office, it’s important to have space set aside just for work. Read on to learn how to set up your home office space with all of the essentials you need to maximize your workday.
1. Adjustable Desk
As our lives are flooded with conveniences, we become more and more sedentary. Now, there’s nothing wrong with sitting down now and then, but remaining seated from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed is terrible for your health.
Not only does a sedentary lifestyle increase your risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease but it also puts you at greater risk of developing chronic pain. Our bodies were designed to move and sitting down for long periods of time places a great deal of pressure on your spine.
That’s why one of the top home office must haves is an adjustable desk. This will enable you to alternate between a seated and standing position throughout the workday.
In doing so, you’ll notice that you’re less likely to fall victim to fatigue and experience far fewer aches and pains as you work.
2. Supportive Chair
When you’re using your adjustable desk to sit, you’ll need a chair. While shopping for office products, especially your desk and chair, keeping ergonomics in mind is crucial. In order to avoid developing chronic back and neck pain, your chair must support the natural curve of your spine.
The ideal office chair is one that is adjustable, has armrests and a swivel base, and is tall enough to support your entire spine, including your back and neck.
When working in your chair, your elbows and knees should be at 90-degree angles. Armrests are helpful because you can rest your forearms while typing, reducing strain. Your thighs should be parallel to the ground with your feet resting flat on the floor, not bent underneath you.
3. Computer and Monitor
Many of us prefer working from a laptop rather than a desktop, and it’s understandable. Laptops offer greater flexibility and convenience. However, working from a laptop isn’t great for your neck.
Because your screen and keyboard are connected, it forces you to hold your head at a downward angle as you work. An ergonomic home office setup requires your screen to be at a height that allows you to hold your head in a neutral position.
But don’t worry – you can take advantage of the convenience of a laptop while keeping your neck safe. All you have to do is invest in a separate monitor.
That way, you’ll essentially use your laptop as a keyboard while you’re working and look straight forward at your monitor. When you’re done with your work for the day, you can disconnect your laptop and carry it with you wherever you like.
If you don’t have a home computer at all yet, it’s good to find more about each option before making your final decision.
4. Keyboard and Mouse
If you’re working from a desktop computer rather than a laptop, you’ll need a keyboard and mouse. The ones you choose will largely come down to personal preference, but there are a few things to remember as you shop.
When looking for a keyboard, you should get one that enables you to set it up at a slight decline rather than an incline.
Most keyboards have little legs underneath near the back that, when engaged, will lift the back of the keyboard higher than the front. This actually puts more strain on your wrists than necessary. Instead, keep your keyboard flat or find one that has a raised wrist rest on the front.
With a mouse, apart from finding one that feels comfortable in your hand, you’ll only have one thing to consider: wired or wireless. A wired mouse means extra cords and often looks less sleek, but a wireless mouse will require the periodic replacement of batteries.
5. High-Speed Internet
Obviously, you’ll need the internet to work from home. But to maximize your ability to perform work tasks efficiently, that internet connection needs to be high-speed.
A basic internet package is fine when the bulk of your activity is made up of online shopping and a Google search here and there. However, you’ll find that it’s not enough when you need it to keep up with coworkers, video chat with clients, or send large files back and forth.
Many internet providers offer deals for upgrading your service. If your office space is far away from your router, you might also need a WiFi booster to take your signal up a notch.
In between phone calls and video conferences, it’s a good idea to have a pair of headphones to help you focus on your work. One of the major drawbacks of working from home is that there are probably other people around and other things going on.
To prevent yourself from becoming distracted, pick up a pair of noise-canceling headphones. You can listen to a podcast or put on a playlist designed to promote focus to get yourself into work mode.
7. Filing Cabinet and Shelf
Having an organized office space is essential for productivity. You might be so used to it that you don’t know the difference, but a cluttered environment puts a major strain on our mental health. You’ll never know how productive and happy you can be during your workday if you don’t take the time to organize!
To help you do so, you need to have space to store all of your office supplies and paperwork. A filing cabinet is a must for storing and organizing any hard copy documents you may have.
It’s also good to have a bookshelf. You can organize your stationery, binders, pens, and other supplies on it, as well as display a few special knickknacks to make your office space feel more welcoming.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of home office accessories probably isn’t houseplants, but having some greenery in your workspace is more beneficial than you might think.
A live plant near or on your desk will help improve your mood, reduce feelings of fatigue, decrease stress, increase focus, and boost air quality in your office.
This doesn’t mean that your home office needs to resemble a jungle. Consider placing a small plant in your line of sight on your desk and perhaps a larger one on the floor nearby. If you want to feel your best during the workday, you need a houseplant or two!
9. Ambient and Task Lighting
Staring at a computer screen for hours at a time is hard enough on your eyes. The last thing you want to do is strain them further by having inadequate lighting in your workspace.
There are a variety of types of lighting available, but the two you should focus on in your office are ambient and task lighting.
Ambient lighting typically comes from an overhead fixture, as its purpose is to flood the entire room with light. Task lighting is used to cast additional light on a specific part of the room, such as the items on your desk.
Your desk lamp (task lighting) should be positioned in a way that it helps you to see what you’re doing without creating a glare on your computer screen. This will lower your risk of eye strain and headaches.
Outfit Your Workspace With These Home Office Essentials
Making the transition from working in a traditional office setting to working at home can be difficult. But once you get the hang of it, working from home can be an extremely enjoyable experience.
If you’re going to work from home full-time, it’s vital that you have an area of your home designated for your work activities, outfitted with your home office essentials. Doing so will take a bit of time and money, but the results are absolutely worth it.
Looking for more tips for designing and decorating your home? Be sure to check out our blog!