What can be easier than setting up a home office? All you need is your laptop, an Internet connection, and a chair to sit on, right? Well, that could be enough to answer some off-the-clock emails, but that is not the way to go if you plan to work from home regularly —not even if it’s just a few hours a day.
Remote work from home can be demotivating enough with its cozy environment, playful pets, kids, household chores, and whatnot. And, while it is not always possible to eliminate all the dangerous distractions of working from home, you can at least make your work area as motivating as possible.
The first tip to avoid productivity loss is to have a separate, wholly isolated home office. If you have that — great, that’s already half the way to go! But even if you do not, you can create a cozy, working corner in a shared area. And these bare essentials should help you with that!
Ergonomic desk and chair
These two items are an absolute must-have if you want to stay healthy and productive. Indeed, it is not the area to cut the budget on — especially if you work from home full-time (which, for too many people, often means overtime, too). The desk and chair are not the only must-have objects when setting up an ergonomic home office, but without them, minor items like keypads and mats make absolutely no sense. There are plenty of online guides on how to set up a safe, ergonomic workplace, but the most important advice goes down to:
- Maintaining the proper distance between the monitor and your eyes — generally between 20 and 40 inches;
- Making sure the chair has quality lumbar support;
- Adjusting the height of the chair and desk to suit your height — when you type, the elbows should be bent at about ninety degrees, and feet should be resting on the floor with a knee bent degree comfortable for you.
There are three types of artificial lighting:
- general lighting (aka ambient lighting), which in interior design usually means a fixture on the ceiling;
- task lighting for illuminating any areas where you work, which, in the home office scenario, usually means a lamp over your desk;
- and accent lighting that plays a decorative purpose but can also help set the right mood in your office area.
Besides, do not forget about natural lighting (the more of it, the better) when choosing a spot for your ergonomic desk.
We’ve all heard about ergonomic desks and chairs, but what about other office ergonomics? The other essentials include all supporting hardware, including your monitor, keyboard, and mouse. These three are the top hardware items that affect your position while working; you should choose them carefully. Besides, this investment into your health and home office comfort will generally cost less than a desk and a chair — even if you go with high-end companies like Apple.
Sound & video essentials
Not everyone needs a whole audio recording studio in a home office, so your choice of items will depend on your work routine alone. But still, an essential checklist includes headphones, a microphone, and a decent camera. Even if you use a laptop for work, you might need to purchase these items separately. Not all laptops can ensure the same audio and video conferencing quality as specialized hardware.
Today, it is possible to buy any number of high-end headphones from leading providers like Sennheiser, which also produces budget air plugs these days. The plugs, of course, will never compare to full-scale noise-absorbing headsets, but that’s a good start already. Or, you could always go with more affordable but equally functional options. For example, have you known that Logitech, a company primarily known for its ergonomic yet budget-friendly mouse designs, also offers high-quality headsets for a reasonable price? Even if you do not use them for making work calls, a bit of music can also help you regain concentration or, on the contrary, take a much-needed break.
The same principle applies to external microphones and cameras — you can go for budget manufacturers if you do not make many calls, but it’s still better to have them just in case. Let’s agree: no one wants any confusion or embarrassment should you need to make a video call and discover you have no proper equipment at the last moment.
Bonus: a few self-care items
Even a classical work office outside of your home could make use of some domestic comforts like plants and pictures. Of course, tastes differ significantly here, so there is no ‘essential’ list of decor items. But there are a few functional comforts everyone will enjoy, such as:
- Water bottle or a cooler: having a bottle of water at hand (or even a whole cooler if the room allows it) will save you from unnecessary distractions. It will literally keep you hydrated until the ‘office hours’ are through.
- Mug warmer: it’s too easy to get distracted by work, forgetting about your not-so-hot-any-more beverage. A cup warmer can help you fix this problem, and the best part is — it does not take a lot of space on your table or too much money out of your pocket.
- Table fan: if you live in a hot climate, a table fan is an excellent idea to keep both you and your electronics from overheating. Of course, they are not too good if you have a lot of paperwork (literal paperwork) on your hands, and they also make no sense if you have quality air conditioning. But if none is your case, a table fan can be a surprisingly cheap and functional relief on a hot day.
Of course, it is only a basic list of home essentials everyone must have to increase productivity and avoid distractions. Ergonomic furniture, in turn, will ensure you keep the correct posture and stay healthy. But the actual list can go for many pages because everyone has one’s own idea of what a functional and cozy office means, right?