Before the COVID-19 virus hit, about 26 million Americans worked from home. Since COVID, more people than ever before work remotely.
If you’re working from home, you know it’s not always easy. A useful and functional workspace is essential for productivity.
Are you setting up a home office? Keep reading for the home office essentials you’ll need to make your space work for you instead of against you.
- Define Your Space
Depending on the size of your house, a separate room isn’t always possible. If you have the luxury, though, a separate office with a door is great for two reasons.
- It’s private and offers a quieter space
- You can close the door and leave your work behind at the end of the day
Working at home shouldn’t mean working 24 hours a day but a lot of people have trouble leaving work behind when the office isn’t separate. Closing the door at the end of the day signals your brain that work is over.
If you don’t have an entire room to devote to an office, try a privacy screen or curtain. Even a bookcase down the middle of a big room can break rooms into obvious separate spaces.
- The Right Desk
If the only place you have is the kitchen table, you can make it work but it’s not ideal. A sit/stand desk is one of the best options because it adjusts up and down, allowing you to alternate between sitting and standing during the day.
Studies show that sitting all day isn’t healthy. Even an hour of exercise a day can’t undo the bad effects of prolonged sitting. If you sit six or more hours per day, consider a sit-stand desk and changing up your routine.
Even the most die-hard standing-desk user has to sit sometimes, though. That leads to the next home office essential…
- An Adjustable Desk Chair
A comfortable adjustable desk chair is another must for your home office. The wrong chair causes back, neck, and shoulder problems.
Make sure your chair and desk setup are ergonomically correct. Adjust the chair so your feet are flat on the floor. A small footrest helps if your legs are short.
The chair should support the natural curves of your spine.
- The Right Keyboard and Mouse
Invest in an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. A good keyboard lowers your risk of repetitive stress injuries by about 44%. It’s worth paying a little extra to avoid injuries down the road.
An ergonomic mouse makes all the difference to your hand by the end of the day. Get a mouse that works for your hand. If you’re left-handed, get one designed for lefties.
- Computer System
Don’t let your computer bog you down. A computer is an expensive initial cost but it pays, in the long run, to invest in a good one.
Make sure your computer has enough hard-drive and RAM memory to handle all your work and home needs. If possible, don’t let anyone else use your work computer.
Beware of clicking on e-mail attachments and pop-up boxes. Keep your work computer as clean as possible by avoiding social media. Facebook often facilitates hackers.
- The Right Monitor
The right monitor is another home office essential. A large monitor or even two monitors make for a better work-from-home experience.
Read through all the directions that come with your monitor. Sometimes, adjusting the brightness and contrast makes a big difference for your eyes.
When looking at your monitor, remember to take breaks every 20 minutes. Look away from the monitor at something about 20 feet away and focus on it for 20 or more seconds.
- A Cooling Fan
Portable fans are essential to any home office, especially if you’re in a small room. Most companies keep their office buildings cool. This keeps employees alert and comfortable.
If you’re in a small apartment or even a home office space, a fan is a must, especially during the summer. Being hot and sweaty is an unnecessary distraction from work.
There are lots of different types of portable fans, so you can choose one that works best for your space.
Consider the type of light in your workspace. Is there a window?
Natural light is great for your mental and physical health. If possible, take full advantage of any natural light in your space.
If there’s no natural light, use a desk lamp with a soft light bulb. Make sure you have enough light so you’re not straining to read important documents.
Do you do a lot of videoconferencing? Make sure you have some soft lighting aimed toward your face while on video calls.
This lights your face in a flattering way. It also cuts down on on-camera distractions in the background.
Avoid having your camera aimed at your face with a window right behind you. This throws your face into shadow, making it hard for others to see you.
- Chargers and Outlets
Setting up a functional home office requires lots of outlets and chargers. Don’t drive yourself crazy crawling around the floor searching for outlets.
Locate the most convenient outlet and then get a power strip with several outlets. An uninterrupted power source (UPS) with power surge protection outlets is more expensive but also a smart investment.
A UPS offers surge protection and about 15 minutes of power even if the power goes out. This allows you to shut your computer down without losing precious documents in the event of a power outage. The surge protection is better than a standard power strip.
Home Office Essentials for Remote Workers
If you’re setting up a home office, you’ll want these nine home office essentials. Start with a defined office space or area and work your way down the list.
A good sit/stand desk, an adjustable chair, and an ergonomic keyboard are a great start. Once you’ve invested in all these essentials, you’ll hardly miss going to work.
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