Working from home and remote working is becoming increasingly popular. Here's our complete guide to setting up your own home office space.
As time goes on, working from home is becoming more and more popular. As the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic showed, many people can even be more productive when working from home.
Of course, while there are a lot of benefits to working from home, there is one hurdle you need to get over before you get to work: setting up your home office.
There are a lot of things to consider, from the type of chair that you need to buy to the sort of laptop and internet you need to work to the best of your ability.
If you’ve never set up a home office before, then you will be pleased to know that we’re here to help. Read on for our total guide to setting up a home office for the best productivity.
Find the most suitable for your workspace (dedicated workspace)
The first thing that you need to do when it comes to setting up your home office is to find the best possible location to set up.
This may be a little challenging if you have a cramped home, but here are just a couple of ideas.
If you have a spare room, then it may be worth setting up your home office there.
A spare room could be a good place to get some peace and quiet so you can do your work.
Not only that, but you could permanently locate your office in this room and use it as a guest bedroom and home office combo.
This will really allow you to maximize the space in your home.
Of course, make sure that you have enough space for all of the essentials – your desk, a chair, etc. More on that later!
Of course, the most obvious choice for a home office is in an office.
Not every home has an office space, but if you happen to have one then it’s probably the best choice.
Home offices are quiet and you can design them in such a way that will allow you to concentrate the best.
You can also keep your office there permanently without having to make space for a guest who’s coming to stay, as you would with a spare room office.
You can make the color scheme and set it up completely to your liking – it could even double as a home library if you’re fond of reading!
Not everyone has enough rooms in their house for a dedicated office or a spare room, and that’s okay!
Setting up your home office in your living room is also a good choice.
But where exactly would you put a desk? Here are just a couple of ideas:
Behind the Sofa
If you have a pretty spacious living room then you could set up a desk to go behind the sofa.
This is especially good for open floor plans. All you need to do is grab yourself a lamp and a swivel chair.
You can even sit at your desk and watch TV during your lunch break – though, maybe not while you’re working as you may end up getting distracted!
Nooks and Crannies
Again, if you have a spacious living room, the chances are that you have a whole bunch of little areas in your home that are just dead space. You can fill up that space with a home office.
If the space is small you can invest in a slightly smaller desk, and you can decorate by adding a bit of art. It shouldn’t be too difficult to get it to fit in with the rest of your living room.
You could try to put a desk into a passageway from the living room to another room to save a little bit of space.
In fact, you can make it look like a console table when it’s not in use and put a mirror above it. That way it will look welcoming even when it’s not being used as an office.
Of course, just as some places are perfect for home offices, there are also places that you should try to avoid when setting up your working from home layout.
The biggest thing to avoid is putting your home office in your bedroom.
Despite the fact that this is a bad idea though, around 80% of people work from home from their bedrooms!
The biggest reason for this is actually work life balance. You need a space where you can relax, and ideally that should be different from the place where you work.
When you’re working from your bedroom it can be difficult to switch off – you may be drawn to the laptop to answer some late night emails, and find yourself feeling like you never have a break.
Besides this, avoid working in any areas where there are dangers to your electronics, such as areas with lots of water. Seems kind of obvious, but we just thought we would mention it!
Now that you’ve decided upon the location of your home office, it’s now time to figure out what furniture you need. It’s hard to know where to start with buying furniture, so here are the key things that you need.
Ergonomic Chair / Office Chair
The first thing to think about is your office chair.
Some people may wish to stand at their desk (more on that later) but most people like somewhere that they can rest their legs while they work.
For that, you need a good office chair.
Ideally, though, opt for an ergonomic office chair if you have the budget for it.
When you’re working at any job that requires you to be stationed at a computer screen, you’re sitting for a long time, so it’s important to think about your health while you’re sitting.
Neglecting to think about your comfort and posture can cause health issues later down the line.
So why get an ergonomic office chair?
- They’re designed to support you as you sit for long time periods. They’re more comfortable than normal office chairs, and this is usually because you can make alterations to the chair based on your personal needs. You can adjust things like the backrest, the arms, the height of the chair and more.
- Ergonomic office chairs help to encourage you to have good posture. They tend to curve around where your lower back would be, which mimics the shape of your spine. It encourages a natural posture.
- Ergonomic office chairs are also good as they align your pelvis and hips. This means that there’s less stress on these areas, meaning you’re less likely to damage your body and you will feel comfortable for longer.
- They’re comfortable! One of the principal reasons that people invest in ergonomic office chairs is that they are much more comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. Not only are they made of much better materials, but the cushioning is usually thicker and designed to perfectly reflect your body. You can keep everything from your elbows to your knees comfortable – this isn’t always the case with all office chairs.
- They’re good for people with chronic pain conditions.
Of course, there are a few key things to look out for when you’re buying an office chair, whether or not it’s ergonomic.
The price is the first thing to keep in mind. Ergonomic office chairs can be pretty expensive, so it’s no wonder why some people opt for models without that extra support.
With that being said, still look for a chair with a good amount of support, especially if you’re going to be sitting in it for a long period.
You also need to think about whether the chair has adjustable height. We aren’t all the same height, and maybe a chair’s standard height is too high or low to allow you to work properly.
If you can adjust it, then you don’t need to worry as you can get the right height for you.
Remember, when sitting you need to be able to sit with your feet totally flat on the ground, making sure you don’t compress the thighs while doing so.
If you have the budget or you’re particular about it, it’s also worth considering the color and design of the chair.
It’s nice to have an office chair that fits the rest of your decor and style – you may even feel more comfortable working if it does!
Always consider lumbar support too, as it will make you feel more comfortable in the lower back.
You may end up spending a bit more money for this feature, but it’s certainly worth the investment. Adjustable lumbar support is even better if you can find a chair that offers it.
Desk / Standing Desk / Alternative (Laptop Stand)
The next thing to consider is your desk. There are a few options available.
The first option is a standard desk. This is basically what you would expect to see in pretty much any kind of office environment.
It’s a flat surface that you can put your computer and paperwork on so you can go about your workday, sitting comfortably in your office chair.
These desks are usually roughly 30 inches tall, and this works fine for most people. With that being said, it’s not always a suitable option for taller people.
Some standard desks also have things like adjustable leg heights which are particularly handy.
You could also invest in a standing desk. But what exactly is a standing desk?
Standing desks can also come in a range of forms, some designed for treadmills, and others that can actually be used with a stationary bike or treadmill.
There are a wide range of different benefits of standing desks, or even sit to standing desks that can be completely adjusted based on whether you want to sit or stand.
We all know now that being sedentary and staying sat down for too long can sometimes be bad for your health, and so a standing desk is great for combatting the problems caused by having a sedentary lifestyle.
If you opt for a version that you can use with a treadmill, you can even get some exercise in as you work!
Here are some great home office standing desk options.
Alternative Desk Options
Perhaps a home office desk is not convenient for you – it isn’t the best choice for everyone.
Maybe you don’t have a great deal of space, or you don’t want a desk looking out of place in your living room. Thankfully, there are a wide range of different alternatives you can use for desks, including:
- Ironing Board
So maybe right now you’re only using your ironing board to, well, iron your laundry. It may surprise you to know is that an ironing board is much more versatile than just that – you can also use it as a desk!
This only really applies to a height adjustable ironing board, but you can often change the position so it can double as a sitting and standing ironing board.
- Bookshelf Desk
If you’re a big fan of reading, you’re going to love this desk idea. Have a look for desks that have built-in shelves where you can put things such as books and work. Multifunctional desk spaces? Yes please!
- Portable Desk
Do you fancy working straight from the sofa for a while? If so, then a portable desk may be a good idea for you. These desks can fit right on top of your lap, and you can usually fold them down afterwards.
This means that once you’re done, you can simply slot the desk into a small nook in your living room and it won’t take up a great deal of space.
Also ideal for working on a commute where there are no desks available on your mode of transport.
The Benefits of Good Posture
So why is it so important to have the right choice of office chair and office desk? That’s simple – it all comes down to posture.
Posture is important in general – after all, why else would your mother have told you not to slough as a child?
It’s especially important when you’re sitting for long hours, however. The benefits to having good posture truly are endless, but here are just a few.
- Better Breathing
As you most likely know by now, considering you’re reading this article, breathing is pretty important! What you may not know, however, is that poor posture can negatively affect your lungs and your breathing capabilities.
The muscles around your lungs can start to shorten as you slouch, and this means that it’s a lot harder to breathe in deeply. If you simply sit with a good posture, you can improve your breathing capabilities. It certainly makes living much more comfortable!
- Relieves Back Pain
If you struggle with back pain, it may help to reassess your posture.
Sitting correctly can help to ensure that your joints, bones, ligaments and muscles are all aligned correctly, and this means that not only are you less likely to have back pain in the first place, but if you are currently struggling with it, then you may get a little relief.
If you continuously get back pain regardless of this, then it’s worth seeing a doctor as there may be something deeper going on, but having good posture can certainly help for many people.
- Better Digestion and Circulation
Having better posture helps to ensure that all of your organs will stay in the position where they best operate naturally.
If you aren’t sitting properly then the way that your organs function and flow can be disrupted, which could cause issues like constipation, acid reflux and more.
Making the conscious effort to sit in a good posture can help with this.
- Better Concentration
It stands to reason that if you have better oxygen and blood flow from improving your posture, that you can also concentrate and focus that much easier. Your boss will certainly be pleased!
- Reduced Fatigue and Depression
Wait – your sitting position can influence your mood?
A study by the San Francisco State University showed that changing body posture can actually improve both your mood and your energy.
Your posture can influence your state of mind, as when you’re feeling happy and optimistic your posture is more likely to be upright and open rather than slumped over.
Little things like this can really help if you want to change your mood.
So now you’ve got your desk and your office chair at the ready, but you can’t do your work without that all important office hardware! Here’s everything that you are going to need to make your home office a success.
Laptops are by far one of the most important pieces of office equipment today.
Accessing the internet is essential for everything from data management, to accessing CRM systems, to doing research and more.
For that reason it’s important to ensure that you get a laptop that will fit your purpose.
For instance, if you work in cyber security then you may need a more powerful laptop than someone that’s mainly using their laptop to access the internet and Microsoft Office packages.
Now you aren’t necessarily restricted to a laptop if you don’t want one. If you are going to be solely working from home then you could invest in a desktop computer.
These are pretty handy for when you want to upgrade later down the line, as you can often just replace the hardware inside – something much harder to do when you use a laptop.
If you are going to be working in several locations though, consider getting a laptop as they are portable.
Other things that you will need to consider are the speed of the laptop, the RAM, the amount of hardware space on the laptop and the type of hard drive that the laptop has.
Make sure that you fully consider your needs before you invest, though, and consider whether you are going to be using the laptop for other things such as gaming that will require more power.
Monitors are pretty crucial if you choose to go for a desktop computer.
Without one, you won’t be able to see what you’re working on, making the machine basically redundant.
Of course, that’s not all that monitors are useful for.
If you’re using a laptop, it can often be handy to have monitors.
This isn’t applicable if you’re working out of the house or from a location without a lot of desk space, but having multiple monitors means you are looking directly ahead of you instead of looking down, which may mean that you have less strain on your neck.
Besides this, if you are doing work that requires you to focus on a few different things at once, then getting dual monitors can be handy and can save you a lot of time on changing tabs.
To buy your monitor, consider key factors such as the display quality, the size of screen that you will need and how easy it is to set up.
Keyboards, Mouse and Web Camera
There are a few other things that you will need for setting up your home office – a keyboard, a mouse, and a web camera.
First of all you need to think about your mouse.
Now, what you get will largely depend on your preferences, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
Would you rather have a wireless mouse or a wired mouse?
Both have their own benefits and weaknesses.
For instance, you may need to consider replacing batteries if you have a wireless mouse, whereas this likely wouldn’t be an issue if you had a wired mouse.
Consider other purposes too – a mouse you’re using purely for work may be very different from one that you also intend to use for things like gaming.
Also, since you will be using your mouse for hours on end, consider an ergonomic mouse if you have any pain issues.
Second, your keyboard.
Typing can be a little difficult if you don’t have a decent keyboard which is especially important if you write for a living.
Consider whether the keyboard’s keys are well spaced apart to allow you to type efficiently. If you’re a night owl that likes to work in the twilight hours, perhaps you could opt for a backlit keyboard.
There are also wireless Bluetooth keyboards that can be rather handy, especially if you want to type on a device like a tablet or iPad as Bluetooth keyboards can sometimes link up to them.
It’s an excellent choice if you’re often on the move!
Finally, your web camera. A lot of laptops and monitors will come with a web camera built in, but this is not always the case.
In addition to this, the web camera that comes with your device may not be that good, which is inconvenient if you will often have virtual meetings with clients and coworkers.
There’s really no need to set up a landline telephone anymore, especially when you can use a mobile phone virtually anywhere.
In fact, today it’s pretty much essential to invest in a decent mobile phone with plenty of calls and texts if you’re working from home.
Have a look at what your local providers can offer you if you’re running your own business, as there are often plans available for businesses.
Otherwise, your employer may provide you with a phone of your own.
You may wonder whether you should really invest in a new mobile phone for work when you already have a personal phone.
It’s often best to invest in a mobile phone specifically for work if you can, as this can help you with work life balance.
Going back to the point about getting a decent webcam, you will also need a good microphone if you are going to be doing a lot of video conferences.
Consider a quality microphone that will help your coworkers and clients to hear you well.
As with webcams, many laptops and monitors will already come with microphones but they often won’t give you the best audio quality.
Accessories e.g. USB Adapters, Cables and AC Adapters
You should also think about investing in some extra accessories so you can do your job well.
For instance, a Wi-Fi USB adapter will be handy if you’re out on the go without access to your usual Wi-Fi network.
You should also invest in other things such as memory sticks, external hard drives, and other data storage systems.
AC adapters and Cables can also come in handy when you need to connect things to your laptop or computer. Just don’t forget the cable management solutions.
Read more about essential home office technology.
When you’re working from home, there’s a chance that you may not be alone.
No, we don’t mean that your house is haunted – you may have your spouse nearby, or your children, or your housemates.
The last thing that your friends and family want to deal with is hearing your clients on your computer, and you may also have a call that’s confidential that you don’t want anyone hearing.
For this situation, investing in a good pair of headphones can be incredibly beneficial. You can also get some noise-canceling headphones to help to ensure that you don’t get distracted by the ambient sounds.
On the flip side of that, sometimes you may enjoy blasting some music to entertain you while you work.
Or perhaps you aren’t alone and you would prefer not to wear headphones.
Your laptop may have speakers, but they may not be particularly powerful.
In this case, you may like to buy a pair of speakers online that can help you hear things more clearly.
Notepad / Whiteboard
There are very few people out there that have impeccable memory.
If you have a photographic memory, this tip may not be helpful, but for the rest of us having a notepad on hand with a lot of paper inside can be very handy. I often use it for taking notes during meetings or to give myself memos.
If you’re in a Zoom meeting or you’re trying to do some planning, having a whiteboard can also be helpful for you to jot down your ideas and notes.
Alexa or Google Dot
A recent addition to the office equipment world, devices such as Alexa and the Google Dot can be incredibly helpful.
Have a question? Ask Alexa.
Want to set a reminder that you have a meeting at noon? Ask Google Dot.
You can also ask them to do other things such as play music and games, for those times when you have a rare 15 minute break to enjoy.
Software and Apps that enable productivity
Working from home poses its own challenges as well as benefits, but one of the biggest issues for working from home is trying to stay connected to those around you.
This can be challenging when you’re trying to get a remote team to work together.
Of course, technology has also advanced to the point where this need not be an issue. Here are some apps and software that can be incredibly helpful for remote teams working from home.
If you’ve lived through 2020, it’s pretty unlikely by this point that you haven’t heard of Zoom.
This video conferencing software has revolutionized the way we communicate to people from a distance – it’s not even just for businesses either.
We’re sure you’ve heard of a Zoom quiz before!
With Zoom, you can continue to have regular meetings both with coworkers and with your clients just by clicking a few buttons.
You don’t even need to change out of your pajama bottoms if you don’t want to – though, we certainly recommend doing so!
Zoom is pretty simple to use. You can visit the Zoom website and set up an account using either your personal or work email address.
You can use it for free up to a point, but if you want extra things such as admin controls and recording, you can invest in Zoom Pro. This is often an excellent choice for businesses.
Once you have chosen your plan, you can then download Zoom onto your computer or on your mobile device.
You are going to need to have a microphone and camera in order to use Zoom, so make sure that you have decent ones available to you.
If you want to spice up your weekly meetings, you can also do things like change the backgrounds of the video.
This is useful if you have an enormous pile of unfolded laundry lurking behind you that you don’t want anyone to see.
If you have weekly meetings, you can also set up Zoom to connect with your calendar so you will have a weekly reminder that it’s time to jump on a call.
Another useful tool is Slack.
Slack is a direct messaging software – sort of like WhatsApp or Facebook messenger.
The difference is that it’s designed for remote teams.
Using slack, you can speak directly with your coworkers and employees without needing to have a meeting every time.
Simply send them a direct message.
Need to write a message to a group of different people? You can set up ‘channels’ where you can talk about specific things.
You can create channels for certain teams and set them to private so that nobody else on the team can view what you’re saying unless you want them to.
You can also save messages and pin important information on certain channels.
If you need to, you can also see older messages, though you will need to upgrade your plan if you want to see messages from a couple of months ago.
Slack is ideal for remote teams – in fact, if your team wants to get a little silly you can even set your own emojis and reactions! Pretty cool, huh?
Office / Google Drive
Microsoft Office Drive and Google Drive are also pretty useful, both for individuals and remote teams.
With these tools, your team can save documents all in one place.
On your office or Microsoft drive, you will have access to all key documents for your company, and your staff can save things on the drive that other members of the team can access.
It’s a great way to ensure that all of your information and projects are in the right place, and you can share anything from videos, to spreadsheets to word documents. It’s very versatile.
Asana is another fantastic tool for organizing remote teams.
With this program, you can set up projects and you can assign them to members of your team – or they can assign themselves!
You can set it up by order of priority so you can ensure that all projects and tasks are done in a timely manner.
It’s a great way to ensure that everything in your business is running smoothly, and for managing the workload of your team.
Lights, camera, action! When working from home, it’s essential to make sure that you have the right kind of lighting so that you can do your work effectively. So let’s talk about natural and artificial lighting.
Natural or Artificial
So what’s better – natural or artificial lighting?
Natural lighting is pretty important for a home office.
Natural light can help you to save some energy bills during the day, as you won’t need any other lighting.
Seeing the natural light can also help to improve mood and reduce fatigue.
In fact, the Harvard Business Review actually found that having a significant source of natural lighting was a huge priority for employees.
With that being said, natural lighting isn’t always an option. Perhaps you’re in a location with smaller windows, or maybe you’re working during the nighttime.
In this situation make sure that you have some good artificial lighting too.
It’s good to have some bright overhead lighting (not too bright – you don’t want to get headaches!) and also invest in a desk lamp to allow you to see things like documents more easily from up close.
Once you’re done with all of the essentials, it’s time to start making your home office really feel like you’re own.
A clinical space may mean that it’s harder for you to focus or stay in one place, but giving your space a little bit more personality is key in optimizing your performance.
One way to give your home office some life is to invest in a bit of greenery to adorn the room.
There are a wide range of benefits to having plants in your home office, including:
- Stress Reduction
One study from the University of Technology in Sydney showed workers were significantly less stressed in work when there were plants in the area.
People are far less anxious and tense when there are plants around them.
This could be because some psychology studies have shown that the color green can relax and calm people. Perhaps you could paint your home office green too?
- Better Productivity
Having plants in your home office may also help you be more productive. Human beings are designed to be around nature, so we work well in an environment with a lot of plants.
Plants make you feel good and give you a deeper connection with the surrounding environment, so having them nearby can be a good way for you to enjoy your time working a little more.
- It’s Healthy!
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that having plants in the home is very good for you.
Plants release oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, which makes your office space much healthier to live and breathe in. They’re also very good for your skin.
- They Look Attractive
Let’s face it – sometimes an office can look pretty boring. You can add some natural beauty to your home office just by adding a plant or two to the room.
This can help to uplift your mood, and they look good both to you and to any visitors.
So, if you needed an excuse to go to your local garden center, you can use any of these!
Make it Personal
The last step in creating your perfect home office is adding your own personal touch.
Photographs of loved ones
Why are you working? For many people, the enjoyment of working is their driving force, but this isn’t the case for everyone.
For some, a reminder of why you’re picking up your laptop and making calls is exactly what you need to stay motivated.
For this reason, it’s helpful to have a few photos of your loved ones in your home office to remind you why you work in the first place.
Get yourself on Etsy or Amazon and look for a couple of art prints to add some extra fun to your home office!
There are a range of styles available – you can even get some custom prints if you want to! If you’re feeling extra creative, you could also make your own.
Having a few prints on the wall is a great way to make your home office look and feel a little more lively.
So that’s everything that you need to know about creating your own home office!
With the right set up, working from home has never been easier and you can be sure that you will be just as productive as you are in an office building!