The Remote Worker’s Home Office Guide: Essentials, Tips, and Tricks
The Remote Worker’s Home Office Guide: Tips and Tricks
Isn’t working from home the best? No hour-long commute, no pants to iron, and plenty of space to make a proper lunch. If you enjoy the remote work life, you’re not alone — over 5 million employees in the United States work from home at least half of the time.
However, if you don’t prepare for the realities of remote work, your clock may reach 5 p.m. without you completing any of your important projects. Learn how to navigate the challenges and distractions of working from home in our in-depth remote worker’s guide.
Home Office Essentials
The key to a productive home office is just that — actually create a home office! Firing up your laptop on the couch may work for a couple of hours, but you will inevitably plunge into the latest release on Netflix or waste an hour scrolling through Instagram.
Create a designated work zone in your home that is your “office.” This space should be separate from your areas for dining, creativity, and relaxation. Stock up on these home office essentials to remain comfortable and focused.
Maintaining good posture and proper back support as you answer emails and chip away at your daily tasks is a must. If you resort to a chair that makes your back tense and throb throughout the workday, your productivity will plummet and you’ll need several breaks to keep the pain and frustration manageable.
When you work from home every day, the most important purchase is a decent desk chair. A quick online search will return hundreds of ergonomic chairs in a variety of price ranges to help you stay within your budget. Most office supply stores will deliver your chair to your door, so you can start enjoying your work-from-home setup quickly.
Create a proper space where you can fit your laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, notepads, calendar, and other desk items without feeling crowded. Desk space is not only practical, but a desk free of clutter also allows you to finish your work faster. Disorganized, messy desks result in a loss of time as you search for items and information. We’re not suggesting you need to purchase a brand new desk for your home — evaluate your space and choose the best surface to claim as your office. It may be half of your dining table, the kitchen counter, or a writing desk in your living room. The key is consistency and cleanliness.
If you are working with a standard laptop at home, your display likely measures in the realm of 13 diagonal inches. Larger pixel counts have been linked to a boost in productivity. Set yourself up for success by investing in a second monitor. Not all workers will find two displays necessary, but enlarging your field of view while you work enables you to keep tabs on your messages or fit two documents on your screen simultaneously, so you’re not wasting time clicking back and forth. No need to spring for a high-end model; simply find something that increases your screen real estate.
Do we need to explain this one? Working in your home comes with plenty of distractions. Your family might be playing or eating or watching TV in the other room while you’re crunching numbers and mastering pivot tables. Try to replicate the feeling of being in an office away from the comforts of home with noise-canceling headphones. Type a few words into Google and you will find dozens of roundups on the highest-reviewed noise-canceling headphones. Again, we encourage you not to drop a month’s paycheck on this piece of technology — anything in the middle range will provide what you need and keep you focused on the task at hand.
Coffee and Tea Bars
When you need to power through a presentation or complete that lengthy email to the executive team, caffeine is your friend. Streamline your office and practice your barista skills by establishing a coffee and tea station in your kitchen or near your work zone. At-home coffee bars and tea stations can vary from person to person, but there are key elements you should include so you have all the ingredients of a great drink ready to sip in minutes. For inspiration, read our DIY coffee bar ideas to start making your own espresso or Dalgona coffee .
Create a Routine
When your morning alarm goes off, a little voice in your head will tell you to ignore it. Why are you in a rush? Who is going to notice if you are active on Slack 10 minutes later than usual? Never listen to this voice. If you want to perform reliably at home, create a strict routine and stick to it. Wake up at the same time every day. Take a shower before work. Make your first cup of coffee and enjoy a bowl of fresh fruit. Some employees feel more productive if they wear proper dress pants and a tie. Find what works for you and incorporate it into your routine.
Invest in Joy
You will spend several hours a day in your work zone. Make it fun! Craft a space that brings you joy and doesn’t feel like a timeout area. Keep your work zone tidy and clean, but also decorate it to incorporate it fully into your home. Framed photos, art, tchotchkes, fabric, and other touches will make you feel relaxed and happy while you’re churning through the day’s work. As your budget allows, splurge on one or two items to elevate your space. Maybe you’re craving an antique lamp, or you know you’ll be cozy with a collector’s action figure of Edward from “Twilight” next to your notepad. A joyful workspace is a functional workspace.
Light It Up
Do you have adequate lighting in your home office? Is your work zone shrouded in darkness and shadows? Is the only light source a glaring, overhead fluorescent light? Lighting is a powerful motivator, and a lack of sufficient lighting will prevent you from doing your best. Increase the amount of natural light in your work zone for significant results. Especially for workers who spend most of their day inside, working with ample natural light may help reduce headaches, eye strain, and may even help improve productivity. Try to position your desk or work zone near windows, and add lighting fixtures as needed to ensure a warm, well-lit home office.
There’s no break room at home. You won’t run into coworkers on your way to the bathroom. Banter in the lobby isn’t going to happen. One important tip for all remote workers: increase your communication with your team members and managers. Even if you don’t have anything urgent today, send a quick message to your collaborators. How is their day going? Do they need you to review their latest presentation to provide feedback? Make yourself feel present when you’re working from home. Stay engaged with emails and messages. The secret to slaying the home office setup is to make sure the people you’re reporting to see the social and creative benefits of the at-home office.
Did you wake up today with a case of the work-from-home blues? Pour yourself a refreshing cup of tea and check out our blog posts that will be sure to spruce up your work-from-home routine: