Working from the comfort of your own home may sound like a dream. But if you don’t have all the right elements for your home office, it can have a detrimental effect on your productivity and even your health and happiness.
No two home offices are the same. But regardless of the size and layout of your space, there are some elements that can help make it a more productive space. Here are some of the most important elements.
Editor’s note: watch a video featuring the top 10 home office essentials.
The light in your office is essential, not only for your ability to clearly see your work, but also for the entire mood and atmosphere. If possible, set up your office in a room that has a lot of windows so your workspace will be full of natural light. If that isn’t possible, ensure that your artificial lighting is sufficient and warm — not just a single fluorescent bulb in the corner.
Sitting at a desk all day long, even if it’s in your own home, can be draining and even detrimental to your health. But if you have a desk that adjusts to different heights, you can switch from sitting to standing whenever you’d like throughout the day. Adjustable desks are available at home and office supply stores, or you can even make your own.
When you do choose to sit, it’s important to be comfortable. So choose a chair that offers ergonomic support and adjustable features.
Some Personalized Decorations
Your home office is your own personal space, so it should make you comfortable and happy. Fill it with artwork, desk toys, and even some creative or personalized office accessories to really make it your own.
Plants are another way to add some visual interest to your office space. But they can also have other benefits like air purification and creating separation between different parts of a room.
The computer you choose for your home office has the potential to make a huge impact on your productivity and success. So choose one that’s completely customized to your needs. If you tend to work from different parts of your office, a laptop might be best. If you stay put at your desk and work on multiple projects at once, a desktop with multiple monitors is likely a better choice. Make sure the model, hardware and software are what’s best suited to your individual working habits.
A good Internet connection keeps you just a click away from your online accounts, other team members and a whole host of other tools that can help you run your business from home. Whether you use a desktop, laptop or multiple devices, you’ll need to ensure that your Internet provider is fast and reliable enough to keep you on top of things.
Depending on your business needs, a good printer, scanner, or all-in-one device can be a good investment. If you need or want to keep hard copies of documents, then an actual printer is likely a necessity. But if you tend to stick with digital copies and just occasionally need to send a copy of a tangible document, a simple scanner might be enough. You’ll need to examine your own needs to really decide which type is best for you.
To best communicate with your team, clients or anyone else, a reliable communications system is a must. You might consider getting a separate phone line specifically for business calls. But online and VoIP services like Nextiva and Skype for Business can also be good options.
When you’ve invested a lot of money into electrical devices and equipment to run your business from home, the last thing you want is to see that equipment ruined. Surge protectors offer a really simple and easy solution to protect your devices from damaging electrical surges.
Getting some physical activity in throughout the day is essential to a healthy work-at-home lifestyle. Depending on your preferences, you might consider adding a treadmill, stationary bike or some free weights to your space. Some people even use stability balls in place of chairs to build core strength. Or, if you’re really into multitasking, there’s always the treadmill desk.
Staying organized is just as important when you work from home as it is in a traditional office. Keep a calendar or planner in a prominent location in your office so you don’t lose track of important appointments or deadlines.
You’ll also need a place to store and organize your important documents and files. A traditional filing cabinet usually does the trick. But if you’re more of a minimalist, you can opt for a smaller file folder and then just scan the rest of your documents to keep digital copies.
For those items that are really important or sensitive, a safe may also be necessary. Find one that’s large enough for some important documents and any expensive equipment you might have that you want to keep safe either on a daily basis or just when you leave for lengthy periods.
Office Supply Cache
Don’t let yourself get sidetracked from important tasks just because you’re running low on printer ink or can’t find a pen. Constantly keep your office stocked full of all the supplies you use regularly so that you’ll never need to make an office supply run in the middle of the day.
Radio, Media Player
Music can be a great way to drown out any background noise that may be happening around your home and keep you focused on the task at hand. Choose a radio or streaming station with some instrumental music if you tend to get distracted by lyrics. And try to avoid stations with ads if at all possible.
You’ll need fuel to power through any productive work day. Keep some healthy snacks in or near your office so that you won’t have to leave on a fast food run or settle for food that will have you feeling less-than-stellar later.
Caffeine can also be a powerful productivity booster, in moderation of course. Keep a coffee pot or some tea in or around your office so you always have quick access whenever you need a coffee break.
You likely already have the ability to control the basic temperature of your home. But if your office is in an area, like a basement or top floor, that tends to be hotter or colder than the rest of your home, you’ll still need to stay comfortable. Try a space heater or fan if you find that the temperature is a bit off in one way or another.
Alarm Clock, Timer
Keeping a regular work schedule is essential to a productive work-from-home life. Use an alarm to wake up at the same time every day, just as you would when working at a regular office. You can even use an alarm or timer to signal the end of your work day or the end of a specific task you need to spend time on.
One of the most important factors of a successful home office is its ability to be separated from the rest of your home. If you simply work from your bed or couch, the day can really get away from you and you’ll find yourself either getting distracted from work by non-work demands around you.
If you absolutely can’t have a door or some kind of physical barrier separating you from the rest of your home, try staging the space so it’s clearly designated as your office. And only spend time working from that one space, rather than migrating to your couch or kitchen table. But if you’ve already included all the elements above, who would want to work anywhere else?
For more, check out this office checklist. Or pick out a home office room divider.
Home Office Photo via Shutterstock, Other Images: Wikipedia
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Some basic Art Supplies are usually needed
Depending on the type of work you do, absolutely!
A printer capable of printing on paper and card stock. Some printers don’t allow card stock to feed through. I use card stock a lot for signs, cards, business cards and much more.
That’s a great point!
Exercise equipment is optional but you need to have exercise in your schedule. It is a must especially if you’re staying at home the whole day.
Yes, very true. You don’t necessarily need equipment if you prefer to just go for a run or walk. But the idea is the same.
Right. It can also be as simple as basic stretching.
More work gets done if you’re comfortable. The best thing I ever did was buy a higher quality monitor. Much easier on the eyes. I recently finally broke down and splurged on a 28″ ViewSonic that rotates 90 degrees. It is taking some getting used to, but is worth it. It is amazing how much larger 28″ is than 24″ – and also how dim my old monitor was getting.
The best product I ever bought for my office is a heating mat for under my feet. Cold feet or hands slows work down. This little mat can keep the temperature comfortable during the fall and spring and only uses the same energy as a light bulb. It is also much safer than a space heater under your desk and doesn’t heat up your computer as much. I wrote about both of these on my website if anyone wants to know details or where to get them.
Those are great suggestions! Thanks for sharing!
There are some great ideas here, thanks! My filing system needs updating, I just keep losing important documents as they get regularly filed in the bin!
Totally agree with most of the things in the list. I would like to add that having plants is a little bit underrated. They are a great value to be added to every office or home. Simply try it. You will feel more relaxed and comfortable without even realizing it.
When I first started my business, I quickly set up my office space and I love it, but one item I regret not investing in is an adjustable desk.
My work day is broken up so I rarely sit at my desk for 8 hours straight. However after 2-3 hours of sitting, it get really difficult. I still have the desire to work, but my body needs to move. I know if I could play around with the position of my desk, I wouldn’t feel so agitated.
Great tips. One limitation of most home offices is the ability to meet clients face to face at your (home) office. Sometimes depending on how your home is laid out there can be an opportunity to have that part separate from the rest of the house with direct entry. Otherwise finding a quiet coffee shop for the catch up over coffee can work.
I think one of the most important things to do when working from home is to keep to a schedule. It is really easy to sleep in when you don’t have to be at the office, but you will be more productive if you make yourself work. I personally prefer working in the morning to the afternoon. By afternoon it is nice enough that I want to be outside, and it makes it harder for me to concentrate. The point is, be disciplined. If you want to start work later, that is fine, but keep to your schedule or you won’t get much if anything done.
A comfortable chair is a must. When I worked at home, it can be a pain finding that perfect position. So a good chair really helps your back.
I agree with all of the suggestion but want to emphasise that if you are not the only one home all of theses are not going to work without a door seperating you from the rest of the chaos.Be separated to maintain focus.
When I switched desks at work I also switched chairs. I could immediately tell the difference and opted to snag my chair from my old desk because I found it more comfortable and less distracting. Always keep your comfy chair!
This is a great list. I would also add that it pays to spend a little extra money on a good monitor. You are going to be looking at this thing 4-8 hours or more a day. Make sure you get something you will really be happy with.
A desk is the most valuable piece of real estate in an office for promotional products and items. Choose the most effective imprinted desk accessory for your next promotion.
It is interesting that you recommend adding exercise equipment such as a treadmill desk to help you get physical activity throughout the day while working at home. My wife just got an at-home position and we are setting up a room for her to work in. We may also consider looking for pre-owned office furniture to help save on money.
A comfortable chair is one of the most important components of any office, so take time and care to select and invest in a good one. Thank you for sharing this!
that’s a great topic