Setting Up a Home Office in 4 Easy-to-Follow Steps
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As remote work is becoming more popular, setting up a home office can help you with the transition from in-person work. Creating a personalized home office you enjoy can help motivate you to work and increase your productivity. Including practical items can also help you stay focused, so learning more about how to set up your space can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what it means to set up a home office, give you steps you can follow to set yours up, and offer tips for improving and maintaining your space to increase productivity.
What does setting up a home office mean?
Setting up a home office means creating a designated space in your house where you can work. This can help you minimize distractions and motivate you to work when you're in the office. Creating a designated workspace can be beneficial, even if you only work from home occasionally. It allows you to separate your personal life and work life. You may even be able to deduct expenses from your taxes if you work from home full time, but it's best to talk to an accountant as everyone's situation is unique.
Related: Work From Home Guide
How to set up your home office
If you want to set up your own home office, here are the steps you can follow to do so:
1. Make a list of the equipment you need
Create a list of equipment you may need when working from home. The equipment you need depends on the type of work you do. For instance, if you work as a graphic designer, you might need a desk for your computer and an additional desk or table for drawing. If you're an accountant or an administrative assistant, you could need a filing cabinet. Here are some items you might need for your office:
Your employer may provide you with some equipment, like a laptop, but you may need additional supplies. Check with your employer to see if they offer any equipment for your home office or if they want you to make your own arrangements. In some cases, companies may pay for the purchases you make for your home office, so it's always best to talk to your manager before setting it up.
Related: The Best Work From Home Jobs
2. Choose a designated workspace
Choose a quiet area or room for your home office, especially if you have roommates, family, or pets. A quiet area gives you privacy to concentrate on your work throughout the day. If possible, choose a room with a door to limit noise coming from other rooms in your living space, especially if you communicate often over the phone. Try to choose a space with a window to enjoy natural light throughout your workday, which can help improve your mood and productivity.
3. Add style elements
Personalize your workspace by adding art, plants, or photos. Adding these elements can help you feel more comfortable while you work. Consider choosing bright artwork that can help you feel energized and store your supplies in containers that fit your style. If you use video messaging or host clients in your home office, make sure the style is professional and inviting.
4. Organize your workspace
Keeping your home office organized is an excellent way to maintain your productivity. Consider moving toward wireless options, like a wireless mouse and keyboard, to reduce cords and declutter your workspace. If you have a lot of paper files, get a filing cabinet to keep documents from piling up on your desk.
Colour-coded folders can save you time in identifying the documents you need. For example, if you're working as a remote marketing manager, you can colour-code your folders to recognize which documents are for active clients. Try alphabetizing each active client by their first or last name and using the same-coloured tab as the folder to separate documents.
Tips for your home office
To enhance your home office and improve productivity, consider the following tips:
Add plants or other decor
If you think your home office is too plain or empty, consider adding decor like paintings, sculptures, or pictures of your family and friends. This can help you feel more comfortable in your space. You can also add a plant or two to make the office brighter. Try to choose plants that require minimal care and space so your office doesn't become crowded.
You can even buy fake plants to eliminate the need for watering them, which is also beneficial if your office doesn't get a lot of natural light. Taking care of your plants can be a good way to start your workday and it can energize you as well.
Keep a dedicated space for personal devices
Designate a space for any personal devices to avoid the desire to check them while you're working. Keep them in an out-of-reach area so you're not tempted to look at them and turn off notifications. Only use your phone during dedicated breaks. It's also important to refrain from using your computer for personal purposes, which can slow down your work. Be diligent in only keeping work-related tabs open on the internet instead of checking social media or news sites.
Clutter can cause distractions, making you lose focus. By regularly cleaning your workspace, you can keep your productivity levels high. Thoroughly dust and clean your desk at least once a week, including your computer, mouse, and keyboard. Keep your office supplies in dedicated containers and drawers. Review any paper documents and file away those that you don't need to access quickly. You can also declutter your computer by sorting through your email inbox and creating an electronic file system that's easy to navigate.
Keep the space dedicated to work
If you have minimal space in your home, you may use your office for other activities as well. Try to minimize this if you can, as using your workspace for non-work activities can lower your productivity when it's actually time to work. Eliminate distractions like televisions or game consoles in your office and try to only use the space to work. Leave your office for your break so you can separate the space even further.
Get a standing desk
Standing desks are becoming a popular alternative to regular desks. If you can, find an adjustable desk that lets you alternate between standing and sitting. Switching between standing and sitting can improve your focus. Make sure you slowly transition into standing for long periods to prevent muscle strains.
Buy ergonomic equipment
Standing desks can be great for your posture and overall health, but they may not be the best choice for everyone. If you have a sitting desk, try to invest in an ergonomic chair as you may be spending a lot of time sitting in it. Using an ergonomic chair can help reduce back pain and improve posture so you're comfortable throughout your workday. Look for chairs that have adjustable height and adjust it to your proportions so you can have your feet flat on the floor.
Consider chairs with lumbar support and an adjustable backrest as well, so you can adjust it to your comfort. Look for other ergonomic equipment to support you, such as an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, or laptop stand. This can reduce injuries caused by repetitive strain, such as carpal tunnel, so you can focus on your work. Ergonomic equipment can be expensive, but it's an investment in your physical health and wellbeing.
Keep extra supplies
Many offices have extra supplies in a storage room, such as additional pens, paper, or note pads. As you won't have access to this, try to create your own storage of extra supplies at home. Here's a list of office supplies you may want to purchase to complete your workspace:
Stapler and staples
Printer ink and toner
Use proper lighting levels
Plenty of natural light can reduce the strain you put on your eyes while you work. If you have few natural-light options, make sure you have enough lighting to see properly. Have a good overhead light in addition to a desk light if you're reading paper documents often. Having your lighting directly overhead or behind your computer can reduce glare.
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