If you're new to working from home, the home office can be your sanctuary; your peaceful workspace or it can be a prison where you feel unhappy and miserable. The good news? You get to choose which one it will be.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the best ways to set up a work from home office and the key things to consider. This article is based on my 20+ years of experience working from a home office.
How long you’ll be working from home?
The first thing you need to think about is how long you’ll be working from home. If it’s only a very short period of time, it would be pointless investing in an entire home office set up. In this situation, it would be better to invest in just the essentials.
However, if you have the budget it could be worth setting up a permanent home office. That way, you’ll always have somewhere set up to work at home if needed.
Making the Room
If you have a spare room, or an empty bedroom then you have the perfect space for your home office. My first home office was the dining room, and my first desk was the dining table. If this is the space you have then great.
What if you have no room for your home office? Then it's time to look outside the home for a moment. Do you have a garage you can clear down? A shed? When my transport business was in its early days we had no spare bedrooms and no dining room. The office was a desk in the master bedroom and that clearly didn't work. So we cleared the garage and put two desks there. Garages often have power points so setting up computers isn't hard. We always worked with the garage door open – rain or shine and it was quite secure.
In another house, the office was the conservatory. This house actually had a spare room (or study) but it was 6 foot x 6 foot and the desk didn't fit. This room became the paper room where the business filing cabinets were stored.
I mentioned earlier that we had a desk in the bedroom. Avoid this at all costs. If you keep your desk in your bedroom then you will always feel you are working. A space at the dining table and clear last box to store your working equipment is far better than working in your sleeping area.
Some people have been known to use their ironing board as a stand-up desk. I've not tried this.
Make sure you have the right equipment
At the very least, you’re going to need a laptop or desktop computer and a desk. If you don't have a desk then the dining table is a good option. The downside to the dining table is you have a lot of space to spread things out… And you will. Working from the dining table can quickly lead to chaos so keep this in mind when working here.
Get a decent chair. You probably take your office chair for granted. But a good chair makes all the difference. In our current home office we have gaming chairs. These are comfortable and are built to be sat on. They have excellent back support. You want to be able to sit comfortably and not fidget. So choose your chair wisely.
You'll need a good internet connection. So when choosing your workspace ensure you can get online where your desk is. If you don't have a strong internet signal you will need a range extender. These can be purchased on Amazon and cost anything from 20-100.
You will also find a keyboard riser useful. These lift and tilt your keyboard so you don't have as much strain on your wrists.
Consider a silent keyboard. Typing is noisy. And you will soon irritate your family when you're pounding out a report or article.
Ensure your workspace has plenty of natural sunlight
When you’re stuck indoors, you won’t be getting as much natural sunlight as you usually would. This can have an impact on how productive and motivated you are. Numerous studies have revealed the damaging impact limited natural daylight can have on worker’s in an office setting and the same applies to your home office.
Make sure you’re going to be working in a part of the home which benefits from a lot of daylight. If there isn’t a space available, you might want to consider investing in a daylight bulb. These are designed to replicate natural daylight. This is what we used when the garage was our office. We still have one in our current home office.
Windows can be a distraction if you are not used to working next to one. In the past, we've placed a stained glass window pattern on the glass to block some of what was happening outside.
Focus on comfort
Your home office should be a comfortable place you can work in. This means, providing good support for your back if you’re working at a desk for example. Your ergonomic, silent keyboard and daylight.
If you aren’t comfortable, you’re not going to get much work completed. You’ll also find it beneficial to surround yourself with things that make you smile. I have photos of my wife and daughters on my desk, and a quote saying “this is the start of something wonderful” hangs from my bookshelf. The office curtains are brightly coloured.
Consider noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs. If you have family at home you are “invading” their space. They have a routine and they do things a certain way. You're not used to this, so you have to slot into their routine or chaos will reign!
Your final piece of home office equipment is the timer. You need to set a timer on your desk to get up and move every 30 minutes. You need to schedule your movement. You will also find that you can work well with using the Pomodoro technique (25-minute working blocks).
These are some of the basics you to consider when setting up a home office. Whether you’re setting up a permanent or temporary office space, you need to ensure it has everything you need and it’s quiet and comfortable to work in.
Other things to consider
Will you be making calls? If so, you need a home office space with a door or you will spend all your time making calls from your car.
If you are attending virtual meetings you will have the dog barking, the children wanting to climb on your lap and other things happening. So will the other people on your call. You can let your family know you're going on a call but expect that things won't go as well as you'd like.
Working from home takes some getting used to. The good news is that once you start your working from home journey you won't want to go back to a noisy, unproductive office. Because without all the distractions of the workplace, you'll find you are very productive in your home office.