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There’s a lot that’s different about working from home compared to working in an office.
Remote work means that you can skip commuting. You may find yourself taking conference calls from the living room couch because it’s the quietest spot or has the best internet connection.
You may have a desk, as you would in an office, or you may work from your kitchen table or a small area in the basement. If you are doing hybrid work, your multiple workspaces may be even more confusing.
Just because you don’t commute to work doesn’t mean your work-from-home setup should be scattered throughout your home. A good work environment can have a positive impact on your productivity. Get motivated for some home improvements with these tips and recommendations for smarter ways to work from home.
First, let’s talk about if working from home is something you’d like to — or have to — do.
Is working from home a good idea?
Some people love working from home while others despise it.
Remote workers may enjoy flexibility and comfort. Plus, there’s plenty to appreciate about skipping the commute to work, which often adds more time and stress to the day.
People who miss their office might miss face-to-face socializing with their team. Depending on their line of work, working hands-on and in-person could’ve made their jobs easier. Zoom calls and Slack conversations just aren’t the same.
Working from home depends on your attitude and work ethic, too. If you’re easily distracted or your home is full of noise, being productive at home gets challenging. For working parents, returning to the office is hard. But kids at home can be a challenge, too.
The transition to remote work is difficult. A BetterUp coach or mentor can support you in developing the independent working skills you need to cope with working from home.
Why is having a good setup so important?
Your workspace impacts how well you work. If your home office setup is tiny, unattractive, and uncomfortable, it’s hard to be productive. But you can't always control all of your options.
A poorly designed office space makes it harder to focus — and, if you can’t concentrate, you might feel more anxious at work. Your office space should be a place where your focus is on your work rather than how anxious or uncomfortable you feel. How you design it is important even if it's a small space.
Plus, if you don’t have the right furniture you might experience physical discomfort or pain.
That's why you need to ensure your work setup has your comfort in mind. Furniture without ave good ergonomics causes health problems like eye strain and headaches. One study found that over 40% of participants said they experienced moderate to severe discomfort while working remotely without proper ergonomic office furniture.
The static posture that the participants kept experiencing even put them at risk for musculoskeletal disorders.
Your physical well-being is important, and you can protect it by having a work-from-home office that supports it, rather than hurts it.
Without a comfortable office chair, your lower back can start to ache. If your office chair has poor or no adjustability, you'll feel stuck in one uncomfortable position. A computer screen that isn’t at the proper eye level can blur your vision, strain your back and neck, and cause headaches. Over time, your body posture will suffer.
You may even feel discomfort when you're not working. Caring for your health at work means that you're also caring for it outside of work. After a full day of straining your back and neck, you have an uncomfortable sleep, carry extra stress in your muscle tension, or start to feel more pain.
Designating a space to work
If you don't have a defined, comfortable workspace, it's also harder to find work-life balance.
Working from your bed each day might sound tempting (thanks to pajamas and cozy blankets). But if you sleep and work in the same spot, the lines between work and personal time will blur. You'll struggle to set boundaries between work time and leisure time, inviting burnout.
Separating your personal life from your work life is a challenge for anyone, but it might be especially difficult for someone who works remotely.
A better office space means better overall wellness, both physically and mentally.
That's why you should make an effort to have a designated workspace. It shouldn't be close to spaces where people congregate, like the kitchen, living room, or playroom. Even though it might be tempting to work at your kitchen counter, it's not very practical and doesn't give you a proper desk setup.
You might not want people seeing your kitchen and everyone using it behind you while video conferencing. And if you work from home with kids, you might find that working right beside where your children play impacts your productivity.
While thinking about where you want to work, ask yourself if it'll work out for the long term. Is this space more temporary, or is it set up so that you could work there easily in the future? Your space might even be a dual-purpose room. You might also choose to rework a crafts room into your office because it's close to the Wi-Fi router.
The room can have other after-hours purposes as long as it becomes your office while you're using it.
12 work-from-home setup essentials
Before you pick out paint colors and consider your decoration preferences, consider office furniture and equipment. Some of these gadgets might not apply to your type of work, but many are crucial to your setup.
Here are 12 ideas of what to buy for your at-home office setup:
- An ergonomic chair with proper lumbar support and armrests
- A desk lamp to bring more light to your space
- A second screen (a monitor) so you can easily see all your programs and applications
- Earbuds — especially Bluetooth ones — for when you have video calls. Using headphones will help you avoid disrupting your housemates or family. Wireless headphones also let you move around more during calls.
- A desk set up with an adjustable height. Standing desks work, too.
- A laptop stand for when you move around
- A proper webcam setup for video calls. A separate camera, ring light to attach to your monitor, and/or a sturdy stand for your phone may help.
- Strong Wi-Fi that will provide you with a reliable internet connection
- An adapter to plug in all of your devices
- Wireless charging device to limit how many cords you have
- A coaster to put your drinks on. Bonus points for a reusable water bottle to keep on your desk for staying hydrated.
- A cushioned floor mat if you stand and a footrest to elevate your feet throughout the day if you sit.
As working from home becomes what we do, it's worth investing in a few more gadgets. This likely isn't a temporary situation, so make it work for you.
4 tips to decorate your home office
After reviewing the essentials you need to have in your home office for functionality, it’s time to get personal. Your home workspace is yours. It can reflect your design preferences, so get creative with it. Follow these tips to make the space suit your design preferences.
1. Make it comfortable
A comfortable chair is important, but so is a supportive chair. A poor desk chair can make or break your home office. Back pain doesn’t make anyone productive.
The rest of your space can be soft, too. Think about a small pillow that you could add that will either put a smile on your face or feel good to have with you. If your desk gets too dull for you, try a stand-up desk that lets you adjust the height. You can add a soft mat to stand on, too.
Outside of the work-from-home essentials, pick curtains and rugs that fit your style and add a sense of comfort to your workspace.
2. Keep it tidy and organized
You could have a lot of books, papers, and charger cords all over your space. Rather than letting it all pile up, try to have a system in place that keeps things organized. That way, you’ll know where everything is when you need it.
Make tidying your space the very first or last thing you do each day to ensure you’re not sitting in a mess — clearing clutter will help you stay focused.
Looking at all your clutter can be a distraction by itself. If you don’t have much space on the ground, use any vertical space and build shelves on the walls.
3. Bring in plants
House plants have many benefits. They add color and charm to your workspace, whether they’re in pots on the ground or on a shelf. Ensure that you have enough natural light coming into your space — for your sake and the plants' — or get special lights to put nearby.
Real plants can also help keep your air fresh. If your workday is stressing you out, take a break to water them while doing breathing exercises.
Unless you prefer to feel like you’re entering a whole other world, your office space doesn’t need to scream “work.” Make the transition from your home to your office an easy one, not a harsh one.
Bring in your favorite mug, some family photos, or a diffuser to calm you while you work. The little touches will put you at ease and help you remember the little things you enjoy in life.
Ready to start learning how to be productive in your home office? At BetterUp, we love helping people stay focused and meet their goals. We’ll help you optimize your productivity from the comfort of your home office.
Don't forget to take care of yourself
Besides having a setup with a sweet ergonomic office chair and desk setup that separates you from distractions, you need to know how to take care of yourself outside the office. Your life isn't all about working, even though it may seem like the two blends together.
Taking care of your mental health and well-being helps how productive you are, your mood, and how you enjoy life. It allows you to be purposeful with your work and personal time. Plus, you learn that you deserve time for yourself rather than constantly devoting your energy toward working.
Here's a quick list of ways to take care of yourself while you work remotely:
- Set boundaries with team members as far as when you're available to work
- Try the Pomodoro technique to schedule your time while working
- Practice mindfulness during and after work to help stay present
- Silence notifications from work apps after finishing for the day
- Step away from screens while you take your breaks
- Avoid sitting all day, and make sure you take breaks to stretch your body
- Have a meaningful morning and evening routine that helps you relax
Your next steps
While it may feel like your office space demands too much effort to look nice, the benefits run deeper than just pretty pillows. Having an office space that you enjoy is much better than dreading sitting down to start working.
A well-designed space with essential features in place can boost your productivity, mood, and well-being. Plus, it can ward off physical pains and discomfort.
As you put together a home office with all of the essential equipment, make sure that you’re involved with each part of the process. It’ll be great to know where every cord plugs in or how to repair every shelf.
In times when your home office might feel like a trapped space, take a deep breath. Remember that you’re trying your best in the situation you’re in, and that’s an accomplishment.
Content Marketing Manager, ACC