Work from home essentials

Transforming your home workspace into what you had at your company office can be a challenge. Here's how to best equip yourself for the task.

Perfect your work from home setup

When you start working from home, one of the biggest hurdles is, ironically enough, figuring out where you’re actually going to work. If you’re going to be regularly working from home, you’ve got to commit to it and the first step in doing that is creating the perfect workspace in your house.

Create a home office space

We aren’t all lucky enough to have a fully stocked home office, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create an area in your home that’s a work-only zone. It could be a side table in a front room, a desk in the bedroom, or even your worktop in the garage. Decide where you’re most likely to be productive—perhaps you prefer sitting undisturbed in a corner or you’d like to recreate the bustle of the office by being at the kitchen table. Whatever works for you, do it.

Get creative

For most of us, the office essentials boil down to just needing enough room for a laptop, which also lets you use your furniture in a whole new way. Want a standing desk? Try your kitchen island or just add some height to your current desk with a different chair. If you need a second monitor, why not hook up your TV with an HDMI for a 55-inch view of your spreadsheets? Some of the wackiest work from home ideas are actually pretty genius.

Make it appealing

There’s a good chance your company office has a design scheme to it—whether its your aesthetic or not. One of the best things about working from home is that you get to make all the decisions in terms of how your workspace looks and feels. So why not make your office area a place that you’re happy to spend time working in and is pleasant overall to have in your home? While it’s a space you should mentally associate with work, it also shouldn’t be an eyesore that distracts negatively from personal time. If you want a sleek and streamlined look, for example, go for a wireless mouse and keyboard. Add an attractive desk lamp that complements your overall décor, and, while you’re at it, what’s stopping you from treating yourself to a more high end coffee maker?

Switch it up

Even if you did so in the office, maybe you’re not the sort of person who can sit in the same place for eight hours a day when at home. In that case, feel free to change things up. Maybe spend the morning at your chosen work desk and then move to the dining room table in the afternoon. If the weather’s nice, why not work from your patio or roof deck? No matter how many areas of your home you end up visiting throughout the day, you should still try to make a work hub where everything you need, like your laptop charger, printer, or reference books, can go. This way, you have a physical destination to start and end the day—you’ll be surprised at the positive mental impact the “commute” from your bedroom to your designated home “office” area can have.

Pick a good chair

It sounds obvious but the lack of a good work chair can have a big impact on your physical health. You may not get aches and pains right away, but after weeks of the same unsuitable perch, you could potentially cause lasting damage to your posture. Order an ergonomic desk chair and be sure to share your recommendations with your team as well. From height-adjustable to memory foam options, a sensible office chair is just a good investment. It’ll also come in handy for most of your favorite home activities, whether you’re gaming, binging a TV series, or reading—and who doesn’t want a comfy chair for that?

Treat your equipment well

If you’re going to be completely self-sufficient when working from home, keeping your equipment in good condition is more important than ever. Look into getting a laptop stand to help prevent overheating as well as providing a better angle for viewing and typing. If you need to keep your equipment clean, perhaps pick up a microfiber cloth or screen wipes to take the marks off your laptop screen.

Find a call spot

With handy tools like changeable backgrounds on Zoom, you don’t really need to worry about making the bed before taking that conference call. However, having a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed is one of the basics of video conferencing etiquette. Don’t rush around on a call, ushering people out of rooms. If you’re able, confirm with your housemates or family members a designated quiet “call area” where you can go when you need to make a video call without unwanted disruption.

Extra accessories and work-from-home ideas

Once you have your physical set up in place, there are plenty of other items you can pick up or simple changes you can make to enhance your work from home experience. What do you need to do to make sure you’re ready to work, and to maintain a sense of wellness while balancing your work and personal life?

Immerse yourself

Do you work best by blocking out everything in order to focus, or do you need a faux office environment to help you work? Whatever approach you take, your home workspace should be optimized for your working day and your best work. This could take the form of leaving your phone or other distractions out of the room, or picking up some noise-cancelling headphones so you can really plug in. Whatever it is you need to focus on your work, don’t hesitate to do it.

Don’t forget your team

When you’re working as a remote team, teamwork becomes more important than ever. Keep communication up with daily calls and boost morale with fun games like “Who has the best work from home space?” Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean your team can’t pull together. With that in mind, make sure you’re approachable, always available in Slack, or over the phone. If you think your team needs new tools to get the job done better, it might be time to look into digital tools to keep you working together more effectively. Dropbox comes with a whole host of collaboration features to help teams work together, whether they’re in or out of the office. Even when your team is physically divided, make sure you stay connected and that your organizational culture shines through.

Stay healthy

You’d be surprised how lax any of us can get when our usual routine is interrupted and we’re staying in the house all day. That’s why paying attention to the basics is key. One of the most unexpected work-from-home essentials is making sure that you cook and eat properly each day. Additionally, having a trusty water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout the day is another must. But your health extends beyond just your physical condition. If your 11am chat with your co-workers puts a smile on your face and is the highlight of your morning, set up a video call at just that time. Your health—both physical and mental—is of utmost importance while working from home, so don’t compromise on it.

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