The Complete Guide to Setting up a Home Office

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setting up a home office

Estimates show that more than 50 percent of U.S. employees could work from home.

And that number is only people employed by a company of some sort. If you add the number of self-employed people who can work remotely, the number is even higher.

If you’re one of those people who can work from home and you’re thinking about setting up a home office to make it possible, you might be wondering where to start.

Let’s look at some home office ideas to create a productive, efficient workspace.

Pick the Right Location When Setting Up a Home Office

The first step in setting up a home office is to choose a location in your home. This depends a lot on the size of your home and how much “free” space you have.

If you have a spare bedroom or den that you can repurpose as your office, you’ll be able to create a spot that’s physically separate from the rest of your home. Not everyone has that luxury though.

You might live in a small apartment where your “office” is little more than a desk in the corner of the living room. The amount of space isn’t as important as finding a spot where you can get work done effectively.

Try to find a spot that’s private so you can make phone calls and join Zoom or MS Teams meetings without interruption. The space should be all yours if possible. Try to find a spot that others in your household won’t be in and out of throughout the day.

Don’t Cut Corners On Your Office Furniture

Office furniture is at the top of the list of what goes in an office. You’ll need an office chair and desk at the very least.

If you’ve got a limited budget for your office, the temptation might be to save some money by buying cheap furniture.

That’s a mistake. You’ll be sitting at your desk, in your office chair, for several hours a day. They need to be comfortable and supportive.

Your office chair is particularly critical since a poor-fitting chair can lead to problems such as back pain and repetitive strain injuries. Choose a fully-adjustable chair so you can customize the fit to suit your size and shape.

You might want to consider a standing desk as well. You can raise and lower these desks to switch from sitting to standing and back again.

Studies show that sitting for a long time is bad for you so a sit/stand desk lets you change things up throughout the day.

You’ll Need Storage Space

Most businesses don’t deal with as much paper as they once did. A lot of the things that used to get printed are completely electronic in today’s workplace.

Even so, you’ll likely have to deal with some paperwork from day-to-day. You’ll need space to store that paperwork as well as office supplies like pens, paper, extra printer ink, and other things you’ll want to have on hand.

If you deal with sensitive information in your work, you might need to have secure storage that lets you lock things up when you’re not working. Some industries may even have regulations that stipulate how you need to secure client information.

Good Lighting Is Important

Good lighting will make a big difference to your workday. Ideally, you should choose a spot that has plenty of natural light throughout the day.

If that’s not possible, try to avoid fluorescent lighting. Instead, use desk lamps or floor lamps with diffused shades that will soften the light in the room.

Make sure the light isn’t creating a glare from your computer screen either. Even minor reflections can make it harder to read the screen and can lead to eye strain.

What Technology Do You Need for Your Work?

If you’re working from home, chances are you do a lot of your work on a computer. Choosing the right computer for your home office is beyond the scope of this article but you can learn what you need to know in this article.

Suffice it to say you’ll need a reliable computer with enough memory and processing power to deal with anything that comes your way. Major brands like Dell, HP, and Lenovo all have a variety of computers that will fit the bill.

A reliable internet connection is another important piece of technology. If you plan to use WiFi for your internet connection, consider picking up a mesh router for better wireless coverage.

Most people don’t have emergency backup power in their homes. If the power goes out during your workday, you’ll be out of commission.

You can minimize this risk with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system. A UPS is like a large power bar with a battery backup to keep your equipment running for a short time if the power goes out.

Most of these devices will only give you a few minutes of power but it could be enough to get you through short outages. And it will give you a chance to save what you’re working on and shut down gracefully if the power will be out for longer.

A Reliable Backup System is Critical

One of the most critical components of your technology stack when working from home is a reliable backup system.

The information on your computer is always at risk of data loss. Your computer could experience a hardware failure, you could delete something by mistake, or you could have a fire or flood that damages your equipment.

If the information on the PC isn’t backed up somewhere else, you could lose it forever.

A good backup system meets a couple of criteria. First, it should be automatic. If you have to remember to do it, there’s always a risk that you’ll either forget or procrastinate until it’s too late.

And second, it should be off-site. If your backup is sitting next to your computer and something happens like a flood or fire, the backup will get damaged along with the computer.

You can use an online backup service like Carbonite or Backblaze to automatically save your critical data to the cloud, meeting both criteria.

Keep Work and Personal Space Separate

One of the dangers of working at home is the line between work and personal time can get blurred. It’s too easy to pop back into the office for a couple of minutes just to check on something.

Next thing you know, it’s a couple of hours later and your family is wondering where you disappeared to.

Keep your working space and personal space separated as much as possible. If you have a separate room for your home office, this is easier to do. Just shut the door at the end of your workday and don’t go back into the office until the next morning.

If you’re working in a shared space or the corner of another room, it’s a little more challenging to keep things separated but it’s still possible.

It could be as simple as moving your computer from one side of the desk to the other. When it’s on one side, it means you’re working. The other side means work is done and you’re on your own time.

You could also throw a sheet over the desk at the end of the day or come up with some other way to “close” the office when you’re done working.

Don’t Lose Track of Time

Another critical component of separating your work and personal life is to keep track of time. It’s easy to lose yourself in your work and not realize how much time has passed.

If you’re in an office with other people, you’ll likely notice them all leaving at the end of the day. You won’t have those kinds of signals if you’re working alone.

Put a clock in your office somewhere that you can see it throughout the day. It will help you keep track of the passing time as well as help remind you to get up and move around now and then through the day.

Spend Some Time Getting Your Home Office Set Up

If you’re setting up a home office to work remotely, take the time to do it properly. You wouldn’t want to go to work in an office building that wasn’t set up well so why would you do it at home?

The time you’ll spend getting everything organized is well spent. It will pay off many times over in work efficiency, less stress, and more fun while you’re working.

Browse through our Business and Tech categories for more helpful posts about working from home.