Instead of going straight to the couch every day to do work, consider a more ergonomic work-from-home setup.
To help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, many organizations are asking employees to stay home and work remotely. Fortunately, we live in a digital age, and for many it’s possible to stay connected no matter where you are. For those of you who are new to working from home, we’ve put together some tips and ideas to help you create the perfect virtual workspace.
What do you need in your home office?
Carve out a part of your home that is private and quiet, and where your family or roommate won’t interrupt your work.The first thing you’ll need if you plan to work from home is a dedicated workspace. If possible, carve out a part of your home that is private and quiet, and where your family or roommate won’t interrupt your work.
If you’ve already got a dedicated office in your home, great! But if not, you’ll need to get a bit creative. Just be sure that your space has the basic, essential ingredients for a productive working environment.
Essential items to have in your virtual workspace
A table or desk
If you have an actual desk, great. It’s nice to have the keyboard tray, drawers, and dedicated spots for all the different tools and technology you use for your job. But if you don’t have a desk, don’t worry. You can use your kitchen table, a folding table, or any other kind of table that gives you a sturdy surface to work on. Just be sure that it’s in a location where you can work without distractions.
A comfortable home office chair
This is not a luxury. If you are going to be working from home full-time, or even part-time with some regularity, you’ll need a comfortable place to sit, and it shouldn’t be a bed or a sofa. First of all, getting out of bed and walking to your workspace is a good way to step out of your home mindset and into a work mindset. And second, sitting in a bed or a sofa hunched over a computer for 8 hours a day can cause serious back pain and other health problems. Get a comfortable chair that will allow you to maintain good posture while sitting at a desk or table.
Sitting in a bed or a sofa hunched over a computer for 8 hours a day can cause serious back pain and other health problems. Get a comfortable chair that will allow you to maintain good posture.
Obviously, you’ll need the standard office supplies, like paper, pens, paperclips, staplers, etc. Employers — just because your staff isn’t physically in your office, that doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for providing them with the supplies they need to work. Please reimburse your employees for any supplies they need for their homes. And employees, if your boss can’t give you these supplies for any reason, you may be able to deduct them from your taxes.
A computer or laptop
There’s no way around it. If you are working remotely, you need a computer. Many remote workers prefer to use a laptop as it allows them to take their office to a coffee shop, the library, or a hotel if necessary. But if you know for sure that you will only work in your house, you can use a desktop computer. Your employer should provide this to you.
Hopefully, we don’t need to tell you to go out and buy a phone. If you don’t already have one, we’re assuming you just woke up from a 40 year coma. However, you need to make sure that you have excellent, uninterrupted service in your home, or wherever it is you’re planning to work. And you might want to consider getting a second phone so that you can have a dedicated line for work.
A strong internet signal
In some neighborhoods and on some networks, WiFi signals can be spotty. This is especially true for public WiFi at coffee shops. If this is the case for you, check into upgrading your service or switching providers.
A good virtual workspace should have the capability of sending and receiving documents, and that often includes hard copies. For example, you may need to print and sign a contract and then scan it and send it back. For tasks like these, a printer and scanner are essential.
Bookshelves and/or storage space
Your work life comes with a lot of “stuff.” To avoid having a huge pile of books, paper, and other clutter stacked next to your desk, we highly recommend getting a bookshelf or some other type of storage compartment to keep in your home office.
Virtual workspace home office items that are nice to have
It’s not impossible to work without these things, but they do make it a little easier.
- A door that shuts, if you live with other people. If you have a roommate, a spouse, or children who will be home while you’re working, you have to be able to shut the door. Maybe this means that you set up your workspace in your bedroom or your basement. Just find somewhere private where you can shut the door.
- Noise-cancelling headphones. These are also useful if you live with other people, especially kids.
- Filing cabinets. If you have a lot of papers, a filing cabinet will make it a lot easier to stay organized.
- Warm, soft lighting. The right lighting can improve your mood tremendously, and make it easier to stay motivated through your work day.
- Plants, music player, or other mood-setting items. We love the calming effect of green plants and soft music. If you can put one or two small items in your office that make it a little more inviting, it will go a long way toward improving your mood at work.