In the first half of the year, many of us scurried home and settled for makeshift home office setups. Back then, we thought our bedroom-desk-turned-office-space would be a temporary solution. Now, it’s clear that, even post-lockdown and post-pandemic, working from home has become commonplace. To help you navigate this new reality, we’ll be sharing some of the best home office ideas we’ve come across in these months of trial and error.
If you think about it, shifting to a work-from-home (WFH) scenario can be extremely beneficial, especially if you’re willing to work around your routines and habits. They key here is figuring out how to create a workspace from home and transitioning to a WFH scenario that works for you, your needs, and the changes 2020 has brought to our society.
Let’s get to it!
Your home office setup checklist
First things first. Let’s get you all stocked up. Working at an office is great when it comes to supplies. There’s usually someone, or even a team, in charge of keeping the supplies well stocked. At home, however, we tend to stick to basics. Anything that we don’t have at hand we end up forgetting to buy or pick up at the office. And while it’s not the end of the world, it could be getting in the way of your comfort and productivity levels.
Here’s a home office setup checklist to ensure you’ve got everything you need to stay motivated and on-task:
- A desk
- A comfortable chair (you can add a pillow for back support)
- Laptop or desktop computer and screens
- Storage (drawers, crates, or trays)
- Basic supplies: notebooks, folders, pencils, pens, post-its, a trusty highlighter
- Personal organization: calendar, agenda, and/or to-do list
- Lighting: lamps, ceiling lights, window access
- Climate control: space heater, fan, blankets
- Stress-relief: pictures, your favorite scented candle, a small plant
Need this on the go? Your printable checklist is ready for download.
As you can see, there are many things to consider when it comes to setting up your home office. Odds are you already have many of these items, but if you’re starting to feel the workday blues, try throwing in a few more from the list!
How to create a workspace at home
Now that we have our checklist, let’s talk logistics. If possible, find a space in the house that will be your designated workstation. There probably won’t be many options, but the important thing is to choose a space and commit to it.
Finding a space to work from home is crucial, but the real goal is to have our minds associate a single space with work. If not, we’ll be finding paperwork and pens all over the house, which will only contribute to work fatigue and even overworking.
How to set up a home office in a small space
Even if all we have is a desk in our rooms or a space in the living room, we can make it work. The trick to small spaces is maximizing surface room. That means treating every inch of your workspace as prime real estate. If your desk doesn’t have drawers, try to find a set that can fit under it. Use this storage space to put away anything you don’t use regularly. This way, it’ll be easier to keep your desk decluttered (which will make it feel more spacious).
At the end of the work day, try to put away your laptop or stack up your mouse, keyboard, and screen into a corner. The physical act of putting work away will send a strong signal to your brain that it’s time to unplug, and it’ll be a reminder any time you walk by your office space: work starts again tomorrow.
Best practices for back, neck, and eye health
Let’s take a deep dive into ergonomics. Does your neck or back hurt after a day of computer work? That’s probably because your computer screen isn’t at eye-level. According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the top of your monitor should be at or right below eye-level. Therefore, the center of your screen should be at a 15 to 20-degree angle from your line of vision. When it comes to distance, OSHA recommends keeping the screen between 20 to 40 inches from your eye. If the monitor is small, increase the text size.
Now, when it comes to eye health, the secret lies in taking breaks. We recommend using your eyesight breaks as an opportunity to get your blood flowing as well. Take a walk around the house, take out the trash, put some bread on the toaster, or even take a few minutes to do some stretching. If you’re pressed for time but are feeling your eyes waning, Hartford HealthCare recommends the 20-20-20 rule- Every 20 minutes look at something that’s 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This is something you can do even in the middle of a meeting.
Other suggestions include increasing font size instead of leaning in closer, reminding yourself to blink, sitting up straight, and ensuring that the light source is to your sides or behind you, not in front.
And there you have it. We hope that these home office ideas, which are pretty much what every home office needs, help you settle into a more pleasant workspace. Work-from-home is here to stay, so let’s make ourselves comfortable!