October 16, 2020
As businesses shift to remote work setups and recruit more contract and freelance help, working from home is becoming more and more common. Today, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of employees around the world have quickly transitioned from in-person operations to isolated, at-home arrangements while grappling to maintain the same level of output and motivation.
There are many desirable advantages of working from home; no commute means less time spent in traffic, flexible hours allow you to find a work-life balance that favors your lifestyle, and you can choose where you want to work without any need to be in the office from 9 to 5. However, even with so much leeway and exciting flexibility, it is important that you create a work environment that fosters productivity and efficiency from the moment you start your day to the moment you end it.
Designating a specific space or room in your home as your makeshift home office is one of the easiest ways to do this. By creating a home office, you can begin to reap the infinite benefits of having an area solely dedicated to focus on your work. Using this guide, we'll walk you through how to set up a home office in five simple steps.
Step 1: Find the Right Spot
Location, location, location— we can’t stress enough how important location is when setting up your home office. Depending on the size of your house or apartment, finding the perfect spot can be a bit difficult. Look for a space or room that is furthest away from high-traffic areas like the kitchen or living room and away from noisy windows. Ultimately, you’ll want your home office set up in an area that is secluded, quiet, and conducive to reaching your peak productivity levels.
Maybe it’s a spare bedroom, an empty storage space, or a garage — wherever you plan to build your home office, it’s crucial that you keep the following in mind:
- Lighting: Your home office should have plenty of natural light, but not so much that you’re dealing with glare on your screens. Outfit your light fixtures with energy-efficient light bulbs to ensure you’re being kind to the earth as you get into your zone.
Pro-tip: Ygrene’s PACE program may be able to help cover the cost of installing energy-efficient LED lighting fixtures. PACE financing is an excellent option for those looking to make eco-friendly changes and finance home improvement projects.
- Noise level: Next-door construction, noisy neighbors, kids running around at all hours of the day — there are so many different ways noise can interrupt your workflow. Addressing these issues as you create your home office may involve installing soundproofing or investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Either way, try your best to find a spot where you’re able to close the door to drown out external sounds.
- Temperature: Being too hot or too cold can pose more of a problem for your productivity than you may think. Fortunately, installing or upgrading an air conditioning or heating system in your home office can qualify as a tax-deductible home improvement. Once installed, simply find that sweet-spot temperature that keeps you awake, comfortable, and zeroed-in on your workload.
Pro-tip: Ygrene can help you foot the bill for any PACE-eligible projects that involve installing or improving energy-efficient HVAC systems.
Step 2: Furnish Ergonomically
Successfully working from home is entirely dependent on the efficiency of your workstation. And believe it or not, comfort is key. If you're planning on spending long hours at your desk, it is absolutely crucial that you invest in ergonomic furniture and peripherals that ensure you're able to maintain the right posture while staying as comfortable as possible throughout your workday.
Skip the makeshift fixes like resting your laptop on a stack of books or using a dining chair as your office chair — opt for ergonomic furnishings that are kind to your body and productivity levels.
Here are a few ergonomic essentials to consider as you dial in your setup:
- Standing desk: Standing desks have become some of the working world’s most coveted home office must-haves. Consider opting for a convertible standing desk that allows you to choose between standing or sitting so you’re never too tired or achy from one or the other.
- Ergonomic chair: Sitting all day can take a toll on your body, which is why it’s so important to upgrade to a chair that’s kind to your muscles, joints, and posture. When shopping for the perfect ergonomic chair, be on the lookout for padded cushioning, sturdy back and neck support, and adjustable armrests.
- Laptop stand: If you’re working primarily on a laptop, you’ve likely noticed your posture suffering from constantly hunching over. Solve this problem by outfitting your workstation with a laptop stand that positions your laptop at eye level.
- Monitor mount: Working with limited desk space? A monitor mount props your screen up on a wall so you can reclaim some of that lost real estate.
- High-quality keyboard: If you spend your days at work typing away, investing in a high-quality keyboard is a must. This is especially true for those who work primarily on laptops, as these compact keyboards can feel more cramped than full-sized models.
- Ergonomic mouse: If you’re working on a laptop, do yourself a favor and upgrade from your trackpad to an ergonomic mouse to ease wrist tension. Go wireless, and you can navigate your screens more freely and comfortably.
Step 3: Invest in Your Internet Connection
A speedy, reliable internet connection is an absolute must-have for people working from home. Serving as the bridge between you and your employer, a strong internet connection ensures you’re able to stay in tune and on task.
Despite WiFi being the most popular internet option for the average household, those in need of truly reliable connectivity will benefit from switching to ethernet. This is especially true of household connections that need to accommodate multiple people and connected devices.
Should you choose to stick with your WiFi connection, consider upgrading your plan. Having a bit more bandwidth and faster download speeds can make a world of difference when your workday depends on sharing large files, working on live documents, editing photos or videos, etc.
If you live in a large household or experience any sort of frequent interruptions in service, like difficulty re-connecting, or slow performance, consider furnishing your home office with a WiFi extender. These genius devices are specifically designed to expand your in-home WiFi coverage to better ensure that you have a fast, reliable connection in the space where it matters most.
Step 4: Gear Up with the Right Tech
Investing in the right tech stack is an essential step in creating a home office. Beyond your laptop or desktop setup, there are a number of other tech peripherals that can help make your home office feel professional and expertly functional.
Second monitor: Looking to increase your work efficiency? Adding another monitor into the mix can help you cut down on time toggling between different tabs and optimize the time it takes to tackle your workload and accomplish your goals.
Printer: There are still some jobs out there that require some old-fashioned printed paper. Whether it’s manually editing copy or working through design sketches, having a printer in your home office may be a smart investment.
Virtual assistant: Whether you need it to make a quick call to your spouse or remind you of a meeting in two hours, a virtual assistant is an excellent smart device to have handy.
Headset: Between conference calls and getting into the zone with your favorite “focus” playlists, a high-quality headset allows you to tune into both with sharp clarity.
Webcam: If your job calls for frequent video conference calls, you’ll likely want a webcam more robust and impressive than the one built into your monitor or laptop.
Step 5: Eliminate Distractions
Whether you're self-employed, run a small business from home, or have recently joined the ranks of former office workers who are now remote, working from home has its fair share of hurdles to overcome. From noisy roommates, kids, or neighbors, to stunted motivation and productivity levels, working comes with a number of distraction factors you may not have initially considered.
To reach your peak productivity levels at home, make a point to eliminate all distractions. This means leaving all non-work-related devices (such as your smartphone, tablet, e-reader, and handheld gaming system) outside of your designated home office space. Being distracted can hinder your workflow and those quick cutaway moments like checking social media or de-stressing with an online game can add up throughout your workday.
Create the Perfect Space Without Spending a Fortune
Working from home can be challenging, but when you’ve got a keen understanding of how to set up a home office, you’re just steps away from carving out the perfect workspace. And remember, you don’t have to spend thousands, even hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket. Ygrene’s PACE financing allows you to make energy-saving upgrades to your home for no money down. From a mini-split ductless HVAC to make your office the perfect temperature to extra wall insulation to keep your space better sound-proofed, we can make your dream workspace a reality. Click here to check out all the improvements that qualify.