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The more you work remotely, the more you begin to notice things about your workspace. You’ll discover the table is a little more wobbly than you initially thought. Maybe one day you’re typing, and your elbows start to get tired. Then you look down and realize they have no support, and they’re hanging off your narrow desk like two chopsticks.
These are just some of the familiar home office stories we encounter when talking to remote workers. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Nobody expected remote work to snowball. Many people got the news they would become a remote employee with no clear idea of what a virtual office was or what it meant for their work environment.
If you're a remote worker for a specific company, or a digital nomad working multiple remote jobs, you might have had some trouble, or at least a few questions, about setting up an office for remote work. Read the list below, and you’ll learn about home office essentials, how to set up your workspace, and the common mistakes to avoid when doing so.
Check out how easy and affordable it is to upgrade your home office with GroWrk!
Using the furniture you have around your house to supply your home office might seem like a good idea, maybe you like your living room sofa and think it’d be a nice place to work. However, when you consider the risks of an inadequate home office setup, it can’t serve as a long-term solution.
Sitting in a bad chair or at a makeshift work desk for too long can damage your back and neck. It also can make you less efficient, especially if you’re in a loud or crowded space that isn’t suited for work.
Transitioning to remote work can be a stressful process. In most situations, it’s comparable to starting a new job altogether. You want to make this change in scenery as smooth as possible. Don’t pile on extra stress by forcing yourself to work with anything substandard.
Following a few ergonomics guidelines along with our own experience, we’ve developed a home office checklist for teleworkers. Look at our suggestions below to see if you’re appropriately situated.
The problem with working from home is that it’s full of distractions. Loud TV’s, children learning online, or your partner’s remote job can all keep you from having a successful day at work. You need a dedicated workspace that keeps your productivity safe from these distractions.
If you have any extra room in your house or apartment, this would be the best solution. Even if it’s a laundry room or storage space, four walls isolating you from the rest of the home will lead to your best focus and peace of mind. Your TV is a lot less captivating when it’s hidden behind a wall. Nothing says “I’m busy” to other family members like a closed door.
We recommend investing in a partition or curtain to separate your desk from distractions for people with no extra space.
You can follow a few simple ratios and tips to make sure your office equipment is safe and ergonomic.
First, you’ll want to make sure everything is the right height. The industry standard for a desk is at least 29 inches from the ground. To see if your desk is at the right height for you, check your wrists and forearms. They should be parallel to the desk in a straight line. If your wrists are tilted up to use the mouse or keyboard, the desk is too high.
A standing desk is an excellent solution for people of all sizes. You can adjust them to your height, and when you’re tired, you can lower them back to chair-level.
Another thing you need to keep in mind is the height of your monitor. The top of your monitor should be at eye level to prevent your neck from craning downwards. To prevent your neck from craning downwards. Get a monitor that is large enough for you to see without squinting. Too small a screen can lead to eye strain.
Finally, you’ll also need a good chair. We recommend getting a chair that is as flexible and adjustable as possible. Beyond your eyes being level with your monitor, your feet also need to be flatly planted on the ground. Depending on your height and office space, this can require a pretty specific adjustment. Not to mention your leaning and armrest preferences. The more customizable your chair is, the more comfortable you’ll be.
If your desk is narrow, then you should get a chair with armrests. You can let your elbows relax there, and you won’t need to lean over your desk or use up extra space. This way, an additional monitor or leave room for writing on paper.
Nobody wants to be the guy who’s lagging or glitching out during video calls. Conference calls and remote meetings (on Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or another application) with a bad connection might mean you never get to see the faces of your fellow remote team members. Your connection speed must be at least 50 Mbps to have a stable internet connection and download/upload effectively.
You can also try connecting to the internet directly through an Ethernet cable. If that’s not possible, try to locate your computer as close to the router as you can. Also, be sure to check and see if your router can handle a high-speed connection. This shouldn’t be a problem as long as your router is less than four years old.
Try to keep the light bright enough so that you can still read easily from your notes or other printouts. The most effective way to do that is to have some direct lighting overhead. Sunlight from windows is great, but try to keep it diffused to prevent glare.
If you’re working in a dark part of your house, try lighting the room with some indirect light. Get a small lamp and put a lovely colored shade over it. This lighting will give the room a calm feeling and won’t hurt your eyes.
All of these tips are pretty straightforward, but there’s more equipment that can help you with working from home.
The factory-built microphones and speakers of most laptops aren’t perfect and glitch more often than an external headset. Also, having the headphones on can prevent outside noises from distracting you.
First of all, your workstation will have many things to plug in. Next, too many plugs in one space or multiple extension cords can be a fire hazard.
Finally, it will keep your computer safe. If there’s a sudden surge of electricity, your computer and all of its precious memory could be in grave danger.
The work you do is and should be important to you. The last thing you want is an accident or a hiccup to destroy all of it. An external hard drive will keep your work safe and also give you a place to organize your computer’s memory.
These items can also help make your workspace more comfortable, allowing fewer wires to tangle up and cause chaos.
It’s easy to take advice on setting up your home office, but that doesn’t mean it comes without difficulty. Let’s look at some of the common mistakes people make when setting up their home office and learn how to avoid them.
If saving money is your priority, then it’s easy to make this mistake. Buying the cheapest product, you find on Amazon or settling on the extra furniture might seem like the best option if your budget is low. However, the long term cost of this decision is a much higher price to pay. Inadequate office equipment can lead to musculoskeletal problems and other diseases like carpal tunnel. If you plan to work from home permanently, working on cheap gear is not the right choice.
The simplest option is just to invest in ergonomic furniture that fits your needs sufficiently. However, if your budget is limiting you, that might not be an option. You should ask your company to provide you a furniture stipend through GroWrk. GroWrk is a company that helps businesses distribute ergonomic furniture to their remote workers at a reasonable price. Your company can set a budget for you online, and you can select the furniture yourself. Check with your company's remote work policy to see if they can help you with this transition.
As we mentioned above, this comes down to your ability to focus. Remote employees usually overestimate their concentration abilities, assuming their remote work would be temporary or occasional. Now that remote work is becoming more permanent; people are realizing that a loud television or coffee maker isn’t something they can tolerate five days a week.
Beyond that, not separating our places of work and play can make the world feel bland and unextraordinary. You’ll often hear complaints from remote workers about their workdays and personal days blending into a grey mess of monotony. Keeping separate spaces for both will allow you to work harder in one place and appreciate your time more in the other.
We already provided you with some tips on separating these spaces above, but if you really can’t make the split, it might be worth considering a coworking space. Office spaces shared by remote employees are becoming more common thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and the rise of the remote working industry. Check your area for local offices and see if it would be convenient/practical for you to start working from there.
A headset or wireless keyboard might feel superfluous at first, but the longer you work remotely the more you’ll feel the advantages. Take the second monitor as an example. One of our writers was convinced all he needed for blog writing was his laptop. He didn’t want to invest in an extra monitor until one of his colleagues explained how it cut his research time in half. He could take notes, write blogs, and research all simultaneously. He bought a new monitor, and now he swears by it, recommending it to all his peers.
Remote workers often don’t know what equipment is essential to them until working on the job. It can also be expensive to buy all the equipment you need in one big online check-out cart. We recommend taking your time and investing in these items as their need becomes apparent. If you notice your colleagues don’t hear you clearly during meetings, order a headset. If you feel like your mouse isn’t working effectively, order a wireless one. Overall, you can make all of these purchases as you need them. It’s just vital not to ignore them when their necessity becomes obvious. Otherwise, you can put yourself and your work at a disadvantage.
Take a look at the specific home office ideas below to get an idea of what your office could look like.
This office is the perfect set up for someone with limited space. Find a foldable armoire or dresser and set up your desk at it. Add a foldable chair to take up even less space.
What you’ll need:
For nature lovers with a little patio space, this office idea can get you the fresh air you need. Bring your office furniture outside or use your patio furniture with a few additional items.
What you’ll need:
Why not get a standing desk to make you more active? Standing keeps us more alert and leads to less strain on the back muscles. These desks are also adjustable making them perfect for people of any height.
What you’ll need:
If you have a roommate or partner who is also a remote worker, consider investing in a long desk with two work stations. This type of desk will save space and encourage cooperation, plus we all are happier when sitting next to our significant other.
What you’ll need:
Working from home can either be a stressful transition and an exciting start to the next chapter of your life. You can start with setting up the right home office to make sure this process goes smoothly. Even if you fail at first, need to return an item, or purchase something new, be aware that this is a learning process. Rome was not built in a day. Your workspace doesn’t have to be either.
See all the opportunities for setting up your home office for remote work by signing up for the GroWrk Platform! Select from individual ergonomic equipment or complete packages. With subscription based pricing, you can pay as you go!