Working from home is a dream to most, but it comes with its own challenges. Mentally leaving “home mode” and entering “work mode” can be difficult if you never physically leave your house and your bed is only steps away. How can you actually become inspired to get work done in such cozy conditions?
While it may be easy to flop down on the couch in your sweatpants and decide it’s your new office, curating the space you work from is essential to your productivity and state of mind. As a remote worker, taking the time to thoughtfully choose the right setup is a worthy investment of your time.
To help you get your home office up to par for maximum efficiency, we’ve put together a list of essential upgrades straight from other remote workers who’ve shared the home office additions that have made their work (and life) easier.
Stop me if this sounds familiar – you’re slumped over at your desk, neck craned over, and what was previously an annoying ache in your lower back has turned into something that’s affecting your work and wellbeing. Walking around and stretching only provides temporary relief.
A comfortable ergonomic chair, designed for maximum lumbar support, will help minimize back pain and let you focus. Science backs it up — a 2003 ergonomics study found that employees who were given an ergonomic chair reported fewer negative symptoms throughout the day and a total increase in productivity of 17.7%.
Music can help you relax and get energized. It can also improve your productivity.
According to a study by the University of Miami’s music therapy department, test subjects who listened to music while working were able to complete their tasks with superior quality and speed than the study group without the sweet tunes.
Having a nice bluetooth speaker in your work environment allows you to fill your space with your favorite mood music and wash out any ambient distractions to improve your focus. So cue up a playlist of your ideal mood music (simple chord progressions, instrumentals and catchy rhythms often work best) and check out some of these office-ready speakers.
Another hallmark of a happy, productive work environment is a simple soft light desk lamp. A soft glow gives your work environment that warm, cozy feeling that may contribute to a mellower and less stressful home office.
Studies have shown that exposure to natural light during the day has positive effects on our mental and physical health, too, so open those blinds and let that light in — your brain will thank you for it. On the flipside, working in dimly lit environments where screens are the main light source strains the eyes, which can lead to fatigue, headaches and blurred vision.
If there’s one thing that will serve up a giant red flag to potential clients and customers, it’s missing meetings, calls, or deadlines. It can be stressful to stay on top of all the little things while also trying to get important things done. That’s why offices have administrative assistants and executives have personal assistants.
Luckily, it’s 2019, and smart assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant can help you set appointments, book recurring meetings, make to-do lists, set up calls, or even define words and look up facts on a whim. Got a call coming up? Your digital assistant will remind you. Think of something important to do while in the midst of another task? Simply ask your smart assistant device to take note for later and remind you in a few hours.
Like most of the knowledge workforce, you’re bound to a desk and a computer. Unfortunately, the seated position isn’t the healthiest, but you’re required to put in your 8+ hours. One of the best things you can do to combat poor posture and the sedentary desk life is getting an office yoga mat.
Many companies such as GM, Google, Apple and Forbes recognize the value of yoga and offer classes as part of their corporate wellness initiatives. Yoga’s benefits to the body are plentiful – it increases energy and focus, improves posture, relieves stress, and reduces joint and back pain. If you’re new to yoga, you can find several beginner classes and videos to guide you during your desk break. And since you work from home, there’s no one to give you weird looks as you down dog and lizard your way to better health.
After a focused work session, the last thing you want to deal with is wrist and hand strain from craning your hands onto a keyboard. Don’t put up with it either — the more you do, the higher your risk is of being diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Going the ergonomic way can reduce wrist strain, increase comfort, and keep you focused on the task at hand.
In fact, a study by ChevronTexaco found that after implementing ergonomic office accessories, 44% of the study’s participants lowered their risk levels and it proved to be beneficial for productivity and morale.
If day after day you’re experiencing back aches from sitting at your desk all day, it’s time for a change. Standing desks are growing in popularity and for good reason! While sitting all day can put you at risk toward diabetes and weight gain, standing does the opposite.
For all the modern wonders of the computer, we’re very limited to its mode of function: the keyboard and monitor. Many people work on computers that are between 13” and 23” in monitor size, leaving little room for much else than a maxed out spreadsheet or document. This is where the analog can be your saving grace!
Incorporating a whiteboard into your work environment gives you a fun alternative for scratchwork and brainstorming ideas that need space to conceptualize. Writing outlines, storyboards, goals, and mantras on whiteboards can be a huge boon for productivity.
Plants are more than just pretty decorations. Studies show that being around plants is good for your health — they filter the air and their presence is therapeutic. Plants brighten up and add color to otherwise sterile indoor spaces. Plants help us better manage stress and refocus our energy, and psychologists have found that bringing some flora into a workspace can increase productivity by up to 15 percent.
Worried about being a plant-killer? Don’t be! Plenty of plants are known to be especially resilient and low-maintenance. For example, succulents are a solid place to start creating your very own indoor garden. The plants below are easy to care for and hard to kill:
One of the most frustrating things when working from home is dealing with a faulty internet connection. It prevents you from doing your job and spotty wifi can wreak havoc on video calls. An essential piece of any productive working space is, without question, a reliable and fast wireless router you can count on.
The feeling of using a brand new computer when you’ve been chained to a 2013 MacBook Pro for what seems like eternity is unlike any other. Suddenly, pages are loading at lightning speed, your fingers are flying, and you’re crossing off tasks like there’s no tomorrow.
Is it time to relive that amazing feeling once again? If you’re in the market for a new laptop, take into account the daily demands of your job. Are you a graphic designer who needs to run several large programs at one time? Are you a programmer who needs code compiled quickly? Maybe you’re a writer who needs fast browsers to research topics and use email. Consider these factors before you decide on the right upgrade for you.
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of having what seems like a million tabs open on your computer at all times. Clicking back and forth from webpage to webpage is totally unproductive — not to mention confusing. That’s why a second monitor can pay for itself in time saved on day-to-day tasks. According to a New York Times’ report of a Jon Peddie Research survey, dual monitors have been proven to increase productivity by 20-30 percent.
When choosing a second monitor, make sure you’re picking one with a clear, readable screen (to prevent headaches) and brighter displays (to cut down on glare). Consider a larger monitor to increase your desk real estate and to decrease scrolling.
Most of us are carrying around various devices at all times. Smartphone, laptop, tablet, smartwatch…the list can go on. While we’re living such connected lives, it’s important that we make sure all our devices have the battery power to survive the workday. That’s where charging accessories come in — these heroes have multiple ports and quick-charge capabilities to accommodate devices of all stripes. After all, nothing slows your productivity down more abruptly than a dead laptop.
Besides being an efficient space to get things done, your home office should be a representation of who you are. Make it your own and add some personality to liven it up. Photos of loved ones, tchotchkes from past travels, or attractive art prints can make your home office your own corner of remote work heaven. Now, the only question is: pants or no pants?
Are there any upgrades we didn’t include that you would add to this list? Let us know in the comments.