Working from home has so many benefits such as flexible hours, a comfortable environment, and no commute. Without a properly set up office, however, it can turn into a nightmare.
Freelancers and entrepreneurs alike will often start out with little capital to invest in a home office. They’ll sit on the sofa with their laptop, or pick a corner in a busy kitchen, to try and get their work done.
This type of home office set up isn’t sustainable in the long term, though. Poor posture and lots of distractions will lead to high stress levels and chronic muscle problems.
It doesn’t cost much to invest in setting up a proper home working area, and you don’t even need a lot of space. The payoff, though, is worth it: reduced stress, better concentration, and improved productivity.
Use this home office equipment checklist to make sure your work area is properly set up.
Your Essential Home Office Equipment Checklist
The following ten items are absolute must-haves for a productive home working environment. If you can’t afford new furniture, scour local listings like Craigslist or see if friends have items you can borrow until your income improves.
Sitting at the dining table is not ideal for long days at work. You need to have a desk that is designed for office work.
The height needs to be comfortable for you to rest your wrists and forearms on for typing, and you need space to set your monitor back from your eyes.
A kitchen chair or a couch does not a good posture make. It’s tempting to lounge in an armchair but this is an inevitable path to chronic backache.
Find an ergonomic office chair that has a gas lift suspension, plenty of padding, and a comfortable back. Mesh chairs are ideal as the fabric tension creates a supportive back that molds to your shape.
High-Speed Internet Access
You can’t do anything from home these days with a slow internet connection. Make sure your connection is fast: remember that you can write off the cost (or a proportion of it) on your tax return so it could be worth upgrading with your provider.
If your router is on the other side of the house, invest in a WiFi repeater that will strengthen your signal and speed up your connection.
Typing all day will result in repetitive strain injury unless you have a suitable keyboard. They’re a cheap investment that’ll really improve your working environment.
Opt for a wireless one if you can, with short-travel keys, as this will mean you can position it wherever it’s comfortable and type quickly with smaller movements.
A laptop sat on a desk is not the right height for your eyes, which will result in neck strain. If you have a desktop PC, it’s likely your monitor isn’t high enough, either.
Invest in a laptop or monitor stand that allows you to raise the screen to eye level. You’ll be able to keep your head and neck level all day and prevent neck strain.
You will need a printer, even if you do everything digitally. You might need to print and sign contracts or see whether your latest design looks good on paper.
Printers aren’t expensive these days but it’ll make your life much easier to have one. You might want to choose one with a scanner too, so that you can easily upload documents into a digital format.
When you buy office equipment it’s a good idea to check Side by Side reviews to make sure you’re getting the best tool for your money.
A wireless mouse is more comfortable than using the trackpad on a laptop. No wires will allow you to position it wherever you feel it is most comfortable and will minimize clutter on your desk too.
You need somewhere to file your paperwork. This might only be a box file to hold your contracts in or a full-scale filing cabinet full of client records.
Having an organized place for your paperwork, even if it’s just your tax returns, will make it easy to find everything in a few seconds instead of hunting through a stack of papers.
The worst thing to happen would be an electrical surge that fries your computer, your hard drive, and your internet router.
Fit a surge protector between your power strip and the wall outlet to prevent such a disaster from happening.
Good lighting reduces eye strain, and daylight lamps improve your mood in dark winters.
Choose the highest quality lamp that you can, as cheaper ones can flicker which give some people headaches. Position your lamp so that it illuminates everything clearly on your desk without reflecting off your computer monitor.
Extra Home Office Equipment
These items aren’t essential to your home office, but they will make working from home a far more enjoyable experience.
Easy Access Power Strip
It’s a bit boring perhaps, but a power strip with separate on/off buttons for each cord will help you to save on your energy bills.
Put your power strip in an easy access position so that you’re not crawling on hands and knees under your desk every time you want to plug something in or switch off an appliance.
External Hard Drive
Save yourself a lot of panic by backing up your computer every night onto an external hard drive. If something happens to your laptop, you’ll only lose the last 24 hours of data instead of weeks or months worth.
It’s worth investing in a high memory drive of 1TB or above so that you don’t have to worry about running out of space. You can also use this to take to client meetings as a backup or to transfer client files.
Plain walls are uninspiring. Put up some portraits or paintings that reflect your personality and bring you joy to look upon.
You could put up family photos or your favorite vacation souvenir, or add some abstract art for a splash of color. Whatever you feel will inspire you and help you feel good on those days when your brain is on a go-slow.
Add some greenery to your home office with a pot plant. Not only will it add to a pleasant visual experience whenever you’re at work, but it’ll also freshen the atmosphere.
Leafy green plants filter out carbon dioxide in the air and provide fresh oxygen, which is vital for a pleasant working environment.
A Do Not Disturb Sign
If you have loved ones at home that think ‘working from home’ means ‘permanent play time’ then consider investing in a Do Not Disturb sign.
Tell your family that when the sign is up they can’t disturb you for one hour. This will give you an allotted time to work on an important task, and it will help them learn some discipline without getting impatient.
A Final Item for Ideal Work-Life Balance
There is just one more essential piece of office equipment you’ll need: an alarm clock.
Set an alarm for the end of your working day, to make sure you have a good work-life balance. When the alarm sounds, down tools and spend time with your family and friends.