Work from home (WFH) job roles have been on the rise for years. The advance of technology and an increase in a global workforce—not to mention the pandemic—have all contributed to the move toward flexible work.
In March 2020, COVID-19 quarantine protocols were announced, followed by sudden office closures around the world. Seventy-one percent of Americans reported working all or most of the time from home, according to the Pew Research Center. As a result, many office workers had to create a WFH setup using whatever furniture and space they had in their home at the time. Now, flexible, at-home work is considered a mainstay of our economy.
Remote work has multiple benefits. For example, employees can:
- Choose their preferred work environment to do their best, most efficient work.
- Work a flexible schedule to accommodate personal errands or family obligations.
- Save money on commuting costs.
To set yourself up for success, you’ll want to create a dedicated work from home space that empowers you to do quality work. Here’s what you need to know when planning a functional work from home WFH setup of your own.
What is a work from home office?
A work from home office is a dedicated room or space in your residence where you do work for your business or job. Your workspace might be in a spare bedroom or a corner in the apartment that you share with two roommates. Sometimes, modern homes are built with an allocated office in them—think, French doors, custom-built shelving, and a phone jack. Other dwellings have a nook or den that can be used as an at-home, WFH setup. If you don’t have a designated or spare room to serve as your work from home office, consider carving out a space in an existing room and bringing a desk, table, and computer together to establish a makeshift workstation.
Approximately 40 million Americans are expected to work fully remote in the next couple of years, according to the Future Workforce Report 2021: How Remote Work is Changing Businesses Forever. Around the world, employees and employers alike are embracing fully remote and more flexible, hybrid environments. As such, a reliable work from home setup is crucial for you to do your best work.
How to plan your work from home office setup
Figuring out how to get started with a WFH setup might seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. You’ll want to start with a few priority items when creating your work from home office and then build upon your space from there.
Here’s a list of recommendations to create your best work from home setup:
- Create a designated area for work. Whether it’s an additional room in your home or a corner of your kitchen, it’s a good practice to appoint space used just for your job. This assigned WFH desk setup can help your brain get into a work state (versus sitting on a couch in your living room where you typically spend your “play” time).
- Get a desk. The best work from home desks can cost a decent amount of money, but you don’t need a top-of-the-line model to get started. Choose a desk that has a sturdy place for you to keep your technology and offers work-related storage.
- Keep your space organized. Do your best to eliminate unnecessary clutter and non-work hindrances (like your smartphone if you don’t need it for a work call or email, or an on-call personal matter). WFH desks should be distraction-free zones that enable you to concentrate on your work.
- Use an ergonomic chair. If you have the budget, it’s worth investing in a chair for work, specifically one with proper cushioning and the ability for you to adjust the height and arm rests. It’s important to practice good posture and body mechanics when you’re sitting for extended periods of time to minimize aches and pains while you work.
- Strengthen your at-home Wi-Fi. When working outside of the office, it’s imperative to have a solid internet connection. You’ll want to choose an optimal position for your router, reduce wireless interference, and follow other best practices to improve your wireless network.
If you have a flexible budget or company-provided WFH stipend, you may choose to invest in other high-quality items, such as noise-reduction sound panels for your home office walls (especially if you need to record clear, crisp audio for your role). Once you have a basic work from home setup in place, you’ll be able to build onto it and improve it for your business needs.
Essentials of a work from home office
There are work from home essentials that can complement your at-home office setup. Specifically, tools and technological add-ons for enhancing your remote working experience with your teammates.
Here are key devices and equipment needed for your WFH setup:
- Remote and hybrid work tools. Equip your work computer with group chat software to help you collaborate and communicate with your team—just about anywhere in the world. Modern tools that offer video conferencing, a talk function, and other helpful capabilities can help you stay connected to your organization and focused on your work.
- Supplemental technology to support both efficiency and body alignment. Look into items like a laptop stand, additional screens, wireless mouse, mouse pad, keyboard wrist pad, and a swivel monitor stand to make your workday more comfortable
- Tools to boost your video presence. If you’re required to be on camera for meetings, check out modern devices to improve your calls. Conventional work from home equipment such as a ring light, a quality headset or pair of headphones, a background-noise-reducing speaker, and a microphone (with stand) can greatly improve your audio and video for work meetings and uplevel your workspace.
For your work from home desk, you might consider adding a desk plant, a coffee cup warmer, and a gallon water bottle (bonus: keeping hydrated can help cognitive performance), too. Also, if you have company-supplied devices and software, only use them when you’re working—it’s best to create some space between your work and personal life at home so you’re able to rest fully when you’re not on the job.
The benefits of a work from home setup
A proper work from home office is beneficial for several reasons. A dedicated WFH setup can help you stay:
Focused on your workload by exclusively and regularly working from the same space.
- Organized by keeping your work files and equipment in a singular physical location or in the cloud.
- Efficient while you remain structured and on task.
Additionally, at-home workers forgo a commute, which can reduce stress and add time back to the workday. For workers who prefer a quiet work setting, having the ability to choose their workspace is also powerful for aiding productivity.
Emerging global research shows that employees who work from home report feeling “more satisfied” than their peers who work from an office, according to ADP Research Institute. The right office setup—in conjunction with a remote and flexible setting—can help improve productivity and morale.
How to improve your work from home office setup
Once you have a workable WFH setup in place, you’ll want to maintain it but also plan ahead for improvements. Specifically, to update, refresh, and upgrade your workspace over time.
For example—when feasible—update or upgrade any technology or software that barely works or functions just enough to get by. Or refresh your office space by adding a polished backdrop for behind your desk setup that will appear on camera during video calls.
You might want to create a “save” and “splurge” list for WFH office improvements, too. For instance, you might want to look for cheaper alternatives for printer paper and a headset but spend more money on a standing desk or indulge in a sunlight desk lamp for your office. Regardless, you have the power to create and refine a quality at-home office and WFH desk setup with any amount of space and budget.