Home Office Setup Guide: Work From Home Like A Pro
With the coronavirus crisis seeing many of us make the change from office-based to home working, home offices are suddenly springing up all over the country. Most of them have been put together in a hurry - but your work environment is too important to be just thrown together. A well-constructed home office will not only make your days more pleasant: it could boost your productivity, improve your health, and help stave off the many health complications that can come from spending so long at the desk.
Poorly thought out workplaces can lead to strains, back problems, and a host of other issues and complications. But knowing how to avoid these pitfalls isn’t easy: that’s why there is a whole industry dedicated to our health and well-being at work. If you're not a professional in home office design though, we’ve put together this guide to help you build your home office.
How Do You Make A Home Office?
For many, the home office won’t differ so much from the workspace you’re used to travelling to. That means that the same rules apply, and you’ll need basically the same equipment. That said, when imagining home office setups, it’s useful to think about what has and hasn’t worked at the workstations you’ve worked at previously. This is, after all, an opportunity for you to build your ultimate work area, so there’s no reason to be limited in your thinking. It’s a great opportunity to try something new.
Here are the bare bones you'll need to start building your home office:
Computer and Wi Fi
We're going to go out on a limb here and say that if you're building a home office, you probably already have some computer equipment. If you don't, now's the time to buy a desktop PC, pronto! And if you don't have Wi Fi, it's probably time to get internet access.
Your desk is the building block of the home office. Without it, your computer or laptop has nowhere to rest, and you have nowhere to work. There are many options on the market, from the humble computer desk right through to the versatile sit-stand desk varieties.
You ideally need a desk which allows you to find the optimum position to keep good posture. Postural issues can cause back pain and RSI, so avoiding this is key to maintaining your wellbeing while working.
A height-adjustable desk will allow for this and give you the option to alternate between sitting and standing during the day. With home work presenting less opportunities to get up during the day, keeping active is doubly important.
Ergonomic Chair or Stool
An adjustable ergonomic desk chair which supports the lumbar area, the upper back and the neck is crucial for long hours at the desk. There is also a range of stools and active seats we’ll cover later which can help you stay active during the day, and boost your productivity.
Accessories, Storage and Everything Else
Standing anti-fatigue mats, headphone stands, filing cabinets ... The list of possible additions is endless. What's essential to you will depend on what you do exactly, but below we've listed some of the key things you might need to complete your pro set up.
What Is The Best Way To Set Up Home Office?
The best setup for your home office is going to depend a lot on the type of work you do, but probably a lot more on how much space you have available. If you’re wondering how to make a home office in a small space, your needs are quite different from those lucky enough to have a dedicated office space.
If you work with drawings you will need a set up which incorporates a drafting table, for example. And if your work requires you to use multiple monitors, you will need to factor this into your thinking. You will know best how much desk space you require, and how much of the day you are likely to spend seated or standing.
What is true for all professions though is that a set up which keeps you free from pain and injuries is crucial. That means you should choose ergonomic, adjustable chairs, and ideally a desk which allows you to change position and keep active during the workday.
Where Should I Put My Home Office?
If you have a guest room in your home, this is the obvious candidate. Ideally, you want a space where you can close the door behind you and get on, which is especially true if you have children in the house.
For many of us, it is a case of needs must when choosing where to put an office at home. With the right equipment, some rearrangement, and a little bit of creativity, you can make a viable workspace in most rooms.
With a bit of imagination, you may well find your bedroom or living room can be turned into an office area, permanently or just once in a while. And you’ll be surprised how convincing it will feel once you’ve kitted it out with all the right equipment. If you only occasionally need a space to do your business expenses, we have ideas for you too.
The important thing is that you create a work environment that works for your needs. Building your own workspace puts you firmly in control of the user experience, and you'll know best what works for you.
What Equipment Do I Need To Work From Home?
Height Adjustable Desk
Height adjustable, or sit-stand desks have revolutionised the way we work. With sedentary lifestyles causing a spike in health issues, many of us have turned to the lifestyle changing powers of sit-stand working. And if you’re putting together a truly world-class home office set up, then we think you should do the same.
But why exactly should you choose a standing desk for your home office setup?
When working from home we tend to work longer hours, and we get up less. That’s because there’s no one to speak to at the water cooler, and fewer distractions in general. This means there’s a danger that in our home offices we become even more sedentary than we were in the office. When you consider that office-based work and inactivity has been shown to have links to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and a whole host of other serious medical conditions, it’s a bad outlook.
However, building your home office around a standing desk can help keep you active and in turn help prevent these problems. Standing up 30 mins out of every hour has been shown to promote blood flow, and burns more calories than sitting.
Back pain, neck pain and RSI’s are all conditions related to bad posture, but also to maintaining a stationary position. Many instances of lower back pain, upper back problems and neck strain are caused by simply staying still for too long. By varying our position, we relieve the strain on various muscle groups, preventing long term problems.
Sit stands allow you to change position easily throughout the day, either by standing periodically or just varying the height. Standing for at least part of the day has been shown to boost productivity and wellbeing. Increased blood flow will keep your energy levels high, and it’s also been linked to lowering blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Adjustable Height Desk Features:
Here are some things to look out for:
- Stability and Wobble - Make sure you buy one that is stable in use, but also in transition between heights (to protect your computer equipment).
- Programmable Heights - An electronic system which allows you to save your optimum heights is ideal.
- Cable Management - Keeping your cables out of the way reduces clutter and trip hazards. Ideally should have a separate channel for your ethernet cable or other data cables.
Every workspace needs a great chair, and whether you decide to boss it in an executive chair or have your eye on the slightly more humble office chair, the same principles apply. Whatever chair you go for, you need maximum flexibility and adjustability to ensure you can attain the perfect work position. Here are a few features to look for in an ergonomic chair. If you need more info on picking the best ergonomic chair for your home setup, see the guide we wrote.
To keep you back in good shape you need a chair which allows you to fit to your frame and the shape of your spine. Make sure your chair has adjustable back height and lumbar support is the minimum, with adjustable neck support and headrest ideal.
To find the correct position relative to your monitor and webcam, you need a chair which can be set to height easily. Tilt allows you to find the perfect angle to workstation too, so you can work in the height of comfort and safety.
Consider A Mesh Back
When the hot weather sets in you’ll thank yourself for choosing a chair with mesh back. Not only is it great for airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable, but mesh provides great support for the back. Gets extra points for looking great!
Monitor Stand / Monitor Arms
Your monitors are your window on your world of work, and they’re most likely to be your focus for the majority of the work day. So getting your monitor set up right is obviously going to be very important.
If you’re going to keep your home office space as ergonomically sound as possible and save yourself from postural issues, then the placement of your monitor or monitors are key. You need to make sure your monitor is directly in front of you, with your eye level a few inches below the top of the screen. With a stand-alone monitor this can be difficult to achieve, but luckily there are a host of options to help you find the right spot.
If you have the space, a monitor stand can do the job. If you want more desk space and greater flexibility of movement though, consider building a monitor arm into your set up. They normally clamp onto the back of your desktop, saving on desktop space, and allowing you a much wider range of positions.
Multiple Monitors and iMacs
For multiple monitor set ups, dual monitor arms are available allowing you to position your monitors in near-infinite arrangements, and freeing up twice the desk space! If you work on Mac, there are even arms available which are customised to support the weight of the iMac with specialised fittings.
A good keyboard is a must. You'll know what you prefer when selecting a keyboard, but we recommend choosing something as slim as possible, as this allows you to keep your mouse or trackpad tucked in closer, which minimises twisting as you work.
Mouse and Mouse Pad
There's nothing in this world more frustrating than a sticky mouse, so choosing your mouse and mouse pad wisely could add years to your life! It's worth noting that many desks have trackable surfaces so this is worth thinking about when choosing a desktop.
Useful for blocking out background noise or for some motivating music, a high-quality set of headphones is a must for the home office. Even better if you sometimes double up and game at your workstation too.
To complete the set up, a headphone stand will keep your gear safe and your office looking slick.
Phone Stands and Holders
Unlike the traditional office setup, when working from home it's likely our cell phone is now our full-time work phone. Having a dedicated cell phone holder on your workspace not only allows you to keep it safe between uses, it means you can multitask, and video conference while you work.
If like many of us you enjoy music while you work, working from home is an amazing excuse to turn up the volume. However, if you’re packed away in the spare room away from your HiFi, you’re going to need a set of computer speakers. Luckily, the audio quality of these little guys has shot up over recent years, so there’s no need to install a new stereo in your office.
A good quality webcam is becoming a must-have now that video conferencing is becoming the norm. Incorporating a dedicated webcam into your home office means you’ll be crystal clear for all of your meetings, and of course whenever you need to catch up with your family and friends.
Also a must, if you want to get your point across you need your colleagues to be able to hear you. Investing in a good quality microphone should mean you never get talked over again.
Pedestal desks are perfect if you’re short on space or if you only home work occasionally. As they have such a small footprint, you can easily convert your living room into a sit-stand office for the day. Definitely worth thinking about if you need a home office you can pack away or if you are especially short on space.
Keeping the correct posture is more difficult when working from a laptop. This is why you should consider a laptop riser to your set up if possible. Coupled with an additional keyboard, you can still achieve the correct posture without investing in a new PC! Alternatively, an external monitor can be used and elevated to the correct eye level.
Even in the so-called paperless office, we still sometimes need to keep files. We definitely need places to put our clutter. And if your workspace is lacking in room, the need becomes much greater. Luckily you can find a range of pedestal file cabinets and clever storage options to help keep your space as tidy as possible.
How Can I Improve My Work From Home Setup?
If you follow our guide above, you should be able to create a workspace that's perfect for you, no matter what room you decide to build it in. If you're looking for some ideas to improve your environment even further though, below are a few ideas to really bring your space to life.
How you light your space can make all the difference in your work room, so if possible choose a room with lots of natural light. If not, make sure you have plenty of lamps to prevent yourself from straining, without having to sit under the glare of the main lights. When working at a computer, it is sometimes advisable to have the light a little lower, so if you're relying on synthetic light, a light with a dimmer switch is ideal.
Make it feel like home
We've probably all had to work in some pretty sterile workplaces in the past, but building a home office empowers you to put a bit of your own style into your workspace. Remember that this is part of your home, and not just a functional space.
Consider a Sit Stand Desk
If you're still using a static platform, one of the best ways to improve your home office is to install a standing desk. Keeping active is more important than ever, and the health and productivity benefits associated with a standing work style are not in doubt. So installing one of these sit stand desks from Desky could improve your life, not just your home office. Check out our full range of desks today!
Interested in how Desky's standing desks compare to their IKEA competitors? See this post for a full review and comparison.