More people than ever are working online and remotely. Companies are realizing the value of the remote worker. Why pay for an expensive piece of office real estate when people work better from home?
For many, this is a blessing. For some, working from home can be challenging. This makes setting up your home office in the most ergonomic and efficient manner incredibly important.
If done correctly, you could massively improve your work output. If done wrong, you could end up falling behind. This article will show you how to set up a home office so that you are primed and ready.
Here are what we see as the essentials for working remotely from home. These tips will help boost productivity and help you get down to business.
Ergonomic Office Chair
This is by far the most important item on this list. You spend all day working in your chair, so make sure it is designed with ergonomics in mind, or you will suffer from it later when you begin to have problems with your back.
A comfortable office chair with good lumbar support and armrests that move in 4 directions is essential. Studies in 2003 found that office workers who were given an upgraded chair were 17.7% more productive than those who didn't. They also reported less back pain and better mood.
You can go as crazy as your budget here. At the top end, you can look at chairs like the Herman Miller range. If you don't have that kind of budget, you find good chairs on Amazon for under $300.
Additional Tip: Don't Forget to Move!
While a new chair is a great way for you to look after your back when you set up your home office, another important tip is to make sure you take "Movement Breaks."
There are a couple of ways to do this. One popular method is to follow the Pomodoro Technique. This is a productivity hack where you work for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. During that 5 minutes, you stand up and walk around and stay away from the computer.
The Right Desk
Alongside your chair, your desk will most likely be the next most important thing that your purchase for your remote office. Your desk should be exactly what you want it to be and is essential—some people like a large amount of space for their laptop, some like a minimalist design.
One thing that we highly recommend is looking into a standing desk. We don't mean a permanent standing desk, but one of the adjustable ones. IKEA and Amazon offer mechanical standing desks that don't require power; they are a lot cheaper and will suit most people. They have more than enough space for your work laptop.
There are numerous benefits to using a standing desk, and while most people grumble at the idea at first, they quickly come around.
Choosing to stand instead of sit instantly boosts the number of calories you burn. This lowers your risk of weight gain immensely over a whole year. In fact, studies have shown that standing at your desk will burn 1000 extra calories a week, or two Big Mac Burgers!
Using a standing desk also improves your mood and your energy levels throughout the day. One study found that in the test group, 87% reported increased energy. What's even more interesting is that when they reverted to working at a sit-down desk, all of them reported that their moods had returned to the lower normal.
Music, Sweet, Sweet Music
It has been proven that listening to the right kind of music can boost brain waves, productivity, and mood. Using the right tunes can de-stress you, energize you and help you focus.
This means that any good remote office will have a good way to blast the tunes. A monitor with built-in speakers or even a Bluetooth speaker works at the very least if you are on a budget, but we highly recommend that you get a speaker that is designed to be clear with high-fidelity audio. These will allow you to really hear the soul of your music, even when the sound is low.
We really like the Sonos range of products. They integrate perfectly, allowing you to control the music from the app. If you want to go the whole hog, you could even install them in different rooms, allowing you to flick your music from one room to the other.
Upgrade Your PC - Your Most Important Tool
The most essential tool for any remote employee is their computer. If you are still working on a slow, out-of-date laptop, then you are costing yourself money. Loading time adds up. If your computer takes 10 minutes to turn on each day, that is over 2500 minutes a year—nearly two days' worth of time.
Upgrading your computer doesn't even have to cost the earth. If your computer is older than 4 years, it will only cost you a few hundred dollars to get a better laptop.
If your work relies on high-demand programs like Adobe, you will need to spend a little more.
A new computer will quickly pay for itself by speeding up your processes and spending less time loading. You will also be less likely to run into problems like the blue screen of death which could lose you all of your work and data.
Additional Tip: Upgrade RAM!
If you don't have the budget to buy a new computer, you could also go the upgrade route. The easiest piece of hardware to replace and the one that gives the most bang for your buck is the RAM.
RAM is your computer's store of cheat sheets for efficiency. It supports all of your other components and makes sure everything runs smooth. A simple RAM upgrade could be all your computer needs to get a new lease of life.
Look After Your Eyes and Boost Productivity with the Right Monitor
If you need to utilize multiple tabs and have different programs open at the same time, then you should definitely consider a larger higher-quality monitor or a second monitor.
Upgrading your screen real estate is an easy way to increase productivity. It will also save you from errors and will save you time. Having a second monitor has actually been proven to increase productivity by roughly 25%.
A widescreen curved monitor can be great for smaller desks, and they offer great viewing angles. Dual screen monitors are better for productivity, but they require stronger computing power to run.
Certain monitors are designed specifically to help with eye strain; these are great for those conscious about their eye health.
Ergonomics Are Key
There are many different ways to improve your ergonomics while working in a remote office.
Other than getting an ergonomic desk and chair, the easiest way is to upgrade your keyboard and mouse. Ergonomic keyboards stop you from developing RSI, and a good mouse does the same. On top of this, you should look at a gel or foam wrist wrest for both hands.
Ergonomics aren't just for your health either. In one study, a company gave its employees ergonomic accessories like we just talked about, and they saw a whopping 44% increase in productivity.
Upgrade Your Router
If you have a poor-quality router, you will run into problems like drop-out or slow speeds. This can be frustrating in many ways. You will not be able to work if your internet drops out, and spending time loading pages will cost you money.
To get the most from your Wifi, you need to invest in your hardware. Get a good router designed to be bombproof, and you will never have to worry about slow internet or drop-out ever again.
If you have a new computer, but it's loading web pages slowly, this is probably your problem.
Get Some Plants for Your Office!
Plants provide numerous benefits to an office. Firstly, they help reduce stress pretty incredibly. A study in Sydney found that when they introduced a single plant to an office space, they saw a 37% fall in reported tension and anxiety; a 58% drop in depression or dejection; a 44% decrease in anger and hostility; and a 38% reduction in fatigue.
They also increase productivity by up to 15%, according to another study done in England. What's more, workers didn't even need to have a plant in their cubicle; this increase in productivity happened as long as the worker could see the plant.
Plants also remove carbon dioxide from the air and pump out fresh oxygen. A single indoor plant can boost oxygen by 25% and reduce Co2 by the same amount.
Finally, a study done in 2015 comprised of over 7500 workers found that wellbeing and productivity were 15% higher in offices that made sure there were natural light and healthy plants throughout the space.
What is the Best Way to Set Up a Home Office?
It isn't just the equipment that is important; the way you set your remote office is equally critical to your workflow.
The following tips are for maximizing the space that you have:
The space that you dedicate to your remote office is very important. If possible, you should use a room with good natural lighting in a quiet part of your house with a door that can be shut and potentially locked.
If you don't have an empty room like this, then you can convert a spare bedroom or your garage to a similar effect.
You should not set up your workspace or office in a room that you use to chill out like the living room. This can create a negative habit loop in your head and make it hard to unwind after work. It can also make conference calls a nightmare.
Many of us work long hours, and this means we can often be found working after dark. When this happens, it's crucial that you invest in a good lamp that isn't harsh on your eyes.
A dimmable lamp is often the best choice as it gives you a lot more control. The lamp should be a proper height-adjustable model that can sit on or clip on your desk.
You should also consider the lighting during the day, and you don't want to be sat in direct sunlight as it may cause glare that will make it hard to see your computer screen and may make your keyboard or desk hot to the touch.
A cluttered workspace is a guaranteed way to make sure that you are not going to be productive. This means you should make sure that you have a good filing cabinet for any of your files.
You should also have a place to put your computer, keyboard, and laptop when not in use. This keeps your workspace uncluttered.
Space-saving desks that can be folded back into a wall or cupboard can be a good choice too.
What is The Difference Between a Remote Worker and a Digital Nomad?
Remote work is when someone who is employed by a traditional company has the freedom to work from wherever they want. Essentially, anyone who would normally commute to work but can work from home.
Some people can do remote work full time; some may be allowed to work at home for several days a week but still commute for the rest.
Remote Workers tend to have an office space set up at home.
Often, people who do remote work have complete control over their hours. This means they have to work a set number of hours per week but are allowed to choose how they section this. This is great for those that feel they might work better in the evenings or very early mornings.
Unlike remote workers, Digital Nomads tend to be self-employed entrepreneurs. For these people, their work is online, which means they do not need to be tied down to a single location.
Digital Nomads are free to work from anywhere that has an internet connection. This gives them the freedom to work in countries where the cost of living is lower. Popular Digital Nomad hubs include Thailand and Portugal.
Digital Nomads tend to use a portable office system, utilizing laptop stands, lightweight equipment, and portable monitors ideal for remote working.
What are the Benefits of Remote Working for Employees?
The biggest and most obvious benefit of working remotely is the flexibility that it gives you. You do not need to commute to an office. This could save you up to 9 days of your life every single year.
If you are a parent, you can also work around looking after your children. This means you can have both a career and spend lots of time with your kids while they are young.
If you have flexible work hours, you can also listen to your own body clock more. Every single person on this planet is different, and we all have different circadian rhythms. This means that some of us work well in the morning, some work well at night.
Some of us benefit from sleeping until 9 am, and some of us need to get up at 6 am. Listening to this rhythm allows you to be more awake and alert. This means you will work harder and with more efficiency.
According to a number of studies, remote workers are less stressed than their in-office co-workers. The study that took place in England found that over 55% of workers who have to commute are stressed due to that commute.
The study also found that companies with remote workers had 69% fewer sick days and absences. This destroys the typical idea that remote workers work less.
What are the Benefits of Remote Work for Employers?
If you are an employer and are hesitant to move your workforce online, there are several benefits.
The main benefit is that remote workers are actually more likely to put a higher amount of effort into their jobs compared to normal workers. The State and Work Productivity report shows that 65% of workers who full-time think they work better from home.
The next huge reason to consider allowing your team to be remote is the substantial cost savings. If you do not need a physical office, the savings can be monumental. In large offices, this could save you an incredible $22,000 per employee, according to FlexJobs.
Working remotely has become essential for many businesses; you should be wary that if you do not offer the chance to work remotely, another employer might. Softchoice carried out a survey which found that 75% of workers would swap their job for one that allowed them to work from a remote location.
Common Misconceptions About Working Remotely
Even though we are seeing a paradigm shift across the world, many people still hold misconceptions about workers who work remotely.
The "Always On" Myth
Many people fear that if they have to work from home, they will always be "On." This simply isn't true if you feel like you are always on while working from home, then you haven't set up the correct office space and set the right boundaries.
Despite what most people think, most employers don't want you to be switched on 24/7. No one wants their workers to burnout.
In order to avoid this feeling, you need to make sure you know exactly what is expected of you in terms of the hours you work. Stick to those hours and make a point of stopping when you are meant to, no earlier, no later.
This is also one of the reasons why setting up your office is so important. You want your office to feel like a place of work so that when you leave the office, you feel like you are back at home. Working in the wrong office space can be a quick way to blue these boundaries.
Working Remotely Stops Communication
If there has anything we have proven wrong during the last year, and it's that we still communicate with each other even when it is over the internet.
With programs like Zoom and Slack, we can actually communicate more efficiently. Working remotely gets rid of the small talk by the water dispenser. Instead, we only communicate with each other when it's necessary, which is much more efficient.
After reading this article, you should know exactly what you need to create the perfect office for working remotely. By following the tips we have given you, you should be able to keep working productively no matter what distractions life throws at you.
Andrew White is the founder of TechGearoid, a leading technology review & information website that is designed to help consumers make better decisions when it comes to their IT purchases. As a specialist tech writer (nerd) with over 10 years of experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern technology & the newest market innovations. When he isn’t providing value for his readers, he’s usually drinking coffee or at the beach. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family.