On my first day working remotely back in 2017, I eagerly pulled out my laptop and sat down at the kitchen table. Besides my computer and a bunch of motivation, I was poorly prepared for working from home. I quickly noticed that not having the same equipment as I was used to having at the office was affecting my productivity. So, over the following months, I invested in my home office and created a productive and healthy work environment.
Here are my 10 essentials to ensure your home office environment will keep you motivated.
#1 High Quality Laptop
Nothing is more frustrating than a slow computer, waiting for tabs to open or images to load is a complete waste of time. Thus, the first step in creating a productive home office is investing in a good computer. A laptop has many advantages compared to desktop computers, the main factor being that a laptop is portable. Which laptop you need mainly depends on the type of work you perform. A hard drive space of 1000 GB or more is common today, but an additional SSD will make your device even faster. If you’re a graphic designer or video editor, you’d need a laptop with a good graphics card. Jobs involving a lot of data, such as software engineering or development, require a laptop with a decent working memory (RAM) and a high-functioning processor.
#2 Additional Monitor
Looking back at my early days working from home, purchasing an additional monitor was one of the best decisions I made. Dragging a webpage to my second screen while typing an email on my laptop’s screen, without minimizing tabs – a dream come true! Another screen is very handy when it comes to comparing data, typing over information, or just to have a larger view of something. There are many types of external screens, from a basic external monitor, portable screens (next item on my wishlist), to fancy curved monitors. From personal experience, a simple 24” monitor with a decent screen resolution will be sufficient.
#3 Keyboard and Mouse
One thing that really annoyed me about my laptop’s keyboard are the tiny buttons. I also had to put the laptop right in front of me to comfortably type, a relief for my arms but stress for my eyes. Not to mention, double-clicking on a laptop mouse was one of the most annoying things in the world. People that don’t type a lot will probably not have these issues. However, if you write or click a lot, an external keyboard and mouse will definitely help your productivity. I recommend a keyboard and mouse with bluetooth to avoid tangled cables at your desk.
If you’re planning to work from home on a regular basis, whether as an entrepreneur or for a company? While you can work at the kitchen table (as I did), having a designated work space will pay off in the longterm. First, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up your work every day to make space for dinner. Second, you’ll have a much better work-life balance, both mentally and in your physical space. It’s the same logic that says the bedroom should be for sleep only and other activities, such as TV should be banned as our brains associate activities with specific locations. I personally believe that a simple desk will be enough for most people. Depending on your height, you might want to consider an adjustable standing desk as many of my colleagues (often older) used, which are said to be beneficial for the posture.
#5 Laptop Stand
One of my more recent acquisitions are laptop stands. Spending the majority of my day sitting at my desk looking down on my laptop screen, I found myself experiencing occasional neck strain. My new laptop stand is 5 inch (13 cm) high, and raises my laptop screen to a comfortable height, perfectly aligned with my monitor. In order to be flexible, I recommend purchasing an adjustable stand.
Probably one of the most important home office items is a good chair. I’m lucky not to have any specific pain points or back problems. Nevertheless, a good desk chair is indispensable to prevent pain later on, as they support your body and keep it properly aligned throughout the day. A good chair will be ergonomic, providing lumbar support and be adjustable (including height, backrest and armrests).
#7 Conferencing Equipment
Tired of entertaining your entire household with your conference calls? A good headset is a must-have for anyone holding regular calls with team members or clients. Not only will it allow you to keep the conversations to yourself, the integrated microphone ensures that your voice is heard properly. Furthermore, basic conferencing equipment gives a more professional touch. If you use your phones to make calls, consider buying earpods. They can be used to make calls and listen to music wherever you are.
#8 Desk Lamp
A desk lamp is an underrated yet indispensable piece of equipment for a happy home office. While natural light remains the best option, additional lighting is needed during winter months or when working late. Viewing a computer monitor in the dark is said to be harmful for the eyes due to the high stress it causes our pupils. Make sure to choose a desk lamp that suits the size of your desk or table. An adjustable lamp is a good choice as it allows you flexibility. The best desk lamp will have neutral light, which is neither too warm, nor too cool (ideally around 3500 K, which is considered neutral and clean light).
#9 Paper Shredder
You probably don’t want company information laying around for anyone to view. Simply throwing paper into the household garbage isn’t a secure way to dispose of information, as we never really know where it could end up. The safest way to destroy confidential information is to shred it. There are multiple types of shredders available, depending on the volume of paper and how finely you want it shredded. The paper shredders below should be good enough for occasional use at home.
#10 Office Stationery
Looking to round out your home office space with some decor? Make sure to treat yourself to a nice notebook, pens, highlighters, folders, scissors and anything else you might need to keep yourself motivated and productive when working from home!