How to Equip Your Home Office with the Essentials

With coronavirus cases continuing to rise, at least some employees should expect to continue working remotely for the long haul. Maybe you’re one of them.

If you’d originally planned on working from home temporarily, you may need to reassess your situation now. A temporary home office setup may not cut it long-term. It’s a good idea to reappraise your situation and your needs, so you can make yourself comfortable and stay productive for the long haul. 

Here are some essentials to consider when creating a professional workspace from home:

Space

If you lack space, you may need to invest a little time, money, and effort to create a viable home office. See if you can gain extra space by eliminating clutter. Do you have a fair-sized storage room? Think about clearing it out and converting it into an office. (If you can, add a window for fresh air and visual appeal.) 

As you declutter, separate what you want to keep from stuff you can give away or throw out. You can always rent a storage unit for the items you don’t regularly use but want to keep for the future.

If your home has a guest room, see whether it can double as your office. You can swap out a conventional bed for a sofa bed to make room for office furniture and equipment. Or does your home have a garage? How about converting part of it into an office? 

With a little ingenuity, you’re bound to find the quiet, private workspace you need for working remotely.

Furniture and Hardware

Next, you’ll need to furnish your workspace, starting with the right desk. If you’ll be using a desktop computer, you’ll probably want a conventional desk with room for your PC, monitor, keyboard, and other essential office components. You’ll also want an ergonomic chair so you can work comfortably for hours at a time.

You may prefer to work from a laptop stand, a table, or even a convertible standing desk. Any of these can give you greater stability and variety when working at home. 

Depending on your job, you might need a printer/scanner, paper shredder, or a compact filing cabinet to hold hard copies of reports or legal documents. To organize promotional items, consider installing shelves or bins.

Accessories

If you’re going to work from home long-term, you also may want to invest in extra accessories that can make your job easier and more productive. 

Noise-canceling headphones can improve your concentration, especially if you’ve got kids in the home. An extra monitor enables you to chat with colleagues and work on your laptop at the same time. A power strip/surge protector not only protects your equipment but also gives you extra outlets to power your other gadgets. 

By doing a little research online, you can discover all kinds of peripherals that can enhance and simplify your job. Don’t forget to stock up on pens, pencils, paper, and other office supply basics you may need.  

Technology

Technology will be central to your remote work, so make sure you have the software you need. Video conferencing apps like Zoom and GoToMeeting facilitate virtual communications, enabling you to collaborate with co-workers on team projects. Dropbox and Google Drive allow you to share business files safely and securely.

Keep in mind, though, that working remotely puts your system at greater risk of security leaks and digital threats than when you worked from your company’s office. Installing a virtual private network (VPN) on your network can help keep your business communications private and secure. Cybersecurity software can protect you against viruses, malware, and data breaches.

If you’re unfamiliar with some of the latest technology, online classes and video tutorials can help you learn the skills you need to succeed in working from home.

Internet Connectivity

This technology will be of little use without stable, reliable internet access. If family members are sharing your internet service, it may not meet your needs when it comes to working remotely. Consider investing in a new router and upgrading to high-speed internet or Wi-Fi to enhance connectivity.    

Infrastructure

When you work from home, problems with your home’s infrastructure can easily interfere with your job. A glitch in your air conditioning can make working conditions unbearable. Electrical problems can bring your work (and everything else) to a standstill. If even your fridge goes out, that creates a headache that takes time and energy to relieve.

By protecting your systems and appliances with a home warranty, you can prepare yourself for any household eventuality. If your home is prone to AC, electrical, or plumbing problems, a home warranty can be a smart investment to ease infrastructure hassles.   

Financial Security

If you’re stressed about finances, you’ll have a hard time focusing on your job. You’ll also find it difficult to purchase the equipment you need to equip and stock a home office.    

So shore up your finances with a budget that cuts back on nonessential spending. Put aside funds from every paycheck into an emergency fund. Pay off some credit card debt to give you a cushion for borrowing later. 

These steps can give you some sense of financial security for the future. By getting your finances in order, you’ll be better able to set up an effective remote-work environment and work in peace.

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time working from home, it just makes sense to spend some time planning how to do it right. Take your own needs into account, and the needs of your employer and your family, too. Shoot for performance, efficiency, and comfort. Think about what you have to work with, and make it work for you — so you can work most effectively for yourself and your company.

Ann Lloyd, Student Savings Guide

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