How to Set Up a Home Office for Remote Work
Many of us are working from home for the foreseeable future, which necessitates setting up a home office for long-term remote work.
This is easier said than done – it’s one thing to attempt remote work while sitting in your pajamas on your couch. It’s another thing entirely to set up a professional home office where you can be just as productive in the comfort of your own home as you would at a company building.
Lots of people struggle to set up a working home office for remote work, however, whether it’s because of confusing expectations, lack of training, or bad habits. Let’s break down the things you should focus on when curating an ideal remote workspace for your professional projects.
Make Sure to Get Equipment or Software You Might Need
Next, you’ll need to get equipment and software you may need to facilitate remote work. Some of this you may already have on your computer, especially if your office has lent you a work laptop with all the required software installed off the bat.
However, here are some other ideas:
- A great headset. This is especially true if you live in a busy home with lots of other people. Constant auditory distractions can really hamper your productivity, so get a great headset that isolates you from your environment and allows you to focus on your work. This can also let you play music peacefully while you hammer out reports or projects when you’re not in a meeting.
- A good microphone should be prioritized, especially if you are likely to have lots of remote meetings with your other coworkers. Nothing slows down meeting progress more annoyingly than constantly having to adjust your microphone and deal with auditory feedback.
- A good mouse and keyboard. Your mouse and keyboard that came with your home computer may not be up to snuff if you’re going to be using them all day. If you have a little extra cash, comfortable computer mice that cradle your wrist and mechanical keyboards that are a joy to type on are little luxuries you can splurge on for your new workspace.
In terms of software, be sure that you already have the standard Microsoft Office suite installed on whatever work computer you plan to use. But you may also need additional and specialized software for things like webinars (digital seminars).
LiveWebinar, for example, is a great example of webinar software that has tons of features that can let you connect with and work with your coworkers almost as effectively and easily as you did before. It’s the perfect software for making presentations, engaging with an audience online, and for sharing projects with your coworkers in an interactive and digital format.
- cloud storage for all your files
- interactive forms
- real-time desktop sharing
- social media broadcasting of live stream webinars
- chat interfaces, polls and surveys, and even calls to action
- and much more
LiveWebinar is just one example of affordable webinar technology that you and your company can leverage to maintain productivity throughout this year of social distancing and remote work.
Keep software in mind no matter what exactly your workplace needs. Basically, you want to make sure that you have all the tools you need to get to work on your first day of remote telecommuting!
Web Hosting – Do You Need It?
An ancillary concern is whether you’ll need web hosting for your online work. UK blogger Alex Williams has created an in-depth analysis of hosting services showing that top hosts are now all cloud-based, allowing you to build a website or company portal without having to visit hard servers in person. This could be advantageous in the age of social distancing.
Basically, web hosting companies allow you to switch your company’s site or your personal blog to servers that you rent. Then you don’t have to physically go to your office or server farm to check on things, make security updates, and more.
With remote work looking like it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future, more companies may be interested in renting hosting space as opposed to storing their own hosting servers on their premises. It’s best to do this as you’re setting up your home office for remote work instead of scrambling after the fact.
Designate a “Working Space”
Another important step to set up a great home office for long-term remote work is to designate a specific working space that’s separate from the other parts of your home. In a nutshell, your brain is hardwired to think that it’s time to relax so long as you’re at home, or to otherwise be distracted with home responsibilities and chores.
This would normally be fine, but when you’re trying to work, a distracted brain is a recipe for missed deadlines and unproductive meetings. Therefore, you need to set up a designated working space within your home so your brain can be trained to think of that as your “new office”.
This is more often than not a place where you don’t play video games, watch TV, or can easily distract yourself with any goings-on at home. Some people are fortunate enough to have a small home office that they can quickly transform into a remote work office. Others may have to co-opt some other part of their abode as their workspace.
Your working place can be a small corner, a place at the kitchen table, or even somewhere in your bedroom – just don’t make your working space on your bed! That’s a fast way to make your brain associate working time with sleeping time.
The point is to separate your working hours from your relaxation or recreational hours. It’ll take time for your brain to get used to the new routine, but eventually you’ll be just as productive as you were before, if not more!
Similarly, try to make sure that this working space isn't ripe for interruption. This may be easier said than done depending on your home and dynamics (for instance, if you have multiple small children at home, some distractions are inevitable). But try to place your workspace in a spot where you can at least close the door to the rest of the house. It’s a good idea for both productivity and your sanity!
Buy a Comfortable Chair and Other Furniture
Your workspace won’t be complete without a comfortable chair – trust us on this point, as it’s easy to quickly become disenfranchised with your workspace if it’s a pain on your back to sit there and do your work every day! A comfortable chair may be pricey, but it’s an investment that you can and should heavily consider since you’ll be spending most of your working hours in it.
Similarly, make sure that you get a great desk that is the appropriate height for proper posture and user comfort. Your desk should allow your wrists to rest comfortably near your keyboard as you type out reports and chat with your colleagues. Possibly consider investing in a monitor for the same reasons depending on what you already have.
We'd strongly recommend against co-opting a couch or recliner for your workplace seating. This ties back into our first point – it's all too easy to trick your brain into thinking it's relaxation time when your work takes place at home. Try to separate your workplace in location, tools, and furniture as much as possible from the places where you veg at the end of the day.
Set Up Babysitting or Other Necessary Appointments
Next, be sure that you set up appointments for babysitting or other household tasks that you won’t be able to tackle yourself while you are at work. Babysitting is especially important. You might think that you’ll be able to juggle your work responsibilities and taking care of one or more kids at the same time, but this is much harder than you expect. It’s usually a better bet to get someone to watch your kids while you take care of professional business.
The same might apply to pet-sitting depending on how many furry friends you have living at your home. Be sure to account for other household appointments, like plumbers or other maintenance professionals. The fewer workplace distractions you have to deal with while you work from home, the better.
Get a VPN
This aspect is also critical, but a lot of modern professionals don’t realize how important having a virtual private network or VPN really is for their working security. This is super important if your business has any kind of sensitive information that shouldn’t be easily accessed by the outside world.
For instance, you might deal with financials or other personal information for other employees in your company and not want that stuff to accidentally get leaked or, worse, hacked.
The answer is a high-quality VPN. A VPN basically allows you to mask your IP address and Internet traffic, making it much more difficult for any would-be hacker or malicious cybercriminal to actually get into your computer or the network you're hooked up to. When used in conjunction with antivirus software, password protectors, and other digital hygiene methods, your business' information will be much more secure, even if you and everyone else are working remotely for the foreseeable future.
In the end, setting up a home office for remote work isn’t all that different from doing so at a regular office or another workplace. It just requires a little extra preparation and a commitment to separate your workplace from the rest of your home as much as possible.
There’s no getting away from the convenience of being able to access your fridge whenever you want, but the more you make your remote workplace a distinct workshop where the magic happens, the more productive you’ll be and the happier your remote working experience will feel.
Remote work is likely here to stay for many industries to some extent. Get a jump on adapting and you’ll impress the boss, finish your projects, and totally master working from home.
Happily combines a love of writing and new technology as a copywriter, and enjoys the puzzle of putting together a good article. In her spare time she likes to catch up on the latest, greatest books, bake chocolate chip cookies and ponder her next travel destination.More posts