Remote work is here to stay. In fact, LinkedIn reports that the number of paid job postings offering “remote work” increased 357 percent. Unfortunately, not everyone has a home office that inspires productivity. According to Owl Labs’ 2021 State of Remote Work Report, 21 percent of employees who worked from home worked in a closet last year.
That’s not ideal for your health, and it’s not good for productivity either. If you’re working from home (WFH) in a space you don’t like, how do you build a home office you do like working in?
This article offers a complete guide to all the supplies WFH employees should consider purchasing for their home offices, including technology, desks, storage, accessories, and more.
Whether your office is in a corner of your kitchen or a dedicated room, there are home office solutions that will work for you.
Ready to work from home in comfort?
The core of your work-from-home setup is the technology you use. The right laptop and accessories can make WFH a relaxing experience.
Depending on how (and where!) you work, you may need some or all of these items. However, this list covers the basics you’ll need in most WFH situations.
- Computer: Try to choose a laptop with more storage and processing power than you need so it doesn’t slow down when you have too many tabs open in your browser. Laptops and convertible tablets are ideal when WFH.
- Webcam: Most laptops come with a built-in webcam, but if you do live events or have a lot of meetings, consider a high-quality external webcam.
- Extra monitor: Invest in at least one external monitor, possibly two depending on the type of work you do. Few things will boost your productivity like multiple monitors.
- External mouse: A mouse is more ergonomic and tends to be easier to use than a trackpad on a laptop.
- External keyboard: Looking down at your laptop may cause neck pain. Raise it up on a few books, a riser, or a low desk hutch, and use an external keyboard to type.
- Printer: Just about every company uses the cloud these days for storage, but some companies and files need to have a hard copy of some documents. Consider getting a Wi-Fi-enabled printer to make printing easy.
- Modem: Most internet companies provide a modem, but consider purchasing your own, especially if you need fast wireless internet.
- Network extender: Want to work from the garden or your rooftop patio? You’ll likely need a network extender, which helps keep your Wi-Fi signal strong even far away from the modem. Large or older homes may require an extender to reach all the rooms.
Depending on your home, industry, and work events, you may need additional accessories, such as an external light, USB data ports, and headphones. Start with the list above, then purchase accessories as you need them.
The WFH life is all about working where you want. For many professionals, however, that still means working at a desk. Even if you prefer to work from the couch or the kitchen counter, it’s a good idea to have a desk for more focused, back-friendly work.
The kind of desk you get is up to you. Below is a rundown of different types of desks and why you might choose them.
- Standing desks: When you sit all day, you may experience high blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and excess body fat. A standing desk can help prevent those issues by allowing you to stand while you work. There are many options for standing desks, from portable cardboard solutions to options that convert from sitting to standing at the push of a button.
- Sit-to-stand convertible desk: Sitting all day may contribute to poor health, but standing all day can cause leg and foot pain. A potential solution? A convertible sit-to-stand desk. Choose from affordable converters that sit on top of your current desk, or go all out with an electric convertible solution.
- Lap desks: For employees who have a hybrid schedule or like working from a non-desk surface like the couch, a lap desk could be a good fit. With a smaller surface and clean lines, lap desks are aesthetically pleasing, while providing a comfortable place to work. They may, however, lack features like storage or computer wire holes.
- L-desks: If you need plenty of space to write and work at a computer, or you just like to spread out, an L-desk may be a good fit. L-shaped desks are a larger option but provide space for multiple monitors and often include extra storage.
- Corner desks: Want to save space? A corner desk might be the solution. Corner desks can be L-shaped, are generally smaller to maximize space, and lack storage, so make sure to measure before purchasing.
- Secretary desks: A secretary desk has a base of drawers and a hinged work surface so you can hide your workspace when it’s not being used. They’re ideal for small spaces but usually don’t allow for an external monitor or many accessories.
When choosing a desk, consider both the size and how often you’ll use the desk. For example, if you generally work from a coworking space but want a small desk at home, a secretary desk or lap desk is a good solution. However, consider an L-desk or something larger if you use multiple monitors.
A good computer chair promotes good posture, which can result in less back pain and a more productive workday. Which one is right for you? Let’s look at the most common types of chairs.
- Executive chairs: These office chairs offer a higher back, neck support, and higher-end materials. However, they can also be more expensive and less ergonomic.
- Computer chairs: Computer chairs generally have mesh seats to stay cool and multiple ways to adjust their height and tilt. They may be more affordable than other options.
- Drafting chairs: A drafting chair is generally taller and provides foot support so you can sit at a taller desk (or drafting table) comfortably. They offer similar features to an ergonomic chair and can be used with standing-height desks.
- Ergonomic chairs: Ergonomic chairs are computer chairs specifically designed to help your body sit in a more natural, supported way. Features may include the ability to adjust the height, arms, tilt, and lumbar support.
- Kneeling chairs: In a kneeling chair, you set your knees on a padded support, sit on a tilted platform, and naturally settle into a position that keeps your back straight and your pelvis tilted forward. They don’t have a back, which means maintaining good posture is more important.
- Yoga ball chairs: These chairs may be called balance, ball, or yoga ball chairs. They are less stable than a computer chair because you sit on a large ball, as the name implies. Sitting on this chair requires you to actively engage your core muscles to sit properly. This can promote good posture and potentially increase the number of calories you burn—but make sure you look into the dos and don’ts with these chairs.
You’ll spend six to eight hours a day in your chair when you WFH, so make sure to choose the right one. Consider getting two options, such as a yoga ball chair and an ergonomic chair, so you can change positions frequently.
If you plan to work from home long term, it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable. Here are additional accessories to consider.
- Chair mat: Whether your flooring is carpet or something hard, you’ll want a chair mat. This protects your floor from the wheels of your chair and makes it easier to move your chair on carpet.
- Monitor stand: A monitor stand holds your screen at eye level, which keeps your spine and neck straighter and can help reduce neck pain. A stack of books may provide the same solution.
- Clock or timer: A wall or desk clock can also serve as a timer, especially if you work in sprints or use the Pomodoro Technique.
- Noise-canceling headphones: Stay focused and block out external sounds in video calls with high-quality noise-canceling headphones or earbuds. These are especially important if you share your office space or have loud neighbors or a noisy environment.
- Computer glasses: Eyeglasses made to block the blue light from your electronics’ screens may help reduce eye strain, keeping you comfortable.
- Trash can: Keep your desk clean and tidy by placing a trash can nearby.
- Lighting: The right light can improve focus and help you look professional on video calls. Consider ring lights, floor lamps, or desk lamps to keep your space well lit. If you work in a colder climate, consider a light therapy lamp to improve focus in the winter.
- Decorations: Your workspace needs to be functional, but adding personal touches can actually improve your productivity. Look for rugs, organizers, wall hangings, and other decorations to make your space feel like a comfortable extension of your home.
Work from home office storage
A clean, well-organized office isn’t just great for Instagram shots or video calls; it will also improve your productivity by making it easy to find what you need.
- Shelves: Make use of vertical space with tall bookshelves or make your area cozy with floating shelves for plants and knickknacks.
- Filing cabinet: Keep expense reports, taxes, receipts, and other printed materials organized with a filing cabinet. If you’re short on space, look for a filing cabinet that pulls double duty, such as a tall shelf with a filing cabinet drawer at the bottom.
- Credenza (sideboard): Generally used in dining rooms or kitchens, credenzas are low, covered cabinets. They offer plenty of storage and additional workspace when you need it.
- Containers: Keep pens, cords, checks, paperclips, and more organized with small canisters or containers. Use a clear or open container so it’s easier to find what you need fast.
Building your dream home office doesn’t have to be complicated
If you’re WFH from the kitchen table or the couch (and ending up with a stiff neck for your troubles), it’s time to create a comfortable, productive home office space.
The good news is you don’t have to purchase everything at once. Start with the basics with a new desk and comfortable chair. Then add other features as needed. Over time, you’ll get a better idea of what you need to be comfortable—and productive—in your home office.