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The 5 Essentials of Setting Up a Home Office

Estimated reading time: 6 mins

Are you setting up an office at home? Then you must ensure you’re focusing on these five things.

If you need to work from home, then you’ll want a great office to work from. I’ve shared five essential things you must get right to make it an effective place to work from:

  1. Your Technology. Setting up technology the right way will avoid frustration, lost time and wasted money. If you need one, it’s essential that you set up your computer right so you can focus on getting on with the job.
    • macbook-airI use a PC with Windows 7 (currently) – I could upgrade but I have my configuration perfected for maximum efficiency. This has taken a while to get right, and if I were to make a major purchase, I will probably opt for a new Apple MacBook Air.
    • Make sure you have the latest anti-virus installed! And choose a ‘seamless’ backup solution that continually backs up your files. I have a ‘NAS’ (Network Attached Storage) to store files which means they’re not on my PC and it has redundant disks in case one fails.
    • Don’t put up with input devices (keyboards and mouse) that hamper your work – buy the best you can afford as this will pay dividends later on. I tend to not use bluetooth devices as batteries don’t last long and I could be without their use at a critical time.
    • If it will suit you, opt for two monitors (screens) as this can create efficiencies when working with multiple documents. Choose the biggest monitors you can afford and accommodate on your desk.
    • Choose a printer, if you need one, that has a long-life between cartridge/toner changes. You can find great deals on cheap laser printers, but be wary of how long a refill lasts because you could be subject to frequent replacements. I was stung this way last time I bought a printer!
    • Connect your computer on your desk using a cable, if you can, as this is more reliable and offers faster speeds than wi-fi.
    • If you roam around your home with a laptop, then it’s well worth buying a few wi-fi repeaters to give you continuous connectivity. Poor connectivity can be frustrating and lose you valuable time. You can pick these up on Amazon or Ebay for about $20. I have a few of these scattered around my house. They take seconds to setup.
    • A scanner is a useful investment because you can scan in documents and keep an electronic copy. I have a multi-function device, which means it is a printer, copier and scanner all-in-one.
    • A cordless phone is essential so you can move around when talking. I have a Panasonic set of 3 which means I can pick up all around my house.
  2. Your Environment. Getting your environment right will allow you to concentrate and be comfortable.
    • Get the temperature right – adjust your heating/air-conditioning to achieve a constant, comfortable temperature.
    • Make sure you have plenty of light, but avoid direct sunlight onto your screen, as this will make it difficult to view properly!
    • If you work better with it, add some music to your environment. Try a variety of different types of music that support concentration, rather than provide a distraction.
    • If you have the room, allow yourself a desk and a sofa so you can work whilst moving. This will avoid stiffness when you have to leave your workspace and it’s better for your general well-being.
    • Add a whiteboard into your office so you can brainstorm and provide reminders. Get a large one – as big as you can that fits in your office space. Purchase quality pens and an eraser. I have one of these 36-inch ones, which is mounted on my wall so I can see it from my desk without turning my head. If you accidentally write on your dry-erase whiteboard with a permanent pen, try this trick.
  3. Your ‘ergonomics’. Setup your workstation for total comfort.
    • herman-miller-aeronThis is where I invest the most. I have a Herman Miller Aeron chair – which could set you back $950.00 – but as I spend a lot of time in my chair it’s worth every penny. All aspects of the chair are configurable to my needs and it is super-comfortable. I’ve tried many chairs before – I often bought the cheaper ‘faux leather’ office chair you can get cheaply from Staples, but I found, after a while, they started to fall apart and became much less comfortable. So in the end I chose to invest in a high-end chair that will last. I’ve had this one for six years and it’s still as good as the day I bought it. It’s heavy, solid and robust. If you can afford to spend this much then it will be an investment you won’t regret – if you’re going to spend many hours with your butt on it.
    • Your desk is an essential piece of kit. If you can afford one, get a height-adjustable one and make sure it is deep. For maximum comfort, you’ll need to rest your forearms on the desk whilst typing on your keyboard, so you will need plenty of space. Don’t compromise on this – or you could regret doing so. The RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) you risk is not worth it. Make sure the height is just right so you can comfortably sit without the desk rubbing on your thighs.
    • Your monitor(s) should be at eye-height and a comfortable distance. Don’t be too close so your nose it almost touching it. You should be able to view your whole monitor without moving your head.
    • Wrist-wrests are essential for me – especially to support my mouse. Choose one that contains gel so it comfortably supports your wrists without being hard on them.
  4. Your Storage. Keep documents at hand, but not in the way. My desk has a number of drawers I can tidy documents into but have at hand when I need them. Having plenty of storage from the offset is important because you will quickly fill it up. You can spend a long time hunting through your stuff to find what you need if you pile documents high. I mentioned a scanner above – what I like is to scan documents onto my NAS and then destroy the originals so they’re not cluttering my place up – although some documents are best kept in a filing cabinet in case they’re required when applying for a loan or replacing my driving license.
  5. Your Family. I like complete silence whilst I work, and I hate being disturbed. There is a ‘rule’ in my house – when I am working, I am not to be interrupted. My home office has a door, and if it is shut, don’t disturb. It’s essential to set the right ‘rules’ for when you’re working at home, according to how you like to work. If you’re clear upfront then it shouldn’t lead to disappointment and the creation of bad habits.

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This post is part 2 of 18 in the series Working & Living
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Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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