Your Ultimate Guide to Working from Home: Tips, Tricks, Home Office Design
While working from home is already a part of some professionals' everyday lives, actual remote working is still foreign to most of us. Due to the health risks caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, commuting and staying in the office are now discouraged. Thus, working from home becomes more of a necessity than an option.
With the variety of advantages and opportunities that it gives to both businesses and employees, it is not surprising that work from home is here to stay.
What is Work from Home Arrangement?
Work from home, also known as remote working or telecommuting, is an arrangement where an employee can do his usual tasks at home instead of traveling to the office. It is basically having your office in the comfort of your home. Sounds ideal? It is, until your neighbours turn their television on full volume while you are in the middle of an important video conference, and definitely not when your kids play with your paper piles.
Work from home has its own benefits and downsides. If you learn how to take advantage of its perks and handle its unique requirements, work from home can undoubtedly be fulfilling.
Here is your ultimate guide to working from home to help you cope with and upgrade your brand new journey. We listed down the things that you need to know about the remote work setup, from the work from home pros and cons to helpful tips for setting up your home office.
In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the:
- Pros and cons of working from home
- The psychological impact of working from home—the positive and the downside
- Helpful tips to effectively cope with the work from home setup
- Essential tips for setting up your own home office
- The furniture needed for your home office
- Additional tips to make your work-from-home experience more productive and remarkable
Pros and Cons of Working from Home
Working from home is not as easy and convenient as it sounds. It can also be too convenient, which is not healthy either. But before you get discouraged from starting your remote work venture, you might want to check out the advantages and disadvantages of working from home first. Knowing these pros and cons will help you formulate your ideal remote work environment.
Pros of Working from Home
- More independence and autonomy
- No commute to work
- Flexible schedule
- No office distractions
- Opportunity to be more tech-savvy
- Reduction of expenses
- More opportunities to build a professional network
- Improved work-life balance
Working from home gives you more independence
Remote work gives you a sense of autonomy and independence. Because you work with minimal supervision, you will learn to rely on your motivation and exercise self-discipline. This setup helps you formulate the flow that works best for you.
This means that you can vibe to jazz music or swing your head to your favourite rock band playing in the background while working.
You do not need to deal with the traffic and hassle of commuting or driving to work
Commuting contributes to stress during office work.
Imagine waking up early to prepare and traveling from your home to your office, then getting home late due to the heavy traffic. Add the pollution and unexpected circumstances that occur while commuting. There is no wonder that many employees who travel to work come to the office exhausted before they even start their day. Often, they arrive home feeling tired and not able to do leisure tasks. This greatly affects work-life balance.
Work from home means that you do not have to deal with the hassle of traveling to your office. This gives you more time to sleep or do other chores before you sit down to work. It also saves you time and travel expenses.
You can save money
When you do not have much time to prepare before going to the office, you may likely stick to an expensive lunch and coffee. Such things take up much of your budget. Work from home helps you reduce travel and lunch expenses, unless you order food from time to time.
Work from home allows flexibility in terms of work schedule
Some companies allow flexible schedules while working at home. This setup helps you determine the times when you are most productive and do more personal errands.
Work from home helps you reduce distractions
Your office can be both conducive and distracting when it comes to working. Your colleague may drop by to borrow a pen, then proceed to talk about how she has nothing left from her last salary. Work from home limits unnecessary disturbances, such as long impromptu talks and freezing AC temperatures that aren’t for everyone. Fewer distractions help you become more comfortable and productive.
You have the opportunity to be more tech-savvy
When you work from home, you must understand how to effectively use communication tools to stay connected with your work and colleagues. These include emailing, messaging, and video conference platforms. With the absence of technical support from the office, you will get the chance to study how some software and hardware work to perform your tasks.
You gain more opportunities to build a professional network
Work from home takes you out of the limitations of your office. This includes the facilities and the people you work with. Remote work trains you to engage with a diversity of people. Being tech-savvy helps you discover a bigger network for future growth opportunities.
You can improve your work-life balance
Working from home means that you have more time to take care of yourself and your family’s well-being. You can now use the time you spend commuting to do household chores, giving you more leisure time after your shift.
Cons of Working from Home
Working from home offers several advantages but it also has some downsides coming with it:
- Risk to productivity
- Home office costs
- Unstable internet connection
- Feeling of isolation
- Distractions at home
- Unpracticed work-life balance
- Communication gaps
- Less living space
You need to employ self-discipline- more than ever
Remote work comes with home office costs
While you eliminate your typical work expenses, you may have to top up other fees in setting up your home office for the first few months. These include the furniture and equipment needed for your work, a possible upgrade of your internet connection, and additional electric fees.
You may experience a slow internet connection
One of the most stressful aspects of working from home is dealing with poor internet connections at times. Offices have designated IT teams to make sure that all the technological aspects, including the internet, landline, and other communication lines, are working properly. But because you are working from home, you need to be your own tech person.
You may feel isolated while working from home
The feeling of disconnection from work or colleagues is common among remote employees. This is due to less communication or physical presence in the office. Having no one to talk to while working can be lonely and may affect your morale. Regular online team huddles or informal catch-ups can help you stay connected and involved in your job.
Distractions at home
Aside from your cosy mattress, your home offers more distractions than your office chit-chat buddy. Your television, pets, children roaming around, household chores, and food in the kitchen may keep your concentration away from work. These possible distractions can affect your drive to finish your tasks. To address this, you may set household and self instructions and practice them until everyone in the house becomes comfortable with the setup.
It becomes harder to distinguish your time for work and personal life
A flexible working arrangement can be both an advantage and a disadvantage for those who work at home. Having access to your workload 24/7 makes it difficult for you to shift from your job to your personal or family time. Some businesses have already addressed this and set up defined schedules and no overtime policies. But if you handle your own schedule at work, having a dedicated office space at home can help you keep a clear boundary between your work and your personal life.
You are more prone to experience communication gaps
Communication is undeniably faster and more efficient in the office than in remote work. Delays in replies, the possibility of missing a chat or call, and vague or misinterpreted tones are the downsides of electronic communications.
Your home office takes up your living space
Your office equipment consumes a huge amount of space in your home. Improper utilisation of your available area and unorganised work setup can make both your work and living spaces uncomfortable. The solution is to create a proper plan for your home office design.
Psychological Impacts of Working From Home
In addition to its pros and cons, working from home also comes with positive and negative impacts to your mental health. Acknowledging these is vital as you also need to take care of your mental health and well-being while working at home.
- Reduced work-related stress
- Less fatigue from traveling and traffic congestion
- More time to sleep
- More time to do leisure activities
- More time to prepare healthy meals
Working from home will help you reduce work-related stress
Because you can personalise your home office and have better control of your work environment, the common stress factors you encounter in the office are lessened when you work from home. These are the long hours of straight working, workload changes, office distractions et cetera.
The feeling of being micromanaged is also reduced during remote work. This sense of independence and autonomy helps increase employee satisfaction and fulfillment.
Less fatigue from traveling and traffic congestion
Work itself is sometimes exhausting, but what is worse than having a long day at work and going home being stuck in the middle of traffic?
Studies show that long commutes contribute to several health conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, stress, and fatigue. Long hours of sitting and commute cause fatigue, and it makes you exercise less.
Remote work can help you escape the hustle and bustle of the rush hour traffic, giving you more time to do essential chores at home, thus, allowing you to live a more active life outside your job.
You get more time to sleep
Commuting to and from work definitely takes up time. The hours you take to prepare for and travel to your office consume your rest or nap time. After long hours of work and lack of sleep, it is no wonder why others fall asleep while commuting.
Constant sleep deprivation is linked with different physical and mental health issues. Irritability, exhaustion, burnout, and more long-term mental health consequences can be caused by lack of sleep. These factors directly affect an employee's motivation and productivity at work.
Working from home, you can get more chances to take a nap at the most convenient time. Removing your commute helps you sleep better.
You have more time to do leisure activities
Remote work gives more time to sit on your comfortable sofa and watch Netflix. The hours you save from preparing, commuting, and the meticulous cleaning of your corporate attire can be used to cook meals for your family or take care of your garden.
You can walk your dog outside during your break. But be sure to be back.
More time to prepare healthy meals
Say goodbye to expensive fast food and say hello to your new found love for cooking. Working from home, you do not have to travel with your lunchbox and reheat your food before taking it up at lunch. It will be much of a hassle to pack soup or your favourite salsa without spilling it all over your lunch bag.
Since you stay at home to work, you will get more time to prepare and share your breakfast with your family. You can now enjoy a freshly cooked lunch to uplift your soul and make a special chili crab for dinner.
- Difficulty to adapt
- Home distractions
- Increased tasks
- Pressure, stress and anxiety
You may find it challenging to adapt to your new environment
Working from home has its own set of challenges. You need extensive preparation before engaging in this arrangement. You need to set up your home office. You must understand the new norm and the technology and policies aligned with it. You have to find ways to motivate yourself and keep yourself motivated despite being away from your physical workspace.
The aforementioned may sound too daunting for first-time work from home employees. It truly takes time to adjust to a familiar, at the same time, unfamiliar environment.
Your home can be distracting
Okay, your dear colleague whom you share home-baked brownies and a small is not here, but your little girl who loves sweets is.
It is pretty tempting to procrastinate when no one sees you working, especially if that television is waving near your home workstation. Let us not forget about the loud lawn mowing and the song blasting next door.
It is an extra challenge to make your home a conducive place to work. It may not be that noticeable, but constant distraction keeps you from being motivated and productive.
You sometimes need to wear multiple hats
At home, you are not only an employee with a specific role. You are also your own manager, your IT troubleshooting staff, and your coach. You are a household member, a home chef, and a responsible person who needs to do the chores. Juggling multiple roles simultaneously is exhausting, especially when there is a blurry line between your work and personal life.
You May Feel Isolated
Daily confinement and being away from the office and social facilities can add to the stress and worries employees experience while working at home. You may miss the conversations during break time, your loud AC, the ringing of the company landline, or the food delivery shared by the team. Working independently can be fulfilling, but a lack of access to helpful social factors like colleague support, coaching, and limited training opportunities can be distressing.
You are more prone to burnout
As you deal with self-monitoring, home distractions, and an unfixed workflow, you are more likely at risk of burnout.
Burnout is not just about being tired after a long day of work. It is a state where you experience severe, prolonged stress. Being isolated, you to have fewer emotional outlets, which eventually reduces your interest in doing things that you usually love—even your work.
You are at risk of pressure, stress, and anxiety
Being lonely is normal. When you experience a sudden change in your environment, the need to adapt, and the inconvenience of figuring things out in a short period of time, feeling tired and sad are reasonable responses. But if you feel the constant pressure to deliver projects on time with work from home’s limitations, the stress, isolation, and endless thinking about your tasks the next day, then you should take measures to improve your work setup.
Pressure, stress, and anxiety affect not only your productivity but your health as well.
How to Make Work from Home Work?
Your productivity and wellness are both paramount when you work at home. Below are helpful tips to help you make the most of your remote work experience.
1. Keep a clear and well-defined schedule for your work and personal life
Inconsistent work and personal schedules can take a toll on you. Both overworking and too much resting can affect your wellness.
Setting boundaries between your office work and leisure time helps you achieve a work-life balance. When you are outside your work schedule, for example, you can log off your email and wait for the next working day to attend to messages or new tasks. This will help you feel more comfortable doing other things without being constantly on the clock.
Another thing is to set up your sleep schedule. Stick to a regular bedtime, wake up early to eat breakfast, or do a little stretching before you sit and work. This said, you would feel refreshed and ready to do your tasks.
2. Dress up- even if you stay at home
Work from home allows you to work with your pajamas on, but now that you do not have to commute, you have more time to prepare and take care of yourself before checking your emails and catching up on your backlog.
Start your day with a self-care routine. Take a shower, fix your hair, let your blood flow with regular morning exercise, and dress up. When you feel fresh and positive about yourself, your day will surely flow better than when you jump right into your tasks without any self-preparation.
3. Take short breaks
Working from home does not guarantee that you will not encounter any stressful situation. Taking breaks like walking around the house, drinking water, or breathing some fresh air is essential to keeping up your pace and reducing the risk of burnout.
Many employers set specific break times, take advantage of these.
Eat a proper lunch in your kitchen or anywhere apart from your home office. It is good to inform your colleagues, or at least those who work closely with you, about your break schedule. It will help both of you adjust and prevent delays in case they need to reach you. It is also advisable to take breaks away from your computer or phone screen.
Do not take your work with you while you are on break. Come back feeling energised and prepared for the next task.
4. Take advantage of your access to the kitchen. Eat healthy foods.
We love snacking in the office! Those convenience store sandwiches and yogurt, and a little bit of a weekend story to share with workmates beside your workstation. But now, how you enjoy your break and snack time is only up to you.
Take advantage of your kitchen. Since you save money from commuting, you might as well add some healthy fruits and snacks to your fridge. Take time to prepare for a hearty lunch. Healthy eating is proven to increase your energy level and boost your mood at work.
5. Stay connected
Despite the presence of communication platforms to resolve collaboration gaps, isolation and loneliness still come along the way for remote employees.
Aside from the lack of connection to your workplace, being too concentrated on your tasks and irregular scheduling of work and home life also hinder you from building your social life.
Make time to bond with your family outside of work. This is on top of the time you spend with them when you do your household chores. Simple conversations matter. You might discover who drank your orange juice in the fridge the night before.
6. Build an efficient workspace
It is essential to have a dedicated workspace in your home. This helps you draw a clear line between your work and your personal space.
Designating an area for work enables you to keep your files and office equipment in place. Having a work spot away from distractions helps you be more productive and fulfilled at the end of the day. When the day is over, you can simply stand up and go somewhere away from that space. That is why it is advisable to set up a home office away from your bed.
7. Get comfortable office furniture
Whether you are working in the office or at home, comfort must never be compromised. Make sure to get office furniture pieces that both cater to your needs and give you comfort. Buy ergonomic chairs and tables with enough space to handle your equipment and still provide extra room for you to move comfortably while working. Do not settle for a squeaky old table and a monoblock chair where you sit for almost 8 hours a day.
Remember that you deserve what you worked for.
1. Determine the time when you are most productive
Whether you work on a flexible schedule or follow a fixed one, knowing the time when you are at your best is important. This helps you maximise your productivity throughout the day.
Although you are following regular office hours, for example, you may find yourself more focused in the afternoon than in the morning, or vice versa. If you know when you are more attentive and driven, you can easily adjust your work routine and produce high-quality outcomes.
For those who work on a flexible schedule, avoid working in a staggered pattern. Set a specific time when you sit down and do your work. This is to avoid working the entire day without noticing that you worked the entire day, even during your rest time.
2. Give yourself time to prepare for work
Working from home does not mean that you will step into your home office and get started in an instant. Just like in your regular onsite office, preparation is also essential while you work at home. Fix your desk, sort out your files, and check emails before diving into the main job. Building an efficient routine will help you adapt faster to this new work environment.
3. Make a to-do list
With the number of distractions and uncontrolled situations at home, making a to-do list will help you track what should be done and prioritised.
Reminding you to finish a task is just a fraction of what a to-do list can do. In fact, the simple act of plotting your goals gives you tangible motivation to actually achieve them. An effective way to make a to-do list is to list all the tasks you need to finish for the day, including your backlog. You may also make a list at the end of the day for the next workday. After listing all the tasks and goals, you can classify them according to importance and urgency. You can focus on high-value activities or do the urgent ones first. Personalise this process based on your working style.
4. Avoid distractions as much as possible
"Dad, why do you wear a big guy suit on top of your pajamas?" Though sometimes given, you would not want to publicise your unique semi-formal wardrobe during a conference call.
Your regular workday now includes house chores, child care, a television series, and a cat that always steps on your laptop's shutdown button while you are typing. Proper household orientation and self-discipline are needed but not easy to instill. Having a dedicated home office space can help you maintain a more conducive environment. This also helps remind your household that you are working. Playing your favorite music through an earphone outside the conference and sharing your schedule with your family also makes a difference.
5. As much as possible, do not work on your bedroom
If there is a suitable place to work at home, it is not your bedroom.
Being in bed sends a signal to your body to de-stress. Working in your cosy bedroom may inhibit your focus and deflect your productivity. On the other hand, it may lose your desire to sleep because you drastically program your body to work in a place where you are supposed to rest.
If you live in a minimal space where you have to fit everything in, even your workspace, you may want to set up a home office in a corner away from your bed. Sit in a proper chair and place your laptop on a table to help you focus. Take the opportunity to exercise flexibility by working smart and setting boundaries between how you feel at work and at home.
6. Communicate with your team/colleagues
Maintaining good communication is one of the biggest challenges that you face during remote work. That is also true for the majority. Although the technology offers different communication platforms, getting used to them might be a little challenging. This is because the traditional office setup gave us direct access to the people we needed to talk to if we sought help or specific information. Let us add the absence of facial expressions and misconstruing tones while reading chats.
Healthy communication among the members of a team is a collaborative effort. To get it started, you may set communication guidelines like knowing where to share instructions or important files, where to send your finished projects, and who to reach out to if you have questions. It is also vital to inform your colleagues if you are taking a break. If you are not sure whether your colleague needs information or not, share it anyway.
Promptly return calls, emails, and messages—even the simplest acknowledgement that you read the messages. Also, do not hesitate to ask for feedback or input to keep you on track.
7. Know your company's work from home policies and follow them
Though you have been granted autonomy, it is still your responsibility to follow work policies. These include processes in reporting, workflow changes, expectations, and other updates that may not have been present when you were still working onsite. Understanding the new policies will help maintain the harmony and trust between you and the employer, thus making the work environment lighter and healthier.
Build a dedicated home office
These are among the reasons why you need an exclusive office space at home:
- A conducive space helps you minimise distractions and improve your productivity. It also serves as a work-life distinction.
- Aside from virtually taking you onsite, a home office gives you the feeling of actually belonging to your work. It makes you feel more like a professional.
- A home office enables you to keep all your office necessities in one place instead of stocking them all over the house.
- A workspace complete with the right office furniture increases your comfort while working.
- Having your own home office impacts your brand.
Set up your office table, hang a small whiteboard on the wall near your eyes, place a calendar close to your pen holder, make your to-do list. Seeing a well-organised home workspace will inspire you to do well. When your schedule is done, scoot your chair under the table and live your life outside the workstation.
Setting Up Your Home Office
It is not a secret that remote work is part of the future of employment. Setting up a home office will benefit you now and in the long run. If you want to feel more confident about your job, start building your own office at home.
Setting up your own workspace may be quite challenging if you are a starter, especially if you do not have much time, space, or resources to push through the process.
Setting up a home office involves more than just fitting a desk into random corners of your home. It requires a lot more consideration and smart space planning. Check out these tips to help you organise your own workspace at home.
Choosing a location
Your home office can be a separate room in your home, a corner in your kitchen or bedroom, a garage conversion, your attic, a part of your basement, your patio, or a portion of your apartment. Wherever you set up your home office, it should allow you to be comfortable and focused.
The best location to set up your home office is a spare room in your house. A stand-alone space will help you minimise distractions, and maximise the area for your office needs, and ensure comfort. A well-furnished home office allows you to find a distinction between your work and your personal time. But if you have limited space and no spare rooms, there are other practical solutions to address your home office needs.
Your dining room might be another smart solution since it is one of the less used spaces in your home. You can spread out your paperwork on your clean dining table and put it back in your filing cabinet when you are done. But please say no to snacking all day.
In determining the right location for your home office, it is important to consider your work style, your needs, your household routines, occasions, your access to your work essentials, and your safety. This is to ensure that you can effectively carry out your tasks without sacrificing much of your living space.
1. Know your working style
Do you prefer working solo? Would you rather go for a quiet space, or do you enjoy music and a busy-looking environment? Do you find your concentration while watching the scenery outside your home? Knowing the things that will help you focus on work will help you find the best location for your home office.
2. Be familiar with your work needs
While comfort and focus are important, your home office should also allow you to do other office functions like answering calls, printing, keeping physical files, taking conference calls, et cetera.
If you are using a computer, you shall set up your workspace in a well-ventilated area, and it shall be placed near electrical outlets. If you need to keep physical files and do paperwork at home, you need to have a safe space to stock your files.
3. Consider your household activities
Do you have children who also study at home? Do you have pets?
As much as possible, choose a workspace that will still help you stay focused while you cater to your family’s usual activities at home. Choose a place where there are fewer activities done. Imagine working on a deadline at the same time as dealing with kids fighting over their favorite TV channel in front of you.
If you can, do not work in places where you usually rest or spend time with your family. This will help you avoid distractions and preserve your "me time" after work.
For limited spaces, sectioning your area will help. If you need to work in your bedroom, for example, you can designate a section for your computer desk, which is not your bed. Delegate safe areas to keep your office equipment. To save space, you may pile your papers in a secured box and store them in your cabinet. Be sure to label your files before keeping them.
4. Make sure you have access to internet signal and other connections
Connection and communication are some of the most important things to maintain when you work from home. Failure to keep them will greatly affect your productivity, especially now that most office functions rely on technology.
Before choosing a location for your home office, it is a good idea to check if you are near an electric socket to plug your equipment. It is also essential to check if you can secure a stable internet connection, landline, or mobile signal in your preferred location since signals differ in various coverage areas.
5. Make your home office safe
Regular offices follow surveillance and safety protocols to ensure that the employees and business functions are safe. The same principle applies to your home office. Your home office, specifically your electronic gadgets, shall be placed in a well-ventilated area to minimise the risk of overheating. Do not install curtains near electric sockets, and keep your important files away from the reach of your children and pets. Set up safety rules to be followed by your whole family to ensure your safety.
6. Do not underestimate comfort
Whether you have ample space to build your home office or if you have a limited one, you shall never compromise your comfort. While looking for a practical area to set up your workspace, you should consider the space where you move, the light, ventilation, and ergonomics of your office furniture. Find a place where you can sit comfortably and move easily while doing your tasks. Is it noisy and distracting? Do people often pass by your dedicated workstation? Does it allow air to move freely? Do you get enough space to stretch your feet at times? Do you have enough space to still move your elbows while typing without bumping into other stuff on your table? To achieve optimal productivity, you must maintain optimal comfort in your home office.
Home Office Designing Tips
1. Find the right lighting
Good lighting is crucial to establishing a home office. Allow natural light to enter your home office. Natural light in the morning will help you feel refreshed and more inspired to start your day. Consider adding mirrors to your home office space as they reflect natural light into the room. To reduce glare in the afternoon, white, cream curtains or window blinds will help. Keep a well-lit room even when you work in the afternoon or at night if it is your most productive time. Warm-toned lights or lamps help you feel cosy and more relaxed.
It is also good to give yourself a view. If your home office is near a window, you can take a quick break and stare at the trees outside your window to help you clear your mind and rest your eyes from staring too much at the computer screen.
2. Consider painting your walls with soft colors
Although not addressed as much as space and office furniture, your choice of wall paint can significantly affect your mood and productivity at work. A pro tip is to choose lighter colors for your office and avoid dark and striking colours which can distract you or strain your eyes.
Light and cool colors like white, cream, blue, and green are proven to calm the mind, reduce stress, and increase focus at work. Blue and green colors provide a cosy, tranquil ambiance, which is good for preventing eye strain caused by too much exposure to UV light. White, light yellow, and cream, on the other hand, stimulate creativity and depict sophistication. Soft paints provide a cleaner, more open look to your space. In addition, delicate colors give you the illusion of a more expansive space.
3. Choose the right office furniture
If you are a regular work from home employee, you might have to consider investing in your own office furniture.
Getting the right furniture for your home office is one of the most important decisions that you will make, especially if you consider long-term investments rather than temporary office solutions. That said, it is essential to choose functional, space-efficient, ergonomic, and practical office furniture.
To make sure that you are on the right track while choosing your office furniture, you have to check if they can cater to your needs and provide comfort. Often, the cheapest choice is not the best and most practical one. Opt for a piece that will benefit you in the long run. Weigh your available options, and do not buy items impulsively.
Measure your space before purchasing office furniture. If you are buying a computer table, make sure that even the other essentials, like paperwork, can also fit in.
You shall also check if a furniture item can cater to additional functions other than what it usually does. The bottom of your desk, for example, can double up as storage space where you can place your supply boxes, printer, or mobile pedestal.
4. Give your home office a touch of personality
Your home office is your own office. It means that you can modify it the way you want it to be. It is true that function is more important than aesthetics, especially when you have a limited amount of space to work with, but your home office's aesthetics are also vital to making you feel like you are indeed working in an office.
You can style your office according to the overall theme of your home; you can make it look formal like an onsite office, or you can be more personal by adding decors that reflect your personality. Accessorise your plain walls with decorative wall arts, place your collections on a display unit or bookshelf near your computer table, or add some indoor plants to make your space more welcoming.
5. Make the area conducive for work but not too comfortable
At times, too much comfort can cause discomfort. One of the reasons why it is not advisable to work on your sofa or bedroom is because you might get too comfortable staying there while working and less comfortable when you are supposed to rest. Save your plush sofa and cosy mattress for resting, and stay in a conducive but not too distracting office space.
If you have no choice but to work in your bedroom, you may set up your computer desk near your bed, but it is a big no to stay in bed while working.
While you work at home, it is your responsibility to keep your work essentials, from the simple pens and paper clips to the more important ones like your office files, in place all the time, or at least keep them organised before the end of your work day. Put your things in accessible areas, organise your office essentials, and keep them in clean, labeled containers to avoid the hassle of searching for them when you need them most. Keep your electronic equipment, including the cables, in clean, dry areas.
Dedicate a place to store all your office-related stuff. This may be in the form of a chest of drawers, a filing cabinet if you have more space, or a mobile pedestal for easy access. You may also convert a portion of your wardrobe into a safe for your important office files. Use a secured container to keep them.
One effective solution to keep your home office organised is to segregate items according to their types or how often you need them. Put the office supplies that you most likely use nearer your reach to save you from rummaging through everything when you need an item.
6. Be creative. You can turn a small space into an efficient home office.
Space and budget limitations shall not hinder you from getting the office space that you deserve.
Take a good look at your home. Identify the opportunities and constraints of each space. Once you find the most suitable spot, it will be easier for you to put up your own office space based on the considerations listed above.
Your Home Office: The Must-Haves
Importance of having the right furniture in your home office
Furniture, in general, is the centrepiece of any space, whether it is for your home, your office, or other establishments. A piece of furniture does not only provide comfort and beauty; it also supports your activities and helps you keep a functional and organised space.
Working from home might sound more casual than a regular office setup, but working in an indefinite spot in your home may not be as effective as working in a decent space with the right home office furniture.
As you go on to this section, you will understand the variety of functions a piece of furniture can provide for your home office.
Furniture helps you develop a working ambiance
Sitting in your office chair and facing your computer table is like a mental cue that it is time to work. Pair up the experience with your favourite morning drink for a good start.
The right furniture helps you save space
Just as an office chair may be bulkier than your regular dining chair, an office desk may be larger than a regular table. But these relatively larger pieces of furniture are designed to cater to more than one function. An L-shaped office table, for example, can handle a computer on one side and paper piles and office essentials on the other. It is also designed to keep cables out of sight, plus the bottom of the table is created to fit into a mobile pedestal.
To maximise your space, push the larger furniture pieces, like your computer table, against the wall near a socket, giving enough room for ventilation to your office gadgets.
Office furniture helps you stay organised
If you still keep your office essentials and important files in your bedroom’s cabinet or your living room’s bookshelf, there will be a higher chance that you mix up your office files with your personal stuff. Having a dedicated filing cabinet for work will help you secure your stationery, paperwork, and other office essentials in one place. If you have enough space, you can also store some candies, a neck pillow, and other leisure items in a specific drawer.
The right office furniture promotes comfort
Comfort is paramount. Your home may be one of the most comfortable places you will ever be, but if you sit for eight hours on a chair that is not designed to be seated for a very long time, you might end up with back and hip aches after your work schedule. Ergonomic chairs with arm, hip, and back support will help you stay comfortable and focused while working. Efficient office chairs support your posture and minimise the risk of body pains after long hours of sitting.
Proper lighting, ventilation, and space are also vital in ensuring your wellness while working.
Your office furniture helps you become productive
The ambiance of your office notably affects your motivation and productivity at work. A coordinated home office and the right furniture inspire creativity and efficiency. An embellished workspace makes you feel relaxed. A properly furnished home office will help you develop a healthy and conducive work environment, reminding you that you are a professional working in a real office setup. Working in a cluttered and uncomfortable home office will not be as productive as working in a comfortable and well-organised space.
The Essentials of Work from Home Setup
Since the unexpected breakthrough of the work-from-home arrangement, a variety of home office essentials in the market are on the rise. Some of these include electronic gadgets, office essentials, and the most integral office furniture.
To establish a well-equipped home office, it is important to choose the right pieces of furniture that can support your everyday office functions and your comfort. Having the right home office furniture will help ensure that you are in a healthy, safe, and inspiring work environment.
If you are planning to invest in your home office furniture, here are a number of home office essentials that you can consider:
1. A dedicated office desk
Your office table will be your busiest furniture among everything else on this list; in fact, your desk serves a function even after your work. It is used to keep your laptop or computer in place while you do your work. It is needed when you are writing or doing your regular office tasks. After work, your computer table will serve as a storage unit to keep your files organised and ready for the next day. That is why it is important to carefully weigh your choices when purchasing an office desk.
Types of Office Desks
A writing desk is excellent for minimal spaces. This simple, open, and space-efficient piece of furniture is helpful if you want to focus on typing on your laptop or reviewing your presentation. Because of its lightweight construction, a writing desk can easily be mobilised, especially if you need to clean or rearrange your stuff in your home office.
A computer desk provides ample space for your computer monitor and enough storage for its cables and accessories. It usually comes with a computer keyboard tray and a drawer on the side, giving you enough room for your computer's CPU to be placed. If you are using a laptop computer, the space for the CPU can be used to tuck in a mobile pedestal.
Like a writing desk, a computer desk is space-efficient and built with simplicity, as it features a minimalist design.
An L-shaped desk contains two parts: a desk and a return. The desk contains the larger portion of the whole piece, while the return is the smaller part of the L shape. The larger part is typically used as the main work surface. This is where you place your laptop or computer monitor. On the other hand, the return is used as additional space for a second computer monitor or pile of paperwork. Some L-shaped study tables come with storage units or shelves.
A corner desk is designed to fit the corner of a room. It has two sides that meet at an angle, like an L-shaped office table, providing you with an extra working surface. A corner desk uses less space compared to other office table variations of the same size since it is meant to be located on a corner, giving you more floor space for other furniture to fit in.
A corner desk is ideal if you need to work in your bedroom.
A dual-sided desk can be used if you share an office space with your partner or if you need a wider desktop for your tasks. As it is more expansive than a conventional desk, a dual-sided desk is recommended for large or shared home office spaces.
A credenza desk, as its name describes, is a table with a credenza attached to it. It caters to both beauty and functionality, giving you sufficient storage space while maintaining a formal feel to your space.
A credenza desk comes in different styles, from the classic executive credenza to other contemporary styles. Often, a credenza desk comes with a hutch.
Desk with hutch
If you are a lover of decorative items and at the same time have ample space in your home office, you can go for an elegant desk with a hutch. A desk hutch is a type of office table attached to overhead cabinets or shelves. This type of desk is usually made of wood and is bulkier than the other types.
This piece can be an amazing focal point for your spacious home office, especially if you want your space to look more personal.
2. An ergonomic office chair
Like your office table, an office chair is also an indispensable piece that you need for your home office. Since you spend most of your work schedule on your seat, it is vital to choose a chair that will keep your body comfortable for a long time.
You may be surrounded by many different chairs in your home, but they will not provide the optimal comfort a dedicated office chair can give. A dining chair, for example, can be too low for your computer desk. It may also not support your posture. It is because a dining chair is made for you to sit on it for a shorter period of time. What you need is something that will help you stay comfortable and safe while working.
Ergonomic chairs are usually adjustable, allowing you to have personalised control over your mobilisation while sitting.
Features of an ergonomic chair
Backrest and lumbar support
An ergonomic office chair should support your back’s natural S shape while sitting. Some office chairs add cushions to align with the shape of your back, providing comfort and adequate support for your lower back. This is to reduce the pressure on your hips and spine. Other varieties offer adjustable or reclining backrests to take some weight off your upper body while sitting.
Other ergonomic chairs come with a headrest and armrests for additional comfort. However, while giving you extra shoulder support, armrests may limit your arm movement.
To ensure your comfort while sitting, your office chair should not be too high nor too low. The optimal chair allows you to bend your legs 90°, keeping your feet flat on the floor, without the need to bend over or sit on the corner of the chair. An ideal seat height is 16 to 21 inches from the floor, but this can vary based on your needs. An office chair with adjustable height is optimal to keep you comfortable no matter what your height preference is.
Like the height of your seat, the width is just as important. There is no standard seat dimension since comfort differs for every individual, but the most common measurement for ergonomic chairs is 18 to 21 inches. An ideal seat allows a distance of 2 to 4 inches from the edge of the chair to the back of your knees, fitting your back perfectly without slouching.
Swivel and caster
For extra ease of mobility, ergonomic chairs contain swivels and rubber wheels. These help you reach parts of your desk or your office space without exerting extra effort.
Types of ergonomic office chairs
The most common type of ergonomic office chair is the operator chair. This piece has all the basics: lumbar and back support, adjustable height, swivel, and rolling caster.
Executive chairs come with premium-quality materials like genuine leather. This chair is made of padded seats and backs and usually comes with an armrest. Although it is not as adjustable as other types of ergonomic chairs, an executive chair is usually taller and bulkier than the other varieties. This gives you more room to move and recline your back.
Leather office chair
If you are looking for a premium chair for your home office, a leather chair is a perfect choice for you. This chair often gives a more comfortable and contemporary vibe to your space. A leather chair, because of the high-end material, is more expensive compared to fabric or mesh chairs. For a cheaper but equally exquisite option, you may look for a PU leather office chair.
This is ideal for smaller rooms that cannot accommodate enough ventilation. Because of its lightweight, net-like structure, a mesh chair does not need extra padding to conform to your back’s shape. A mesh chair can be your 24-hour chair, as it provides exceptional comfort and sitting support.
Fabric material is one of your go-tos for cost-effectiveness when choosing a chair. A fabric chair is highly versatile and can come in different colors and styles. However, fabric can be easily stained and can lose its color when exposed to direct sunlight. If you are considering a fabric chair, be sure to keep it away from direct sunlight and take proper care while using it. That means, no drinking coffee from an unsealed container at your workstation.
3. Storage Unit
To make the most out of your home office space, it is a must to declutter and organise your office files, tools, and miscellaneous items in a secure place.
A storage unit solely dedicated to your home office can help you keep all your paper files in place without getting your space cluttered. This will also prevent you from mixing up your office files with your personal items. A good office table with built-in drawers is an excellent solution. But if you need to add more storage options, you should always opt for multi-functional and space-efficient storage solutions.
Place your filing cabinet or chest of drawers in the corner beside your computer table for easy access. A mobile pedestal can also be utilised to keep files and office items like pens, tape, staple wires, and paper clips in place. Simply tuck in your pedestal under your table to optimise your space. If you require more storage, choose taller cabinets to save floor space while still giving you the ideal storage space.
4. A display unit
Aesthetic appeal is important but not often prioritised when setting up a home office. In addition to space-saving and comfort, the beauty of your home office also adds to the factors that keep you inspired to work.
Add a little flair to your home office with a divider, a display unit or bookshelf. Liven up your space with books and other decorative pieces like picture frames, design collectibles, small plants, or even your work and personal certificates of achievement. Your display unit can also double up as extra storage space for your office equipment like your printer, shredder, paper cutter, and other essentials that are meant to be placed on a flat surface.
5. Alternatives and Decorations
A break from your home office is needed for you to breathe and relax your mind. If you plan to take short coffee breaks away from your office desk, setting up a bean bag or ottoman beside your window will help. Freshen up your home office with an air purifier or dehumidifier. Hung decorative wall arts to your flat walls. Complete the ambiance with a pair of potted plants on each side of the window.
Office Furniture Shopping Tips
In buying your office furniture, it is important to make a plan to save yourself from dissatisfactory purchases. Here are some things to keep in mind when purchasing your office furniture:
1. Set up a budget
This may sound like a no-brainer, but setting up and following a budget is more complicated than it seems. Listing down what you really need and allocating money for specific items is just half of the task. The other half needs discipline and consistency.
When setting up a budget, do not only consider what you need or what you have now. Look at the future value of your furniture investment. A cheaper office furniture piece might not be as practical as a more expensive one, which has a longer lifespan. On the other hand, a costly piece of furniture might not always be the best choice. It has been ingrained in our minds that expensive furniture is made with high-end materials, but this can also be true for less expensive ones.
Be sure to check for the materials used for the furniture and do some research before coming up with a purchasing decision. Online furniture shops in Singapore provide details like materials and dimensions under the product descriptions.
2. Consider your space
If you find an enormous desk with all the compartments you need, try considering it rather than buying a smaller table and a separate filing unit. But if you need to declutter and safekeep more files in the future, choose a storage cabinet or a pedestal that can fit beside or under your table.
Pieces with 90° corners are better for saving space than circular or curved furniture.
3. Think about your comfort
Do not settle for a less expensive chair that will strain your back later on. Buy furniture pieces that are designed to make your work easier and more convenient.
4. Make room for storage
When you plan for your storage, be sure to consider your future storage needs.
A filing cabinet with less partition can be a good choice as you can freely adjust items in different sizes the way you want them to be placed.
5. Plan for electronics
When buying office furniture, consider if it can accommodate your gadgets and office equipment. An excellent office table with a cable hole and allotted space for cables to be placed and kept out of sight.
6. Do not impulse buy
So you browsed through an online furniture store, and you saw a computer table that looked so good in the picture. Include the sophisticated paint and accessories of the model home office.
Do not buy it yet.
Sophisticated online images are definitely luring, but it is better to think it through and decide if you really need that specific table or if there are better choices.
A piece of furniture is a huge investment that will stay in your home office for years. Take your time to look for the ideal furniture at the ideal cost. Do not hesitate to ask for the details of the piece that you are interested in to make sure that you get what you love. Impulsive buying will only lead to frustration and make you end up with furniture that you are not satisfied with.
7. Consider installment plans
Some excellent office furniture pieces are more expensive than others. It is a good thing that furniture retailers offer installment plans with low interest rates for bulkier and more expensive furniture.
8. Know your return policy
Do not hesitate to ask for the return policy when you are buying office furniture. This is to avoid future hassles in case you notice manufacturing defects.
9. Buy cheaper pieces that you will most likely change
The ambiance of your home office will help you extract those creative juices. Decluttering and changing furniture and decor arrangements, as well as buying new wall decor, is vital. For smaller, easy to replace items like ornaments and wall decor, it is advisable to buy the less expensive ones. If you want to buy more fancy decor, make sure that it will give your home office a timeless value and appeal rather than temporary satisfaction.
10. Consider buying your office furniture online
There are many advantages and disadvantages to buying office furniture online or in-store.
When you get your furniture in a physical store, you will have a first-hand experience of the product. You can examine the material, test the comfort, and see the exact dimension of the piece. As for an online store, you can get a first hand experience of the product after a purchase. Here comes the use of a return policy. Online furniture stores allow their customers to test the product for a certain period of time. Some online furniture companies have excellent after-sales services, including customer assistance.
The internet helps you go to different furniture stores at the convenience of your home. When buying online, your choices will not be limited by what you see in one store. Because e-tailers do not rent showroom spaces, they can offer less expensive products. For the sugar-coated words both the in-store and online retailers utter, customer reviews and testimonials will help you make your decision.
1. Enjoy a cosy and clean work environment
Now that you know your basic furniture must haves, another part of setting up your home office is organising it and keeping it organised.
- Categorise your office files and essentials before keeping them in your cabinet, putting the least used items at the back part of the storage and the most-used items in front for easy access. You may use baskets or trays to avoid mixing them up. Put small items and stationery together. You can color-code your containers or labels and make sure to properly return files and items after using them.
- Set aside your tumbler or mug in a safe spot to avoid spilling. Make sure to use the ones with a lid.
- Keep a clean desk by collecting your pens and placing them in a pen container near your reach but far from your elbow. Put away the inkless and broken pens.
- Regularly check your paper piles and receipts to see if you need to keep them or toss them away to avoid clutter and free up some space. Scan important documents to prevent the risk of losing them.
- Dust off your office equipment, computer table, and other items in your office regularly.
- Vacuum your space and clean your chair.
- Disinfect your surfaces frequently.
- Put a bin beside your table.
- Go digital while writing your drafts or utilise the back of a used piece of paper.
- Turn off the lights and unplug unused electronic equipment when not in use.
2. Feel at home in your home office
Although it is discouraged to be too comfortable while working from home to avoid procrastination, it is still vital to enjoy the convenience of your home while working. Minimising distractions does not mean removing the things and activities that make your space alive. Play the music that inspires you to set your mood while working. Drink your favourite tea or coffee before jumping into your workstation, keep snacks in your spare drawer, or get an extra container for your neck pillow. Create a routine and an ambiance that work for you.
Adding plants to empty areas of your home office will help you relax and increase the quality of the air around you. Add small potted flowers to your display unit along with your books and other decorations. An enriched home office will make you more stimulated and productive than working in a lean and bland workspace. Be creative in keeping your area conducive to work and comfortable to stay in.
3. Do not forget to log off
After your work schedule, tuck in your office chair under the table, close your drawers, and shut down your office equipment. Do a little stretching, give your shoulder a rest, and call it a day at work. Continue living at home. Maintain a work-life balance by setting a boundary between your work and your personal and family time.
In Singapore, you spend an average of 40 hours per week in your home office, that is why it is important to make it conducive to working. A dedicated home office helps you stay comfortable, focused, and inspired. In setting up a home office, whether starting from scratch or revamping an existing one, you should be careful not to underestimate or overestimate the items you need. An efficient home office should include at least the minimum furniture and equipment to optimise your productivity. The right office table, an ergonomic chair, adequate equipment, a comfortable space, and an ample amount of decorative pieces impact your overall mood and motivation at work.
Now that you know how to set up your home office, it is up to you to make the most of it. The key to a healthy and productive work from home setup is the way you manage your environment. You might not get rid of the pressure of an approaching deadline, an unexpected call, or additional workloads, but you can do things to make yourself comfortable and motivated while working on your tasks. Whether it is a temporary work arrangement or a permanent one, working from home is an experience that is worth enjoying.
Starting your home office furniture shopping venture? Check out Megafurniture’s extensive online collection of practical and ergonomic office furniture!
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