Whether you are looking to set up a brand-new workspace or upgrade your current workstation, these are our tips and suggestions for setting up a comfortable and productive workspace.
Pick your space
While it is tempting to sit on the couch with a laptop in front of the TV, not only is it not as productive, you will feel the strain in your back and neck later! Whether you have a small corner in the house or a spare room you can use, find a space that you can identify as your workspace. When you sit there, can you tune out your homelife to get your work done? Can you shut a door to outside noise? Do you have enough natural light? Make sure there is enough space so that you will not feel closed in or claustrophobic.
Get a good desk and computer chair
You will need enough desk space that is large enough for you to fit all your equipment and room to possibly complete paperwork. The desk needs to be able to fit into the space you have chosen. Always measure the space before selecting a desk. The desk you select also needs to be high enough that you can sit on a chair with your legs under the table and so that your wrists can sit flat on the desk. You will need to be able to sit straight and comfortably with your back straight and your feet touching the ground. Your computer chair should have a high back and be adjustable. While some people like to spend a lot of money on gaming chairs, there are plenty of suitable office chairs as well. It may seem tempting to buy a cheap gas lift chair for $30 or using a spare dining room chair, but before picking up that bargain, think about the amount of time you will be sitting on your chair. If you get sore sitting down for 40 minutes at dinner time, how will you feel after sitting there for 8 hours? You need it to be comfortable to avoid muscle aches and back pain later on. A good ergonomic chair will ensure you have the correct posture and they are designed to be sat on for several hours during the day. While having handles on the side of your chair are optional, it does add an extra element of comfort!
Install a monitor at eye level and enable blue light filtering
Monitors quite literally come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. When comparing models and price, you can pick up something relatively cheap or spend thousands depending on your needs. What to pick really depends on what you will be using the monitor for. If you are doing graphic design work or anything with colour, you want to look at a 4k retina model to ensure the colours are as close to true as possible. The size of the monitor depends on the space you have available, however the general size to look at getting is between 27-32 inches. If you are going to be spending long amounts of time looking at your monitor, you want to enable blue light filtering. While there are settings to do so on windows machines, many monitors also have this function in their onboard menu. A blue light filter will help prevent headaches and eye strain from staring at a screen all day. If you wear glasses, you can also add blue light filter film protection to your lens to cut down on digital eye strain. Make sure you monitor is at eye level so you do not have to look up or down, or you could strain your neck.
Buy some nice accessories to brighten up your space
At work, we often bring in a piece of home with us to remind us why we are there and the make the space feel like our own. Even though you may be working from home, there is no reason why you shouldn’t do the same for the space you have created for your home office. Buy a small fake plant and put on the desk to add some colour. If you don’t mind a little care given, get a snake plant which has proven to absorb toxins and improve indoor air quality and doesn’t need direct sunlight to survive and requires little watering (just beware if you have any untrained pets, if they eat this it can cause mild gastrointestinal upsets). Put a photo of your family or your pet on your desk. Add a desk lamp or even a floor lamp if there is not enough natural light. Remember though less is more, and you do not want to add too many accessories that it becomes cramped. You want it to be a simple and spacious area and one that you don’t mind being in. It is a space where you need to feel comfortable spending your time.
Check your internet
Most likely, you will need access to the internet to be able to work remotely from home. It is a good idea to check your internet plan and make sure it is going to be sufficient for your needs. Will you be downloading and uploading data? Will you be spending a lot of time on video calls? If you have a monthly download limit, it may be worth talking to your internet provider about your changing needs as you will likely need to increase your limit. If you rely on a wireless internet connection at home, it is important to see how far you are from your internet router that is plugged into the phone line. If it is on the other side of the house to where your office is, it is likely that you have a weak wi-fi connection. Investing in a cheap wi-fi extender will help boost this signal and make it easier for you to stay connected.
Now that your office is set up, here are some of our favourite accessories to help boost your comfort and productively:
Synology DiskStation DS918+
While working from work or home, you should always backup your important files on your computer. These should also be kept separate from each other. What if these are lost, damaged or stolen? We suggest investing in a redundant storage device which can automate this process so you can feel at ease knowing you will not lose all your work and more importantly all those family photos! The Synology DiskStations come in different models, but the DS918+ should suffice in giving you 4 drive bays which can be configured in a way so that if one drive fails, you can replace it without losing all your data. This NAS (Network Attached Storage) device can also do a multitude of other things, such as hold family photos which can then be viewed from your phone via an app. This will eliminate your phone getting full of photos and saving you on costs spent on cloud services. You are also able to store videos and stream these to your networked TV’s in the house. You can set up different applications to host on this device such as Synologies NoteStation to write and save notes, allowing them to be accessed from any device. Profiles can be created that allow different family members to use the storage device and its applications from anywhere in the world with internet access making it highly convenient and effective.
Coolermaster MM710 Mouse
When you have to use your mouse a lot, you can end up with a sore wrist. A lightweight easy to use mouse can help alleviate some of this stress. Coolermaster MM710 available in Black & White both Gloss and Matte. This lightweight mouse has a long light ultraweave cord and feels effortless to move. While you may be tempted to use a wireless mouse, if you are doing graphic design or even a bit of gaming in your down time, a wireless mouse can cause some lag. This design is pleasing to the eye with a range of LED light up colours to choose from inside its honeycomb shell. At only 53g, once you use this mouse, will you wonder how you ever used anything else!
Noise Cancelling Headphones with microphone
Headphones are great for not only tuning out the world and the noise around you, but also necessary for all those Zoom meetings. When you are having an online conference, if you rely on speakers to hear your colleagues, your microphone also picks this up and you create an echo. This is why you will see people typically wearing headphones during online meetings. Most headphones these days come with an inbuilt microphone to help enhance your voice. We love these very comfortable Sony WH-1000XM3 over-ear wireless noise cancelling headphones which offer a dedicated noise cancelling processor which has an integrated built-in amplifier. They also come with a touch-based controls and are compatible with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Siri and have a huge 30 hours of battery life.
Corsair K95 Platinum XT Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
If you want something a little colourful and different to a regular keyboard this is for you! If you are a person that does a lot of typing, you will notice straight away the precision that this keyboard allows you to type at. Switch keys can easily come off for cleaning away crumbs and make it less likely to have a sticky key. This model comes with an ergonomic wrist rest as well as media controls. It is the perfect keyboard that will allow you to work by day and game by night being one of the preferred gaming keyboards. Mechanical switch keyboards are very slowly becoming the new standard.
Of course if you have a MAC setup at home, it is likely you want to have all Mac accessories as well. These are our favourites:
Magic Keyboard with numeric keypad
Available in both silver and space grey, this will match your mac no matter which colour scheme you are going for. The scissor mechanism underneath each key makes typing feel light and comfortable. Using a full length keyboard as opposed to a small laptop size is also better for your wrists.
If you want something more discreet in the headphone department, AirPods have become the latest must have accessory. With fantastic sound and inbuilt microphone, you can buy a standard version or a noise cancelling version. The sound in fact works so well for remote meetings that many media organisation have been using these for live television crosses. The headphones can hook up to not only your phone but your laptop as well, so on the days when you are not working from your office at home, you can wear your AirPods on the commute to work. They come in their own rechargeable case so when you put your AirPods away in your bag, they are charging ready for the next wear.
If you do more scrolling compared to clicking and prefer the feel of a laptop trackpad, the Apple Magic trackpad is for you. There are four force sensors underneath the trackpad surface that allow you to click anywhere. Scrolling and swiping has never been easier!
When working from home, remember to look after yourself. It can be very easy to lose time and suddenly hours have passed without you leaving your space. Try to take a small walk every hour and get up and have a drink of water. Make sure you go outside each day and get some sunshine. At the end of the workday, switch off the emails and the work alarms. Work is finished for the day and will continue tomorrow.
We would love to hear your tips on create a space for a home office? Tell us in the comments below your suggestions!