With the ongoing spread of coronavirus, specifically COVID-19, more people and businesses than ever are thinking about working from home. Across the country, companies that ordinarily don’t have work-from-home employees now have to adapt to the reality of having some or all of their employees work from home to help prevent the spread of the virus. If you’re one of the countless Americans suddenly turning your home into your office, you might find yourself in the same shoes as entrepreneurs who run a home-based business.
More and more entrepreneurs are starting their latest venture from the comfort of their own homes, especially e-commerce businesses, with the trend steadily rising over the years. Now, with more and more employees being told to work from home, more people than ever should think about setting up and making the most out of a home office.
As you set up your new space, be it permanent or temporary, make sure you do so in a way that maximizes your productivity and your comfort. These eight essentials will ensure you’ve created the ideal home office:
1. Your Ideal Working Space
Where and how do you work best? Everyone is different. You could work best on the couch, at a desk or at the kitchen table. You might like to move around the house throughout the day. Certain tasks might be better suited for other areas of the house.
No matter what, do whatever makes you the most comfortable and the most productive. Invest in a desk, a big monitor or any other important features that’ll make you want to sit down (or stand) to get your work done.
If you’re going to renovate your home to accommodate your new situation, make sure to think about the long-term implications of your decision. Make sure your home office can easily be converted to a bedroom if needed.
“A bedroom will usually add more value to your home than a home office,” said Brad Harley, owner of Home Appraising Group. “Luckily, both spaces have similar needs. When you stage the home, stage your home office as a bedroom instead.”
2. A Comfortable Chair
It doesn’t matter if you’re at your desk at work or your desk at home, a comfortable chair with quality ergonomics is essential. Good posture and comfort can help keep you focused on your tasks at hand instead of the pain in your lower back. While online shopping is great for many items, a quality chair is something you should test out in person.
3. Quality Headphones
You’ll spend a lot of time on your computer and on the phone. Having high-quality headphones with a microphone will make business calls easy to make. Low-quality items might cause technical issues that could lead to lost connections — or worse, lost sales.
If your home will regularly be noisy, headphones are a necessity. It removes other audible distractions and keeps you focused and allows you to listen to what will keep you focused on your work, be it music or white noise.
4. Proper Lighting
It’s important you have plenty of natural light in your workspace. Your desk will also need to be lit, so invest in proper lighting to supplement whatever ceiling lights or windows you have.
If you can, limit the amount of blue light near your computer. — you get enough of it from your screens. Instead, light your desk with warm bulbs that won’t add to your daily exposure.
5. Background Noise
Music can drown out other noises and keep you focused. Instrumental music is especially good at getting people in a rhythm. Podcasts that you can tune in and out of also make great background noise, and you might learn something. Again, everyone is different. Some people might need the TV on, and others might need complete silence. Do whatever works best for you.
6. A Secure Filing System
You’ll likely have a mixture of paper and digital documents that you will need to keep track of. More importantly, you will need to keep these documents secure.
If you think you’ll have a lot of paper documents, invest in a sturdy filing cabinet that locks. If you just need to put a few important documents away, get a lockbox.
Digital documents are trickier to keep safe. First of all, make sure your computer has virus protection software installed. The built-in virus protection that Windows provides might be enough for a personal computer, but your computer becomes more tempting to hack and infect when it contains important business information.
7. Support From Your Family
Before you start buying furniture, ask yourself: have you fully discussed your plans with your family? Do they know that you’ll be taking over a room or section of your home? Will you have a quiet place to talk on the phone?
Any plans you make should be discussed in detail with them. If they aren’t directly part of the business, you will at least need their support and cooperation while you work at home.
It’s also important to separate your work from your family life. Make sure you’re not working at all hours or at least set aside time every day for the people and things that matter more than your work.
8. An Excellent Network of Peers
If you haven’t already discussed your home-based business owners or remote workers going through a similar situation, you should get out (or stay in) and start networking. Working from home can be lonely, so you will at least need a few people you can vent to.
Start by looking for an industry association, union or another group of people leading a similar lifestyle. This could even help you get your first few clients through referrals. And with the influx of remote work due to the coronavirus, all it takes is opening Instagram to realize that you’re far from alone.