If you plan to work from home, your mind is likely filled with visions of how relaxing your life will be. Well, I’m happy to say that in many ways, you are right! That grueling commute in a car, train, or subway will change to a short walk down the hall while wearing socks and holding a coffee cup. You can wear pajamas to work and eat what you want whenever you want. You can do household chores during a work break, freeing up an immense amount of time. You also avoid chatty coworkers and feeling like your boss is looking over your shoulder. Ah, paradise.
These are some pretty significant perks, but you will also face new challenges. The biggest one is productivity, and I should know. I have worked from home for over five years. Staying employed and growing in your career means staying as focused, responsive, and efficient as in an office.
So how do you create the ideal workspace that keeps you productive so that you can keep enjoying all the other work-from-home benefits? Here are 40 tips that will work regardless of the home type and room size. You will learn the best places to set up your home office, how to design it, and what products to buy. I even throw in some handy tips at the end to help make your move to working from home cheaper and easier.
What is the Best Home Office Setup?
An effective home office setup provides everything you need to maximize productivity at home. A well-designed space also helps you look professional when you jump on a Zoom call with your clients, boss, and coworkers. All roads point to more people working from home, and Zoom and Skype calls are now crucial to work interactions.
Thankfully you can create an effective workspace fairly easily that helps you get the job done and look good while doing it. Here are tips to make it happen.
40 Tips For The Best Home Office Setup
Here are ways to create the perfect workspace.
1. Find a Private Area of Your Home
Select an area that gives you as much privacy as possible and feels good as a workspace. Your area should limit your distractions as much as possible because there is serious work to be done. You will also want to separate yourself from work at the end of the day, so having a defined area that sits out of the way will help. A private space works best. Out of sight, out of mind.
Some good locations include:
- A bedroom
- A guestroom
- A basement
- A room with a private corner
- An unused garage
- An accessory dwelling unit (ADU)
If you don’t have a private room, look for ways of creating a more secluded area in a room using plants or a screen as a barrier.
2. Choose an Area That Isn’t Too Hot or Too Cold
Prioritize lower-floor rooms or areas with comfortable cross breezes. Long hours in a warm room affect your concentration and will make you miserable. Using an AC all day also leads to a high electric bill you are responsible for paying.
3. Take Advantage of Natural Light
Natural light keeps your spirits up while giving you a view when you take a break from staring at your screen. If you value privacy for work, drapes can help while still letting you look at the view now and again.
4. Find a Space with Fresh Air
A room with windows or sliding doors with outdoor access helps you stay refreshed. Stepping outside for a few minutes to snack, talk on the phone, and check on the plants clears your head and gets you back into work mode.
5. If Possible, Blend With Your Surroundings
If you don’t have the option of a private room for working, design your work area to blend with the other items in the room it is in. Your home will look better, and you make the entire space feel like a luxury office. Both you and your significant other will be happier for it. If your ideal office design conflicts with the room’s look, look for underlying themes that connect the two.
7. In a Private Space, Make It Your Own
Though an office that matches your home’s decor will make your whole house feel calmer, a private space allows you to design in the way that makes you most productive, so have at it! Nothing is more important than productivity.
8. Whatever Design You Choose, Make It Cozy
Whether you like soft colors or love everything in black with neon lights, make your space the way you want it for long-term work and to stay inspired. Visual and physical comfort is key. The more you want to sit and interact in the space, the more productive you will be.
Here are some tips for keeping things cozy:
- Comfortable furniture
- Fun items and keepsakes, like a guitar and memorabilia
9. Keep a Professional Appearance in Mind
If you do a lot of on-camera Zoom calls, you will benefit from a professional, clean look. Plus, the more experienced and cohesive the space looks, the more adult and professional you will feel during the day.
10. Keep Distractions Out of Sight
Working from home can unleash temptations to dive into non-work activities like watching YouTube videos, browsing Instagram, doing a little online shopping, or playing video games. Limit as many negative distractions as possible with an understanding that you can dive into them after work.
11. Make it Appealing to You
Choose items that you would enjoy using, both in feel and look. Home office products and furniture come in styles that fit any home’s look, helping it blend with your home or let you complete the ideal design you always wanted.
12. Choose Items That Support Your Growth
A home office is more than just a place to work; it’s an area of growth. Add items that help you focus, stay motivated, and help you grow in your job. This can include motivational sayings, photography, or other physical items that effectively work as your dream board.
13. Buy an Ergonomic Chair
This is a chance to own an office chair that feels and looks right for you. Select from options with adjustable seat, arm, and back supports to help you maintain good posture and avoid neck and lower back pain.
It’s best to choose a quality chair with high ratings. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. The price of a chair often directly relates to how quickly it breaks down. A cheap comfortable chair often means the seat flattens quickly, making life pretty uncomfortable. You will also need to buy another chair sooner than you would like.
14. Invest in a Quality Office Desk
Buying a desk may sound like a no-brainer, but choosing a quality option in the right size is essential. Your desk is where you will spend most of your time, so it should function well, be the right height for your body type, and fit all your needed desk items- your laptop, monitor, notepad, phone, etc. This includes even small home office corner desks.
You may be tempted to use your dining table, but the height of a dining table may not be the right height. Plus, you and your family need to eat. Moving work items back and forth constantly is a pain and a massive waste of time. Having a desk will make everyone happier.
An adjustable desk is a relatively newer option and can still be affordable. I own one and found that it keeps the blood flowing, reduces back and leg pain, and changes things up for a fresh perspective and more endurance. You can also use it with a walking pad to improve your physical and mental health while you work.
When shopping, have some fun and prioritize a nice-looking adjustable standing desk so that you enjoy being there.
15. Work Longer and Better With an External Monitor (or Two!)
Do you love neck cramps? Nobody does. A computer monitor helps keep your back and neck where they should be for more comfortable, long-term work.
Computer monitors have come a long way in the last few years. You can now buy options from conventional sizes to varying sizes and shapes, such as vertical, curved, and extra wide. Many are good-looking, too. Today you will find a monitor that aids with any work you do.
Connect more than one to your computer to take your productivity further, and make sure the screen sits at eye level (not too low or high) to maintain good posture and reduce neck pain. For a conventional monitor, the typical recommendation is to have the top of the screen line up with your eyes. Also, choose a screen with optimal image quality to maintain optimal productivity and reduce eye strain.
16. Stay Versatile With A Laptop
Unless you are old school and use a typewriter or even older school and use a paper and quill with messaging pigeons, you are most likely using a computer to get the job done. (It’s also requires less cleaning.)
As for your choice of computers, prioritize a laptop. As you will find out later in this article, your desk may not be your only workplace. It also works as a handy second monitor. You will benefit from putting it on a stand so the screen sits closer to eye level.
Choose a laptop with long battery life to keep you productive while out and about. Finding an open electrical plug inside coffee shops can be challenging. Plus, you can work longer in a beach chair, which is always a bonus.
17. Stay Connected with Strong Wi-Fi
Ensure you have strong enough Wi-Fi to get the job done and have the needed repeaters so that the signal works well everywhere you work. The day will come when you have family over, forcing you to work from another room for added privacy. You will quickly find that your productivity suffers if the Wi-Fi is less than ideal.
Some professions require robust Wi-Fi, so inquire online with users in the same business field. If you work for a company, their IT department may have suggestions.
18. Make Sure You Have All Your Computer Programs and Software
The first step regarding setting up programs is to ensure you have virus protection software. If your company uses a server, have them set your computer with the right software remotely or provide you with a VPN.
With your virus protection completed, download all your other needed programs, such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and set up your project management tools, such as monday.com or Asana. While you’re at it, download a Pomodoro timer. You will benefit from working in specific time blocks. A timer helps you do it. (More on this toward the end.)
19. Work Faster than Ever with the Right Keyboard and Mouse
As with your chair, working from home is a chance to use the keyboard and mouse you love most. The right keyboard does wonders for your productivity, increasing your typing speed and preventing issues like carpal tunnel syndrome. You can choose from corded and cordless designs, unconventional keyboard shapes, sleek designs, and old-school throwbacks. You can even decorate them in attractive patterns and colors.
I can’t overstate how much a comfortable keyboard and mouse help toward productivity. Even if you buy and return multiple models, it’s worth the time and effort.
20. Stay Focused with noise-cancellation Earphones
Use earphones to block background noise and listen to your favorite tunes without distracting neighbors and family. Choose from options of wire or wireless earbuds and over-the-ear designs. The better the sound, the more enjoyment you get from listening to music while you work, boosting your productivity.
21. make yourself heard with a quality Microphone
Although your laptop has a microphone, there are better options. You will benefit from buying a higher-quality model or using one built into your earphones. Clear communication is essential for Zoom calls and talking with clients over the phone.
22. show Your success with A Quality Camera
As with your microphone, your laptop likely comes with a camera, but it may not be the best quality. In many cases, a Zoom call is your first impression, so you benefit from investing in a quality camera that helps you appear established and helps you look your best.
23. Work longer and calmer with the Right Lighting
Proper lighting helps you maintain a clear vision of your work and reduce eye strain for long hours behind the desk. In fact, it is so important that I devoted an entire article on home office lighting ideas. I have found that poor lighting significantly affects productivity over long hours and how good you look on those all-important Zoom calls.
Opt for a desk lamp with soft light in gold tones to balance out your screen’s harsh white and blue light. Another popular choice is adding a lighting strip behind the monitor or desk for more ambient light. I use a strip and desk lamp because (1) I enjoy how the combination feels even more relaxing on the eyes, and (2) I’m fancy.
In addition to lighting near the desk, add light to the foreground or background to further soften the screen’s brightness and provide better lighting for the camera.
There is a reason the interior design profession has an entire industry built around lighting design. It significantly improves your experience in the space, boosting your mood while calming your eyes.
24. stay connected with A Phone Charger / Charting Stand
Keep your cell phone or smartphone nearby so you don’t miss important phone calls or texts. A charger that mounts your phone so it is easily readable improves your productivity. With one eye movement, you know who just reached out.
Today you can find an endless array of charging stands to fit your style and budget, some offering wireless charging as well. If you use earbuds and a smartwatch, you can find chargers with all capabilities in one neat little package. They reduce clutter and keep you organized and fully charged.
25. prevent damage with a Surge Protector
Power strips are integral for a home office. You don’t want to risk a power surge and damage to your equipment when plugging too many items into a wall socket.
26. Stay Clutter Free With a Cable Management System
A quality cable management system makes it easy to plug and unplug devices and keeps your workspace clean, orderly, and safe from water and pets (I’m looking to you, cat.)
27. Stay plugged in with USB Ports and Plugs
Smartphones, smartwatches, and earphones use USB ports that connect to coordinating plugs. Make sure you have enough of both. Some surge protectors come with USB ports built right in. Make sure the connections are easy to reach and don’t fall away after using them, forcing you to bend under your desk to grab them. Your back will thank you.
28. have A Printer On Hand
You may not think you need to own one, but after one rushed trip to FedEx Office, you will wish you did. Thankfully, printers are relatively inexpensive these days. The ink is where they get you, but you may not need much.
Newer models work with Wi-Fi, making storing the printer far away and out of site easier and allowing the whole house to use it more easily.
29. Keep Paperwork Organized with a Filing Cabinet
A filing cabinet makes accessing documents easy and keeps the work area clean and clutter-free. You can also lock the papers up, keeping them safe. Opt for one with an extra drawer or two for pens and other desk tools.
30. Wall Shelving and Bookcases
Bookcases and home office shelving increase your storage capabilities in a small footprint while maintaining quick visual access to items such as go-to binders. It also displays decorations, keepsakes, small plants, and a clock well.
31. Keep the Ideas Flowing with A Whiteboard or Bulletin Board
Working from home means you don’t have the benefit of a conference room or collaborative space to work out ideas. A whiteboard or similar device makes brainstorming easy at home. It’s an excellent companion to a notepad or electronic note-taking device, helping you gain clarity and insight on any business initiatives.
32. Expand Your Work Area with Secondary Seating
This is a smart way to increase productivity while making your work and home life more comfortable. Shift from your desk to a comfy sofa or chair with your laptop to clear your head, gain a new perspective, and minimize desk aches and pains. You can also stretch out on it and read a book, watch a movie, or listen to music at the end of your day. You deserve it.
You can opt for office furniture that doubles as home furniture or vice versa and choose modular designs that conform to your daily needs. If you use a guest room or bedroom for work, a sleeper sofa is a handy and compact replacement for a bed. To learn more about the types of sofa styles that work best, see my article on the best home office couch designs.
If you have a patio nearby, add seating for a fun place to work, enjoy fresh air, talk on the phone, and take a lunch or snack break.
33. Increase Productivity with A Laptop Side Table
A side table that doubles as a laptop desk will make working from a sofa more comfortable and mix up your seating options to boost your productivity. The same table can be used anywhere in the home, such as along your living room sofa or bed.
34. Stay Inspired with Artwork and Inspirational Phrases
Artwork improves productivity and mental health and a great way to show off your style. It also helps your office space look better on camera. The space will feel more inviting, boosting your work-at-home experience by feeling less boring. From textured wall art to inspirational sayings, you have numerous options to keep you moving throughout the day.
35. Feel More Grounded with Potted Plants
Adding the beauty of nature to your workspace is aesthetically pleasing for you and Zoom callers, but it also brings some handy additional benefits. Plants boost oxygen levels, keep the room cooler, and reduce stress. I find that caring for plants in your office is a positive addition to an office and feels quite zen. Plants make me feel more connected and grounded while I work.
Choose from a wide array of indoor plants. If you don’t have a green thumb, you can reduce watering needs with succulents or air plants.
36. Stay On time with An Easy-to-Read Clock
Download an easy-to-read electronic clock onto your home screen or set one on your desk or wall. A clock is essential for keeping you organized.
37. capture thoughts and Notepad or Paper Organizer
You will likely use your laptop or phone to organize appointments, correspond on project management software, and do all your work tasks. Still, there will come a time when you need to jot down something quickly and with little hassle. A notepad helps you stay organized and record those genius ideas.
If you prefer using paper to electronics, a paper organizer doubles as a notepad and calendar for you, an easy-to-read snapshot of appointments and tasks. It is a practical tool for staying organized, and many designs today are well thought out.
38. Maintain More Comfortable Typing with a Desk mat
This one is optional but worth considering. It prevents scratches or damage to your desk, particularly hot liquid stains from your daily coffee, tea, or last-minute meal. (Welcome to the world of working from home.) It also cushions your hands while typing, writing, and handling other tasks.
When buying, be sure to check out my list of best desk mats.
39. Take Comfort Even Further with A Wrist Rest
A desk mat may not be enough cushion if you work at your desk for long hours. A wrist rest is a cushioned device you use under your wrist as you type, and it does wonders for your productivity. From thin to thick and narrow to wide, you can find the right size for you.
40. Stay inspired with quality Speakers
You may not be a fan of earphones or want to use them daily. Here is where a quality set of speakers can help. Many are quite beautiful and small enough to avoid crowding your work area.
Bonus Tips for Working from Home
The above tips will help you create an effective workspace to maximize your productivity. Since you may be new to working from home, you will also benefit from knowing some additional tips for making this new way of life cheaper and easier.
Take Advantage of Writeoffs
If you run your own business and have a dedicated room in your home for work, you may be able to write off the space and items you buy related to work, including furniture! This will really help out when tax time comes, especially when you are starting a new business.
Set Hours and Stick to Them
If you set hours, stick to them as much as possible. This will help your work-life balance, which contributes significantly to productivity. Many business owners are concerned about remote workers’ productivity, but I work much more at home than at the office – to the point that it can be a problem. When the time comes, close up your work area and walk away.
This is vital for any workspace. Give yourself regular breaks during the day to relax, such as 5 minutes every hour, and take lunch and snack breaks. You will maintain the right energy level throughout the day and focus more on the job at hand. A Pomodoro timer will help.
Remember to keep productivity as your guidepost when choosing items and formulating your budget. Though this will be a fun time in your life, reducing your productivity will work against you in the long run and even lead to you having to head back into the office (shudder). A well-designed home office with everything you need for your job provides the best of both worlds.