Home office -19 Essentials for a productive work space

One learning that has come out of all the pandemic-driven temporary re-adjustments is that you do not need large office buildings for work. A home office meets the objective equally well!

Microsoft, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Shopify! These are just a few of the big names that have come to realize this and have made work from home permanent.

And so, my dear friends, the idea of remote working is not going anywhere! Accepting this and creating a work conducive home-office space is your best bet for happy work life.

Here is the list of 19 home-office essentials that will support your work in addition to taking care of your health.

  1. A dedicated space – Sitting at the kitchen or dining table and announcing – “That’s my office”, may not work long-term.

If you do not have a defined study with a computer desk & chair, and a door to shut distractions, try out these options –

a) Guest room can double as your office. A pull-down bed can help give you more floor space for work when required. Of course, you can happily go back to your dining table when you have a visitor!

Bringing together your office essentials here can create a reasonable workspace-

b) An enclosed deck/portico

c) Laundry room

d) Garage

e) Garden shed

2. A Desk with the right work height- The industry standard is 28 – 30 inches from the floor to the top of the work surface. Many desks and tables now come with a feature that allows adjusting height. Depending on how tall you are, you can adjust your desk height.

Considering the size, the layout of the workspace, and your preference, you can choose among– Sitting, Standing, or Wall-mounted desks.

a) Sitting desk A desk with a tray wide enough for a keyboard and a mouse is ideal for working comfortably. Adjust your work surface so that your forearm is parallel to the ground and your wrist is not bent up or down while typing or using the mouse.

 b) Standing desk For those who prefer to stand, avoid back pain, weight gain, and many other ailments, nothing beats a standing desk! Go for adjustable standing desks that move up and down. This allows you to alter between sitting and standing at will.

 c) Wall/window-mounted desks – Best suits those who find back-drop of outdoor views, uplifting. So, pick one up for a soothing workday.

3. Monitor with right height and size A 25 – 27 inched monitor for a home office is a good choice.

 If you find yourself constantly moving back and forth between hundreds of tabs, have two monitors!

To avoid eyestrain and fuzziness, keep away from cheap ones with low resolution.

4. Ergonomic chair – Slumping over at your desk and craning your neck can wreak havoc on your back.

Choose a professional office chair with a roll and adjustable height; a chair that braces the needed upright position and gives maximum lumbar support.

An adjustable seat-pan tilt and arm-rest height would help minimize strain on your back.

5. a) Anti-fatigue standing desk mat– Standing for prolonged periods on a hard floor while working on a standing desk, can stiffen you up and reduce productivity. To avoid this, pick up a standing desk mat with good cushioning.

b) A rocker-based balance board that promotes a range of right movements can also be a good option.

6. Good lighting – A good rule of thumb is to keep the monitor slightly brighter than the surrounding lights.

LED lamps have proven to be eye-friendly, but again, should not ray in your direct field of vision.

Wrongly angled ceiling lamps or desk lamps can create glare and harm your eyes. Avoid placing a lamp right next to the computer screen lest the competing sources of light end up blinding your view of the monitor.

Make sure you have some amount of indirect natural light too, falling in.

7. Cooler and/or heaterIt is important to have a comfortable temperature so to be able to work unhindered. A cooler for summers and a space-heater for winters are a must if your home is not centrally climate controlled.

8. Super-fast computer– A high-speed computer is a boon for fast-paced, large volume work profiles. Waiting to load could be frustrating and can affect dead-line driven tasks. If not a brand-new computer, a regular upgrade of your RAM and a solid-state drive is a must.

9. Charging station– To avoid jumbling of cords, a wall-mounted, fast-charging, multi-port doc is good.

Place it at a central location that facilitates connections to a secondary monitor, keyboard, etc.  It should also give you the ease of charging all your devices like smartphones, laptops, tablets, smartwatches. Surge protection here would be a cherry on the cake.

10. Multi-functional printer– A printer that can Fax, Scan, Copy and Print is your best option. Add to that, the feature of wireless printing and mobile printing.

Pick up a laser printer over an inkjet one for the simple reason that a) they are long-lasting and b) you do not have to deal with the dried-ink problem as in the case of inkjet ones.

11. Uninterrupted internet service

a) Ethernet connection – For bandwidth-intensive work like downloading/uploading large files, video streaming, or other bandwidth-hungry applications, Ethernet connections are the best.

For higher speed, reliability, and security, connect your computer to your router via an ethernet cable.

b) Wireless router – If you cannot wire your computer to your router, use a dual-band router with a Wi-Fi extender.

50 -100 Mbps is the minimum speed recommended if you have 3-5 devices connected to the internet. You can go up or down the speed depending on the number of people using the net at the same time.

The extender helps access the net anywhere in your home.

12. Keyboard, mouse, touchpad, headphones – When using an external monitor, you might not find it comfortable to use your laptop’s built-in keyboard, mouse, or trackpad.

You can choose either a wired keyboard-mouse combo or wireless ones. The latter will save cable mess but will need regular charging or battery replacement.

A noise-canceling headphone is another home office essential that makes your online conference calls smoother. These headphones are built to pick up your voice while ignoring the background noise. Also, there is less leakage of noise into your home where others also might be working.

13. Standard speakers – If music is your thing for blocking out distractions and focusing on work, then you must buy a good blue-tooth speaker. Play some soothing music and enjoy your improved focus.

14. Smart AI Assistant – To make your daily work life more efficient, a Smart Assistant’s hands-free control is a boon.

Alexa, Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, Bixby are the ones that are highly popular.

A smart assistant saves you from missing meetings, calls, or deadlines. Whether it is setting appointments, booking those weekly meetings, making a to-do list, looking up information, taking notes, or setting up calls, a smart assistant rocks it all! Simply order your assistant by using a pre-determined command word.

15. Whiteboard– Best for jotting down random bright ideas!

Structured writing of a computer does not give you free hand that the expanse of a whiteboard can.

A whiteboard is at its best when you are brainstorming ideas and need a free-hand scribbling to conceptualize. Once done, wipe it off and gear up for your next set of ideas.

16. Stationery/ writing implements – Office supplies like note pads, pen-pencils, calendar, tissue box, printer paper, stapler, etc. solely depend upon your usage and preference.

17. Coffee machine – Not just those sleepy mornings but also mid-day slumps can be shooed away by that magical cup of coffee. How about having a coffee corner with a handy coffee machine right there in your study!

18. Visual breaks – Elements that bring a smile to you, even while you are deeply engrossed in work, add to the happiness quotient! Go ahead and place pictures of happy times with your loved ones or have one or two items that infuse happy visual breaks in your home office!

19. Plants – It goes without saying that plants benefit your physical and mental health in various ways. They are therapeutic in nature, they filter air, brighten up your mood, and help you focus better.

Low maintenance plants like succulents, peace lily, viola, spider plant, pothos, etc. do well indoors with minimal demands. Bring them in for your overall wellbeing!

Keep trying different arrangements until you find what works the best for you. Remember, your ideal workspace is just an effort away!

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