If you are serious about working from home, you will only get so far by setting up camp on your kitchen table. Either your aching back or family will prod you into setting up your own space somewhere else and to do it properly you are going to have to spend some money on the right equipment you need to get the job done.
We tell you the 8 home office must haves, you need to make home working a success.
How long have you got? Seriously, at the end of the day, a computer is just a tool for getting the job done. It’s a pretty expensive tool and you are going to spend a large part of each day glued to it, so it is pays to sit back and consider what you need and the options available to you.
The first thing to consider is what you want a computer for, if you use it mainly for writing documents and sending emails, you don’t need a water cooled, Alienware gaming monster, but nor do you want something that is slightly more advanced than an electronic typewriter.
You also need to consider how much space you have available and this will go someway to helping you decide whether you want a desktop or laptop computer. The advantages of a desktop computer are that with a desktop you get a lot more bang for your buck when it comes to processor speed, memory (RAM), storage capacity and ports and extendability.
The downside to desktop computers are their size and lack of portability. You can’t just take it with you and pop down to that kitchen table when you get a bit lonely stuck in your home office.
2. Internet/Office Network
following on from your computer, you are going to need a reliable and fast internet connection and depending on the amount of kit you end up with such as wireless printers, network storage devices, you may need to set up a secure home/small network.
Small Office networks are basically wired, wireless or hybrid. If you are not planning to be working from home for long then it is probably best to go for a wireless network. They are cheaper and easier to set up but the big drawbacks are that they are only as good as your wifi signal, are slower than wired networks and can be unreliable, grinding to a halt halfway through your Zoom, or Microsoft team video conference, because someone else in the house has started to binge watch on Netflix or someone has started to heat up a drink in a microwave.
Wired networks are by nature, faster, and more reliable, but they need more kit and a bit of planning so that you don’t end up with cables draped everywhere.
Again, the best advice is to plan ahead for where you might be in six months time. You may find that as a result of the Coronavirus, your work/life pattern has changed for good, and instead of occasionally working from home, you find it is more a case that you are occasionally in the office and working from home most days.
If so, this would be a good time to install a wired network.
Choosing the right office desk for your home office/small office will make a huge difference to your comfort and productivity. We personally think choosing the right chair is a bigger deal, but let’s start with the desk.
Before purchasing your desk, the first step is to plan out the space. Think about where you’re going to position your desk, considering the location of light, doors, and power points ad how mush apace you can realistically afford to give over to your desk.
You also need to consider if you will be using a desktop PC or a laptop and what other bits of hardware you will need to have around such as printers, scanners, external hard drives, secondary monitors etc. It all adds up very quickly.
You are also going to have to consider how much space you will need for your chair, both so that you can fit it under the desk when you are not working, but also, if people have to breath in to squeeze past you.
Once you know where you want your desk to be, it is a good idea to mark out the area with something like masking tape. You may be surprised how mush space you actually need.
Types of desk to consider:
- Bench desk – rectangular table style desks
- Writing desk – compact and minimalist, they’re perfect for smaller home offices
- Corner desk – designed to fit into the corner of your room and available in a range of sizes
- Radial desk – large wave desks, ideal if you need lots of workspace
4. Office Chair
In our humble opinion the one thing that can make or break home working is the simple office chair. You are going to spend a lot of time getting to know it very well indeed, so it is worth taking a bit of time finding one that suits you.
Choosing a comfortable office chair is important as many problems can occur without the right desk chair.
Your health and happiness at work can be impacted by how comfortable you are at your desk. You may have the perfect work station set up, but if your chair is uncomfortable, everything else can fall apart.
If you find you are leaving your desk in more and more pain at the end of the day, or are just looking for a chair to give you more space in your home or office, invest now in a comfortable and supportive chair, your back will thank you for many years to come.
It can be a daunting task in trying to determine which chair works best for you, but getting the right chair can make a big difference to your productivity and wellbeing.
It is very easy to buy an uncomfortable office chair regardless of how practical it is, just because you like the look of it. However, the longer you use the chair, the more you will appreciate its features rather than what it looks like. Appearances can be deceptive.
Key Features of your office chair
Overall adjustability: the ability to change your seating position many times a day.
Lumbar support: Provides additional support to your lumbar region of your lower back to help support the natural curvature of your spine.
Flexible seating: The capability to recline the back of the chair.
Wheelbase: You can move freely around and reach what you need to on your desktop without having to stretch.
Fabric: Choose a breathable fabric, such as mesh, to avoid getting too hot and uncomfortable when sitting.
Arms: Some people like a chair with arms for the security gives, others prefer chairs without arms because they catch on trouser pockets and rip them.
Choosing a Printer/Scanner for your Home Office can be as daunting as choosing a computer. Dependant on the size of the space available to you, you may want a printer, or a printer and a scanner, or a printer and scanner combined.
Printers are like razors, they are both cheap to buy but their consumables ie razor blades/printer ink are what cost you over time, so when it comes to printers, do you want an A4 black and white high volume printer, or do you need an archival quality A2+ Photo-printer.
Once again, before you reach into your pocket, the best thing to do is consider how much printing you will be doing, the size of the print you need to do and whether you need just colour or black and white. Also consider if you need a scanner, a copier and what space you have for all of this kit.
In summary consider:
- The space you have available.
- whether a combined device is good enough for what you need.
- What type of printing you will do.
- Investigate the cost of the different ink options available to you.
- Do you want a device that is wifi enabled or plugs into a network or direct into your computer?
- Draw up a shortlist of suitable devices.
- Check out their reviews
- Pull the trigger and buy one.
When it comes to lighting your home office, you are often pretty much stuck with that you start with, but a strong, even, non-glare light can make all the difference when you are stuck doing a 12 hour stretch on a computer to get a client commission out of the door.
7. Storage Solutions
Home office storage is invaluable – however organised and efficient you are, you’ll still need space for your stationery, papers and office supplies.
Those with smaller home offices may want to consider home office desks with integrated storage, which generally provide a better, more space-efficient solution.
Home office desks with storage come in a wide range of styles, from simple under desk drawers, to multi-level storage systems with overhead cupboards, under desk pedestals and integrated drawers.
If you want a larger desk and workspace but don’t want to compromise on storage, you may want to consider investing in separate under desk storage solutions.
8. A Door
Finally a door. This is probably the cheapest item on this list and speaking from experience, also the most important. It does not actually have to be a door but if you spend most of your working life working from home, you need a way to physically and mentally, separate your family life from your work responsibilities. It is the only thing that will make home working viable.