According to a study by Stanford University, “work-from-home employees now account for more than two-thirds of US economic activity”. And it’s a similar story around the world.
Many people are struggling to cope with this new normal, whether you’re an internet entrepreneur, freelancer, or a regular employee trying to work from home.
Although you’re free from the distractions of office gossip, unnecessary meetings and that guy who’s always shouting down the phone, working from home can be challenging in many ways too.
The constant distractions from other members of the household, lack of separation between work and home life and lack a dedicated workspace make it difficult to have a productive day. Not to mention all the laundry that suddenly needs doing!
But whether you love it or hate it, it’s the reality for many people right now. So the only option is to optimise your work from home space. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of tools and essential items to help you make the best of the situation.
Here are the top tools you need to make your home office a success.
Everything you need to set up your home office
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to assume you already have the bare essentials you need to do your job. For most people that means a computer, an internet connection and a plentiful supply of coffee.
The below tools will help you optimise your work-from-home situation so that you make the best of it and minimise the downsides.
A dedicated work desk is key
It may seem fun at first to stay in bed and work in your pyjamas but the novelty soon wears off. Before long you’ll be longing for your own space.
The answer is to set up a dedicated desk space, preferably in its own room. The ability to shut the door makes a big difference, helping you to concentrate and cut out distractions and noises
from elsewhere in the house. And having somewhere to house your work paraphernalia and organise your thoughts makes all the difference.
For video calls especially, it’s good to have a dedicated space with a respectable backdrop. Hint: put the laundry away before you get on the call.
Invest in a quality chair
According to the experts, a good chair provides proper support for your lower back and pelvis. Sitting for long hours in a poor position can cause back pain, headaches and a host of other health problems. If you think about how long you spend in a sitting position during the workday it makes sense. After all, you spend a similar amount of time sleeping and you wouldn’t compromise on your mattress and pillows.
A chair with good back support can improve concentration and increase the amount of time you can sit and do good work. Not to mention the fun you can have spinning around and pushing yourself across the room.
Think about proper lighting
The intensity of light coming into our retinas controls our circadian rhythms which in turn affect our sleep patterns, mood, concentration and alertness. Poor lighting can lead to eye strain, discomfort, and poor levels of focus. The good news is you’re in control of the lighting when working from home.
The best source of light is, surprise-surprise, the sun. If you can locate yourself next to a large window and get plenty of natural light, that is the best way to go. When it comes to electric lights, you want a balance — not too bright, not too dim. Using a desk lamp is a good way to have more control over your lighting. Point it at a white wall to diffuse the light or focus it on a document when reading.
Get yourself the best cloud storage and collaboration tools
Working from home, you’re probably going to be using a collaboration tool like Google Drive or a file sharing service like Dropbox to replace face-to-face collaboration and meetings. The problem with these services is that they don’t value your privacy. They retain the right to view and even own your files. And they are notorious for selling off customer data to the highest bidder.
Treasure is a new cloud storage provider that not only allows you access to all the other cloud storage and file-sharing services you already use, making collaborating and sharing files remotely a breeze. It also gives you the key to your own data’s encryption. This means that the big tech providers can’t look at your data and you retain all the intellectual property rights and privacy that you need.
Treasure provides end-to-end encryption on all your data and you can choose to hold the sole encryption key so you know no one else is looking at your private files. Or, if you’re worried about losing your key, you can choose to back it up on Treasure’s secure server just in case.
You can get a free Treasure account with 10 GB storage plus up to an extra 40 GB when you refer your friends.
Essential communication tools
Most companies already use tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams for video conferencing, Whatsapp or Slack for instant messaging and Trello for project management and collaboration.
When you’re working from home and distant from your colleagues, these tools become even more important. Rather than being used for gossiping about co-workers within earshot, they allow teams to work together on projects remotely in real-time.
Get a webcam and microphone
If you have a particularly social job where you are often on calls, or if you need to make tutorial videos for work, a webcam and decent microphone will make a world of difference. Especially for those on the other end!
In a world where face-to-face interaction is less and less common, it’s vital to communicate clearly and you still need to make that all-important great first impression with clients and colleagues.
Good quality audio and visuals will help you communicate more clearly and will improve the impression you make on others.
Cut out the distractions by making your home office as good as it can be
Hopefully, these tips and tools will help you make the most of working at home and you’ll actually enjoy it.
Even with the best home office setup in the world though, it’s also still important to get up and go outside during the day too. It’s especially important to get a break from where you’re working, when it’s also where you’re living. Make time for a walk at the end of the workday to separate work from spare time, and to get some natural light and a bit of exercise.
You might just find you’re begging your boss to let you work at home even when the office reopens.