As we get further into 2020, it seems working from home is here to stay. And why not? For many of us, working from home makes practical sense– no more commuting, more lunch options, more time with pets. It makes sense for businesses as well, as working from home is linked to lower stress and higher productivity.
But to make working from home work for you, you need a good setup. We’ve collated 10 of the best home office upgrades to help you increase your productivity and look after your wellbeing while working remotely.
1. An actual desk
Having a desk to work at is important for a number of reasons– the first being that if you’re committed to working from home, you need to section off part of your space for work. It doesn’t need to be big, but creating a designated workspace is vital for creating a distinction between work and free time.
Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant Lee Chambers also adds: “Where possible, try to partition your desk away from personal and family space, the psychological separation helps to achieve a better work-life harmony. A desk full of clutter will be distracting, even for those of us who like chaos, so keep it organised and have what you need at hand.”
2. More screen space
If you’re currently working on a laptop, getting hold of an external monitor will significantly improve your working experience, with studies suggesting a bigger screen can lead to a 30% increase in productivity.
For maximum screen space, keep your laptop open to use dual screen, or tuck your laptop out of sight to maximise desk space.
Nadeem Rob, optometrist and founder of The Eye Establishment also stressed the importance of being careful of the amount of glare we are exposed to from our screens: “The glare from our screens is not known to damage the eyes but a specific wavelength of blue light increases the effort required for our eyes to function properly.”
3. Look your best on video calls
Now that many of us aren’t seeing our colleagues in real life, virtual meetings are essential. These are important, not just for getting work done, but for maintaining work relationships, and reducing isolation.
To get the best possible picture, you’d need a DSLR camera and setup, which could cost $1,500+ and take up significant desk space. However, you can get a pro-quality setup with less clutter and cost by using Camo, an app that lets you use the amazing camera on your iPhone as a webcam.
4. Make your voice heard
By this point, we’ve all been on a call that’s been disrupted by various audio issues; whether it’s distracting background noise, inadvertent robot voice, or audio simply not working. To safeguard against these issues, you can invest in a professional microphone for better audio quality.
5. Are you sitting comfortably?
If you’re spending 8+ hours working at a desk everyday, and you’re likely to continue working from home in the future, investing in a comfortable chair is a sound choice. Ergonomic chairs claim to prevent back pain and improve posture, but with studies suggesting ergonomic solutions offer little to no benefit, focus on finding a chair that’s comfortable to use, and make sure to change positions and get up and move around frequently.
Nell Mead, experienced physiotherapist says: “You ideally want a chair that moves with you, because movement feeds your spinal discs (super important) so the best thing is to get a chair that rocks – there are plenty of chairs that you can unlock so that they move.”
6. Put distractions on mute
Working from home can be so distracting. If you’re sharing your living space while trying to work from home, investing in some noise-cancelling headphones can help you concentrate on your own business, rather than everyone else’s.
7. Get organised
If you’ve got more than a couple of things on the go at any one time, it can be harder to keep track of everything when working from home than when you’re in the office. Planning and productivity apps like Trello can help you increase productivity at home and collaborate with colleagues remotely.
“However, the colours you surround yourself with also affects your productivity: Having a blue background or desktop has been shown to increase productivity and keep us focused. Green is also a great colour to implement, as it keeps us feeling calmer, more creative, and this can be achieved by using house plants and natural canvases and pictures.” – Lee Chambers, Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant
8. Add plants
Plants don’t just make your home office look more Instagrammable, they’re proven to increase productivity, with one 10 year study concluding plants offer a 15% boost in productivity. To reap the productivity-boosting benefits of plants, choose a plant that is easy to look after, and make sure it’s visible from your desk.
Environmental psychologist and wellbeing consultant Lee Chambers adds: “If you are able to work by a window, looking out to nature, this is beneficial, but you can bring nature in by investing in natural materials and colours, which ground us and help us to concentrate.”
9. Improve your connection
Wi-Fi is the lifeblood of remote working. Make sure your Wi-Fi is as good as it can be by positioning the router close to your workspace, keeping it updated, and making sure it’s password-protected to prevent Wi-Fi thieves from hogging your bandwidth.
10. Clutter-free keyboard and mouse
If you’re limited by space in your new setup, switching to a wireless mouse and keyboard can be a great way to declutter your workspace. They can be more of a hindrance than a help if they don’t hold a charge or periodically disconnect, so it’s worth spending more on a quality product.
Nell Mead, experienced physiotherapist adds: “Laptops […] bring your head and your hands too close together, so if you use a laptop, you should have a separate keyboard and mouse, and raise the laptop up.”