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Setting Up a Home Office for Remote Work: Best Practices, Tips & Ideas

Category: B2B News
How do I set up a remote office?
To set up a home office for remote work, you need to make sure that you have space where you can concentrate. Also, consider investing in the right furniture, finding a reliable internet connection plan, and creating accounts on different communication channels. You may also purchase some apps and tools that will help you stay productive.

Working from home presents unique challenges that you would not experience in an office. For example, it is much harder to be productive at home. You will experience distractions, perform chores, and even have less motivation to work.

Unlike a typical office set-up, you do not have optimized workspaces for productivity. You will have to worry about your tools and equipment. On top of that, you will be using your personal internet connection and computer

That is why it is necessary to prepare when setting up a home office for remote work. There are different strategies to work with the current set-up that you have. However, it will be challenging to stay productive if you do not have the essentials for telecommuting. The quality of your output will likewise suffer if you have a slow or unstable internet connection.

In the meantime, let us take a look at how other telecommuters are dealing with staying productive at home.

Setting Up a Home Office for Remote Work

Companies are now beginning to embrace remote work. Due to the various benefits that this work setup has to offer, organizations are now offering hybrid schedules. They can save on operating costs, infrastructure, and more. In fact, 56% of companies worldwide already offer telecommuting. As a result, around 52% of employees around the world work out of the office at least once a week, and 68% work at home once a month.

Efficiency is not exclusive to the office either. Studies show that around 66% of employees are more productive at home. On top of that, 83% of workers believe that they do not need an office to perform their best work. However, it should be noted that working from home requires a different mindset. After all, it is an entirely different way of living.

Freelancers, self-employed professionals, and other telecommuters face various struggles while working at home. Around 22% of them find it hard to unplug after work. This affects their personal lives, which is counterproductive to the goal of working remotely. Additionally, loneliness, lack of communication, and distractions are also a few of the hurdles that remote workers face daily. While the flexible schedule is enjoyed by those working remotely, this also opens a lot of issues and difficulties.

Source: Buffer

That is why it is important to follow the best practices of remote work. And, that includes creating a work environment that’s conducive to productivity and efficiency. It allows you to separate your work and your personal lives while you are at home.

Without further ado, here are our tips on how to set up a home office for remote work.

Where Should You Set Up Your Home Office?

In a 2020 report from Zillow, it was revealed that over 50% of home buyers with home-based jobs say remote work has influenced their living conditions. In fact, 28% decided to move to a different house, while 24% of them have opted to move to an entirely different location. Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources to do this. So, as an alternative, we’d recommend starting simple by converting a small space in your house into a home office.

Ideally, your working from home workspace should be in a quiet part of your house. It should also provide you with some level of privacy. This is important if you have children, a spouse, roommates, or pets. This could be a spare room that can separate you from the rest of the house.

If you have to meet clients personally, then make sure that your home office is near the front entrance. On the other hand, if you need a bigger space for tech or design equipment, a separate studio is essential. This could be a stand-alone workshop or even a repurposed garage.

Of course, not everyone has space for a home office. You can renovate a walk-in closet and turn it into a small work nook. Alternatively, you can set-up a table in a corner, away from the busy parts of your house.

If you do not have the extra space, your kitchen table works as well. This part of your home is typically only busy during breakfast or dinner. So, you can use it as a working area during the day when your kids are at school, or your spouse is in the office.

remote work's influence in living conditions

What Furniture are Best for a Home Office?

Your space, budget, comfort, and style will determine the type of furniture that you need. Additionally, you need to consider your actual tasks. Are you sitting in front of the computer the whole day? Do you need a bigger tablespace? Do you need extra storage for your equipment?

One common mistake is choosing furniture that’s too big for a home office. An empty room looks bigger until you have a table and chair in it. Make the necessary measurements and bring them while you are shopping. Also, take into account entryways and windows.

Furthermore, comfort is essential if you spend 5 to 10 hours of your day working. Ergonomic chairs and tables are available at many price points. Height-adjustable chairs, along with a proper desk, will ensure that you are working in comfort. If you need more flexibility in your set-up, consider purchasing standing desks or monitor and laptop risers.

More importantly, balance your budget with other factors mentioned above. Check online stores for better options. Lastly, self-assembly furniture is usually much cheaper. If you have a tight budget, you can also visit local furniture shops.

Which Type of Internet Connection is the Best of Working Remotely?

Aside from your computer, your internet connection is probably one of the other remote work essentials you should consider. The speed requirement will depend on your tasks during the day:

  • At least 2Mbps – Enough for basic web surfing and sending emails.
  • Minimum of 10Mbps – Minimum requirement for a stable video conference.
  • At least 30Mbps – Best for transferring large files. It is also needed if most of the apps that you use for work are on the cloud.

If you are considering long-term remote work, then signing-up for a business plan is a great investment. This separates you from the rest of your residential connection. After all, you do not want your online meeting interrupted every time your kids use Netflix.

A business connection also offers better speed, unlimited data, and uptime guarantees. Other plans also include web hosting options and personalized support. However, you should note that these types of connection packages also require commitment. Service providers will expect you to sign a 1-year contract or similar.

It is important to evaluate all the options that you have. Different internet service providers offer varying speeds and packages. Thus, we recommend balancing your needs to the monthly fee so you can maximize your connection.

average internet speed in US

What Tools Do You Need for a Home Office?

Aside from different ways to set up a workspace, your tools should be your priority as well. Here are some of the basic equipment that you should consider:

1. Computer

A slow computer is more than a minor inconvenience. Work from home employees waste about 40 minutes each day (about 3 hours a week) due to slow or inefficient equipment.

Your computer serves as the foundation of all your tasks and work. So, a dependable computer should be your top priority. A laptop is a great choice as it offers mobility. But, a desktop is relatively cheaper if your budget is limited.

Moreover, consider the computing power that you need. While you do not need the newest model, your CPU should be at least Intel Core i3 (or its equivalent in other brands) plus a 4GB RAM. This is already enough for surfing the Internet, word processing, and other office tasks. However, if you are a graphic artist, data scientist, or similar, consider a more powerful machine.

2. Computer accessories

Again, this will depend on your tasks and comfort level. Some workers prefer a mouse-keyboard combo, even when using a laptop. If you have a lot of video conferences, consider an external webcam with better resolution as well.

3. Printers and scanners

Fortunately, many companies are making an effort to go paperless. However, in case you still need to print documents such as contracts or agreements for your job, getting an all-in-one printer is a great choice. Fortunately, they are available at various prices. Having a printer and scanner in one device will save you space and money.

time spent on computer loading

Should You Invest in Accessories?

If you already have all the basics, then it is time to consider accessories that may help your productivity. This will depend on your type of work. Drawing tablets are great for graphic artists and architects. Or, designers and tailors may need specialized tools.

If you are looking into a more mobile set-up, backpacks are essential. Choose bags that can fit your laptop along with your other gadgets. It should protect your stuff from spills, bumps, and thieves. If you are traveling abroad, consider purchasing luggage or carry-ons.

If you regularly take calls, then think about investing in a noise-canceling headset. Call center agents working from home may find dialers and other similar gadgets helpful. These will increase the quality of your calls with your clients.

It would not hurt to purchase an external hard drive, too. Even when you are working exclusively on the cloud, backups are necessary. You do not want to lose hours or days of work during emergencies. So, it is better to create duplicates of your essential files.

What Communication Channels Should You Set Up?

Communication is significantly different in the office and at home. As such, it is your responsibility to make sure that your colleagues and managers can contact you during your work hours. Similarly, these tools can be used to more efficiently manage remote workers.

You should at least have four types of communication channels:

  1. Virtual team hub – Your organization is probably using one of the top project management software out there. These platforms should provide some type of virtual hubs where announcements, feedback, discussion, and other general discussions are made. Through these, you are always updated with what’s happening in your company. Also, you can easily connect with your colleagues even when you are not in the office.
  2. Contextual communication – Your productivity applications also provide various communication channels within the context of your work. For example, Dropbox, Google Docs, and Office 365 allow you to communicate with your colleagues while collaborating with them. Also, project management tools will enable you to discuss projects and tasks without leaving these platforms.
  3. Direct communication channels – You are probably most familiar with these applications. You should have software to conduct one-on-one meetings, video conferencing, or even chat conversations. Slack, Zoom, and Skype are just a few examples of the best communication software systems in the market.
  4. Emergency channels – Your supervisor or teammates should have a way to contact you in case you lose Internet connection or during power outages. Make sure to provide your mobile phone number to the relevant people in your organization. You may also use mobile apps, such as Telegram or Viber.
Slack dashboard

Slack is designed to simplify team communications and project management.

What Productivity Apps Should You Install?

Staying productive is challenging when you are at home. Consequently, if you are looking for an application to manage your growing list of tasks, here are productivity apps that you should consider:

  1. monday.com – One of the most popular project management platforms in the market right now. It is developed around flexibility and adaptability. You can use monday.com’s blocks to build productivity apps that best fits your needs. With these features, monday.com is one of the software featured in our remote team management guide.
  2. Wrike – Another productivity platform that allows you to manage your tasks. It is perfect if you have a wide variety of projects. Managing them in different workspaces is easy with Wrike.
  3. Trello – If you prefer Kanban-style boards, Trello is a perfect task management software for you. You can assign a task for each card and monitor their progress throughout your project. Additionally, you can communicate with your team members right in the cards.
  4. Jira – The popular project management platform is used by Cisco and eBay and for good reasons. It supports various workflows such as Scrum, Kanban, or a combination of both. You can set clear workflows for easy monitoring of tasks and projects as well.
  5. Zoho Projects – If you are looking for a free option, then Zoho Projects is a great solution. It provides powerful features that allow you to set milestones for each project. Then, you can define tasks and subtasks under each milestone. It is also a great collaboration software as it comes with forums, Wikis, chats, and feeds.
Mondaycom dashboard sample

monday.com dashboard showing a high-level overview.

Staying Productive While Working at Home

Working remotely is an entirely new way of living. As such, a considerable amount of preparation should be done to set up your home office. You have to make sure that you have a place where you can concentrate. Choose the right furniture and space to ensure your comfort.

Additionally, the right equipment and accessories are essential to maintaining a productive day. You should also have all your communications channels and telecommuting tools configured. This allows you to maintain transparency and monitor your team as well. Lastly, using productivity apps ensures that all your projects are on track, and tasks are finished on time.

If you want to read beyond setting up a home office, you can check our guide to working remotely. Do not miss the included checklist to make sure that you are fully ready for a life of working from home.

Jenny Chang

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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