58% of Americans work from home at least part of the time, while over a third of workers are fully remote.
Why it matters. The remote workforce exploded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the data are in: most Americans want work-from-home flexibility. Still, one of the biggest challenges for many new remote workers is creating a dedicated space to get their work done.
When the pandemic forced many employees to work from home, having a functional and comfortable home office suddenly became a necessity—and millions of people scrambled to figure it out, rearranging their homes for a new normal. And while many businesses have forced employees to return to the office, a lot of workers put their foot down, especially after proving they were as productive from home.
And it’s true: a well-designed home office can help increase productivity and minimize distractions. Even better: a home office means you qualify for many tax deductions, so make sure to talk to your accountant in order to maximize your savings each year.
Here are five tips for carving out the perfect home office.
Determine Your Space
The first step in setting up a home office is identifying a dedicated space where you can work. This could be a spare room, a corner of your living room or bedroom, or even a closet—though if you need natural light, this probably isn’t the best option. It's important to choose a space that is quiet, has minimal distractions, and provides ample light. If possible, choose a space with a door that can be closed to minimize noise and distractions. If you know remote work is permanent, and you have the chops to pull off a renovation, consider building a small office in a larger space.
Invest in a Good Desk and Chair
Your desk and chair are the most important pieces of furniture in your home office. Choose a desk large enough to accommodate your computer, monitor, and other essential items. Make sure the desk is sturdy and has enough surface space to work comfortably. If you know you’re going to be spending a lot of time in front of the screen, consider a sit-stand desk, or, for a less expensive option, a wooden stand that accomplishes the same goal.
As for the chair, invest in a comfortable and supportive option that allows you to sit comfortably for long periods of time. Make sure the chair is adjustable so you can customize it to your comfort level. Your chair should also have good lumbar support to help prevent back pain. This is the one item you don’t want to skimp on.
Set Up a Comfortable Workspace
A well-designed workspace should be both functional and comfortable. Make sure there’s ample light; if you rely on natural light for part of the day, invest in a good lamp for when the sun sets. And make sure to have enough storage for all your work-related items. Before you know it, piles of books, papers, and supplies will begin to appear if you’re not careful.
Personal touches are important. Pictures of loved ones, plants, or decorative items to make your workspace feel like a personal and welcoming space will help you navigate the workday.
Establish a Routine
Having a routine is essential to staying productive and motivated when working from home. Establish a start and end time for your workday and stick to it. Take regular breaks to stretch, go for a walk, or simply take a few minutes to recharge.
Of course, exercise is essential, so try to build a routine into your day. One of the downsides of working from home is that you might never leave. If you have a gym membership or prefer to jog or cycle outside, taking breaks from the workspace are key. And if you’d rather work out from home, try to find a space separate from where you work.
Staying organized is key to maintaining a productive workspace. Use file folders (if you’re old school) or a digital file system to keep work-related items organized and easy to find—and separate from personal files.
A good habit is to prepare your workspace for the next day before shutting down each evening. This could be arranging items on your desk in preparation, or arranging files on your desktop. Heading into each workday prepared to knock out your first tasks is a great way to start your morning.