Apr 28 2020

Home Office Setup: How to Get the Most Out of Your WFH Rig

The perfect home office setup requires different technology, accessories and habits.

As technology has advanced, the number of people working from home has gradually increased. A combination of the emergence of the gig economy and the refinement of collaboration technology has meant that more people are working from home than ever, and that was before a global health crisis triggered widespread remote work across industries. 

The home office is different from the physical office. Transforming part of your home into a quiet, comfortable space that’s conducive to being productive and creative requires different technology, accessories, furniture and habits.

Whether you’re a freelancer setting up your workspace or a business trying to properly outfit employees for remote work, there are some must-haves if you’re looking to power productive work from home. 

What Tech Do You Need in Your Home Office Setup?

The most important piece of technology for the home office is the computer. To communicate with coworkers and access company data, employees are going to need a computer. Desktops offer more power, while notebooks provide more mobility, so the best option depends on the needs of the worker. For those using laptops, accessories such as a monitor, keyboard and mouse can also go a long way toward providing comfort.

While those are the more basic needs, there are other things that workers require to fully utilize the communication and collaboration tools their organizations are using. Since businesses are leaning heavily on videoconferencing during widespread remote work, being able to enhance that experience is important.

“Could someone throw in some AirPods and use their webcam built into their laptop? They can,” says Mike Murphy, solution architect team lead at CDW. “But that’s barely minimally viable. If we want folks to really feel connected, you’ve got to up the level of collaboration tools you’re giving them a little bit if you can.” 

Murphy says that investing in things like webcams and headsets can not only make the worker’s experience better but also help with collaboration.

“This provides a good experience for the end user and empowers them,” he says. “But more importantly, it provides a good experience for all the others you’re collaborating with, with noise cancellation and high-quality video and things like that.” 

INSIDER EXCLUSIVE: Watch how to successfully lead an organization into the future of work.

Is Your Home Office Setup Geared Toward Productivity?

Setting up the technology properly is just as important as getting the right tools. It can be difficult to focus on work if a chair is uncomfortable, you have to squint to see the computer screen or you have to tilt your head down to read what you’re typing, making ergonomics critical. These positions might be easily overcome to get through work in the short term, but during long-term or frequent remote work, they can cause serious neck, back or hip pain. 

Workspace comfort begins with the chair. The Mayo Clinic advises choosing a chair that supports your spinal curve, adjusting the height so that your knees are parallel to your hips and your feet rest flat on the floor. Arms should be able to rest gently at your side with shoulders relaxed.

Monitor placement is also key, with Mayo Clinic recommending that the screen be about an arm’s length away.

“The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level,” according to Mayo Clinic. “If you wear bifocals, lower the monitor an additional 1 to 2 inches for more comfortable viewing.”

For employees working on notebooks, this may mean using an external monitor or resting the computer on something elevated to raise the level of the screen, as looking down for long periods can cause neck pain. The keyboard and mouse should also be placed within comfortable reach and on the same surface, with the keyboard directly in front of the monitor.

There should be enough room for clearance of your feet and knees under your desk. Ergonomic desks are ideal for finding just the right fit, but if the right balance can’t be achieved by adjusting the height of your desk, Mayo Clinic recommends putting sturdy boards or blocks under the desk legs to help. If your feet don’t rest evenly on the floor, getting something to rest them on is ideal.

Aruna Ravichandran
You want to make sure that you have dedicated a space in your home that is for work, that is comfortable and that enables you to be productive."

Aruna Ravichandran Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Marketing, Cisco Webex

What Environment Should Workers Maintain When Working from Home?

Equally important as comfort in your workspace is an environment conducive to being productive. 

“You want to make sure that you have dedicated a space in your home that is for work, that is comfortable and that enables you to be productive,” Cisco Webex Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of Marketing Aruna Ravichandran tells BizTech.

Having separation between home and work life is crucial here. While a physical door or room to divide the two is ideal, FlexJobs CEO Sara Sutton told Fast Company that any form of distance you can create will work.

“If you can’t have a door, it’s a screen — some psychological separation from where you work and where you sleep,” she says.

It’s also important to keep distractions to a minimum, especially if you’re going to be joining meetings and phone calls.

“When you're working from home, you could have a dog barking in the background, you could have somebody playing video games in another room, so there could be a lot of background noises,” Ravichandran says. “Even though the doors are closed, the best way to keep out the background noise is by putting yourself on mute.” 

In terms of comfort, Mayo Clinic suggests having a space with good, white lighting coming from the side of your monitor to lessen stress on the eyes.

DISCOVER: Everything businesses need to know about remote work, from the experts.

How Can People Stay Connected from Home?

Working from home can feel isolating for many. Whether they’re used to going into the office or used to working remotely, it is important to take time to connect with others if possible. Ben Weiss, vice president of vertical markets at CDW, says that while working remotely, his team has daily video check-ins.

“Sometimes it goes 15 minutes, sometimes it goes 45 minutes or an hour,” Weiss said at the CDW Future of Work Virtual SummIT. “But it’s important to make that connection. I think connecting via video has been a big part of that.”

It’s not only staying connected that’s important, but also taking breaks. It can be easy to get lost in work at home without many of the built-in breaks you tend to have at the office, Ravichandran says.

“While you’re in the office, you probably will take a restroom break, you’ll go get yourself coffee, you’ll talk to your coworkers, so there is a lot of social interaction that happens when you work in the office,” she says. “But when you are working from home, it’s very easy to get grounded in your home workspace and not take those breaks.”

“Take care of yourself,” Ravichandran adds.

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