Working from home is a dream for many. It gives you freedom, you no longer have to commute, and you’re in the comfort of your own home at your own work from home setup.
But to work from home, doesn’t mean you are working from the sofa or in bed. You could! But it’s a) physically not healthy and b) it’s not great for your productivity.
In the post 7 ways to easily boost your work from home productivity, one of the points I mentioned was to have a dedicated workspace. This helps your brain to know it’s time to work. And it’s a centralized location for all your work-related stuff.
Today, in this post I have listed over 15 helpful things you should have in your work from home setup. It will help you create an (ergonomically) comfortable workspace where you can be productive and enjoy working from home.
I have bundled everything you need to know about working from home in this FREE guide. In the guide, you will find even more essentials for your home office, as well as more productivity and focus tips, what desk ergonomics mean, and apps and software to support you.
The helpful things for your work from home setup are divided over 4 categories:
- Your workspace
- Your tech essentials
- Your office supplies
- Nice to haves
We’ll start with the place where you actually sit and work; your workspace. It’s recommended to have a dedicated workspace, so you can entirely focus on working when you’re at your desk.
Having a dedicated workspace at home also helps you divide between ‘work time’ and ‘off-time’.
Ergonomics are very important if you work at a desk most hours of your day, so do take care of this. You’ll need a desk and chair that allow you to sit in a correct posture. Otherwise, you will get back pain, tight muscles in your neck and shoulders, arm and wrist pain, and sometimes you can get pain in your hips and knees too.
I’ve been suffering from arm pain for a few months, but the pain has been decreasing since I have improved my work setup and started physiotherapy (yeah, it can get that bad if you have bad posture at your desk!).
Related post: How To Improve Your Work From Home Ergonomics Right Now
Your desk is the center of your work from home setup. Look at your needs: do you need a large area, or will you only be working from your laptop/PC?
Even though you might be working mainly from your computer, you could need space for notepads, books/magazines, binders or something else.
Your desk should be deep enough to have an eye-to-screen distance of at least 60 cm/23 inches.
Over the last couple of years, standing desks have become more popular thanks to its health benefits. According to Healthline, standing can:
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Reduce the risk of weight gain
- Lower risk of heart disease, and other diseases linked to inactivity
- Reduce back pain due to sitting for long periods
But standing all day long will cause other problems. The trick for optimal health benefit is to alternate between sitting and standing at your desk. It’s all about movement.
You don’t need 2 desks, one for sitting and one for standing. You can opt for an adjustable height desk, where the whole desk can be moved up and down.
Or you can choose a desktop riser, which you can place on your desk. When folded down, it’s used for sitting. You can raise it to convert into a standing desk.
2. Office chair
Another essential piece of the puzzle to prevent bad posture is your office chair. On Pinterest and Instagram inspo photos, you often see cute chairs that look great but can’t possibly be comfortable to sit on for too long.
You want a chair that:
- supports your back
- has lumbar support
- a comfortable cushion to sit on
- it needs to be adjustable in height
- have proper arm support
You need to sit at such a height that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle when you’re using your mouse and keyboard. Your arms should rest either on your chair’s armrests or on your desk.
If you often have back pain or posture issues while sitting, a kneeling chair is a great office chair alternative. The kneeling design keeps your back in an upright position and weight is evenly distributed between your butt, knees and shins, so there’s less pressure on your back.
3. Laptop stand
Laptops are great for work because they’re portable. However, when you put them on your desk for work, the screen is not at the right height. Chances are that you will hunch over and thus sit with a bad posture.
The top of your screen should align with your eye level height when sitting straight up, so you can keep your neck and back straight up.
You can connect your laptop to a monitor with adjustable height. But what might be easier is to get a laptop stand. A laptop stand elevates your laptop and the screen will be on your eye level.
You will need a separate keyboard and mouse to use your laptop. More on this can be found in my free eBook, Working from home: A guide to your productivity and office essentials.
4. Desk lamp / lighting
The right lighting can do wonders for your mood and productivity. If it’s possible, choose a space with natural light. Several studies show the benefits of natural light in offices.
Ideally, you should position your screen sideways to a window, instead of having a window in front or behind you. If natural light is coming from the side, it can’t glare on your screen and it won’t make you squint to see your screen.
Your workspace should be well lit. Even if there’s natural lighting, you need lamps for when it’s dark outside or for gloomy days. A poorly lit workspace can lead to headaches and eye strain.
Don’t let your screen be a brighter light source than the rest of your workspace.
Light up your desk with a desk lamp or brighten up the whole room. Philips Hue has lighting that you can adjust to all possible colors, which can also mimic natural light.
5. Noise-canceling headphones
Some people work better in noisy environments, while others can’t get anything done if there’s a lot of noise around.
Noise-canceling headphones are great for… well, it’s in the name, canceling out noise. Not only while working at home, but it’s fantastic to use for air travel too!
There’s a construction site next to our building, which produces quite some noise some days. When I put on my Bose headphones, I can’t hear it anymore! I’m completely in my own bubble, listening to music that helps me stay focused.
The Bose headphones are wireless, very comfortable and sleek, and have great sound quality too. If it’s out of your price range, this set of headphones is a good and affordable alternative.
If you work better in a noisy environment, you could listen to white noise or ‘coffee shop sounds’ through your headphones or speakers.
6. Computer glasses
Computer screens emit blue light, which can cause eye strain and headaches, and impact your natural sleep cycle.
You can prevent these problems by using computer glasses. Computer glasses have a blue light filter, allowing you to look more comfortably at screens for long periods of time.
There are many stylish computer glasses out there, with and without prescription glasses.
If you have prescription eyeglasses, make sure they are still the right strength and that the glasses aren’t full of scratches.
More tips and accessories to create a productive and ergonomic workspace can be found in the work from home guide that you can download here.
Your tech essentials
Here are some tech essentials that you need and some that will significantly improve your work from home productivity. I will go more in depth about tech essentials and the meaning of some tech specifications in the work from home guide.
We live in a world full of smartphones and tablets, but they can’t replace a computer or laptop. For efficiency and productivity, you’ll need either a computer or a laptop.
It depends on your situation whichever one you prefer. A laptop is portable, but a computer is often cheaper.
There are many features and specs like processor, memory, RAM, size etc. to consider when choosing your computer or laptop. You can find an overview and explanation of these in the free eBook Working from home: A guide to your productivity and office essentials.
No matter how digital our lives are nowadays, sometimes we still need hard copy paperwork and documents.
You could run to a local print shop or library every time you need to print or scan something. But it saves you time (and money in the long-term) if you would have your own printer at home. Besides, it gives you peace of mind knowing that you can print any time you want.
An all-in-one printer is most convenient, as you can also make scans and copies with it.
If you have to print a lot, I’d recommend a laser printer. Otherwise, an ink printer should be fine.
9. Extra screen
If you find yourself often clicking between browser tabs or programs, adding a second screen to your work from home setup will make your life so much easier.
You can get a second monitor and plug it in your laptop or computer. Make sure the screen is on your eye level.
If you have a iPad or Android tablet, you can use that too as your second screen. There is a great app called ‘Duet‘, which transforms any iOS and Android device into a second screen.
While I’m writing this post, I’m using my iPad as a second screen for my Windows laptop.
Duet works very simply. You download the app on both devices you want to connect. You can connect them wireless, but I think it’s easier and more optimal to connect by wire. There’s no need to buy any new type of cable; I’ve connected my iPad and laptop with the iPad charger cable.
The Duet app has a one-time cost of US$9.99 – much cheaper than buying a second monitor.
Your office supplies
A work from home setup is not complete without office supplies. Depending on your work, you don’t need to raid the stationery shop. Here are some office tools that are useful for any job. You can find a full checklist of office supplies in the work from home guide.
A magnetic whiteboard is multi functional as you can write on it and hang stuff on it.
It’s a great tool to keep an overview of important information. Apps, programs and digital calendars are useful, but they are ‘gone’ as soon as you move to another app or page.
Having a physical place where at a glance you can see notes or checklists, for example, will help you be more productive.
I have a large whiteboard on the wall behind my laptop where I:
- write down any important to do’s or notes
- hang my daily schedule
- hang my blog-related checklists
- write deadlines or special payment due dates
- hang a cute photo
- write my long-term goal and monthly goals
Even in a world full of digital planners and calendars, a paper planner is still used by many people – for good reasons.
Physically writing something down makes you remember things better and it gives you a break from watching your screen.
There’s something about being able to cross off your to-do list, or drawing little arrows and such, that you can’t do on a digital calendar.
Besides, there is the similar issue mentioned before that you can’t see your digital schedule anymore as soon as you move to another app or page. A paper planner can be laid down next to you all day and a simple glance tells you what’s on the planning.
12. Filing cabinet / storage
Especially if you work with a lot of paperwork, documents and invoices, it’s a good idea to have a filing cabinet where you store all of this. This one doesn’t look like your standard filing cabinet.
Even if you don’t use much paperwork, you need some kind of storage to keep your stuff.
Over time you will collect documents, notebooks, stationery, folders, magazines, print-outs, pens, USB flash drives, and more. This needs a dedicated spot where you can store them, to keep your workspace neat and tidy.
13. Sticky notes
I know I’m not the only one that loves sticky notes! They’re just so useful to quickly put up a reminder for yourself.
Stick it on your monitor edge, your notebook, on the door, anywhere!
Having sticky note reminders for yourself makes you more organized and less forgetful.
Your work might be mostly digital. However, it’s still useful to have a notebook or notepad within reach.
Not only in case you need to write something down while you’re on the phone. But to write down any ideas you have or work out your ideas.
You can ‘think’ better while writing on paper than on your computer. You can give it a try by writing down the outline for a strategy, a blog post outline, key points for a presentation, a simple budget or draw a layout or design.
Nice to haves
Anything that boosts your productivity is nice to have in your work from home setup! You can find more suggestions in Working from home: A guide to your productivity and office essentials, it’s free!
15. Coffee/tea station
Just like you would have a coffee corner in your office, you can make one at home. Or perhaps you’re more a tea person – I am.
Whether in your kitchen or your separate office room, create a space to get your favorite (hot) beverages. Even if you live next to a coffee shop – it saves you so much money to have your own coffee station.
There are home coffee makers that freshly grind beans or use something like a Nespresso with coffee pods.
If tea or juices are more your types of ‘work fuel’, be sure always to have it in stock. For tea bags, you can get yourself a cute tea box, carousel or tea bag stand.
16. Desk organizers
If you find yourself using stationery a lot and it gets scattered all over your desk, it’s time to get a desk organizer.
You’ll have a centralized location and dedicated storage spot for all the little things, such as pens, paper clips and sticky notes. But it’s also for paper, notebooks, calculators, and more.
It’s important for your productivity to keep your workspace organized. If your desk is a mess, your mind will become messy too.
Actually, this one is more a must-have than a nice-to-have. Plants are known to make you feel better, to lower stress levels, and to be more productive!
Besides these benefits, plants are natural air-purifiers and have a calming effect. Mental fatigue can be restored by giving your attention a break. You can do this by looking at plants or art, for example.
Let’s get started with your work from home setup
One of the best essential tips I can give you is not to get overwhelmed by looking at home office photos on Pinterest and Instagram. These aren’t always realistic nor (ergonomically) comfortable – both of which are very important if you’re going to be working from home.
Working from home is serious. You might be home, but you’re also at work. Whether as an entrepreneur, freelancer or at a remote job. Take your work from home setup seriously to boost your productivity.
For a full list of even more essentials and other tools for your work from home setup, download Working from home: A guide to your productivity and office essentials. This is a FREE comprehensive guide about working from home which also includes:
- productivity tips
- focus exercises
- more information on desk ergonomics
- apps and software to support you