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Despite some minor challenges and setbacks due to unforeseen circumstances, 2020 was really an amazing year! Countless office workers and other employees found themselves forced into work-from-home circumstances. As 2021 proceeds (and beyond), it’s looking more and more like this working from home thing isn’t going away anytime soon. To make the most out of this newfound reality, we’re going to visit how to create the perfect custom home office workspace for the most ideal working from home situation.
Here’s the thing though… Side hustlers, like myself, are no strangers to ‘working from home’. In my case, I’m a truck driver for my day job. Driving a truck from home isn’t really an option. But I still work from home (vigorously) on my internet side hustles. Having a nice work-from-home space for me is just as important as for somebody who is now forced to work their day job from home. In either scenario, it’s important to make logical and functional selections for your custom home office, to create a perfect work-from-home atmosphere.
Custom Home Office Tips
Working from home is so much easier if you have your own dedicated workspace. It also helps if it is comfortable, enjoyable, and practical. Listed below are some tips and recommendations for setting up your perfect custom home office or work-from-home (WFH) space. Special thanks to the folks over at Cisco Webex for helping provide some of these tips, as well as the really nice infographic at the end of the page. Be sure to scroll all the way down and check it out!
Choose a Quiet Workspace
Ideally, the best option is to have a dedicated, stand-alone room, with a door, to use for your WFH space. Although, any quiet space in your home that is away from distractions could work well. If you are able to dedicate a room for your workspace, remove anything that makes unnecessary noise or could be a distraction.
Tip: add a layer of soundproofing to your door by blocking underneath with something that also serves as a draft stopper.
Get an Ergonomic Chair
Think of your chair as the backbone of your entire custom home office setup. You will spend the majority of your working-from-home time sitting in your office chair – so, it is essential that you pick the right one. The benefits of an ergonomic chair are endless – as they will have lasting effects on other areas of your life. Here are a six of the major benefits of using an ergonomic chair…
- It supports your posture: Traditional chairs may be one of the reasons why people tend to have an incorrect posture while sitting at their desk. An ergonomic chair takes these problems into consideration. It has all the necessary features including head rest and back rest that support your posture while sitting. Moreover, you can adjust the height to sit with your feet flat on the floor, knees at an angle of 90 degrees to the floor and parallel to the hips. These corrections automatically help you to improve your posture.
- It is more comfortable: Ergonomic chairs are any day more comfortable than normal chairs because they are user-friendly. You can adjust all the features individually to fit your needs until you’re totally comfortable.
- It reduces the risk of neck problems: Without a neck support for a long time while sitting, you’ll develop stiffness in your neck and shoulder region. This can even lead to complications like cervical spondylosis. Ergonomic chairs have a headrest that supports your head and neck even when you want to stretch out. This is especially a good feature for people who spend more time answering phone calls at work.
- It reduces the risk of back pain: Ergonomic chairs come with a backrest that supports the natural curve of your spine. Unlike traditional chairs, ergonomic chairs are high enough to support the entire back. Some ergonomic chairs come with a reclining function that allows you to rest at an angle greater than 90 degrees.
- It reduces pressure on your hips: Normal chairs have a hard surface. So when you sit, the seat exerts extra pressure on your hip region. An ergonomic chair has a good seat depth (measuring 2 to 4 inches from the back of your knees) that supports the hips and buttocks.
- It makes working easy: All the features of an ergonomic chair are adjustable to accommodate different activities you may perform at your work desk. It also has a swivel feature that enables the user to move around swiftly without having to get up from the seat or without the need to extend and strain.
These six benefits and explanations are courtesy of preferredergonomics.com
Tip: Don’t be afraid to spend the high-dollar on your office chair. It’s importance cannot be understated. Here is the chair that I use in my very own home office space…
Setup an External Monitor
If you use a laptop for your main computer – consider setting up an additional external monitor. Not only can you get a bigger display – you can likely get a better display as well, depending on how much money you’re willing to spend. The setup process is fairly easy. You just need to choose the right port and cable, then hook it up and adjust a few settings. Here is a good article that fully explains everything you need to know to hook your laptop to an external monitor.
Here are a few of the top-selling monitors on Amazon:
Click on ANY image in the table below to see Ratings & Reviews on Amazon
|Top||Acer||Acer SB220Q bi 21.5 Inches Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS Ultra-Thin Zero Frame Monitor (HDMI & VGA Port), Black||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|TopTop||HP||HP 24mh FHD Monitor - Computer Monitor with 23.8-Inch IPS Display (1080p) - Built-In Speakers and VESA Mounting - Height/Tilt Adjustment for Ergonomic Viewing - HDMI and DisplayPort - (1D0J9AA#ABA)||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Sceptre||Sceptre Curved 27" 75Hz LED Monitor HDMI VGA Build-In Speakers, EDGE-LESS Metal Black 2019 (C275W-1920RN)||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Sceptre||Sceptre 20" 1600x900 75Hz Ultra Thin LED Monitor 2x HDMI VGA Built-in Speakers, Machine Black Wide Viewing Angle 170° (Horizontal) / 160° (Vertical)||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||SAMSUNG||SAMSUNG LC24F396FHNXZA 23.5" FHD Curved LED-Lit FreeSync Monitor||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||HP||HP VH240a 23.8-Inch Full HD 1080p IPS LED Monitor with Built-In Speakers and VESA Mounting, Rotating Portrait & Landscape, Tilt, and HDMI & VGA Ports (1KL30AA) - Black||Prime||Buy on Amazon|
Invest in a Really Good Headset
Even if your custom home office setup is in a separate room – there can be noise distractions that come from anywhere! A good pair of noise-canceling headphones (or a headset), and some light background music, can work wonders to help you stay focused. It might be wise to choose a good headset (includes microphone) if you will be using yours to communicate with others online in any sort of meeting or chat setting.
It’s hard to go wrong with a good set of Beats headphones – if you don’t mind paying top-dollar.
You may need to purchase an inexpensive USB audio transmitter if your audio source (like your PC) is not Bluetooth enabled. Be sure to research these before you buy and examine the different options that are available to fit your specific setup.
Find the Right Tools
If you have been forced to transition from a traditional office job to a work-from-home scenario – no doubt, you will need the right tools for communication and productivity. A few things to consider when working from home are: video conferencing, team messaging, VoIP, and file sharing. A good screen sharing solution is highly recommended. Think of this as a virtual way for a co-worker to ‘look over your shoulder’ to see what’s happing on your screen.
Pay Attention to Your Background
If you will be doing video meetings – be mindful of what others can see when you are sharing video. Specifically, pay attention to your background and surroundings. Make sure you keep your space neat and tidy. Try to remove too many distractions and maybe spruce it up a little bit with a plant or some vague artwork on the wall. One unique idea… place a blank picture frame on the wall behind you and position your camera so it looks like your face fits inside the frame!
Here is an inexpensive frame on Amazon if you want to try this:
Personally, I am a fan of bookshelves. It is what I have myself, in my home office, positioned as the background for my desk setup. I have a nice looking (fake) plant and an old-style Maxwell House coffee can on the top of my bookcase – and the shelves are lined with some of my favorites that I have read over the years.
Here is a nice bookcase that can be purchased on Amazon:
And here is an example of a fake plant that can be purchased on Amazon:
Go With a Wired Connection
For video and VoIP, a wired internet connection is always ideal. If an ethernet connection to your computer isn’t possible in your home workspace – be sure to use a really good WiFi router. I use a mesh WiFi system (from Google) in my home. PC World describes it like this…
Rather than force every device in your home to wirelessly connect to the internet through the same router, Mesh Wi-Fi systems rely on multiple Wi-Fi nodes… …In some situations, mesh Wi-Fi can allow for faster speeds, better reliability and greater wireless coverage of your home than a conventional router would.
Read the full article here – Mesh WiFi vs Traditional Routers: Which is better?
Here is the mesh Wifi system from Google that I use (and it works awesome in my large home!!)
Music can help block out other distractions and some music can even help you focus. Just search up ‘focus music’ on whichever music provider you use to listen to internet music. I use YouTube Music myself – and they have some good focus channels that I use when I want to stay super-focused and crank out some work on my computer.
If headphones aren’t your thing – be sure to have a decent set of computer speakers (with good sound) or at least a good Bluetooth speaker to play music via your phone.
Here is the Bose Bluetooth speaker that I own. This thing sounds amazing and is really versatile and rugged to be used in all situations. For example – it looks great in my office and also serves it’s purpose when we go to the beach!
Working From Home Infographic
Infographic: courtesy of Cisco Webex
Working from Home is Fun!
Whether you’re forced to work from home now or you choose to (like us sidehustlers) – I hope some of these tips will help make your working from home experience better than it was before.
Sometimes it just takes a little bit of creativity – or a little bit of expenditure – to make your custom home office more ideal and a bit more enjoyable. After all – you ARE working from home. You might as well enjoy it!