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How to Set Up a Home Office for Remote Work

Key Takeaways

1. Intentionally creating natural separations—like a separate home office space—will help signal to you and your household when you are working. Your brain will rely on these signals to help switch you in and out of work mode.

2. Think outside the traditional office-looking box to create a space that uniquely meets your needs, feels like you, and works in your home.

3. Think through your workflow to create a space that maximizes what you want to get out of your work. The tips below will give you suggestions for needs like how to be more portable and how to look your best during video calls.

4. If remote work can expand your own capabilities, then partnering with other remote employees can grow a business in bold, new ways too. Consider using an international hiring partner to connect you to virtual employees, contractors, or remote workers all over the world without any extra hassle.

Many of us had to jump into remote work without any warning or clue of how it would be. Now that the dust is settling and remote work is becoming a normalized option, we can spend more energy creating a home office space that isn’t just functional, but ideal.

Read below about how to set up a home office that meets your unique needs, and most importantly sets you up for success and balance.

Set up a home office

When you no longer have the natural separation of working outside of your home, you must create those separations for yourself. While research from the Harvard Business Review has indicated that temporal separations are necessary to maintain work-life balance, physical separations inside the home are also extremely important.  It’s a well-known topic that remote workers can easily burn out from being “always-on”, due to not having a strong mental separation between work and home. Creating separations will help you fully enjoy all the benefits that come with remote work.

Your brain will need new signals of separation, since it won’t be able to rely on old signals, like the daily commute home. But you don’t need to live in a mansion to take advantage of signals of separation. The smallest things can signal your brain in—or out—of work mode: getting dressed in the morning, having a simple routine or activity you do every day after you finish work, and having a designated space for your home office. If you have no way of creating a separate office space, consider other practical barriers you can use to create a sense of separation. This could look like installing a curtain to divide the space in a room, putting work items away in a designated place when you’re done, or having your workspace in a closet or cabinet so you can close it off.

Here are some of the benefits of keeping a separate space for your home office:

  • It keeps a healthy separation between work and home.
  • Having a separate physical home office space for work allows you to create mental distance away from it when you clock out for the day.
  • It serves as a natural boundary to others in your household, allowing fewer distractions and heightened privacy.
  • Your presence in a designated workspace provides a natural do-not-disturb sign that others in your household can easily identify, so they know whether you are approachable or not.
  • It allows you to create a customized space that inspires you, feels like you, and sets you up to succeed.

Make the most of your home office

Create a space that you want to be in. Give yourself whatever perks motivate you.            

But before you start purchasing items, think about the color scheme and textures you like best and that could work well in the space. It will help your concentration if your space is stylistically coherent — “Clean desk, clean mind.”

Consider the lighting—some natural lighting is recommended since vitamin D boosts mood. If you don’t have windows, you can create a natural feel with bright lamps and bulbs that still create shadows, which your eyes need to consider a space inviting. (This is why traditional fluorescent lighting in offices feels so dull and uninspiring.)

You might add a plant or two for air quality and feel.

You no longer have to be distracted by colleagues who talk more than they work. But it will be up to you to not let new distractions take their place by creating a designated home office space you actually want to use.

Seating

When considering home office furniture, first check to see if your employer provides a remote work allowance. If you’re a contractor or your employer doesn’t provide a remote work allowance, it’s okay. You don’t necessarily need to go to an office supply store or spend hundreds of dollars to find a good chair. There are plenty of reviews online,  just make sure that whatever you choose supports your back and encourages good posture.

Consider introducing some variety into your seating as well. A large exercise ball can help with posture and increase core strength. A ball is most beneficial when used for short periods throughout the day.

Monitors

When considering monitor size, first think through your workflow. Is your work highly technical and detailed? Do you need several windows open at once? Or do you usually just have one working document open?

If you have a complicated workflow and need a larger monitor, 32 inches is a good place to start. HP will be on the more affordable end if you are just needing the basics. Browsing an electronics store is recommended if you want to compare sizes and quality in person. This LG 32-inch gaming monitor is a great, versatile option that gives high-quality video output while also providing all the basics you need for a workspace monitor.

Laptops

You may find that you prefer to be more mobile by using a laptop whenever you need a change of scene (which is a fun perk of remote work). If this is the case for you, you can still ensure good ergonomics by using a laptop stand and Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

Using a laptop stand will bring your screen to eye level, an essential key in workplace ergonomics. (As an immediate substitute, stack books on top of each other until the middle of your screen is eye-level.) You can purchase one at an office supply or electronics store or online.

Do make sure that your computer, whatever you choose, has been made secure against the most common cybersecurity threats for remote workers

Looking professional on video calls

Consider getting a webcam if you frequently make video calls. A webcam that will have you looking professional without breaking the bank is the C920 Logitech Webcam.

Make sure your head and shoulders are centered and your background is professional and not distracting—the colors and contents should represent how you want someone to feel while interacting with you. A plant on the side can add to a good backdrop.

Do you prefer Apple products?

For Apple lovers, we can provide a few more tips. A Mac Mini might be just what you need if you want something bigger than a Macbook but still small, high-powered, and portable. You will just need an HDMI cable to connect it to your monitor, and a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

You can also plug your MacBook into a monitor, so long as it is a model that has an HDMI port (or USB-C, if you also purchase an adapter). You may plug into a monitor as the primary display, or you can utilize the dual-display function to work off of both screens.

Video: Home Office Design Mistakes to Avoid

Horizons enables home office employees

Remote work is expanding all over the world, which means that you can partner with other virtual employees in bold, new ways. You can create engaging and efficient virtual teams. The ultimate way to have a great remote work experience is to be able to 100% focus on the work that matters to you while still experiencing growth and opportunity.

Think of ways that you need to grow and streamline. If you or your team do not have the skill sets or capacity required to meet those goals, consider hiring virtually.

Horizons is a solution that can open the international doors to hiring, streamline processes, and take care of all local tax compliance and local employment laws—all while you continue focusing on what you do best without any extra hassle.

Horizons works on your behalf to hire virtual employees from anywhere in the world (and take care of everything that comes with that), so your workplace can become the best it can be. Contact us today if we might be of assistance as you launch your global remote team structure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

If you have an employer, check with them first to see what resources or allowance might be available to you.
 
Designate a space in your home that will work best for you and your household. If you don’t have a whole room available, get creative and find a space where you can create some separation.
 
Next, think through your ideal workflow and choose the hardware that will work best. If you have a more technical, complicated workflow, consider a bigger monitor and high-powered computer. If you like to be portable, consider using a laptop (instead of a computer) that can be connected to a monitor. Consider a webcam if you are frequently on video calls. For design tips, watch the above video.

Home working, or working from home, is doing your job partly or fully at home. It means you have a home office setup.

Remote work is—just work. It can look like working from home or working while traveling. It can look like working for someone else or for yourself.

Businesses with the following characteristics can benefit from partnering with a Global PEO: 

  • SME’s with between 1-100 international employees
  • Top-tier enterprises with more than 100 international employees looking to expand quickly and compliantly.
  • Businesses that need to commence operations in a new country quickly and at a lower cost; when compared to establishing their own foreign subsidiary.
  • Businesses that do not have the financial or staffing resources needed to expand with their own entity.
  • Any business that is planning a short-to-medium length expansion; that does not have plans for an indefinite market presence. 

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