Working from home brings a lot of benefits: spending more time with family, cutting down on commute time, never needing to wear another pair of dress shoes. But for all of the positive that comes with remote work, it poses its fair share of challenges.
It can be difficult to set firm work boundaries when your office is in your bedroom. Getting out of the house becomes an event to plan when you work from home 40 hours a week. And creating a productive, functional workspace in an apartment or shared home is no easy feat.
Because the shift to remote work was sudden for so many, it’s no wonder that many workers turned to temporary solutions in their home offices: stacked books in lieu of laptop risers, cramming pillows into dining chairs for lumbar support.
Love it or hate it, remote work is here to stay. By the end of 2022, it’s projected that 25% of all jobs in North America will be remote. It’s time for some long-term solutions. Taking the time to spruce up your work from home space is a worthy investment of time and money, both for your career and your mental health.
Because Paperform has always been a remote company, we know a thing or two about how to get the most out of your work from home setup. From ergonomic chairs to potted plants, these ten home office upgrades can boost your productivity and your mood.
Over time, sitting excessively can lead to poor posture, backaches, and more serious concerns (like high blood pressure).
Sitting in a chair that lacks support makes these problems even worse—not to mention, they’re seriously uncomfortable. If you notice that your back and neck ache after work or that your legs often fall asleep at your desk, you may benefit from an ergonomic chair.
An ergonomic chair helps correct your posture automatically so that you can crank out a long day at the home office without any back pain. And while the thought of an ergonomic chair may bring up images of bulky plastic monstrosities, the ones listed below are here to show you another way.
When working from home, it's natural for your work obligations and your life obligations to bleed together. And when you need to walk the dog, schedule a conference call, send a million emails, and prep your kid's sack lunch, your reminder list can quickly get bigger than a regular journal or calendar can handle.
That’s where a whiteboard comes in handy. Whiteboards are a great way to keep track of your many to-dos without wasting paper or covering your desk in sticky notes.
Plus, research shows that jotting down notes by hand can improve your memory, so the act of writing your reminders on your board can actually help you need them less.
A whiteboard is a great office upgrade, whether you use it to create a schedule that’s easy to erase and alter, jot down reminders, or leave kind notes to yourself. (It also doubles as a quick entertainment tool for your kids while you’re trying to focus on your work call.)
💡 Tip: If you accidentally use a sharpie on your whiteboard (it happens to the best of us), fear not. Just write over the sharpie lines with a dry erase marker, and wipe your troubles away.
For those who lack a green thumb, housing a plant in your home may feel like a recipe for disaster. But with just a tiny bit of plant know-how and the proper plant selection, even the worst gardeners can enjoy greenery in the home.
Research suggests that we should—being around houseplants offers loads of positive effects, like boosting serotonin levels and soothing your parasympathetic nervous system. Houseplants are a great office upgrade. They’re a beautiful, eco-friendly way to decorate and reduce stress at the same time.
When it comes to picking houseplants, take into account the amount of natural light available in your office space. Not all houseplants need hours and hours of direct sunlight. Moderate light plants (like Pothos or Snake plants) thrive in indoor filtered (indirect) sunlight.
Whichever plant you choose, you can enjoy the built-in breaks that watering and plant upkeep provide throughout the workday. Just make sure to read up on how much water your particular plant needs— an orchid is a lot thirstier than a succulent.
Ask anyone who uses an external monitor and you’ll hear the same refrain: once you start, you can’t go back. Being able to spread your work across multiple screens helps cut down on your mountain of open tabs and keep your many tasks organized.
External monitors are great for remote workers who do most of their meetings virtually. Having two screens allows you to set up your video call on one screen and access any relevant meeting documents from the other.
It also makes sharing your screen a heck of a lot easier. Instead of searching through all of your open tabs (or sharing your email inbox to the entire Zoom call), just drag whatever tab or doc you want to share onto your monitor and share that entire screen.
External monitors don’t have to break the bank, nor do they need to eat up your entire desk space like crawling ivy. These monitors are sleek, varied in size, and adaptable for any workspace.
A wireless keyboard is a perfect partner for your new external monitor. And unless you’re solely using your external monitor in conjunction with a laptop, you’ll need one to do pretty much anything. Without it, you’ve really just got a bonus screen.
A good wireless keyboard and monitor setup can boost productivity and energy by making your workspace more ergonomic and physically comfortable.
By setting up your monitor at eye level, and your keyboard comfortably under your wrists, you can naturally encourage your body to stay in alignment. In other words, your back will thank you.
💡 Tip: If you find writing uncomfortable with your wrists on your desk, consider getting a wrist rest to work with your wireless keyboard.
You’ll just need one more thing to complete your new office setup—a wireless mouse. Like the keyboard, a wireless mouse gives your external monitor functionality. Plus, everyone loves a tacky personalized mouse pad.
There are loads of wireless mouses (mice?) available online, each boasting a different specific purpose. Whether you’re gaming, coding, typing, or editing videos, there’s an ergonomic mouse for you.
You could opt for a corded mouse, but you run the risk of tangling it up in your other desk accoutrement. A wireless mouse syncs seamlessly with your monitor or laptop and allows for more fluid movement. Most are rechargeable, with a battery life strong enough to last at least a few days.
💡 Tip: Want to round out your wireless gadgets? Consider getting a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to help you tune out the chaos and focus on the task at hand.
The external monitor life isn’t for everyone. Maybe you don’t like the look of a big screen looming from your desk 24/7. Maybe you work on the go, bouncing from coffee shop to airport terminal to couch. No shame.
For those who prefer to work solely from a laptop, a laptop riser is an invaluable tool. These little contraptions lift and angle your laptop to your desired height, so you can work more comfortably.
And if you do decide to get your monitor in on the action, a riser allows you to lift your laptop to the same level as your monitor.
By raising your laptop to eye level and angling the keyboard slightly down, you improve your posture and reduce tension in your neck and wrists. It also protects your laptop from accidental spills, meaning great news for parents working from home: no more apple juice sticking up your spacebar.
Whether you’re team monitor or team laptop, a USB-C hub can simplify your work-from-home setup. Firstly, it makes it easier to move between workstations without unplugging a million cords—just unplug the USB-C hub and be on your way.
This handy tool acts as an adaptor between your favourite devices and the USB-C port in your computer. By creating many ports from just one, you can connect external hard drives, camera cards and more, all from one tool.
Like the headphone jack and the CD slot, non-USB-C style ports have mostly become a relic of the past. Most computers built after 2015 don’t support USB-A ports, with most laptops (Macs in particular) only supporting USB-C style plug-ins.
Unfortunately, your tools don’t change along with Mac’s whims and fancies. That’s where these USB-C hubs come in handy.
Not all of your home office improvements need to be purely practical. Ensuring that your work environment feels good is just as important as keeping your posture in check and your tech working swimmingly.
Any tool that helps make work feel less like, well, work, is a great tool to have.
Essential oil diffusers can be used to create a positive, relaxing work environment through aromatherapy. Research suggests that odours can alter your psychological state. Citrus oils have been studied for their mood-boosting properties, as well as lavender for its relaxing ones.
There’s no real need to dive into the research on what oils promote what feelings. Just find a scent that works for you, and enjoy. The soft smell of lavender or an earthy pine can help relieve stress throughout the work day and promote a more relaxing and pleasant environment.
Just take care if you happen to share your home office with any animal coworkers. Peppermint and clove oil are dangerous to both cats and dogs, in addition to these other scents that may not be irritating to your furry friends.
Like an oil diffuser, a soft light desk lamp can help bring some tranquillity to your workspace. It can also up the style level of your work from home set up, making it a great addition to workspaces in a common area.
We all know the harshness of a fluorescent bulb– just think of the sharp lights of a hospital room or a Macy’s dressing room. Nobody feels (or looks) good with the power of 1,000 suns blaring down on them.
Not to mention, harsh light can cause eye strain, leading to increased fatigue and headaches. Using a soft light desk lamp can help alleviate these problems and look good doing it.
If none of the options below speaks to you, you can likely soften your pre-existing desk lamp by trading out the bulb. Any bulb with a wattage under 500 lumens will have a softer feel and a more yellowish, calming glow.
💡 Tip: If you’re buying a new soft light bulb, try to buy an LED or renewable bulb. They’ll save you money in the long run, and do some good for the planet. Win-win.
Even in the comfort of your own home, it’s important to carve out space for work that is functional, peaceful, and personalized to you.
The products on this list can help you create a work environment you won’t dread going to—even if the commute is just the walk from your bed to the living room.
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