In light of current unprecedented times, many employees have found themselves working from home on a regular basis. For some of us, this may be the first time we have completed any work-related tasks outside of the office. Others may have worked from home on one or two occasions, while some workers are naturally more comfortable with a home office set-up and have their home office must haves figured out.
Either way, with the new surge of employees working from home, the best home office essentials can make a huge difference not only in productivity but in wellbeing level, in general.
Our Guide Of The Best Home Office Essentials
Office and task lighting
Appropriate lighting is one of the most important home office essentials as it’s responsible not only for good visual performance but also for the energy efficiency of your home and your well-being in general. You should have enough light in the area you are working to ensure you can see the monitor well.
Ideally, an area with sufficient natural light from windows is best, but too much light can create a glare on our monitor. If this is the case in your home, use curtains, blackout shades, or position the monitor thoughtfully to avoid high light.
Conversely, a workstation that is too dark can also be harmful. Be sure to have lamps in your office if you find your room does not have enough light. Another good way to easily adjust room light is by three-way light bulbs that offer several settings with varied brightness. If you find yourself frequently rubbing your eyes or squinting when viewing your screen, this is a good indication that your lighting needs to be adjusted in some way.
Ergonomic office chair
Many people who begin working from home may find themselves using a chair from their dining room table or another seating arrangement that they improvised. While this may be convenient at the start, it is not the best option for the body, especially the spine. Sitting for a prolonged period of time places pressure on certain parts of the body, so we need a cushioned, adjustable office chair to help prevent injury and muscle stiffness over time.
The best option is a high-back chair with armrests and adequate lumbar support. If you are able to make adjustments to the chair’s height and tilt (the feature that allows you to lean back), you can customize the chair to your body’s needs. If the chair has poor or absent lumbar support, which looks like extra cushioning where your lower back would rest, you can place a small pillow or rolled-up towel in this area.
As one of the most important home office essentials, the chair should allow your body to comfortably assume the following positions:
- Elbows resting at 90°
- Spine flat against the seat back
- Hips squared at 90°
- Thighs parallel to the ground
- Knees at 90° with the back of your knees resting on the edge of the seat
- Ankles at 90° with feet resting flat on the floor or on a foot rest
Some employees working from home may struggle to find a quiet place to get their work done, especially since more people are confined indoors. If possible, employees should set up their workstations in a dedicated home office. This will allow employees to close the door to their room and minimize noise from outside or other parts of the house. Additionally, employees who prioritize not working from living spaces such as the bedroom, dining room, or family room will be better able to separate working hours from their downtime.
If you are not able to find these accommodations within your home, you will find that noise-cancelling headphones, classical music, ear plugs, or white noise that help drown out external sounds, might be one of the best home office essentials to invest in.
While the brightness of your monitor is important, it is also key to ensure it is best positioned in line with your seat. For example once your chair is adjusted to the appropriate height for your body and desk, you should be able to see the top third of your monitor with your shoulders rolled back, neck in neutral, and head resting comfortably. If you need to crane your neck or lean forward to view the screen, the monitor needs to be adjusted.
Use the built-in adjustments to make your monitor taller or shorter. If these adjustments do not suffice, you can get working from home equipment such as a monitor lift catered to the height you need. A similar DIY option consists of placing a stack of books, a box, or a container under the monitor.
Giving your feet and ankles proper support while sitting is a key aspect of a good seating accommodation. Employees who are short may have difficulty finding any chair, let alone an office chair, that allows their feet to comfortably rest flat on the ground.
If this is the case, one of the smartest investments in home office essentials could be a solid footrest that keeps your ankles at 90° and prevents your feet from dangling. When your feet dangle for even a relatively short period of time, this allows blood to pool in the lower body and can cause circulation issues or numbness and tingling in the legs.
For those who prefer DIY options, you can also use a stack of books, a box, container, or even a small, firm ottoman to support your feet.
The idea behind having a keyboard tray as a home office essential is to ensure that most of the items people working from home need are within arm’s reach. A keyboard tray may be used to hold items such as paper clips, rubber bands, pushpins, and sticky notes.
You may also apply this idea to their entire workstation, which means keeping their keyboard, mouse, documents, phone, and other working from home equipment nearby. This rule of thumb prevents awkward postural changes while accessing hard-to-reach areas of your desk or office.
Gel mouse pad
Just as our bodies need proper support while we are sitting, our wrists need support during the constant movement required to move a mouse.
Many people may have a pliable, lightly cushioned mouse pad, while others might have older styles that are made of hard plastic. Both of these styles don’t typically provide our wrists with the support they need.
A better option is a mouse pad with a thick, gel cushion that prevents compression of important nerves running through our wrist. By adding this cushion on the list of home office essentials, we are preventing symptoms like numbness, tingling, loss of motion, and pain, all of which can be permanent if severe enough.
A DIY option for the mouse pad is rolling up a washcloth and placing it below your existing mousepad.
Similar to the gel mouse pad, a wrist rest gives our hands support while we use our keyboard. This allows us to work for longer periods of time with less hand fatigue, stiffness, and pain, which may result from a lack of appropriate working from home equipment.
Alternative workstations such as standing desks can ease the strain placed on our bodies by sitting for prolonged periods of time. Some employees working from home may opt for official standing desks that allow them to easily transition from seated work to standing work by lifting and pulling their desktop toward them.
Alternatively, if you wish to use a DIY option can place books, a large box, or container under their monitor, keyboard, and mouse to lift them toward eye-level so they can work while standing. Some people may even want to utilize the convenience of their laptop and work for a period of time while standing at a tall countertop.
Taking stretch breaks is an important addition to any workstation. More experienced work from home professionals like to keep a sticky note nearby or set an alarm on their phone as a reminder to get up and stretch throughout the day. It is a good idea to stretch at least once every hour and always adjust your posture if you feel you are slumped over, uncomfortable, or getting fidgety.
Keeping a water bottle nearby when you work is one of the most popular home office essentials, as it provides a good way to keep you hydrated while reminding you to get up, use the bathroom, and refill your cup. These small activities add up over the course of the day and help to prevent stiff muscles and joints.
Businesses should continually be mindful of meeting the needs of their employees working from home. This includes connecting their staff with working from home equipment as well as educating employees on posture and general work practices. For this reason, each business that employs individuals on a work from home basis should be sure to set forth comprehensive work from home guidelines for employees.