It’s been irrevocably negative with the impact of COVID-19. We’ve all been impacted by this new virus both directly and indirectly. These lasting impacts will ripple and these ripples will be permanent. This subject will become more and more relevant as we have opened the “Pandora’s Box” on changing the perspective of remote work.
I wanted to kick start an entire topic expanding my work from home series to include useful tips and tricks I’ve learned going from office to home office effectively. After so many years of remote work, I feel like now it’s the perfect time to share how to get it all done. It’s possible! Even despite the stress, distractions, kids, and…the time I worked from home (across the street from our city’s fire station.)
The world we live in is changing rapidly. Although I’ve been a huge proponent of working from home and elevating ourselves above the basic routine of a 9 to 5 for a while now – it still feels weird to finally see major companies begin to take working from home seriously. In my experience, it’s always been a struggle to get companies to approve any stay-at-home perk.
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Working from home is amazing. You can skip the commute and save yourself quite a bit in transportation costs and better yet, time! Unfortunately, it is true that for a lot of work from home employees, productivity tends to take a nose dive (especially those with little ones under the age of 5 like us!) The good thing is you’ll be able to up your focus by starting off with a properly set up home workstation.
It’s harder than it sounds! Setting it all up is not as simple as putting your laptop on the dining table and finding yourself in that mental work zone. What some people don’t realize is that working from home brings a lot of distractions. These come from your bed, the TV, the fridge, and the most important – the people living with you. That includes your spouse, kids, roommates – all of them can distract you from working.
Roughly 82% of work-from-home individuals have a designated place to work in the home.
This is why it’s important to have your own workspace and set it up properly. I would suggest not cheapening out on the home office set up and using your budget with carefully aligned priorities. Because successful work-from-home efforts begin with your workspace.
Other than the quality essentials, don’t worry, it does not have to cost you a lot. In this article, we will teach you how to create a workstation that will not break the bank.
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Identify Core Essentials in Your Home Office
Before anything else, you need to identify the core things you need. Don’t feel overwhelmed. If your budget is limited, focus on the important things first. At the end of the time, if your core essentials are awesome, chances are you will probably not notice the small things your budget didn’t have room for.
Go for quality and make sure your desk and chair are upmost comfortable. It is in fact where you will be for 8+ hours! Don’t cheap out on the essentials.
Obviously, your options will depend on the specific work that you will do. But generally, these are the things that you will need.
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Desktop or laptop
Regardless of your niche or business, you need a desktop or laptop. You can use this to access your website, write and send emails, monitor your social media accounts, create designs, connect with clients, etc. Make sure you choose one that will make your work easier. General-purpose computers cost less than $300. There are also laptops that cost $300 or less. You should also budget for software programs that you may need to make your work efficiently. Word processing and email management programs are among the first investments that you need to pay for.
If you will work from home, you need high-speed Internet access to connect your business to the outside world. It will only cost $35 to $60 a month to get things started. Just make sure you get the right broadband and speed that your work from home business would need.
Desk and chair set up
The desk that you will choose should fit the home office space that you have chosen. The same is true for your chair. If you are working on a budget, don’t buy a new one. You may have an extra table at home that you can use. Or another comfy chair. That way, you don’t have to spend anything. But if there is none, buy a second-hand desk and chair.
- Balance ball (better for hip and lower back than traditional run-of-the-mill office chairs)
- Ball chair
- Height adjustable desks
Wall outlet & surge protector
This may not seem like an important part of your workstation but it will help protect your computer or laptop. Since tech is the most important and expensive part of your home office, you need to make sure it’s protected. There are strip surge protectors that cost $20 or less; but consider picking up a high-quality wall surge protector with USB ports like The One brand wall outlets I use for my own home set up.
Table lamps will help you work even at night. It is best to invest in a good lamp that will provide the illumination that you need. There are lamps that cost $30 or less and come with features that are particularly productive for home offices (like voice control, energy-saving, space-saving lights.)
Multipurpose printer machine
Although your work at home business is technically paperless, there will be times when you will need to print something. It could be contracts, important documents, or other forms. You want to be ready with a fax, printer, copier, or scanner in case you need it. There are models that will cost $100 or less. Depending on how fancy you want to go, printers can get pricey so shop for what you think you’ll need.
Again, even if you want to go paperless, there are documents that you need to file physical copies of. Your license, permits, bank statements, contracts, etc. These will need a secure place to store. If your office desk has built-in cabinets or drawers, these should suffice for now.
You can also buy a filing cabinet for $50 or less. Maybe you can find something cheaper if you buy second hand. Or you can just buy file organizers for $10 or less. Shelves can also work and there are those that you can install yourself.
So far, these are the important things that you will need when you set up your workstation at home. If you know where to get the best bargain, you will only spend $500 or less on these items.
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Other Helpful Items For Your Workstation
As your business expands, you can continue to buy or add things that will help keep your office space organized. Feel free to upgrade when you can afford it. When your office space looks aesthetically appealing, you feel motivated to be productive.
Here are the things that you can add to your home office once you have more budget to work with.
Even if your computer or laptop already has a screen, you can also add another monitor. It will allow you to open a lot of tabs to make your work efficiently. This is especially helpful if you have a laptop. You are better off with a bigger screen and you can position it higher. That way, your neck will not be strained since the screen is leveled with your eyes. According to a study published in the European Journal of Public Health. Neck-shoulder pain and lower back pain are increased with frequent computer-related activities. This is why getting another monitor might help you work while maintaining proper posture.
Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)
Also known as UPS, this can be bought for as low as $40. Of course, these are the simple ones. If you want a heavy-duty UPS, you might have to pay more – like up to $300 or more. Since you are working on a budget, the low-cost ones should suffice. Just make sure these are really working and will not cause any electrical fires.
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Personal server or backup drive
Over time, you will accumulate digital files that may not be necessary every day but are still too relevant to erase. This is where your backup drive or personal server will be of use. There are cloud-based backup services that you can use – but these might require a monthly subscription. External drives may be more affordable.
Since there are VoIP technology and mobile phones, there is really no need to get a landline telephone. But sometimes, as your business expands, you might find it easier to have phone service at home. If you have more budget, this may be something that you can invest in.
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If you have very important documents, you might want to buy a fire-safe box. This will serve as an extra layer of protection for the most valuable documents that you have.
Tips to Setting Up a Workstation on a Budget
Now that you know the important things that you need to have in your home office, how can you make sure you stick to your budget?
Here are some tips that you can use:
- Have a game plan. Before you buy anything, make a list of the things that you really need. Stick to the first lists if you have a limited budget. As you earn more, you can add to what you already have.
- Shop for the best prices. We are not just talking about being cheap. That is important but you need to make sure there is value as well. There’s no use buying something cheap when you have to spend more on repairs.
- Make your office beautiful and comfortable. You want your office to make you feel motivated to work. If it feels cramped or the chair hurts your back, you might want to change that. You will be spending a lot of time in this office. Make sure it will stimulate you to work well.
A survey done by Harvard Business Review revealed what employees want the most. Apparently, most of them just want the basics. They like “better air quality, access to natural light, and the ability to personalize their workspace.” Now you can do the same with your own workspace at home.
Now that you have read all of this, are you excited to set up your home office? Drop me a comment if you have any questions below!
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