Improve Your Home Office

My home office, which sadly can use some better cable management.

At the time of publishing (March 31, 2020), COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a global pandemic and affecting much of the world. Most places are practicing social distancing and self-isolation. Some companies have switched to remote work by having their employees work from home during this time. As such, an influx of home office interest (Google Trends shows a huge spike) has surfaced.

I am writing a multi-part article on the topic of improving your home office. This first one is to serve as a public service announcement given how many people are working from home due to COVID-19, and that they should evaluate and explore options to improve their setup to make work more effective and ergonomic. Subsequent parts will focus on different aspects:

  • The physical aspect (e.g., room/space, desk, and chair)
  • The input/output aspects (e.g., monitor, keyboard, mouse/trackpad, audio, and video)
  • The miscellaneous aspects (e.g., lighting, organization, climate, and personalizations)

Evaluate your Home Office

If you are fortunate enough to be able to work from home in these times (or you normally work remotely), you should take a few minutes to evaluate your current setup. Within a typical office, there will be fewer opportunities to modify your workspace to best conform to your specific needs. Changing your work setup can result in productivity gains and added comfort.

Look at your home office. Are you working at the kitchen table, or maybe from the couch? You might laugh, but in those first few days when people were making the switch to working from home, this might have been their reality. Ideally, you’d have a dedicated space for your work with a multitude of ergonomic features.

Creating an amazing home office can be a time and money sink as there are numerous items and options to furnish your setup. Fortunately, you can chip away at the setup and slowly make additions over time as needed. Figure out what is causing discomfort and slight changes or upgrades may remedy the problem.

Return on Investment

You’ll want to think of how much the home office and the individual pieces will be used. There’s no point in going overboard with something that you would rarely use, in which case a cheaper or alternative solution might be best. With the COVID-19 situation, this warps the how much am I going to use this afterwards question, just something to keep in mind.

Invest in where you spend your time.

This is advice to avoid wasting resources in improving specific areas of your home office. You can always incrementally improve your office (i.e., improve the weakest, missing, or most used aspects of your space). There will be some items and changes that you can do to your home office that will have huge returns on investment in areas such as comfort, ergonomics, and productivity. Before making changes, be mindful of the return on your investment (i.e., you take a lot of meetings and so you’ll gain a lot from a great audio/video setup).

Wirecutter is Awesome

There are many articles circulating around the Internet on the subject of remote work and home offices. I did find that Wirecutter has several great articles on the subject and they all link to their amazing “The Best xxxx” reviews. For some quick wins, I highly recommend skimming the following: