How to Create the Best Work From Home (WFH) Office Setup

Paulette Stout

Companies often take great care when designing office spaces to optimize worker wellbeing. The same level of planning and thought should go into creating the best home office setup. While each of us is unique, research can help guide decision-making to ensure remote workspaces optimize health, mindset, and productivity.

The truth about WFH productivity

A two-year study of three million people from 715 companies, including Fortune 500 companies, found workers were 6% more productive when working at home (WFH). Other studies showed a marked improvement in happiness, job satisfaction, work/life balance, and job tenure. Happier employees were more satisfied at work and stayed with their companies longer. Part of this success may depend on the quality of the home office setup employees establish for themselves. Getting it right can make a big difference in maintaining work quality and overall wellness. 

Home office equipment you’ll need to WFH

While styles and model preferences vary, you’ll need specific equipment to ensure an optimal home-office setup. While you may not need all of the below to get started, over time, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to upgrade cameras, microphones, and lighting to achieve a better virtual meeting experience. 

The basics include:

  • Desk
  • Comfortable chair
  • Desk lighting
  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse and mouse pad
  • Cables to connect your equipment
  • External monitor
  • External microphone
  • External camera
  • Ring light or equivalent
  • Extra USB ports
  • Floor pad

Ergonomics of working from home

Just like working in any office, there are ergonomic best practices when working from home that will help keep your mind and body healthy. For instance, positioning your computer at the proper eye-level height can help reduce neck and shoulder pain from hunching. Sitting at a desk is best. Couch locations can lead to bad posture and numb limbs from sitting awkwardly. Using a couch further discourages the proper body position of keeping feet flat on the floor. Couch sitting also makes us less likely to get up and move throughout the day, as recommended. Using a chair designed for office work is better than borrowing one from elsewhere in the home. Office chairs have knobs and levers to adjust the height, armrests, lumbar, and sometimes, neck support, all intended to keep workers in natural positions that minimize body fatigue. Some chairs now come with massage and heat settings as well. 

Far from fringe thinking, taking ergonomics seriously can save you from what one researcher at the Mayo Clinic calls “micro traumas.” These are:

If work posture hasn’t been a key consideration, it might be time to rethink that position. Literally. 

Sound considerations for where you sit

It’s often recommended to have a defined space to work. Sitting away from high traffic areas in the home enhances our ability to focus, especially if there is ample silence. Research shows the brain relaxes during silence, fostering both creativity and problem solving, as well as the ability to stick to goals long enough to attain them. 

With the benefits of silence clear, it highlights a problem many employees face: frequent interruptions. A study found knowledge workers are interrupted roughly every 11 minutes. Once distracted, it takes about 23 minutes to get back on task. So when striving for the best home office setup, don’t underestimate where to place it. You want to find a quiet space where other people at home won’t be continually interrupting you during the day.

Best lighting for working from home

Choosing optimal lighting for WFH isn’t just about sufficient visibility. Good lighting can reduce eye strain, aid concentration, improve your mood, and foster good nighttime sleep. Choosing a color temperature between 5000-6500 Kelvin can help regulate sleep patterns, keeping you awake during the day and helping you sleep at night. On the flip side, dim lighting can overtax your eyes, cause headaches, and lead to decreased focus. Natural light has proven benefits in office spaces, aiding mood, sleep, and productivity. But be mindful of avoiding glare and tilt work screens to avoid its harmful effects. 

Framing your WFH mindset 

Beyond the logistics of your home office setup, there are other important habits that are good to develop. One is setting boundaries around your workday. It’s important to choose when and how you work and when it’s time to stop. Don’t fill every waking moment with work just because your computer is nearby. Balance is important, so having a transition activity can be helpful in reframing your mind. 

Tips to end your WFH day

Without a commute, some who work remotely find it hard to form a distinct boundary between their work and home lives. One way around this is to simulate a commute by ending your workday with a walk. It gives you an opportunity to clear your mind and create separation from your busy day. Others leave their workspaces and physically close their office door as a symbolic parting. Meditation can be used as a recentering exercise, enabling people to be fully present during their after-work hours. If it’s too tempting to leave the keyboard behind, try scheduling social events, such as lectures, concerts, or dinners with friends that force you to leave work on time. If you lack outside interests, it might be time to take up a hobby or sport. Finding non-work activities to enjoy can help people find meaning and enjoyment away from work.

Remember to move

Studies show that moving 30 minutes every day can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and help better regulate your blood sugar. Beyond this, some advocate for frequent breaks, integrating movement as often as once per hour. This can include going for a walk, brief stretching, or calisthenics. If you do errands, consider ways to walk or cycle there instead of driving. Shifting from sitting to standing can also help get different muscles working. Adjustable standing desks are useful for this.

The takeaway

With higher or on-par productivity, organizations have few reasons to discourage working from home. The best home office setup will include key equipment like a desk, comfortable chair, laptop, and good lighting, at minimum. Over time, you might add external microphones, cameras, and lighting when striving for a better virtual meeting experience. 

Beyond the basics, work from home longevity will depend on having a quiet workspace where you can focus free of distractions. Choose a location with lots of natural light, or the equivalent of artificial lighting, to reduce eye strain and foster healthy sleep. Wellbeing can also be enhanced by moving periodically and establishing clear boundaries between work and home lives. Rituals such as closing your office door or taking a brief walk to clear your mind can provide meaningful separation. As working from home becomes the norm in many industries, having the best home office setup can ensure you stay a step ahead. 

Paulette Stout Author of her debut novel, Love, Only Better, Paulette Stout is the gold-star wordsmith and owner of her content marketing agency, Media Goddess Inc., where she crafts content for her list of global clients. Prior to MGI, Paulette led content and design teams at several tech companies, and one educational publisher where her elimination of the Oxford comma caused a near riot. You can usually find Paulette rearranging words into pleasing patterns while wearing grammar t-shirts. Connect with Paulette on Facebook and Instagram at @paulettestoutauthor and on Twitter at @StoutContent.
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