The work-from-home commute is the best: take a few steps out of bed and you’re there. That simplicity can make it all too easy to be equally relaxed about your home office’s look and feel. When you’re funding your own workspace, you probably just buy the necessities — like a desk and chair — and get right to work.
But just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should skimp on the details. You need to be your own office manager, making ergonomically designed furniture, everyday comforts, and office security priorities. These ensure that your work equipment is safe and that your home office is a place you enjoy being — both of which will make you happier, healthier, and more efficient.
If you’re ready to make a few upgrades to your home office, keep these simple tips in mind.
1. Keep it cozy
Just like an office you drive to, your home office should be a place you want to spend time in. Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to create an inviting workspace that also promotes productivity and creative energy.
When adding comfort touches to your home office, keep these tips in mind:
- Use organizers: Organized spaces cultivate organized minds. Without anyone else sharing the space with you, however, it’s easy to let it get messy. Invest in simple organizers, like a paper holder and pen cup, to keep you organized physically and mentally.
- Add more lighting: Reduce lethargy by bringing more lighting into your office. You can use a desk lamp or bring a standing lamp in from somewhere else in your house. This is especially important if you don’t get much natural lighting in your workspace.
- Decorate with plants: Plants boost both morale and productivity. If you don’t have a green thumb, buy a succulent or Dragon Tree, as both are super-easy to care for.
2. Be ergo-friendly
Being in charge of your own office equipment means you can buy the cheapest desk and chair — whatever will get you by, right? Not quite.
You’ll be sitting in your home office just as much as you would in a regular office, so making sure everything is properly aligned remains important.
If you aren’t comfortable, and your chair is giving you aches and pains, you won’t want to be in your office, which could drive down productivity.
Here’s three easy ways of making your space ergonomic without buying anything new:
- Place your computer screen so its top is at eye level
- Position your keyboard so that your forearms arm parallel with the ground
- Adjust your chair’s height so your feet rest flat on the ground
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3. Invest in your security
When you work in an office, you can rely on locked doors and security systems — that somebody else pays for — to keep your computer and other personal work belongings safe. If you don’t have a full security system at your house, you don’t have the same luxuries in your home office.
That’s why it’s important to invest in security for your home office. Here are a few options to consider.
New door locks
Your current locking system is likely a burglar’s dream: “I never realized how easy it is to kick in a solid door that has old hardware until I tried it on our demonstration door. With two kicks in only five seconds, I destroyed the doorjamb,” explains Family Handy Man.
The problem in most cases — including the one above — is that the deadbolt doesn’t extend far enough into the doorframe, and therefore breaks easily. Reinforce your current locking system with a steel striker plate and long screws that drill deep into the frame.
When you think hidden camera, you may think “nanny cam,” but this technology can be hugely valuable for your home office as well. With many models, you have real-time viewing access to what’s happening in your home office, boosting security whether you’re at home or away.
For example, a simple clock camera that hangs on your wall “has a viewing angle of 72 degrees which covers just about any normal size room. It can also stream video to your smartphone, which might allow you to actually catch burglars committing the crime if you act fast enough,” according to the guide Hidden Camera Uses Know No Bounds.
Use high-quality passwords
If someone still manages to get into your home office, they’ll have access to all of your digital files — that is, if your password is weak, or worse, nonexistent. While it’s a pain to have a long and random password for your computer and other various devices, it’s necessary to keep your digital property safe.
You can create a good, strong password by following the following rules:
- It’s based on something random, not something personal or discoverable on social media
- It’s 10 to 12 characters long
- It uses a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters
For example, create a password like: Gotakeyourshoesoffbythedoor754*. It isn’t so random you’ll never remember it, but it would be very hard for a stranger to guess at.
Alternatively, you might want to look into a password manager like 1Password so you don’t have to remember your login details for every site. (Though if you’re extra-skeptical, the idea of keeping all your passwords behind one password might be even more terrifying.)
Protect your privacy on the web
Now that all our browser histories are up for sale, you may want to invest in a virtual private network (VPN) for your home network too, and/or use Tor. These basically work to dissociate your browsing history from you, making it harder for those who can now buy and sell your internet usage data to actually learn much about you.
While shopping for a VPN, it’s worth noting that some have been accused of being less than trustworthy with your data, so here’s a few suggestions from the Webflow team:
And for much, much more on VPNs, check out freeCodeCamp’s How to set up a VPN in 10 minutes for free.
How do you protect your productivity and peace of mind?
Your home office is an important space, and you should treat is as such to ensure productivity, comfort, and security. Use these tips to make upgrades both big and small, depending on your budget and needs.
If you have any home-office-optimization tips of your own, share them in the comments below!