The coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous effect on how we work. Back in 1981, working from home was a relative rarity, with only 1.5% of people eschewing the office in favour of their own four walls. According to the Office for National Statistics, even as recently as 2019, that figure had only risen to 4.7%. In February 2020, just before the Covid outbreak, those numbers hadn’t changed that much, rising slightly to 5.7%. However, once the pandemic took hold, things changed significantly. By April of the same year, around 43.1% of the working population worked from home. Over the course of the next two years, that figure rose again to 46.6%.
While working from home might sound appealing, ask anyone who’s set up their own business, and you’ll find that it comes with its own set of hurdles. Effective time management, the blurring of private and personal life, the potential for distractions, and loneliness are just a few of the problems that remote workers are faced with. However, by setting up a home office correctly, you can bypass these and work just as effectively as you would in conventional office surroundings. If you’re already working from home and finding it problematic, or you’re about to embrace the world of remote working, use our home office setup checklist to make sure you put your best foot forward.
Step 1 – What is your office for?
Before you go anywhere near rearranging the furniture, it’s worth taking some time to consider what it is you need your office for. Will it be mainly working at a desk? Will you need to make phone calls? Will you need a laptop or a tower computer? Would a printer be useful? Where will you keep paperwork and files? Mulling these considerations over will give you a good idea of the size of room you’ll need to commandeer for an effective business headquarters. Once you’ve decided on roughly what you think you’ll need, make a home office setup checklist of tech, equipment, furniture, and accessories that’ll allow you to be as productive and as organised as possible. However, hold off ordering any new equipment for the moment. During the process of setting up a home office, you’re likely to add a few more things to the list and possibly delete others.
Step 2 – Pick your office
If you’ve got plenty of available space to choose from, then pick a room that’s quiet and, if you live with others, away from any potential noise and distractions. Natural light is important, so, if possible when setting up a home office, pick somewhere that’s got windows. These will also prove useful in the summer, giving you access to fresh air when things start to heat up.
However, if space is a premium in your home, it’s time to get creative. One of the most critical parts of setting up a home office is to create a division between your workspace and the rest of your living area. Not only will this help you separate yourself from work once the day is done, but it can also help promote focus and productivity while the wheels of industry are turning. If your home is open-plan, you might want to consider building dividing walls from storage boxes or files. While the workspace doesn’t have to be enclosed entirely, creating a zone dedicated to working can be a positive step.
It’s also essential to check out where your nearest power sockets are and if you’re using a phone, where the landline is. If you need to, check out the Avansas range of extension leads to ensure that you’re always plugged into the mains. As a 21st Century remote worker, there’s also a possibility that you’re going to be plugging in tech and gadgets. If you’re short on cables, take a look at our collection of USB cables and chargers so that you’ve access to the right tech at the right time. While we’re at it, don’t forget to check that your chosen room has a good and reliable Internet connection. Your laptop or computer is going to be your primary method of communication. In the age of video conferencing calls, a signal that keeps dropping out will be a problem.
Step 3 – Setting up the basics
Without a doubt, you’ll need a desk and a chair. If there aren’t any available for requisition in your home, you might feel the need to invest. However, whether you’re buying new or adapting home furniture for business purposes, try and choose furniture that’s as practical as possible. While everyone likes a comfy chair, choose one that offers sensible levels of support. After all, you’re going to be spending an awful lot of time sitting in it, and poor posture can lead to many problems. Similarly, choosing a desk that’s the correct height can minimise the potential for back pain and stiffness.
At this point, it’s also worth looking at what storage you have available for files, documents, and paperwork. If your storage is thin on the ground, add items such as box files, storage boxes, and ring binders to your home office setup checklist.
Step 4 – Make the space your own
While it might initially seem counterintuitive, decorating your home office helps define it as a separate space with a distinct purpose. On top of that, it makes your office seems less like a commandeered room and more like an area where things get done. This can be vital in helping you remain focused and committed to your cause. However, you don’t have to call in an interior design company; a few strokes with a brush or roller and some well-chosen pictures can make all the difference. If you happen to have a company logo, popping that on a wall where you and everyone else can see it is a constant reminder that this space is your workspace. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of setting up a home office.
Step 5 – Save some money
With the basics in place, it’s time to invest in your business. However, whether you’re a start-up or want to make your remote working experience much more productive, keeping an eye on the cash is always important. As Europe’s leading provider of office supplies, we can offer the best products at the best prices, whether you’re buying in bulk or want to make single purchases. For an in-depth look at what you might need to furnish your new domestic premises, check out our blog, ‘The Ultimate Office Supplies Checklist for 2022.’ However, to tide you over, here’s a brief overview of some of the essentials you’re likely to need to get you started:
- Writing Instruments – Pens and pencils are an absolute must. However, if you’re using a whiteboard or a flipchart, the appropriate markers are also important.
- Drawing pins and paper clips – Pins can be used to display important paperwork, while paper clips help keep documents together. For extra security, invest in a stapler or a hole punch for use with our ring binders.
- Desk organisation – While you might be working from home, there’s no excuse for letting your desk fall into disarray. From pen pots to wire mesh desk tidies, we’ve got everything you need to ensure that your desk is a help, not a hindrance.
- Filing & Archiving – This is vital for anyone deciding how to set up a home office, particularly if space is a premium. Buying archive boxes, box files and ring binders can mean the difference between knowing instantly where something is or wasting time trying to find it. As your filing system becomes more expansive, you may want to consider buying dividers and indices to make access even easier.
- Diaries, calendars & planners – Ensure you never miss a meeting or appointment. While computers and laptops might seem the obvious place to note the wheres and whens, power outages and viruses can stop them in their tracks.
- Paper & Mailing – Regardless of being the 21st Century, paper still has its place in practically every office on the planet. We offer an extensive range, from printer and photo paper to speciality papers. Along with paper, you’re probably going to need envelopes, either regular or speciality. However, to give your mailshots that professional edge, it can be worth investing in a label printer and some sticky labels.
- Ink & Toner – Whether you’ve got an inkjet or a laser printer, running out of ink at the wrong time can be impossibly frustrating. In addition to ink and toner cartridges from some of the biggest brands in the industry, we also offer a range of compatible cartridges. These offer just the same levels of performance as the originals, come at a fraction of the cost and have significantly less impact on the environment.
- Mobile & Tablet Accessories – Tech is integral to any modern office. Ensuring that yours is powered up at all times can save you a lot of time and energy. If you’re on the go, power banks are a convenient way of keeping powered up, wherever you happen to be.
- Keyboards & Mice – Another must for the 21st Century home office, keyboards and mice allow you to work efficiently. Whether you prefer wireless versions or their corded cousins, we’ve got an extensive range of both. If you need to travel as part of your job, buying a laptop bag could be a sound investment.
- Headsets – If the home beyond your office is noisy, computer headsets can be something of a godsend. Ideal for video and VOPI calls, they help reduce background noise for the person you’re talking to and help to keep you free from distractions and focused on the conversation.
While this home office setup checklist covers most of the essentials, there are sure to be little extras specific to your needs. As the premier provider of office materials in Europe, we’re sure to have just what you’re looking for. Browse our full collection of Desktop Essentials and kick-start your home office journey.