Working at home has plenty of perks, even for those beholden to remote bosses. As a self-employed at-home worker, you answer to no one but yourself, and you like it that way.
Of course, answering to no one is not quite the same as enjoying total freedom from obligation. You know as well as anyone that self-employment requires immense reserves of internal motivation. With no one looking over your shoulder, you need to be relentlessly focused on the task at hand — and capable of determining which tasks to tackle, when.
A functional home office is your greatest asset in this endeavor. If you’re currently working out of a less-than-optimal office, you’ll want to invest in these seven must-haves. Although all require some out of pocket spending, none break the bank; anyway, a home office that you actually enjoy spending time in is an investment in your professional future.
1. Get on the Adjustable Desk Bandwagon
Adjustable desks are all the rage these days. Surely you’re aware of the myriad benefits of a standing desk; the trusty adjustable desk combines those with the comfort and convenience of sitting, too. To that end, invest in a multi-position adjustable desk with enough space for your monitor, mouse, and keyboard. If you mostly use a laptop or tablet, consider a two-piece setup with a non-adjustable base at sitting height and an adjustable top for standing work.
2. Get a Chair You Can Actually Spend Hours In
Even if you have a standing desk, you’re going to want to sit at some point. For that, you’ll need a chair that’s comfortable enough to spend hours in without hampering your posture. Sites like Faveable offer unbiased roundups of home office furniture and other must-haves; check them before you settle on a specific make and model.
3. Invest in a Legit Filing Cabinet
Try as you might, you almost certainly still need to keep voluminous paper records. Use a sturdy filing cabinet, preferably one slim enough to fit under your desk, to keep track of everything. For greater paper volumes, consider a stackable filing system.
4. Add a Budget-Friendly Daybed or Futon (Nothing Fancy)
If your home office has room, consider adding a budget-friendly daybed or futon along one wall. In our present culture of relentless optimization, the benefits of midday naps get short shrift; in truth, catching 20 to 30 minutes of shut-eye could be just what you need to finish your day strong.
5. Share the Space With at Least One Other Living Thing
A well-placed, low-maintenance houseplant is a fantastic office companion. If you already have a well-behaved pet, consider letting them into the office; if they’re too much of a distraction, make clear it’s a no-go zone for furry friends.
6. Don’t Skimp on (Functional) Window Treatments
The last thing you want when it’s truly time to buckle down is a beautiful day peeking around the curtains. Shut it out with functional window treatments that actually block natural light; they’ll come in handy for your daily nap, too. For more, check out this primer on the various types of window treatments.
7. Get a Serious Print/Scan/Copy Machine
A functional, reliable print/scan/copy machine is not a home office luxury. It’s an absolute necessity, unless you enjoy interrupting your work to visit the UPS Store every time you need to make a copy. Spend a few extra bucks for a model that won’t break a month after the manufacturer’s warranty ends.
Here’s to a Better Home Office
Armed with these seven must-haves, your home office will be primed for maximum efficiency. And you’ll be primed to actually enjoy spending hours on end working out of it. What that means for your professional career and personal life is anyone’s guess — but it’s difficult to imagine that some good won’t come out of it.