More people are working remotely than ever before, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. And for some people, the end of the pandemic won’t mean the end of remote work. More and more businesses are deciding to let their employees work either partially or completely from home on a permanent basis.
Whether your home office is temporary or permanent, there are some design steps you can take to make it a more comfortable and appealing space. These five tips will help with setting up a home office for remote work in a way that will optimize your furniture, decor and space usage.
1. Take stock of the essentials.
The first thing you should do when setting up a home office for remote work is to make a list of the non-negotiables that you need in order to do your job. Obviously, this will be different for everyone, but here are some things that most people will need in a home office:
- Desk, table or other flat workspace
- Space for desktop or laptop
- Comfortable desk chair
- Storage space for important paper documents and/or equipment
- Power outlets/surge protector
Make sure to consider any additional elements on top of this that your job requires. Once you’ve secured the essentials, it’s time to think about setting up a home office for remote work in a way that’s comfortable and pleasant.
2. Consider ergonomics.
Ergonomics is the art of creating a workplace that’s a physically comfortable and efficient place to work. That means considering how your body and mind will be feeling during the workday and making preparations to keep yourself working efficiently and feeling good.
Some common ergonomic considerations when setting up a home office for remote work include:
- A mouse pad with a wrist rest to help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome
- A whiteboard wall sticker for quickly jotting down ideas and mapping concepts
- A desk chair that encourages you to sit with good posture
- A dry erase calendar wall decal for keeping track of important dates
- A standing desk or sit-stand hybrid desk to help you avoid sitting all day
- A laptop stand to help keep your screen at eye level
3. Use flexible and temporary solutions if you might be heading back to the office.
Many workers still aren’t sure about when — or if — they’ll be going back to working in person. If that sounds like you, it’s a good idea to use some of these ideas to create a home office that can be easily broken down:
- Choose a wheel-away desk and filing cabinets that you can move to another room or to storage if you no longer need a home office
- Use removable vinyl wall decals instead of attaching anything to the walls (like the whiteboard wall sticker mentioned above rather than a mounted whiteboard)
- Decorate with plants. They’re easy to move to another area, and they provide documented mental health benefits
- Use peel and stick wallpaper for tons of instant character that’s still easy to remove
4. Decorate for inspiration and motivation.
You can often make your workday a little more bearable by decorating your space using the things that motivate you and make you feel good, and a home office offers lots of opportunities for that. Many people like to use sentimental items such as family photographs or souvenirs from favorite trips, but just about anything that you enjoy can be a good choice.
One advantage of setting up a home office for remote work is that you can often get a little more ambitious and a little more original with your decor than the typical corporate office will allow. Go ahead and add those funky lighted signs or that life-sized vinyl wall decal of your favorite athlete. Just make sure that it’s out of your webcam’s line of sight if your boss or clients wouldn’t enjoy seeing it.
5. If you’re taking the home office tax deduction, keep your decor business-like.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to write off your home office on your taxes, remember that the IRS requires that you use it exclusively for business purposes. That doesn’t mean that you have to banish personal effects completely, but it does mean that you should restrict it to what you’d have in an average corporate office in case of an audit.
In practical terms, that means things like family photos, video conference backdrops and small personal knickknacks are usually OK. What’s not OK is anything that indicates you use the office for anything other than business — no musical instruments, no dartboards or putting greens, no yoga mats (unless you’re a yoga teacher).Shop All Video Conference Backdrops
The home office will probably be a major element of the working world for the foreseeable future, so putting a little time into setting up a home office for remote work can have big dividends for your productivity and mental health! Fathead has tons of ideas to help you decorate your home’s most important spaces with the things that matter to you. See our guide to creating a garage home gym for all of the best ways to deck out your home fitness space.