With a massive increase in the at-home workforce, home offices have become one of the most popular services that we offer. In this post, we’ll walk you through the main features that we prioritize on every home office that we do and why they’re so important.
1. Cable Management
If you did nothing else to your home office, PLEASE do some cable management. It usually doesn’t cost much if anything, but it can make a massive difference in your productivity, mood, and comfort while working at your office. Zip ties, cable channels, even those boxes that people use to shove all their cables into can neaten up a space with some care.
The key here is that last word: care. Cable management takes time; it can be easy to get frustrated and say “that’s fine” to a half-done job. Plan out your routes, determine where equipment needs to go, and make sure you have enough slack in your cables. Then, bundle your cables together and route them to each of your devices in neat, straight snakes.
There are many videos and before/after photos online of good cable management, and it’s just so satisfying to look at. Check out our Project Portfolio to see some photos of our managed cables, and you may learn a thing or two!
2. Multiple Monitors
In every home office that we’ve done, we’ve installed at least two, sometimes three, monitors for our clients. Having at least dual screens is such a productivity boost that we recommend to everyone looking at a home office.
You may think “oh, one screen is plenty for me,” but once you go dual, you never go back. The ability to separate programs and pages between multiple screens organizes your work so cleanly that you begin to wonder how you worked without it. Especially for those who frequently multitask or work with numbers, multiple screens can really speed up your work.
Multiple-monitor setups have been around for so long that today, setting up a dual screen is as easy as plug-and-play for most offices. The challenge comes when you go for the enhanced features, like 4K monitors, curved screens, and over 32” screens. With the rise in popularity of these types of monitors, these features are becoming more and more standard.
People are crazy sometimes. Trust us, we have seen some rough setups, from cardboard boxes as laptop risers to bar stools as office chairs. You’ve probably heard it before, but an uncomfortable office setup can lead to long-term issues like back problems, arthritis, and other joint issues. If you spend around 50% of your day sitting in one chair, make sure it’s comfortable!
The easiest place to go wrong is the chair. We’ve winced at some of the chairs we’ve seen people use, from benches to recliners. We also cringe seeing the “gaming” chairs, which are frequently overpriced, uncomfortable, and cheaply made. We always recommend to our clients to use chairs that come from an office retailer that has good lumbar support, many points of adjustment, and comfortable armrests.
A recent trend is for people to spend as much on an office chair as humanly possible, over $2,000 at times. Of course, those chairs are comfortable, well-built, and have every bell and whistle you can imagine (and some you can’t imagine). However, from our experience, you can get a solid chair that’s extremely comfortable and supportive for under $500. That’s what we identify and procure for all our home office clients.
Our final tip for comfort is to address any harsh angles or sharp corners. Straining your neck to look at a monitor, typing without a wrist-rest, or resting your feet on a surface that’s too high or too low are all small issues that get annoying after hours of use. One of our favorite things to do is to stick padding to the edge of a desk, preventing your forearms from rubbing against the corner of the desk as you type.
4. Robust Conferencing Equipment
In today’s working world, video calls are a necessity. Everyone has been on the video calls where there’s that ONE person who has a terrible microphone or video feed. Let’s help you not be that one person.
Whenever our clients are looking to improve their video calls, we first look at a larger system: their Wi-Fi. If you don’t have a solid network connection where you’re working, then no amount of equipment will improve your video feed. We always recommend an ethernet connection wherever possible, and a robust Wi-Fi connection otherwise. Click here to see how we can help you improve your network connection.
The obvious components are a webcam and a microphone, but they can sometimes be more complicated than they need to be. We recommend cameras with at least 1080p video resolution, ideally at 60fps (look for 1080/60) for the optimal quality. 4K cameras or high frame rate cameras are generally overkill (unless you are a streamer) since most screens and internet bandwidths will limit your feed to 1080p anyway.
We also recommend a separate, standalone microphone for your office setup. Many webcams come with an integrated microphone, but we tend to stray away from those because they are typically poor quality. Microphones are so inexpensive and plug-and-play these days, yet provide such a drastic improvement on audio quality that it’s worth every penny.
5. Good Lighting
One part of home offices that gets frequently overlooked is lighting. Harsh lighting throughout your day can affect your mood and ability to focus much more than you may think. With technology available today, you can control every piece of your home’s lighting down to the smallest detail.
The goal of good lighting may surprise you: we aim to match the sunlight. Our bodies are tuned to wake and sleep with the rising and setting of the sun, and thus our energy is also linked to the peak sunlight times. That is why so many experts recommend blue light filters or avoiding screens at night, because it exposes our bodies to unnatural light that may disrupt our natural energy cycles.
Whenever possible, we recommend that clients have their office in a space with natural light, since that will give you the best lighting no matter what. All other lights in the room should be smart lights that can change their hue based on the time of day, matching the morning, day, and evening colors of the sunlight. This is especially important in rooms without much natural light.
We also recommend bright, high-resolution screens to reduce eye strain and match the brightness of the room. Almost every computer today has a blue light filter feature (sometimes called Night Light) that can help change the hue of the screens as the day draws to a close.
Avoid installing light bulbs with a fixed hue, especially ones with lots of blue light (also referred to as “cool” temperature lights). These can work against the sunlight, causing serious eye strain and even headaches. Smart light bulbs are so easy and inexpensive to install that we always recommend this for a home office.
Are you in need of a home office lift? We can help with every aspect from minor tweaks to completely custom workstations.