Many people work from home these days. If you think it’s temporary, think again. Remote work is the future, given how many companies have decided to permanently switch to a remote-first culture.
Switching from going into the office every day to working remotely takes some adjusting. For many people, that adjustment hasn’t come easy – partly because they don’t have a good home office setup.
Starting a Home Office
Setting up a good home office requires careful planning. Your home office should be a place that allows you to do your best work day after day.
For that, you’ll need to select a quiet space that suits your work habits. You’re also going to need reliable basic equipment.
As a team that’s been working remotely for years, we want to share which equipment has worked for us. So, in this article, we’ll take a look at six essential items you’ll need for your new home office.
1. You’ll need a computer.
You probably have a laptop or desktop PC, either yours or from work. If not, consider buying a laptop if you intend to go mobile from time to time.
We like the Acer Aspire 5 A515-43-R19L. If this model of the Acer Aspire 5 looks familiar, it’s because it’s been an Amazon bestseller for months. We know why.
This AMD Ryzen 3-powered Aspire 5 pack features a Full-HD 15.6-inch display and a sleek-looking slim chassis. It’s a good workhorse.
But its reasonable price does mean some compromises. In this case, we’re talking about a puny 4GB of RAM and a constricting 128GB solid-state drive.
We’ve also noted that its battery life falls significantly shorter than those of similar Aspire 5 models.
If you stretch your budget a bit, you can get an Aspire 5 – such as the Core i3-powered Aspire 5 – that will last longer without a power adapter.
That said, you’ll get a solid performance from this machine when it comes to day-to-day office computing tasks.
If you need a budget desktop PC, we recommend the HP Elite Desktop PC. This pre-built desktop PC is powered by 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 3.10 GHz CPU.
Of course, if you’re up to the task, you can build a desktop PC according to your requirements.
2. A good desk is a must.
Ideally, you’ll have space for a desk where you can create your home workstation. We favor the CubiCubi Home Office Writing Desk. This desk is compact, easy to assemble, and quite attractive in black.
The industrial-style metal frame is sturdy, and the adjustable leg pads add more stability. We pack heavy books in ours without worry.
We like it with the 47-inch-wide desktop, but it’s also available in four other desktop sizes. You can get either the 32-inch or the 40-inch version if you want a smaller desk. If you need more space, you can go for either the 55-inch or the 63-inch version.
The desk comes in six colors: black, white, and a range of woods. It should work with practically any decor scheme if that sort of thing matters to you.
This desk will also help you stay organized. It includes a hanging storage bag and an iron hook for your headphones. Since those are off to the side, you’ll have adequate room to work.
3. Go for an ergonomic chair.
You will, of course, need an office chair. When choosing one, remember that ergonomics and comfort matter just as much as your budget. You’ll be sitting on that chair all day, after all.
That’s why we recommend the NOUHAUS Ergo3D Ergonomic Office Chair. This office chair is versatile, comfortable, and tough. It’ll take just about anything you can throw at it.
The Ergo3D’s ElastoMesh upholstery is also superior to regular mesh. The texture of the material is smooth and it feels good even on bare skin.
We’re quite sure you’ll be comfortable sitting on this chair all day – and then some. The backrest tilts to an angle of 135 degrees. We found that feature perfect for lounging after a long day.
The chair’s recline feature is unique, too. Unlike other models, you can lean back into the Ergo3D and keep working.
The arms on the chair are adjustable. You can lift them or push them down. You can slide them back and forth and pivot them in and out of various angles, as well.
But what we like most about the Ergo3D is its ergonomic design. The chair’s lumbar support reacts to your movements!
NOHAUS’s proprietary ergonomic design is elastic. It allows you proper support depending on how much pressure you place on it.
Every time you lean back or change your position, the lumbar support moves in reaction to your weight. The system worked exceedingly well for us – as it has for others.
“This chair was better than most options I saw at an Office Depot,” enthuses one review. “Most other corporate offices I’ve worked in had Herman Miller furniture, and I would say this chair could go head-to-head with their Aeron or Mirra designs in terms of quality and functionality.”
4. Let there be light on your home workstation.
Adequate lighting is critical to productive work. You don’t want headaches and eye strains to slow you down. You’re sure to get both with lighting that makes you squint to read.
The TaoTronics TT-DL13B is a best seller for LED desk lamps on Amazon. With thousands of positive reviews, you can be sure that this lamp will meet your lighting requirements.
TaoTronics is known for its simple yet elegant designs. And the TT-DL13B is one of the company’s best small desk lamps.
We like it for its straightforward functionality. The lamp offers a selection of 4 different color temperatures and multiple dimmer settings.
The LED light bar is 31.5-inches wide. The bar casts a light that’s larger and wider than those of other lamps at similar price points.
The pivoting head ensures your workstation is well-lit with the lamp’s 410 Lumens of brightness. You can also rotate the head 90 degrees left and right and 135 degrees up and down.
We found the lamp’s ON and OFF touchpad control quite easy to use, too. So was the adjustment dial for the lamp’s seven levels of brightness.
The TT-DL13B also offers an integrated USB charging port for your smartphone and other devices. Do you need more details?
“It’s one of my top purchase[s] on Amazon,” says one customer review. “The quality exceeds the price so much!”
5. Get a reliable WiFi router.
We’re assuming you have a broadband connection. The days of being able to work with a dial-up connection are long gone, after all. A broadband connection is essential if you’re going to work from home.
If you don’t want a mess of cables connecting your workstation to your modem, you’ll need a wireless router.
The TP-Link Archer A7 WiFi router offers great value for your money. This budget-friendly option will cover its range quicker than some routers that cost twice as much.
The Archer A7 is one of the easiest routers to set up, too, in our opinion. TP-Link offers two ways to install the device.
You can do it through a Web browser or by using TP Link’s Tether app, which is available for Android phones.
But, like most inexpensive routers, its performance can sometimes fall short of expectations. Technology website Tom’s Guide says the router will deliver a top speed of 647.4 Mbps five feet away.
This throughput falls to 623.5 Mbps if you’re standing 15 feet away. If you’re a hundred feet away, the speed drops to 347.7 Mbps.
Of course, all these numbers depend on the line of sight between you and the router. You can expect lower performance with walls, doors, and other obstructions.
Even so, TP-Link still issues important firmware updates for the Archer A7. It also outperforms some newer, more expensive models.
We think it’s good enough for a workstation in a small to mid-sized home with few devices online.
If you want faster WiFi for a larger home, your best bet would be a more expensive high-end router.
6. An extra monitor will make your work easier.
You’ll need a monitor if you have a desktop computer. Plugging your laptop into a monitor can be helpful, too, especially for your neck.
We like the HP VH240a both for its price and its features. This monitor delivers good-looking visuals and also looks good on your desk.
Setting up the monitor requires no tools. It comes with assembly instructions on a single sheet of paper taped to the edge of the screen. We had it up and ready just 10 minutes after unboxing.
The HP VH240a features a 23.8-inch IPS screen with full HD 1080p resolution and a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. The panel has a respectable 92 PPI pixel density – more than enough for typical office use.
The 1000:1 native contrast ratio and 72 percent sRGB are industry standards for monitors in this price range. But the great viewing angles that IPS technology offers make this monitor look excellent for the price.
What we didn’t like about the HP VH240a? Well, the sound from the built-in speakers isn’t something to call home about.
Some might also be disappointed by the monitor’s limited port selection, as well. The VH240a features the usual minimal set of video inputs – that is, HDMI and VGA. There’s also an audio-in jack. But that’s about it.
Potential buyers should also consider HP’s limited warranty. We say that because there have been some reports of units that malfunction after only a few months.
We have not encountered any issues with our own monitor. But your peace of mind is almost certainly worth some extra cash for a protection plan, suggests Lifewire.
All in all, however, the HP VH240a should serve as a good extra screen for your home office setup. We like it.
Other Basic Gear
Those are our picks for six home office essentials to help get your home office started. There are, of course, other essentials that aren’t on our list.
For instance, you’ll surely need extension cords and power strips. You’ll probably need a printer – and a headset and webcam for Zoom call, too. If you find working on a laptop too constricting, you’ll want a mouse and a keyboard, as well.
You’ll almost surely need an external hard drive for your data. And you should also get a UPS power supply in case of power failures.
That said, the six items on our list should be enough to start a comfortable and productive home office. From here, you can begin to figure out what else you’ll need as you start working.
In fact, many of our staff members started their home workstations with much of the same basic setup.