Is the corporate office a thing of the past? For many modern workers, the answer is yes. Perhaps the most lifestyle-changing thing the internet has given us is the ability to work from home. More and more companies are employing telecommuters, which helps save with various overhead costs. Entrepreneurs, too, are choosing to work from their home offices rather than traditional cubicles.
For the past five and a half years I’ve worked from home, and during that time I’ve learned many lessons. But the one lesson that stands out above the rest: You need an organized and comfortable office, with the following five items that will make your home work life a whole lot easier.
1. Dual monitors
Your computer is your most valuable work tool. Without it telecommuting wouldn’t be possible. Since you’re using it so heavily, you want to get the absolute most out of it. Adding a second monitor to the equation will undoubtedly boost your productivity, allowing you more space to spread out and organize yourself. Dual monitors also allow you to keep tabs on multiple items at once, so you don’t have to continually shuffle through them with a task manager.
The dual monitor solution isn’t only for desktops. In fact, using a second monitor with a laptop will give you more screen real estate, much like a desktop, while still affording you the portability you need.
2. Spacious desk with drawers
If you’re going to store two monitors on your desk, chances are you’re going to need a larger than average desk to hold them on. What works best for me is a drafting table. They have plenty of surface room, and you can make all kinds of adjustments to them.
The only problem is that drafting tables do not contain drawers, which are essential for organizing and storing everyday items. You can, however, purchase stackable drawers and shelves to help you stay organized while using a drafting table.
3. Comfortable chair
You’re probably going to spend a good portion of your day sitting down in a chair so it needs to be supportive and comfortable. If you buy a chair just because it’s cheap and not based off of how it feels, you will suffer all day long. Consider your office chair an investment in your productivity. You should look for a chair that has ample cushioning on the seat, a straight back for proper posture, and an adjustable height (especially in the case of drafting tables). Arm rests are optional based on your preferences, but I have found that they get in the way more often than they add comfort.
4. Food and drink
Keeping drinks and your lunch within your office gives it the feel of a traditional office, and leads to greater productivity. Again, this comes from personal experience. I find work goes much better when I prepare my lunch ahead of time and store it in a mini fridge. We also installed a water purification system in our home, so I can get a glass of water from anywhere without having to walk downstairs to the kitchen. It saves time and allows me to focus on work, not food and drink.
5. A filing system
Paper files can’t just be shoved into drawers. It gets too messy, and you’ll have a hard time locating documents when you need them. You don’t need a big fancy (and expensive) filing cabinet though. You can simply get a file crate with hanging folders. Label them A-Z and file things in a way that you’ll find them easily. For instance, I file tax information under T, invoices under I, and credit card statements under C.
Don’t forget the files on your computer as well. Creating an organized filing system is key to finding things when you need them. While both Windows and Mac feature search options, if you don’t label your files properly you’ll have difficulty finding them. Make sure to create separate folders for every project you undertake. Sticking everything in the general Documents folder is a recipe for disorganization.
Joe Pawlikowski has owned and worked for small businesses for more than five years. His companies primarily produce content, using new media tools and agility to stay ahead of the mainstream pack. He chronicles his experiences at his blog, A New Level.