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November 13, 2020 Adrian Zee

Essential components of a productive and comfortable home office

Although everyone has different needs and priorities, you'll get good use out of these items if you're spending most of your work day in your home.

After over six months of working from home, a home office or at least a home workstation has become a requirement. Though we may have begun this whole thing working at the kitchen table, as you probably know by now, that’s not a sustainable solution. 

Whether you’ve already invested in a home office or are considering it, you may be curious about what to buy to keep productive and comfortable. This article outlines some of the items to build the ideal at-home workstation. 

For productivity

Monitor: A large monitor is useful when you need to open multiple windows or navigate large spreadsheets. You should first consider whether to invest in an ultrawide monitor or a regular one. An ultrawide monitor is like two monitors in one and can provide a clear view of everything on your to-do list. However, they aren’t cheap. While regular monitors are commonly under $200, an ultra-wide is often at least $500. But hey! It’s like getting two monitors in one. 

Noise-cancelling headphones: When you work from home, you may hear classics such as babies crying, a loud TV, or a dog barking. If these noises distract you from your work, a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones should do the trick. 

Two of the most popular pairs of noise-cancelling headphones are the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose 700. Both are priced at a premium. But if you’re looking for something more affordable, both Sony and Bose have other fantastic noise-cancelling options that won’t break the bank.

For ergonomics

Desk: Kitchen countertops and dining room tables aren’t made for office work. That’s why you need a proper desk. An adequate desk provides a proper height to do your job, which can prevent poor posture. 

If you want to get fancy, standing desks allow you to change the height, providing the most comfortable position. They also allow you to stand while doing your work, meaning you won’t spend the whole day sitting down. There’s no shortage of standing desks out there. Autonomous and Jarvis are two popular standing desk brands that allow for shipping in Canada. 

Chair: Like the desk, you need a good office chair that lets you adjust the height, including the armrests and chair itself. Custom height adjustments are the key to good ergonomics because every person’s body is different, so a regular chair isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The Lorell Executive High-Back Chair is fantastic! It does everything required and is built like a tank. 

For video conferences  

A good internet connection: This may be the most essential part of working from home. While a decent internet connection is enough for emails or messages, video conferencing can take up a lot of bandwidth on an already-stressed network filled with kids learning from home and your partner possibly also working from home. 

There are multiple areas to invest in for a better internet connection. First, you want to make sure that your internet plan fits your circumstances. For example, if you have a household of five people always online, make sure that your current internet plan isn’t for three people. 

Next, make sure that you have a good router and enough coverage for the whole house. Mesh Wi-Fi systems provide “beacons” placed around your house and work with your router to give an extensive Wi-Fi network. This way, if your router is in the basement, then your home office on the top floor still has healthy Wi-Fi access. Both Amazon and Google make popular mesh Wi-Fi systems. 

Webcam and microphone: Most people use the webcam and microphone on their laptop. Occasionally, the laptop microphone is replaced by a set of headphones. But a dedicated microphone and webcam can help get your points across if you’re continually presenting over web conferences. 

If you use an external monitor, a webcam is also important so that the view of you on the web conference isn’t to the side or non-existent. A microphone can ensure that your audience hears you loud and clear. Logitech and Aukey both make great webcams at various price ranges. On the mic side, the Snowball from Blue is an excellent option as a USB computer microphone.  

Items in this article are just to get the ball rolling on making your home office a better experience. Ultimately, everyone has different needs and priorities. Although some items can be expensive, you’ll get good use out of it in our new normal. 

Adrian Zee

Adrian Zee is a freelance writer and a student at Osgoode Hall Law School. Previously, he studied management and writing at Western University and worked in the data & analytics industry. Adrian is also a part-time food writer and photographer at DailyHive/DishedTO.