The way we work has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID lockdowns proved that remote work is a viable option for many offices, and the demand for WFH options is not going away anytime soon. Many people have become accustomed to working from home, or even in cafes and the outdoors, with many claiming an improvement to work efficiency. With more companies embracing remote work and hybrid office models (like Fetch), remote workers are now looking for ways to maximize their home offices for maximum comfort and effectiveness.
Our guide on how to set up a home office for remote work will cover work from home FAQs, tips, ideas, and best practices, to get the most out of your remote work time. We’ll show you how to shop smarter for home office supplies and equipment, all while earning and utilizing free gift cards from Fetch.
According to Upwork, more than 20% of the American workforce will be working remotely by 2025, which amounts to more than 36 million people. The trend of remote work is not going away. It is only becoming more popular leading to more balanced living, and hopefully, better productivity, too.
You might even be eligible to deduct your work from home space and equipment on your taxes. Here’s what you need to know to stay productive in a home office.
How to Decorate and Organize a Home Office
While some people like to lounge on the couch with a laptop, other WFH’ers prefer a reliable desk, chair, and computer peripherals. The lounging style can be good in short bursts, especially for a change of scenery, but it can cause issues in the long term for your physical wellbeing and work efficiency.
Desks, Chairs, and Computer Peripherals for WFH
For starters, you’ll need all the basics like a place to sit (a desk and comfortable chair) that are at the proper height. You don’t want to develop Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or back problems because the home office you created was not ideal for your body.
If using a monitor and a keyboard (instead of the laptop screen and keyboard), you will want to place your monitor on a stand so that it is at eye level. This will also help to keep your laptop cool and protected. The chair you use should be high quality, especially if you plan to sit in it for hours on end. Don’t just pull up a kitchen chair. Choose something that is ergonomic and properly supports your back.
Many people are jumping on the trend of using gamer chairs for their home offices, but there are also some great office chair alternatives out there, if you don’t like that style or their ergonomics.
Find the Right Area for Your Remote Office
While some people imagine working from home to be sitting up in bed or lying on the sofa with a laptop, over time, this might be bad for your back (and also productivity). If you’re the type that can focus in any environment, then maybe working at a local coffee shop or in a co-working space isn’t a problem. For others, a quiet space to get things done is important, and it may be wise to invest in a good pair of noise-canceling headphones if there are other family members around while you work.
Power and Internet Accessibility
Wherever you choose to work, make sure there are ample power outlets within reach before setting everything up. A surge protector is another important consideration. While office buildings tend to have backup protections, you may not have something similar at home.
Protect Your Eyes
Also, the lighting should be soft so that you are not squinting or damaging your eyes by staring at a screen for long periods.
You can set your computer to dark mode and use a blue light filter to better protect your eyes. Also, remember to look away from the screen, for at least 15 seconds, about once every 15 minutes.
- Windows Dark Mode Walkthrough
- Windows Blue Light Settings
- Mac Dark Mode Walkthrough
- Mac Nightshift Options
Find a quiet area of your home that gets natural light and can still access a strong Wi-Fi connection or that has ethernet. If you worked in an office before, consider all of the things that you had within reach to stay organized like a calendar, office supplies, and access to a solid coffee (or tea) machine. Make this new remote work space cozy and welcoming with artwork, photos, plants, or other inspirational things that make you happy.
Reduce Home Office Distractions
Set up the space so that you don’t get distracted, which is a common concern among those that work from home. We all want that picturesque corner office at work, perhaps with a view, and it can be fun to create your own dream office space at home. Just be sure that what you create allows you to remain productive without distractions.
It’s possible to get the same amount or even more work done remotely. According to a survey from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, 10,000 of those questioned said they were just as productive working away from the office while at home. Almost a third said they were even more productive from home than in the office.
How to Save Money When Building a Home Office
Creating a space that allows you to get work done efficiently is key. Depending on how serious of an office space you need to create, the budget can vary. If you will be meeting clients in the space or conducting video calls, you will want it to look neat, orderly, and professional. If this is simply a creative area for you to work alone, then perhaps the investment does not need to be as great.
Consider if this is a remote work office vs traditional home office when deciding what you will need for each. Your own remote work office can simply mean converting a bedroom or part of your kitchen into a productive space. If it is a traditional home office, you may want a larger desk, seating for others if you have visitors, and shelves or display cases to place things like books, awards, and other materials.
What is Needed in a Home Office?
Working from home (or remotely) requires discipline to stay productive and achieve the same results (or better) than you would in a traditional office. Develop a routine that you can follow so you avoid getting sidetracked. You want a space that puts you in the mood and “frame of mind” to work. If you can see your kids’ toys scattered around or that home improvement project in the corner, you might not be as productive as you might be in an office environment with visual distractions.
Most importantly, when you are finished for the day, have a way to close off your workspace. Bringing the stress of work life into your home can be detrimental to your mental wellness. You deserve to be able to disconnect from work, and a good home office should allow you to do that.
There’s another important thing to consider if you plan to work remotely on occasion or switch between a traditional office and a home office. How will you store your work? Keep your work protected in the “cloud” so that you can access it from anywhere. This will keep you synced up and ready to work whenever the mood strikes. Google Suite or Dropbox are two great options so that you can always have access to your material, keep it safe in the cloud, and make it shareable with coworkers or clients.
Some people may not have a spare room in their home to dedicate to an office. But, we all have nooks and crannies that may serve as less useful spaces, that can be transformed into a work desk. Attic areas, storage closets (consider removing the door for more airflow), spaces under the staircase, or even the garage are all places to creatively build a home office. Some of this may require hard-core construction work while others may just mean shuffling around a few things.
If you’re concerned about giving up a full bedroom to create an office, a Murphy bed or sofa bed that folds away when not in use is a great option. This allows you to use the room for guests when they visit and as an office space the rest of the time. You could even add a small building or shed in your backyard for a detached office option.
Money Saving Tips
You can save money on your home office by repurposing things from your home into your office. Instead of buying new furniture, look around your home for things that you are not using otherwise. Perhaps that side table or a desk in your college-age kid’s room can be an ideal workspace. Instead of forking over for new equipment, you probably have a lot of things that can fit into a home office.
The same thought goes into the supplies you need for your home. You may already have drawers full of pads, pens, paper clips, and other supplies. Your existing printer and laptop or computer may also work. If your company does not supply one (or you work for yourself), don’t let old devices sit idle. Either put them to use, or consider selling them online, or to a company that can repurpose some of their parts. You can use the cash you earn to buy something better for yourself.
If you need to do construction work or purchase materials for your home office, you can save cash by earning free gift cards through Fetch. Fetch you in the form of free gift cards for snapping receipts from recent purchases, at outlets like grocery stores, retail, restaurants, and more. The more receipts you scan, the more points and gift cards you will earn. Among the gift card options are popular restaurants, clothing retailers, as well as home improvement and office stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Office Depot. A few extra minutes of your time each day can earn you extra spending money to cut down on the cost of a home office.
Can I Write Off My Home Office?
In perhaps one of the biggest money-saving tips of all, yes you most probably can. It is wise to consult a financial advisor or tax specialist, but most people that make their home office a primary place of work can deduct a percentage of it from their earnings. It is based on the measurements of the space and if that space is used for any other purposes (technically, it should be reserved only for your home office). This could be a smart way to turn an unused bedroom, attic, or basement space into a home office that you can deduct from taxes and save a significant chunk of money.
If you purchase equipment for your home office, like furniture or computer gear, this can also be deducted from your taxes providing you use them primarily for work. Your home office can be tax deductible if you plan accordingly.
Set up the Ideal Home Office for Remote Work
It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to have the freedom to work from home. You can make yourself just as productive as when in the office, and maybe even enjoy going to work more than before. There are plenty of money-saving tips and ways to reduce your taxes with a home office. Join the trend of remote working, and make your life more convenient and hassle-free with a home office.
Start Earning Free Gift Cards for Your Home Office
If you don’t have the Fetch app yet, you can get it by using the buttons or QR code below.
Happy snapping and enjoy your amazing new work from home office space!
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe. He's a contributor to NerdWallet, Forbes, Fortune and more.
You Might Also Like
Visit Unleashed for all the latest Fetch content