With a large part of the global population ordered to stay indoors, you might have found yourself becoming a remote worker overnight. For some, it’s an easy transition and the end of a stressful commute. For others, it felt like the walls were closing in five minutes after hearing the news.
I’ve been working mostly remote for over two years. Once I became a father and was challenged by my wife about how much time I would spend with our son (I worked a lot), I decided to take a chance and move to remote working.
It’s been an interesting transition to remote work, with some serious ups and downs. It won’t appeal to everyone, but there is a large group of people I think can benefit from working remotely compared to in the office.
I’m not alone. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2019 report, 95% of remote workers would encourage others to work remotely given their experience. Amongst the many benefits, the flexibility of schedule and working from any location top the list according to the survey.
One major part of transitioning to remote work is making a part of your home into an office. Studies have shown a dedicated space for work can help you be more productive while working. Since we want you to crush it at work and let your new situation lead to a promotion and more income, we’ve got some tips for you in setting up your new home office.
Find a Dedicated Space
I’ve been a strong believer in having a dedicated workspace in my home. At some point in high school, I was told to get a desk for my room and told my computer would go in there. Ever since then, I’ve always had a dedicated space in my room or house where I can sit at a computer and work.
I will rarely work from the couch or my bed, meaning 90% of my time working in the house is spent at a desk. I find having a dedicated space for work allows me to have a place optimized for getting stuff done. My desk is set up with an extra monitor, dedicated plugs for my computer, enough space for a laptop, a notebook, or lunch. Also, my ergonomic chair helps.
After working in several tech companies and startups who place high importance on ergonomic chairs and the best equipment, I’m sold on the positive impact it can have on working.
And if a dedicated office or desk in the bedroom won’t work because of space, family members in the house, or roommates, there are several portable options. My personal favorite, which I own two of in two countries, is the IKEA Dave laptop stand. Sadly, IKEA stopped selling it, but this desk cart on Amazon looks like a great replacement. I use mine when we have guests or I want to get out of my home office.
Create a List of What Your Office Needs
It’s easy to go crazy spending on your new home office. You might have already jumped onto Pinterest looking for inspiration since you started reading this article. Now you aren’t limited by the small design thinking of your employer and you can make the perfect home office. Right?
Let’s pump the brakes.
You don’t want to go into debt trying to create the perfect home office setup. After you have found a place in your home, you should think about the things you will NEED to make sure it’s a comfortable and productive place for you to work. You can always add things over time. Plus, if your remote work situation is temporary, you don’t want to over-invest in a workspace.
A desk and a chair are the bare minimum you’ll need. An extra monitor can be a great investment if you like the extra screen real estate. Since I work a lot from home, a printer, a Bluetooth speaker, and a bookshelf are a part of my home setup. The main thing is to think rationally and not overspend.
Create a Gadget Safe Place
Phones can distract you no matter where you are working, whether at home or in the office. But when you are in your house and don’t have the social pressure of nosey coworkers or social norms, it can become a serious time suck. Add in tablets, smartwatches, and voice assistants, you might be assaulted every 15 minutes with some type of notification or message.
You don’t need to buy a safe to keep your devices in (unless that’s what it takes for you), but you should have a drawer or a stand or a special place on your desk to hold them. Try and get in the habit of putting them out of sight when you have huge amounts of work to get done.
If you are focused on getting in the zone, you can try the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a method of working in 25-minute sprints and then taking a 5-minute break, which I usually spend on my phone. I don’t do it often, but it helps on days when it feels impossible to concentrate.
Save on Your Taxes
Depending on how much space you are using for your office and how much time you will be spending working remotely, you might be able to deduct part of your rent or mortgage for tax benefits in the U.S. The IRS does allow people to deduct a percentage of housing costs, if you meet the specific guidelines, for having a home office. A space that is being used exclusively for business is eligible for a tax write-off.
If you only work at home part-time and for an employer, this can be difficult since it has to be your principal place of work. But, if you have a side-business in addition to work, such as real estate investing, then you may have a valid right to deduct a portion of your housing expenses every year. You should discuss this with a tax professional to ensure you meet the requirements.
Enjoy Working Remotely
Remote work isn’t for everyone, but I think most of us significantly appreciate the flexibility. Once you get used to your new normal, it can be a great experience.
It’s a tough time across the world right now and we are all facing a lot of self-containment. Giving your new remote work situation all you have is a great way to stay up until things return to normal.
Damien is a Personal Finance Nerd and former Facebook Product Manager who started Wealth Noir to help others find wealth. He actively invests in stocks, robo advisors, and cryptocurrency … but loves real estate investing. He holds an MBA from MIT and a Comp Sci & Econ degrees from Unv. of MD. He’s a proud dad, which is his biggest accomplishment.