No Office? No Problem. How to Build the Perfect Work Space at Home
It wasn’t so long ago that the default option for workers was to leave the house in the morning, head into the office, and wind things down by 5 o’clock. But no longer: Freelancers, telecommuters, and the self-employed now make up a whopping 35% of the U.S. workforce, or 55 million people (a number which is predicted to climb to 60 million by 2020). Freelancing: not just a trend, but a total paradigm shift.
So, life outside of the office is clearly a viable option—but just because you don’t have IRL co-workers doesn’t mean you should work from bed all day. We’re rounding up some of our favorite apps, gadgets, and general tips to help you transform your living space into the perfect home office. Pro-tip: Changing out of your PJs is a good first step.
Home Sweet Office
For a lot of city-dwellers, space is at a premium—and that can make planning the perfect home office tricky. But experts have a few pieces of advice about how best to customize your work environment.
For starters, look for parts of your apartment that are well-lit and quiet (and ideally not in your sleeping area). Keep things clutter-free with some handy desk organizers, but don’t be afraid to hang up bright artwork, adopt a house plant or two—even pick up an essential oil scent diffuser. These small touches go a long way towards fostering a positive, zen-like vibe.
Once you’ve found the perfect spot, be sure to invest in some unobtrusive hardware, too. Corner desks are a great way to make use of unused space, while wall-mounted desks—many of which fold flat when you’re done—are even better for petite pads.
If you’re worried about being sedentary (but don’t have the space or cash for a hefty standing desk), a StandStand also elevates your laptop setup on any surface. Made of strong but lightweight bamboo and weighing in at only two pounds, it’s portable enough to set up almost anywhere.
Super-Smart Productivity Apps
Once you’ve organized your IRL space, it’s time to turn your attention to your digital tool belt. If you’re having trouble staying distraction-free, check out Freedom, which ensures you cut down on procrastination by blocking your access to specific websites for pre-set amounts of time.
If you’re the kind of worker who prefers the hum of white noise in the background—without the distraction of actual people—then Coffitivity is another must. The web-based app lets you plug into recordings taken in busy coffee shops. You’ll get all the gentle murmuring and clinking cups, minus that one guy at the next table who has cell phone screaming matches.
And that’s just the start. Other productivity-boosting apps worth investigating include Any.do (which visually displays all your to-do list items, so you never miss a deadline), Newton (which helps you manage your various email accounts), and Evernote (which lets you keep track of inspired musings on the go).
Handy Office Gadgets
The perfect home office isn’t complete without some trending gadgets. Lightning-fast Wi-Fi is a must for freelancers, and Eero—which supplies multi-router, high-speed connections to every corner of your house—wins plaudits.
Speaking of Internet connections: If you’ve got lots of gadgets hooked up to your home network, invite CUJO along to the digital party. Aside from resembling an adorable robot companion, this little guy is a smart firewall that protects every one of your devices and IoT gadgets from nefarious hackers.
One more must? An Amazon Echo. Not only will it fill the role of a conversational buddy when there aren’t any co-workers around, but it can also order you lunch, help with research, and cue up your favorite playlists for that late-afternoon lull. That’s our kind of office assistant.
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