As someone who has been working from home for many years now, I can tell you that it’s not all pajamas and Netflix. In fact, adjusting to being a WFHM (work-from-home mom) has been one of the biggest challenges of my career.
Whether you are only working from home temporarily or never plan to clock in at the office again, you can still set yourself up for success. Here are a few of the things that I personally consider to be home office must-haves for the working moms out there.
Some days, I work from my local Starbucks, just to get a change of scenery (and warm pastries). When I’m working from home, though, I write from my dedicated workspace.
Having a dedicated workspace allows you to work without as many distractions, and helps you to get “in the zone.” Working from somewhere other than the kitchen table also helps reduce the clutter and noise around you, boosting your productivity.
Even if you can’t dedicate an entire room of your home to an office, try to set up a small desk that’s just yours, and just for work. Believe me, it’ll make a difference.
This might seem a little obvious, but having a good computer is imperative when it comes to working from home.
When your computer is your lifeline to clients, email, and projects, it needs to be as reliable as possible. Working on an old operating system or a computer that’s bogged down with spyware not only puts your work at risk, it also makes for a frustrating workday.
If your budget allows, I would even suggest that this computer exclusively be used for work purposes. That way, your kids’ game downloads don’t put your important files in jeopardy.
High-speed internet connection
Your work-from-home job probably looks a bit different from mine. But whether you’re uploading large files, participating in Zoom conferences all day, or writing personal finance articles, a high-speed internet connection can make all the difference in the world.
Shop around before signing a contract, so you can find the best deal on internet services. Be sure to get a package that supports your work needs as well as things like streaming services. Trust me, you’ll appreciate that higher bandwidth when the kids are home watching Disney+ while you’re trying to join a teleconference.
Oh, and be sure to call at least once a year and see if you can lower your monthly payment on that service. You’d be surprised by how easy it is to get loyalty discounts by simply asking.
And, remember that it’s not just about the speed of your network. Your router can make a big difference. If your office/workspace isn’t near your WiFi router, consider something like a mesh network (Amazon’s Eero is a simple-to-set-up option).
If you’re going to be sitting at your computer all day, the importance of having a supportive desk chair cannot be understated.
Yes, it can be tempting to just plop down with your laptop on the couch or at your kitchen table. However, sitting with poor posture all day can lead to back and neck pain, fatigue, and can begin to impact your productivity.
See if your job will reimburse you for an ergonomic chair for your home office if you’ll be teleworking. You can also consider a stand-up desk, a yoga ball chair, or even a desk chair that doubles as an exercise bike.
Poor work lighting can hurt your eyes, make it difficult to focus, and give you headaches. None of these is conducive to your productivity!
Be sure that you have enough lighting in your workspace, and also consider switching out the bulbs for a more natural tone. If you can set up your desk near a window that gets great daytime light, even better.
Spouses, children, dogs, motorcycles driving by, the dryer buzzing… there are so many potential distractions when working from home. With a good pair of noise-canceling headphones, you can minimize the impact that those noises have on your work.
If you’re going to work from home instead of from the office, you should ensure that you will have access to all of the programs, platforms, and software necessary to do your job. You may be surprised by the price tag on many of these, so make sure it’s either in the budget or that your workplace will provide access for you.
One of the best things about working from home is that I am only a few steps away from my fridge. One of the worst things about working from home is, well, that I am only a few steps away from my fridge.
Working in close proximity to my stocked kitchen means that I snack more than I would like, and don’t eat as healthy as I know I should. I also tend to find a task for myself on the way there or back — I’ll switch out the clothes in the washing machine or wipe down the countertops, and before I know it, I’ve been away from my desk for 30 minutes.
Instead, invest in a mini-fridge that you can keep in your home office. Stock it with bottled water or juice and some healthy snacks. That way, you have good food on-hand and don’t need to leave your desk in order to grab it.
At the office, you know when your workday begins and ends. When working from home, the lines can get blurred and before you know it, you’re at your computer until midnight finishing projects.
Having a solid calendar for yourself can change that. Pencil in specific tasks and set “meetings” for yourself to stay on track. It doesn’t matter whether you use a desk calendar, digital reminders, or a sheet of paper…all that matters is that you structure your day.
It can be easy to waste time on social media or catching up on household tasks when working from home. If you’re going to find a successful balance between your family and your work, you need to make the day feel organized.
As wonderful as working-from-home can be, it can also get pretty chaotic at times. Keeping your workspace, projects, and important documents as organized as possible can really help with your productivity.
Plus, as a remote employee, there may be certain tax deductions you can take at the end of the year. By keeping organized records in a dedicated storage or filing cabinet, you can ensure that you don’t miss out on a single one. (And, if you are self-employed there’s a whole different set of tax issues).
In my ten years of remote working, I have gotten pretty spoiled; I’m not sure I could go back to an office setting. If you’re new to working from home, though, or are forced to do so temporarily, the transition can be a bit rough.
Setting yourself (and your workspace) up for success truly is key. Yes, you will still get distracted and yes, your kids may still spill juice on your new keyboard (maybe that’s just mine). With the right equipment, though, you may find that working from home is pretty incredible.
–By Stephanie Colestock