The Home Office Upgrade Checklist

Home offices are often spaces which are organically thrown together over time, rather than planned and designed. Thus, there are often pragmatic choices of "this will do for now" that eventually turn into "I totally have forgotten about it" details. But sometimes it's worth revisiting how your home office is setup and making a few changes to optimize comfort and efficiency...

Check and Update the Ergonomics of Your Setup:
More than anything, ergonomics matter when it comes to a home office. We've gone into detail about figures and features of ergonomics, noting there isn't really a one-size-fits-all position, but there are some recommendations for height for sitting vs. standing setups worth considering.

When looking for a task chair, consider these guidelines:

  • Offers adjustable height and able to lower, raise, and tilt backwards
  • 16" to 20" off of the floor, allowing your feet to comfortable lay flat on the floor
  • Offers lumbar support
  • Backrest is wide enough to support shoulders; neck/head support is optional, but ideal
  • Chair's seat should allow 1"-4" of space between edge of chair and your knees
  • Front edge of seat is curved, preventing pressure point on bottom of legs
  • 5 wheels for easy movement in and out of the chair
  • Padded armrests that can lower or raise with an easy to clean material

Sometimes it may be a matter of the angle/height of your monitor which makes the biggest difference. My partner recently switched to a larger laptop and was having shoulder soreness using the laptop from our dining table turned home office desk. But once I switched her over to a laptop stand, the pains disappeared, thanks to a correctly aligned eye to screen position. Ergonomics matter, but are subjective and dependent upon your height, build, and activity level, so go to furnishing stores and test before you purchase.

Optimize Your Lighting:
If you've still got an incandescent bulb, it might be worth considering switching it out for a more energy efficient and less heating-emanating LED or CFL bulb. If your lighting preferences leans toward emulating daylight, you want a bulb in the color temperature range of 6500K, while a warmer 2700K will bring you closer to the warmth of an incandescent.

LEDs are still more expensive than CFL and incandescent options, but prices are dropping quickly and availability increasing to big brand retailers. Whichever bulb you choose, it's best to have two lighting sources: one direct (a task light), and a secondary ambient light positioned away to avoid glare and ease eye strain (this is where a floor lamp pointed upward or downward can be useful).

Get Your Desktop In Order:
As big proponents of having a place for everything, we believe modular storage systems can be an effective tool for wrangling in a messy desk. These stackable Stack+Fit Desk Accessories from the queen of neat and orderly, Martha Stewart, are neutral yet handsome, compatible with nearly any home office decor.

Upgrade Your Power and Charge Options:

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If you're big on preparing for any situation, then an Uninterrupted Power Supply is insurance against unexpected shutdowns during blackouts or brownouts. But at the least , consider adding a surge protector as the first line into your home office setup. Since we work from a small size home office where outlets for charging are vital, we like options like the Belkin USB Charging 6-outlet Surge Protector, offering 6 electric outlets plus 2 USB charging ports.

Upgrade Your Wired/Wireless Network:
Network routers are often an item purchased and then soon forgotten...sometimes for years. But an old router can be a bottleneck. If you're still on an older router utilizing 802.11g/b Wi-Fi, you'd be smart to make the modest investment in a new dual band wireless router. Simultaneous dual-band cuts down on interference, and though speed improvements won't be huge for most broadband connections (wired connections see bigger improvements than wireless performance), we've noted increased wifi range once upgraded to a current 5GHz +2.4GHz models.

For price vs. features, we usually steer towards the up and done Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station or the Cisco's line of Linksys Gigabit Routers. Both are extremely simple to setup, and the latest Cisco models let you manage/connect using an iOS and Android app.

(Image: Sabrina Soto's Penthouse Pops with Color)