The One Thing a Longtime Freelancer Says Is Worth the Extra Money for Working from Home

published May 7, 2020
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Working from home has become a new normal for non-essential workers in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and plenty of people are still adjusting to their new work environments. For many, this means figuring out how to peacefully cohabitate alongside family members or roommates during work hours, while for others, adjustments come in the form of tinkering with daily routines and sleep schedules. 

It also means that we’ve had to carve out specific spaces in our homes where we can get work done.

While working from home is a totally new concept for some of us, it’s something that freelancers, self-employed folks, and people with disabilities have been doing for years. So we turned to someone who has been freelancing for a decade for advice about what to invest in for our work-from-home setups. 

“I’ve never been a work-at-the-kitchen-table person—I’ve always needed a desk devoted just to work,” says writer Heather Arndt Anderson, author of several books including “Portland: A Food Biography“. “My office is always a little cluttered with books and magazines, but I love this room.” 

But the one thing Anderson says is worth spending extra money on for a work-from-home setup? “A good chair is essential,” she explains.

A quality office chair can run anywhere from $200 to $1,000. Thankfully, shopping online allows buyers to streamline their choices based on their budget—and you can definitely find some good ones for under $500

While investing in an ergonomic office chair is a smart long-term decision, Anderson says can probably find a sturdy and comfortable one for less by browsing eBay or even a local Facebook yard sale group. 

“I use a Stout Chair Company desk chair that I picked up at an estate sale for $5,” Anderson says.

In addition to a good chair, Anderson sings the praises of noise-cancelling headphones. She says they help when she wants to keep her windows open and the neighborhood kids are playing outside. 

Even though the headphones may have been a worthwhile splurge, she’s saved in other areas of her office. “I use a stack of books to keep my laptop elevated to the most ergonomically correct level,” she says. That’s definitely a budget-friendly alternative to a desk riser. 

The author shares her home office with other family members, too. “I have a small vintage school desk for my son, and a small mid-century desk and cabinets for myself,” she says. “An old art nouveau armoire holds all my office supplies, and I keep a ton of houseplants and candles in my office to make it more relaxing.”