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How to Upgrade Your Home Office

Buying new hardware, new software, and ergonomic furniture can help you upgrade your home office and provide the utmost productivity and efficiency in a work from home environment.

Intuitive home office design and decor paired with your own tastes can help you create a home office that helps you relax and breeds productivity. And while a fresh coat of paint and a functional layout is ideal for the home office, make sure to hone in on the added touches that make work and life a bit easier. Just like any other room in your home, a few upgrades can make a world of difference. So if you’ve waited years to make those additional touches, improve the ambiance of the room, or somewhere in between, here are some suggestions to upgrade your home office.

Hardware Upgrades

Hardware upgrades, such as your computer, printer, keyboard, and mouse, can make your life easier as a work from home employee or freelancer.

Is your keyboard missing an “Alt” key? Do you have a printer that still uses holey, perforated-edge paper? Do you have eye strain from your small monitor at the end of the day? If so, you’re in desperate need of some hardware upgrades for your home office. You may not need to replace everything. But here are some suggestions to get you off and running.

Laptop

Your computer is your workhorse. Without a reliable and (somewhat) speedy computer by your side, you’re sure to run into problems as a remote worker. Thankfully, both laptops and desktops come in a wide range of specs and prices for every type of budget. So whether you need something basic for emails and word processing or something more comprehensive and powerful for graphic design, here are some suggestions:

Best Overall

When you want an excellent business computer that will last a few years without needing replacement, opt for the Dell XPS. Available in both 13- and 15-inch screens (XPS 13 and XPS 15), this laptop is easily configurable to meet your needs. Starting at $1,199, the computer offers two different Intel processors, a touchscreen, and other accouterments.

Most Durable

If you’re always on the move as a digital nomad or you work a few times a week from outside the home, a durable computer is worth the purchase. Again, Dell tops this list with their Latitude Rugged series, which is sure to keep your computer working whether you’re on the A-Train or in the Arctic.

Best for Graphic Design, Photo Editing, Audio Engineering, and Video Editing

While the high-end Dell XPS can cover the above tasks, a MacBook (various types and sizes) is the preferred choice among people in the design, photography, music, and video industries. Compact, powerful, and lightweight, this computer can ensure you get your project done without any lag in performance.

The Laptop Vs. Desktop Debate

Even the most well-planned home office design can start to feel stagnant after a while. But it’s all about versatility. And that’s what makes the laptop vs. desktop argument an intriguing debate when you upgrade your home office.

A desktop often provides a more complete workstation—one that’s always set up and ready. In addition, desktops often have more computing power or the ability to increase power and performance with custom upgrades. Plus, a larger average monitor can reduce eye strain and improve focus.

On the other hand, laptops offer unbeatable portability if you’re a wanderer or you like to switch up where you work. They’re also more compact, giving you the ability to work just about anywhere—including a makeshift home office. However, some laptops—especially on the cheaper end—will lack in power compared to a desktop.

Power and portability are the two main aspects you’ll have to weigh before you decide. Or if you have a larger budget, you may even want to consider the benefits of having one of each.

Keyboard

Not all keyboards are create equal. On laptops, the keyboard size is entirely based on the size of the screen. This can cause wrist pain, not to mention a loss in typing productivity if you’re used to a larger (desktop-sized) keyboard.

However, keyboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your needs. Ergonomic options from companies such as Microsoft, Logitech, and Kinesis are scientifically proven to lessen the chances for carpal tunnel and wrist strain. Plus, you can always choose one of these keyboards to link to a smaller laptop or a tablet for a highly improved typing experience.

Printer

In the digital age, most information is stored on your computer or the cloud. But that doesn’t mean your printer isn’t an integral part of upgrading your home office. You don’t have to spend a bundle here. Just choose a printer that has what you need, but don’t forget that a wireless option is always convenient. Plus, many new printers are automatically linked to allow prompt delivery of ink when sensors show it’s running low—a handy option when you’re constantly busy.

Mouse

Because so many remote workers prefer laptops, the touchpad (trackpad) has become the preferred method to move the cursor. However, users often fumble with the touchpad due to sensitivity issues and a lack of precision. Fortunately, a USB mouse is an upgrade your home office will enjoy.

Even some of the most affordable mice come with a modicum of ergonomic design. Thus, you won’t have the wrist strain often associated with the touchpad or the more shapeless mouse designs of the past. And if you haven’t seen the latest designs, the futuristic appeal might be enough to encourage you to buy one.

Monitor

A large monitor is a game-changer in the home office, especially in the laptop vs. desktop debate. With a large monitor, you can still opt for a laptop, but have the versatility to create a temporary desktop-esque setup. In addition, a second monitor provides another way to sift through numerous tabs or programs without clicking the mouse a bazillion times, saving you frustration, time, and putting everything in order.

Wireless Router

Modems are the devices that internet service providers (ISP) issue, and typically, they come bundled in the same device with a router. The router is what allows you to connect to the internet via a cable or Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, many of the units provided by the ISP (internet service provider) are cheap, inefficient, or require a monthly rental fee.

Instead of going through all that rigmarole, grab a wireless router for yourself. These devices provide better signals throughout your home and are more reliable. Check out the Nest Wi-Fi or NetGear NightHawk for two of the best options available. If you live in a larger home, you may also want to consider a signal booster or Wi-Fi range extender to ensure a strong, constant connection.

Software Upgrades

Software upgrades can improve workflow and efficiency.

Even the fanciest hardware needs a bit of the latest software to blend together in a harmonious union. So even after a hardware upgrade to your home office, don’t forget about these software upgrades.

Virtual Private Network

Cybersecurity is one of the most important, yet often overlooked aspects of a home office. And that’s just what a Virtual Private Network (VPN) aims to fix. A VPN masks your IP address, location, and other private details through an encrypted internet connection. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are two of the more reputable options with prices starting around $8 or $9 per month. If your employer doesn’t offer cybersecurity options or you’re a freelancer, getting a VPN is a surefire way to protect yourself.

Up-to-Date Operating Systems

Are you still running Windows XP or Windows 8? Or perhaps you’re new to remote work? Either way, you’ll need to update your operating system (OS) before it becomes obsolete. In most cases, this also means that your computer is relatively outdated. So before you opt only for an OS upgrade, weigh that cost against the price of a new computer. You might find that the new device is a more cost-effective option.

Paid Subscriptions

Almost everything on the internet is free. But in some instances, paid software and certain platforms provide the functionality you need as a remote worker. For example, the trial version of Microsoft Office may get the job done on smaller projects. But you may need to upgrade to get the most out of it or to create professional-looking end products.

This extends to all types of software and online programs for remote workers: Slack, Monday.com, Yoast SEO, and even your own website. If you have the budget, weigh the pros and cons of particular platforms to see if a paid version will reap benefits in the future.

Furniture

Home office furniture can help productivity, as well as provide numerous health benefits.

As much as you love the sectional in your living room or the recliner in your man cave, these spaces don’t provide a streamlined workspace. Comfort must be proportionate to functionality without leaning too much in one direction. So if you’re tired of using milk crates as tables or a poker table as your desk, here are some furniture options to upgrade your home office.

Standing Desk or Stand-Up Converter

Standing desks have become a popular choice for both office and remote workers due to the many health benefits. According to studies, these include:

  • More calories burned
  • Lowered risk of back pain
  • Lowered risk of certain health ailments
  • Improvement in mood and productivity

If you already have a desk that you love, you can still enjoy the benefits of a standing desk thanks to a stand-up converter. These attach to the top of your desk, allowing you to transform it into a standing desk when you see fit.

Ergonomic Chair

Don’t underestimate the power of an ergonomic chair. They provide better comfort, as well as a number of health advantages, such as:

  • Reduced back and hip pain
  • Better posture
  • Less neck strain

Because these chairs can range from $100 to $1,000, many people are unsure which one works for them. That’s why heading over to an OfficeMax or even a La-Z-Boy (that’s right, they’re in the office furniture game) might be the best avenue to see which one feels right to you. And keep in mind that gaming chairs often hit all the checkboxes of comfort, and sometimes, at a fraction of the price.

A Desk You Love

A desk is usually the centerpiece of your home office. Yet it’s the one piece that you can implement your tastes and preferences without damaging your workflow. Before you decide on one, just remember these considerations you need to address:

  • How large do you want the surface to be, i.e. how many monitors or other devices will you have?
  • What type of surface do you like? Laminate? Wood? Metal?
  • Make certain that you have enough legroom underneath. It’s typically 29 to 30 inches high and width based on your preference.
  • Choose either a standing desk, a sitting desk, or a sitting desk with a standing option.

Remember that the height of your desk isn’t as important if you have a chair with a height-adjustable lever.

Lamps

If you have a flush-mount light, a ceiling fan with a light kit, or wall sconces, you might have decided that you have enough lighting in your home office. But to upgrade your home office properly, don’t forget about table and desk lamps. Adjustable lamps can put light just where you need it when you need it most, reducing eye strain and lessening the chance for tension headaches. Accent and decorative lamps can also add some visual appeal that makes your home office more appealing to you—a vital aspect when you spend most of your day here.

File Cabinet

You may not think of a file cabinet as a necessary piece of furniture. But the organization and safety it provides is an essential home office upgrade. File cabinets come with a variety of options to suit your needs. So when you go to purchase one, consider:

  • Mobility
  • Size
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Locking

Once you’ve ascertained which of these features you want, you’ll find a file cabinet that fits the mold. Plus, there’s no need for the clunky, heavy file cabinets of yesteryear. With modern options, you’ll discover the ideal filing solution.

Extras

Even if you’ve upgraded all of the above, don’t forget about these extras to make your life just a bit easier:

  • Surge protector to prevent frying your electronics
  • Secondary internet connection in case your original goes out
  • Extra storage on the walls
  • Fireproof safe for important documents

An upgraded home office isn’t just an added nicety. It’s a necessity that can shape your efficiency and workflow. So don’t skimp on the one aspect of your professional life that you have total control over. Take advantage, upgrade your home office, and take your love of remote work to new heights. Even if you’re frugal and minimal, you’ll be glad you splurged.

What have you done to upgrade your home office? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you!



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