As work-from-home jobs become more widespread, so too do the demands placed on home offices.
We saw some trends in home office needs – some very reasonable and others … not so much. For example, some employers give thousands of dollars in grants to decorate your home office while others require custom 17-inch dual-screen monitors with no refund.
Most remote jobs are somewhere in the middle, but chances are you’ll have to invest a little in your home office before it can work from home.
This list of essential home office information is based on the general requirements for remote jobs and advice from remote workers. It will give you an idea of what elements your home office might need and how much it will cost to switch to a career from home, especially in sales, customer service, or IT.
Typical office requirements for work-from-home jobs
Portability plays a big role in remote jobs. After all, lying in bed with your laptop at home is only half the fun on those lazy days. In this case, a lightweight laptop is the best option. However, you may feel uncomfortable with computer prices.
Work-from-home reporter James Duren agreed.
“For example, it’s not always possible to spend more than $ 1,000 on a MacBook, even if we write them off [on taxes]”Said Duren.
He’s using a Chromebook for $ 170.
“The most beneficial aspect is that everything is stored in the cloud,” said Duren. “So I am never at risk of losing documents if my laptop dies.”
However, this is a double-edged function. The biggest adjustment can be the availability of apps and programs. The Chromebook is its own operating system, so some popular applications are not available for download.
For jobs that require specific sales or IT software, an inexpensive PC with the latest Windows operating system may be the best choice.
High speed internet
In addition to a computer, the most common requirement for a work-from-home job is a stable, hard-wired Internet connection. This means that your laptop or computer must be connected directly to your modem via an Ethernet cable – not via WiFi.
Typically, employers require minimal upload and download speeds. The sweet spot seems to be 10 Mbit / s download and 5 Mbit / s upload. Try Ookla’s Internet Speed Test to see if your current connection meets this standard.
To find the best deal, there are many websites that compare Internet providers based on speed, price, and range of availability. According to an estimate by the Internet and telephone service search engine WhistleOut, You’re likely paying $ 30 to $ 50 a month to meet the minimum internet speed requirements for most work-from-home jobs. (WhistleOut is owned by Clearlink, who also owns The Penny Hoarder.)
However, be sure to do some comparisons yourself to get a more accurate number as your location can affect prices.
Landline and telephone
In the customer service and sales industries in particular, a solid home office phone is a godsend. Typically, you need call forwarding, hold, conference, and voicemail capabilities in your everyday life, which is standard on most office phones. Amazon has a range of models between $ 50 and $ 80. It is probably an exaggeration to spend more than that.
If you were hoping to avoid landline bills by using a Voice over IP (VoIP) service like Google Voice or your own cell phone, most employers in phone-dependent industries prohibit it. You usually want a dedicated landline connection.
Landlines are getting obsolete with the adoption of VoIP services, but some large companies like AT&T are offering plans for less than $ 25 a month when bundled with Internet services. If you already have landline service, you can also save some money by adding an extra line or bundling with your current ISP or cable provider.
Headset and microphone
Headsets are often needed, but even if they aren’t on the job list, a noise-canceling headset can do wonders for productivity. And during meetings or phone calls, you will likely need to have your hands free to take notes.
“For teleworking, the most important tool is a good headset that allows me to comfortably attend meetings without being disturbed by noise in my neighborhood,” said Arwen Brenneman, author of remote content.
Several remote workers recommended their favorite headphones and earphones to The Penny Hoarder. If you have the funds, software developer Austin Grandt recommends Bose QuietComfort headphones.
“The headphones are perfect for working at home or in a shared environment like a shared work area because the noise cancellation puts me in my own zone,” said Grandt. “The built-in microphone on the headphone cord is also great for video chats or phone calls.”
The Bose headset can cost anywhere from $ 200 to $ 400 on Amazon, depending on the model.
If you’re looking for a cheaper setup, Srhythm has a highly rated noise-canceling headset with a built-in microphone for around $ 50.
It would be quite rare for a job ad to specifically require a desk. It goes without saying.
But desks are sometimes overlooked. Realistically, the standard cubicle size desk won’t work for apartments or home offices.
So, when shopping, consider your size and storage limitations.
“I think the best purchase I’ve ever made was a standing desk,” said Matt Schmidt, a remote insurance advisor. “Being able to switch from a sitting desk to a standing desk all day was a lifesaver.”
Schmidt recommended the xec-FIT desk, which is available for around $ 300. However, you can find adjustable desks at half the price on Amazon.
What about portability?
“A $ 15 IKEA bed tray is my go-to place to work from the comfort of my couch,” said Brenneman.
If there is a home office that you can absolutely concentrate on, then it is the office chair. Discomfort is really distracting, and poor posture leads to a myriad of other long-term problems. Creature comfort is important when it comes to sitting for hours.
“One of the most important things for me personally is a comfortable posture support chair,” said Nicholas Kinports, a senior manager, business development.
His chair is from Aeron. The model he suggested will cost you up to $ 500, but Kinports said it was worth every penny.
For a cheaper option, try the Mesh Chair from the Alera Elusion series. According to ReviewGeek, it’s the best chair if you’re trying not to sell an arm or leg to support your back.
“It’s the little things that can create distraction and discomfort,” Kinports said. “Make sure you are investing in exactly what you need to get your best focus every day.”
Monitor specifications are usually included for the IT, sales, or customer service industries. But as a writer, I find dual monitors extremely beneficial. They help me stay organized by putting tabs and tasks across specific screens.
“As a [software] Developers, an additional screen is also a must, ”said Grandt. “Something bigger than the 13-inch laptop … keeps me productive.”
PC Magazine rated the best monitors of 2021, and the Lenovo ThinkVision M14 received a great rating. Due to its screen brightness and portability, it is ideal for home office use. In most home offices, desk space is a luxury. Consider adding a monitor mount for an additional $ 30 or so.
The little extras
While they may not be considered “essential,” it may take a little extra comfort to make your home office comfortable enough to work every day. You might not need any of the following to get started, but you probably want to incorporate some of these extras into your home office:
- Office supplies. Think of notepads, pens, and paper clips.
- Power strip. The more electronics you collect, the more you will appreciate extra electrical outlets.
- Good work lighting. Your eyes will thank you.
- Shelves or an organization system. Yes, you can be completely digital. Still, you might want a place to keep professional reference books or your coffee mug collection.
If you land a work-from-home appearance that doesn’t cover the cost of home office, you should be prepared to spend $ 700 as a one-time investment to make sure your workspace is up to the snuff. The more expensive options on the list can earn you up to $ 2,500 – with no monthly internet, phone payments, or pajamas.
And freelancers should write off these expenses as individual deductions from their taxes.
Adam Hardy is a former employee of the Penny Hoarder.