How To Set Up Your Home Office To Make Working From Home More Effective

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many thousands of employers are now required to let their employees work from home if it’s at all possible to do so. While working remotely has long been a staple of the tech industry, it will be a new experience for employers in other industries who continue to maintain a physical office space. While we don’t know how long we will all have to stay working at home, you may decide that you prefer it to working in an office. Working from home is also better for the environment, and for your work/life balance. Negotiating working from home full-time may be a tough sell with your boss, but here are some tips to help your work from home more effectively.

Make Sure You Have High Quality Video Communication

Nothing will turn an employer away from remote working faster than seeing their employees in cluttered dark rooms, especially if you work in a role where you will have to communicate with clients, or other businesses. You don’t want to be like the person in the bottom left of the image above, where it’s clear you are not properly set up for working from home. Taking a few steps to improve the quality of your web conferencing video and audio will go along way in convincing your boss to let you work remotely full time, as you will be representing your company in the most professional way possible.

1. Keep Your Webcams At Eye Level.
If you are using the webcam attached to your laptop, when you are starting a video chat, consider placing your laptop on a few books so your webcam can be angled at eye level. This prevents you from constantly looking down at the webcam which results in you having poor posture, people looking up your nose, and the dreaded double chin.

See how the angle is not great when looking down at a webcam.
When the webcam is straight ahead, the angle is much more flattering.

laptop stand
While stacking books on your desk isn’t the most elegant solution, it gets the job done. For a more professional setup, consider a laptop stand or a webcam stand which will get your camera at the right level. The laptop stand also has the added benefit of fixing your posture so you don’t strain your neck by looking down for hours on end.

video light for web conferencing
There are a wide variety of mini video lights available online. Click the image to see some more inexpensive options.

2. Improve Your Lighting
Webcams typically have automatic contols to balance the lighting, but even on bright days with the lights on in your room, often the top of your head will be lit well while casting shadows on your face. A small video light with a mini tripod can ensure you are well lit, and you are sending as clear of a picture as possible (and you can also use it to improve your other home videos!).

3. Audio

Best mic working from home
The Snowball Ice mic is a great, affordable option. Click the image to check the current price on Amazon.

Most modern laptops have built-in microphones that do a fine job when Facetiming with friends, but if you want to be a full time remote worker, it makes sense to step it up to the professional level. A USB microphone will significantly improve the quality of audio to ensure your ideas are heard and taken seriously. We have two recommendations for USB Microphones.

The Snowball Ice by Blue Microphones is a great entry level condenser mic that will give you crystal clear audio for your meetings. What we like is this mic sits fairly low to your desk, and can be angled up towards your head so it won’t appear in the frame of your video chat. This mic is ideal if you have a relatively quiet home office, as it will pick up loud family members in the background. Regardless, you can’t beat the quality of audio for the price. If starting a podcast is in your future, consider going with the more feature rich Yeti version of the mic, which is one of the best microphones for working from home.

Lav mic’s are very easy to use and sound incredible, and they are very affordable. Click the image to see more options.

Another usb microphone option is a USB lavalier microphone. These mic’s will clip on to your shirt or collar, and since they are so close to your mouth they are great at isolating your voice from other noise in the room. You can’t go wrong with one of these, as they will provide great audio without a giant microphone interrupting the frame.

Best USB Speaker For Groups
The above USB Mic’s will make sure that you sound great, but what about the people you’re meeting with? If it’s more than a 1 on 1 meeting, this speaker can help everyone you’re with hear who’s on the Zoom call clearly, so you don’t have to all crowd around the laptop. This can also connect to your smartphone when Facetiming with friends too!

Click the image to see different color options!
If your home is a little noisy, a pair of headphones with a built in microphone may be the best option when working from home. There are many wireless, noise cancelling options that will make sure you can hear, and be heard clearly in your zoom meetings. We recommend the very popular COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones for working from home because you get an incredible value for the cost. Of course if you’re an audiophile at heart or looking for something a bit more stylish, the premium H8i by Bang & Olufsen may be worth checking out.

While this may seem like overkill for a home video conferencing setup, remember, the goal is to impress your employer so they are more likely to agree with you working remotely full time.

Workspace desk
A simple clean workspace is all you need to get the job done.
4. Your Desk
Speaking of impressing your employer, it’s becoming more common for employers to request a photo of your workspace before they sign off on any working from home arrangement. Making sure you have a good desk is essential to maximize your productivity during the day. Thankfully, there are a ton of great styles available that are easy to assemble, and don’t break the bank. Click here to see some great desk options that are under $200.

High Quality Project Management

cloud project management for working remotely
Keeping the team on track is essential when having multiple remote workers. If your company isn’t using any web based project management service, check out, Asana, Trello, or Wrike. All offer ways to add your coworkers, create teams, assign work, and keep track of what’s getting done. The amount you can do on their free plan’s is quite impressive! Take the initiate to implement a cloud based project management solution to give your boss ease of mind that work is getting completed on time.

We all have more time to read! Click the book to learn what it’s about!

Stay Motivated, Stay Productive

Keeping motivated and staying on task is one of the key challenges of remote workers. Distraction is your biggest enemy when working from home. To learn how to beat distraction, check out the book “Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life” by Nir Eyal. In Indistractable, Eyal reveals the hidden psychology driving us to distraction. He describes why solving the problem is not as simple as swearing off our devices: Abstinence is impractical and often makes us want more. We are trying to use technology to facilitate remote working, so it doesn’t make sense to try to swear it off. We highly recommend reading this book to learn how to better schedule your time and stay productive when working remotely.

We hope this post has helped to give you some ideas on how you can make remote work more productive, and help you to negotiate working from home full time. Are you already working remotely and have some more tips? Share your experience in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “How To Set Up Your Home Office To Make Working From Home More Effective”

  1. Hello. I am looking to improve the voice sound quality for skype, webex, etc. on my macbook pro 2020 and iphone se. I have tried the Blue Snowball and the Shure MV5 and did not notice any improvement over the built in mics on my Apple products mentioned above. Are the built in mics on my products really good? Or am I doing something wrong in setting up these mics? Or are there other mics that I should try?

    • I would expect there to be a significant improvement over your onboard mics, when using either the Snowball or MV. Be sure to check your Mac’s audio settings, and the settings of Skype to ensure that the external mic is selected as the input. You may also have to close and restart the program to get it to recognize the mic once it’s plugged in.


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