Four tips for creating the perfect work-from-home set-up

For those of us still WFH (working from home), it’s important to get the right set-up. When planning yours, there are the four main factors to consider.

COVID-19 has revolutionised the way many of us work. Nearly half of all Australians worked from home through the early days of the pandemic and a recent study found that most workers want to continue doing so. Many others have started to work from home as contractors and freelancers.

The right set-up and technology are vital to maximising your productivity while working from home. Here’s what you need to know.

Getting the ergonomics right

According to Adam Turner, a technology journalist and co-host of the Vertical Hold tech news podcast, the most important thing is ergonomics. “You might think, ‘Great, I'm working from home in my pyjamas on the couch!’ but that’s how you cripple yourself.” A good office chair is essential. The height should be adjusted so your arms are bent at 90 degrees and the desk is at the height of your forearms. To avoid neck problems, he advises people who use notebooks or iPads to connect them to an external monitor. Or, you can put them on a box to raise their height to eye level and use a Bluetooth keyboard.

Keeping a connection

While broadband plans offering fast download speeds are handy, Turner says it’s possible to get by with as little as 5 megabits-per-second (Mbps) if your needs are basic. Connection reliability is more important than speed. “If your home broadband drops out too often to be usable, it’s too slow to be usable or you’re sharing with too many other people, get yourself a mobile 4G hotspot.” Devices such as Telstra’s Pre-Paid 4GX Hotspot are affordable and can connect up to 20 Wi-Fi-enabled devices. If the broadband connection to your home is adequate but you have Wi-Fi dead zones, Turner suggests getting a multi-node mesh wireless network to provide more consistent coverage throughout your house.

Choose your hardware

Whether you get a laptop, desktop or all-in-one desktop — where the computer is built into the back of the monitor — largely depends on your workspace. A laptop will suit you if you have to clear the kitchen table of breakfast dishes before your desk is ready. It’s also the best solution if you have to move between an external office and working from home, or if, in normal times, you travel for work. If you have a laptop and dedicated desk space, you can connect it to an external monitor to get a larger screen, and a Bluetooth keyboard and external mouse. “I use my external monitor when I’m editing big documents or need to have multiple screens,” says Turner.

The essential accessories

There are two must-have accessories on Turner’s list: an all-in-one laser printer which copies and scans, and headphones. “Even the $10 Sony earbuds aren’t too bad,” he says. “If you’re sharing a space with others and you’ve got your earbuds in, it’s like your own cone of silence.” Turner says that, although laser printers are more expensive, they are cheaper in the long run than inkjet printers which use cartridges with liquid ink — which are not cheap to be constantly replacing.

Covering your home office

If you have GIO Contents Insurance — either by itself or paired with Home Insurance — home office equipment will be covered, if they’re stolen or damaged in an insured event. The limit for claims on this sort of equipment depends on the level of cover you have:

  • $10,000 with a Classic policy.
  • $15,000 with a Classic Extras policy.
  • $20,000 with a Platinum policy.

Learn more about Home & Contents Insurance

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance.

This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.