As more than a dozen states, as well as a growing number of cities and counties, have enacted "shelter in place" guidelines to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, millions of people are being asked to work remotely from the safety of their homes.
"Our estimate for the theoretical maximum is 56% of the workforce" who will end up working from home due to the outbreak, says Kate Lister of Global Workplace Analytics.
If you've been asked to work remotely, you might want to invest in some home office essentials. Here are four things professional organizers say you need for your home office and one thing you don't.
Whether you're operating from a desk or a dining table, an office chair is a must-buy, says certified professional organizer Sharon Lowenheim. "Everyone should have a very comfortable chair, preferably one that rolls," she says.
And it doesn't have to be too pricey. Lowenheim's favorite is the Bungee Chair from The Container Store, which is on sale for $119.99 right now.
"It's great because it gives me back support and it rolls very easily so it's not an impediment," she says "It's very easy to assemble, too."
For maximum comfort, your work-from-home computer setup needs two things, Lowenheim says. When typing, your elbows should be at 90-degree angles, and your monitor should be eye-level.
To address the latter, she suggests buying a stand for your laptop. This will ensure you're not straining your neck during the work day. A Nulaxy laptop stand on Amazon is retailing for $28.99 right now.
She also suggests getting a wireless keyboard and wireless mouse, to keep your elbows at a comfortable angle. A Logitech keyboard and mouse package at Best Buy is $24.99.
"If you're working in a place you're not used to working every day, accidents will happen," Lowenheim says. "I dumped an entire cup of water on my computer last week."
Eliminate the possibility of a costly disaster by getting a spill-proof cup for your coffee or water. She suggests a CamelBak, which is $11.99 on Amazon right now.
Even if you don't have an isolated office, it's important to separate your office life from your personal life, says Susie Hayman, the president of the National Association of Productivity & Organizational Professionals. You should still be able to do the things you usually do at home, like eat or read, without being impeded by your work materials and equipment.
"Have a file box available to store the day's work that you can set aside and keep separate from your personal life," she says. "Take it out in the morning, put it away in the evening."
Lowenheim often suggests her clients get a portable caddy for their desk supplies for the same reason. One she specifically recommends is an mDesign organizer on Amazon for $14.99.
"Be aware that it's not all about working from home, because you still have to live at home," she says.
A common mistake Lowenheim sees: People purchase dozens of nice-looking bins that ultimately take up space and aren't that functional. "Don't get decorative boxes and baskets before you figure out what it is you need to contain," she says.
Take inventory of what items you need to organize or corral before heading to the store, because otherwise it's easy to pick products, like boxes or other pieces of storage equipment, that don't end up making sense for your space and your needs, Hayman says.
People buy "file folders that don't fit the file cabinets, and letter trays that just collect papers," she says. "Often, people buy more than they need."
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