Working from home these days for moms might mean having to carve out a space for your home office so that you can have a space that you can be more productive. I'm going to share some of my favorite tools, gadgets, and hacks as a mom of four working remotely from home.
After 13 years of commuting back and forth from an office (a majority of those times having over an hour commute one way), I've been able to transfer to a role that I can work remotely from home. However, I'm finding that it is really important to have a dedicated space as it is essential for being more productive.
Having been at this for the last two years now, this is my best advice to someone looking to setup their home offfice. Even if you are working from home part-time, these tips can help ensure that the time you spend at home is efficent and productive.
How to Set Up the Best Home Office for Working Moms
Previous to having a remote job, my house had a few small areas that I could switch up to make a makeshift office. I've had spaces in the corner of my bedroom, in a semi-finished basement, upstairs in a loft, and random places like the kitchen island. I can't tell you the number of times I have had to go back to the drawing board because something wasn't quite right about the setup. I've also written all about my love of tech and gadgets for moms that I love and hold near and dear.
Choosing a Location for Your Home Office
As I've gone through these ridiculous efforts of trying to create a working from home space for myself, as a mother I also had to make it easy for me to work in the room while also being able to watch kids when they were home from school. During each of these remodels, I picked up a few gadgets and gear that I wanted to call out that are tried and true. I'm a gadgets person and am addicted to the latest gear, but I also want to share with you some of my tried and true items that working moms might be able to use to increase productivity, efficiency, and focus.
I will say, my place isn't pretty. I've tried. Like really hard, but for all the things I need to be productive and to be a MOM, minimalism and wire hiding went out the door. I mean, I tried, look behind the monitor! But, this is real life as a working mom.
The Essentials for Working Moms Working Remotely from Home
A Wide Screen Monitor
Having a wide screen monitor or an additional monitor will be so helpful, especially if you work in corporate spreadsheets and data every day. Just having your screen set up so that you have one section for productivity, one section for email, and one section for reference documents can help set up.
The most common sizes for wide screen monitors are 34, 43, or 49 inches. Here are two things I would have you consider when choosing the wide screen monitor for work purposes:
- Is the on/off button reachable and easy to use? I've used monitors where the on/off buttons were placed in the strangest areas or even hard to use. Make sure you consider that.
- Is the resolution good enough for your needs? The resolution allows you to make things "smaller" so you have more real estate to see things. I love having a high resolution which allows me to see MORE of my excel sheet.
The monitor that I just invested in is the LG 49" monitor. I created an entire YouTube video about it which you can watch here. I absolutely LOVE it and it is in fact the monitor that I am using to type this very sentence.
You need to get a good laptop stand to ensure that your monitor is at eye level. Everything I've read on ergonomics have said that the top of your laptop lid should be at eye level. So make sure you invest in one that works for your laptop.
I used this made for Macbook stand for a while, but I really now prefer this moveable stand. For this height adjustable arm mount stand, the only annoying thing about it is that the area that "holds" the laptop sits across a port for my PC machine. For Mac, it's not a problem. For my HP Elitebook, it literally sits against my USB and HDMI ports. So I think this stand was mainly made for our Macbook peeps. In general, try to get a heigh adjustable mount stand if you can determine that you'll be in that same area and not need to move the stand.
I honestly need storage for all the things in my life. Here's a photo of my storage and most of it is from Ikea! I have two Kallaxes side by side here and a ton of Alex cabinets in this space. It's amazing.
Gadgets to Boost Your Productivity at Home
A Good Keyboard
I am a keyboard snob and have had SO MANY keyboards in my life. I've invested all the way up to $200 for a keyboard and have gone through a lot. I'm here to tell you that you do NOT need to spend money on expensive keyboards, but a good one is worth it's weight in gold because you can get your thoughts out quicker, faster, and with less typos (the latter I think is dependent on the person).
I write A LOT and I wanted a keyboard that would allow me to just get my thoughts down as fast as I can type them with precision. What I have found is that the Apple Wireless Magic Keyboard (without number pad)performs best in terms of just seeing the response on screen as well as having the keys laid out in a way that makes it easy to type.
If you have to have a number pad, I would go with the MX Keys from Logitech instead of the Apple Wireless Magic Keyboard with the number pad just because it has more features.
I've use the MX Keys from Logitech, which is also an amazing keyboard. I find though that the dents inside each letter actually makes me type slower. However, what I love about that keyboard is that it has the ability to switch from one computer to another. How this is helpful is that if you have a monitor and keyboard that is your main peripheral on your desk, and you change out from personal laptop to corporate laptop, it allows you to change from work to play in just a matter of seconds.
A Good Mouse
Hands down, my favorite two mice have been the MX Master 2S and MX Master 3 series bar none. I will be honest though, the MX Master 2S failed on me after 3 years of usage, but I also didn't really take care of it, I threw it in my bag like it was a phone when I went back/forth to the office. So that might not have been a quality thing, maybe a user thing. I honestly can't tell the difference between the two mice to give an honest comparison. But right now, I'm using the MX Master 3 because I can scroll left and right on spreadsheets, I have buttons for Mission Control to see all windows, and it's just amazing in terms of ergonomic design.
What You Need on Your Desk to Drown Out Noise
A Great Headset
I'm torn between wired and wireless headsets. I haven't found the PERFECT one just yet. I did splurge on a $400 set of bluetooth audio headsets the Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise cancellation headphones. My kids are at home with me half of my working day and they often are on virtual calls with their classes. I can hear it, and it's annoying and makes me lose concentration on what I am supposed to be working on. The Sony WH-1000XM4 allows me to drown all that out. And when I say ALL, I mean all. My kids need to tap me on the shoulder. It's amazing. The downside is that for conference calls, I would give it a 6. There's a weird thing where when you connect it to a video conferencing call, there are two options that show up. I created a video on this as well.
However, if you are on conference calls all the time with like super important people, just get the wired version so that you aren't having to mess with the settings. I prefer having a headset that covers both ears, again to drown out the noise.
Work from Home Essentials Ergonomics
A standing desk is so important. If you are no longer commuting and you are in your space, you need to make sure you make a conscience effort to be mobile. The easiest way to do this is with the Ikea Skarsta desk, which is the least expensive standing desk option because it requires a manual crank. This is something I did wish I spent a little more on because I have to figure out every time I set it up the height at which my desk should be. It's annoying, but it works.
Standing Desk Mat
If you get a standing desk, you need to get a standing desk mat. Even if you are using your kitchen island as a pseudo standing desk, your precious feet will thank you for an ergonomic standing desk mat.
Chairs are so personal, so I hate to give a recommendation here. However, it is one of the MOST important setups as part of your office. Check out a review of the chair I have here.
Perks of Working Remotely from Home for Moms
It also has its usual perks of saving time on commuting back/forth to work, flexibility for picking up kids when they are ill, going to lunch with them when your schedule allows, and pretty much having laundry running in the middle of the day.
Summary for the Perfect Remote Office Setup for Working Moms
These are pretty obvious items, but I wanted to share some of the big considerations before you go buy some of these things. Taking time to understand what you really need will cause you less regrets later down the line. And, you just learned from me what to consider!
I feel like after investing in some of these items for working from home, I've found that during the times I need to work, I am much more productive and also on task.
Here are the mental and personal benefits that I have derived that, in my mind, hasn't impacted my ability to perform at work:
- The time I have saved from having to commute for two hours has allowed me to spend more time with my family. This fulfills the work life balance that most working parents crave.
- There is decreased stressed because at the end of the day at work, I'm not frantically trying to think about having to figure out all the activities that will need to be done after getting home including getting the kids to extracurricular activities, making dinner, and homework because in the morning, I now actually have time to plan my day so that it's not so frantic in the evenings.
- I am a better employee because I can spend any downtime on personal development, which I may not have had time to do before.
There are definitely downsides from working from home, like ensuring that you are proactive in setting up face time with colleagues and friends in person for both your professional and mental state of mind. However, for me, the benefits of working from home has provided me a sense of calm, peace, and, honestly, relief.
Having a home setup that is conducive to me being more efficient in my professional goals is just icing on the cake.