Your Ultimate First Home Office Checklist

If all you need to get your job done is a laptop and internet access, then you can work from pretty much anywhere, including home. As of just over a year ago, five percent of Americans – roughly 16,000,000 people – work from home. Since commuting can be a huge burden, as can lacking control over your work environment’s noise levels and ambiance, setting up your first home office might seem immensely appealing.

A major flipside of working at home, though, is the potential lack of access to certain resources. Most offices are well equipped with supplies such as printers and file cabinets that cost employees no money to use. When you work from home, though, you’ll need to buy your own office supplies, and if your apartment is on the smaller side, fitting bigger items such as an all-in-one printer might not be possible.

With this ultimate first home office checklist, you can be sure you’ll have everything you need to set up a thriving, productive home office no matter your budget or space. The most important items on the checklist are indicated in bold so you can focus on them first.

Computer supplies

  • Laptop or desktop computer. You likely already have one of these, but if not, you can’t start an office without one. A laptop may be better for you if you often work from locations other than your home office.
  • Computer monitor. A good monitor is an absolute necessity if you’re using a desktop computer. If you’re using a laptop, a monitor isn’t as vital, though using one and raising it to eye level can reduce stress on your neck.
  • High-speed internet access. Chances are that you already have internet access at home. Even if you do, upgrade it to high-speed so you face no obstacles in completing your work.
  • Printer. Although you can rely on out-of-home services for printing, the convenience of having a printer within arm’s reach just can’t be beat.
  • Ink cartridges. If you get a printer, keep a few ink cartridges on hand so you can immediately get back to work when your printer runs dry.
  • Printing paper. Keep a ream or two on hand, perhaps in a smaller drawer of your file cabinet.

Desk supplies

  • Desk. Working from bed is relaxing, but it’s not ergonomic. Get a desk instead to maximize your workflow. 
  • Computer chair. When you’re sitting at your desk for hours on end, it’s easy to experience discomfort. A good computer chair that offers you lumbar, neck, and arm support can make you more comfortable than an ordinary folding chair.
  • Desk lights. How can you get work done if you can’t see well? Consider buying desk lights to improve your lighting situation, especially if your ceiling fixtures just aren’t cutting it.
  • Power strip or surge protector. Your computer isn’t the only thing you’ll want to plug in. If you buy a printer, you’ll need an outlet for that, just as you will if you’re charging your phone at your desk. A power strip or surge protector increases the number of outlets you can access, and a surge protector can safeguard your devices in the event of a power outage.
  • File cabinet. A file cabinet can help you keep organized, detailed records for tax purposes, client invoicing, and more.
  • File folders. Without file folders, a file cabinet is no more organized than a haphazard pile on your desk.
  • Garbage can. Keep your area neat and tidy with a small garbage can you can place underneath your desk or in a corner behind you.

Other supplies

  • Writing implements. Even if you verge on paperless for your work, having pens, pencils, markers, and highlighters on hand is a must. They can be far better than computers for taking notes in a jiffy or doing the math involved in tracking your expenses. 
  • A notebook. Your pens and pencils will only get you so far if you don’t have paper. Buy a notebook for any quick notetaking you need to do – printer paper isn’t lined, so using it in place of notebook paper can quickly get messy.
  • Sticky notes and sticky tabs. When you’re working with printed materials, sticky tabs and notes can help you stay organized and not lose your place.
  • Scissors. Need to print a shipping label and make sure it fits on the package? Scissors will help you get the job done.
  • Tape. Of course, you’ll need something to adhere the label to the package. That’s where tape comes in.
  • Stapling supplies. With staples, a stapler, and a staple remover, you can easily collate printed materials right at your desk. If you need to keep your documents staple-free, try swapping staples for paper clips.
  • Envelopes. Even a paperless business will need to send checks, tax forms, and other documents via mail. Keep envelopes, both traditional letter-sized and document-sized ones, on hand for all purposes.
  • Stamps. While you may not mail that much anymore, you’ll be thankful to have a few stamps on hand when you need them. Pick up a book (10 stamps) from the post office, grocery store, online, or other place where stamps are sold.

What first home office needs would you add to the list? Sound off in the comments!

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