How to Create Your Optimal Work from Anywhere Setup
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For most of us, the idea of having a work setup that went beyond a simple laptop and maybe some earbuds was pretty much a pipe dream before 2020. Three years after the pandemic, it's clear that hybrid and remote work are here to stay. Having a decent setup that lets you work from just about anywhere has become a non-negotiable.
What makes for a good work setup that's flexible enough to work from home and other places you might choose? Now, I'm a bit of a gearhead, always trying out new gadgets and gizmos, but you don't have to be obsessed with workplace gear to create a great setup. If you nail the basics, you won't wind up breaking the bank. And with some intentional planning, you'll be well on your way to improving your work experience, no matter where you decide to work.
Let’s take a closer look at the core steps to create an optimal “work from anywhere” (WFA) setup.
Step 1: Choose the Right Working Locations
The first step isn’t about choosing the right gear, but picking the right places to get work done. We’ll talk about working from home to start, but this could apply to anywhere you work remotely.
The “right” place to work will enable you to focus. The choice between a quiet or lively environment depends on your work and personal preferences. I personally prefer a bustling café with music in my headphones for focused writing, but I opt for a quiet home office with controlled background noise for Zoom calls.
A well-lit and well-ventilated workspace is essential. Natural light supports your circadian rhythm, while good air quality is equally crucial for productivity and health. Opening windows for fresh air is ideal, and if they're closed, using an air filter can both eliminate and detect potential issues.
Ensure you have good proximity to essential amenities. Food, water, and also the restroom are must-haves, but think about smaller items too. Notebooks, pens, your iPad, a charging cord, and maybe even some treats.
💡Tip: As a rule, I don’t keep any extra food in my workspace during the day, so I’m forced out of my space to go and get it. It’s important to get that extra movement!
Step 2: Sit, Stand, Walk, or Whatever…Ergonomically
One of the things that has made me cringe the most during the pandemic is watching videos of people working from odd positions that will lead to long-term ergonomic issues. The reality of modern work is that we will work from planes, trains, automobiles, and sometimes a desk. Knowing how to set yourself up is extremely important for your long-term health.
No matter where you are working, the same simple rules apply:
Be sure to use good posture and vary the ways you work throughout the day. That might sound a bit too simple, but if you look through the hundreds of ergonomic guides online, you’ll find that same basic advice repeated. Don’t just take it from me - consult your local ergonomist as well.
Map out how you prefer to work. Asking yourself the right questions upfront will help you make the right equipment investments. Do you want to sit? Stand? Walk while working (treadmill desks)? What kind of work activities will you be performing?
Get the equipment you need. No more, no less. Now that you know your activities, you can start to look at (many) options for desk setups. You don’t need to create some fantasy YouTuber workstation. It’s important to remember that a desk is just a flat surface on top of 4 legs. If all you need is a flat surface, you can easily pull a Jeff Bezos and make a desk out of a door.
There are lots of options for sit-to-stand desks and ergonomic chairs. If you spend significant time at one spot, it’s important to get the best one YOU can afford. With platforms like Canoa, you can design and buy everything you need. It’s even better to keep furniture out of landfills by shopping the second life furniture at sites like ReSeat or Facebook Marketplace.
Step 3: Set Up Your Technology
While the need for furniture types varies widely, the type of technology you need, both hardware and software, varies even more. The basics of any WFA setup are the same: laptop, phone, good wifi, and noise-canceling headphones. What you layer on top of that should depend on your working style.
What apps? If you’re an independent contractor, then you have more options than ever before. If you’re a full-time employee, be sure to see what your IT teams approve.
Some quick questions I ask before I bring some new piece of software into my life:
- Does this work with the other software already in my productivity stack?
- Does this software add more value than it costs (ROI)?
- Will this software help me do my job better, or is it just fun to use?
- Do the people I collaborate with use/want to use this software?
- Does some other app I already use have these features?
- Am I allowed to work from here? Lastly, you’ll also want to check your company regulations around where you can work from (states/countries) and what precautions you should take when logging into WiFi in places other than your home or office.
💡Tip: For your mobile setup, Apple users have the additional option of using their phone as their camera now, and it actually provides an awesome experience. You’ll need an additional dongle, but you can find inexpensive versions.
Step 4: Establish a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Working from anywhere can be amazing, but keeping your balance requires a lot more focus and intention. You can have a great setup, but if your habits are bad, you won’t get anything done.
Thankfully, you can take some simple steps to ensure you’re keeping balance, staying connected, and forming a good working setup no matter where you are.
Set clear boundaries. This is important for both your personal and professional life. If your job doesn’t have set working hours, implement time blocks to take breaks, avoid burnout, and take time for other activities. Let your team know about these hours or introduce team agreements to your team/company.
Have a routine. Keep it even when you travel. Routines sound boring, but our bodies/minds love them.
Be intentional. Ensure you can reinforce boundaries no matter where you’re working. Studies have shown that even the visual presence of a phone or device triggers us to pick them up, and we pick them up a lot.
Carve out time for other activities. Those activities could sometimes be work-related social time to stay connected with your team. Better yet, they’ll be activities that feed your physical, mental, and social well-being.
💡Tip: One simple thing I do at the end of every day is unplug my laptop and put it away in a bag. Am I going somewhere? No. Does it signal to my brain that I’m not going to go back to it again tonight? Yes.
With a loneliness epidemic on the rise, it’s important for us to remember to stay connected and keep building social connections. Working from anywhere makes this even more important.
However, let's be cognizant that we can absolutely feel alone in a room full of people. Remember that a lot of being able to WFA and thrive both in your role and in life comes down to knowing yourself and remaining disciplined.
Conclusion: Continuous Improvement
If you're eyeing your setup or schedule and wondering if something's amiss—don’t. There always will be opportunities to enhance how you work and the setup that supports your productivity. Much like the landscape of work today, it’s ever-changing. Just remember these key factors:
Choose the Right Workspace: Find a distraction-free location with good light, ventilation, and nearby amenities.
Prioritize Health and Ergonomics: Maintain good posture, vary your work positions, and choose suitable equipment. Consider sustainable options from secondary markets.
Technology Matters: Equip yourself with hardware and software matching your work style.
Balance Work and Life: Set clear boundaries, unplug at the end of the day, and schedule time for personal well-being and social connections.
If you need some inspiration or are curious about what real folks are doing in their workspaces, you can check out cool sites like Workspaces.xyz. Otherwise, just start right where you are, focus on your own needs, and keep it simple. You've got this!
Bonus: My Mobile Checklist!
Below is a simple equipment list of what I use when I’m going mobile. The idea is to keep my bag as light as possible and have everything I need to work anywhere successfully.
- Iphone 14
- Belkin iphone Camera Mount
- Macbook Air 15”
- Foldable Laptop / Cell Phone stand
- Apple Airpods
About the Author
Head of Outreach, Insights, and Engagement at inspace
Omar Ramirez is the Head of Outreach, Insights, and Engagement at inspace and holds over 16 years of expertise in workplace, design and construction. As a community leader at Collective he unites workplace professionals to collaborate and empower the creation of better work environments.
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