If you're one of the 19% of Canadians with a work-from-home job or the 6% with a hybrid working arrangement, you know there are some great benefits. However, having everything you need to maintain productivity when you're in remote work is essential. From setting up an office space to getting into healthy remote work habits, knowing how to create your ideal setup can help you meet your employer's targets while achieving a great work-life balance. 

Nailing your work-from-home routine takes more than snuggling up on your couch with your laptop every day. You don't need to splurge your hard-earned paycheck on the most high-tech ergonomic equipment to succeed, although investing in a few essentials can make your work-from-home routine more enjoyable and comfortable. Whether your home is already your office or you aspire to join the remote workforce, considering the following factors will give you the tools to excel.

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tip #1: ensure a reliable internet connection

It's hard to think of a remote job that doesn't require a stable, fast internet connection. Whether your role involves online meetings, creating web content, or pretty much any other online work, a sluggish internet connection is bad news for your productivity. Therefore, consistent, speedy internet connectivity is one of the first things you should nail down if your existing connection is less than stellar. 

Don't leave resolving your internet woes until later, especially if you expect to attend remote job interviews. Potential employers want to see that you can work effectively at home, so a slow or unreliable connection in an interview could raise questions about your ability to be productive in your new role. 

tip #2: create a designated office space

While working from your couch (or even your bed) could seem attractive as a work-from-home rookie, it's not great for your productivity and risks an unhealthy merging of your work and home life. Furthermore, many employers require remote workers to have a dedicated, private workspace before offering them a job. 

You don't need to sacrifice an entire room to create a work-from-home office space. However, the area you choose must have enough room for a desk and any equipment you need to do your job. 

Quiet and privacy are also important considerations. Your kitchen table might be a perfectly good option if you live in an all-adult household, but it could be an issue if you work from home with kids who'll interrupt your workflow (or peer into your on-screen meetings). 

Finally, consider the background of your office space if you need to meet with colleagues or clients remotely. A front-row view of your bed or the laundry pile doesn't give the most professional impression, so try to pick a spot that offers a clutter-free backdrop.

man smiling and looking on the side, sitting at a table with a mug and a laptop. Kitchen is in the background.
man smiling and looking on the side, sitting at a table with a mug and a laptop. Kitchen is in the background.

tip #3: invest in an office chair

However comfy your home is, it probably isn't set up for a 9-to-5 workday. The average Canadian's full-time hours are around 39.5 hours per week — and it can feel a whole lot longer if you don't have a comfortable office chair for your work-from-home job. 

How much you should spend on an office chair depends on your budget and personal sense of comfort, but it can be worth investing a little extra in one that keeps you comfy all day long. While you may balk at the idea of splurging a few hundred dollars on a home office chair, your investment works out to just a few cents per hour over the course of a year or longer. You could also check to see if your employer offers a subsidy to cover the cost of ergonomic office essentials or other necessary items.

Still not convinced? According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Work and Safety, an ergonomic chair that encourages good posture is essential for your overall health and well-being. The right chair can help you avoid a slew of complaints from back pain to varicose veins and get the most out of your work and leisure time. 

tip #4: set a healthy remote work schedule

A remote job allows you to avoid a lengthy commute, which can be great for achieving a healthy work-life balance and maximum productivity at work. On the other hand, it's easy to blur the boundaries between work time and downtime when your home is also your office. 

Failing to structure your time in a remote job could make it hard to meet your work targets. On the other end of the scale, you could find your work life intruding on your leisure time if you don't set solid boundaries between work and relaxation. 

Many employers set clear working hour expectations for their remote employees. If yours doesn't, you'll need to designate a clear routine for starting and stopping work. You don't need to stick to a rigid 9-5 schedule if that doesn't fit with your ideal working patterns and family commitments. However, it's worth taking time to think about your responsibilities and decide what hours work best — and letting your family, colleagues and clients know when you will and won't be working.

tip #5: keep costs under control

One of the main disadvantages of remote work is that you may be responsible for kitting out your home office, and it can be all too easy to overspend on items you don't really need. On the other hand, it's essential to have everything you require to maintain productivity. 

Therefore, it's worth considering what's vital for staying comfortable and on-task at work and what's unnecessary. For example, many remote workers find a pair of noise-cancelling headphones worth its weight in gold for keeping them on-task. However, you don't need to spend hundreds on a premium brand to reap the benefits.

Making a list of what you need can help you keep your costs to a minimum. You can also ask what expenses your employer covers before making any purchases to avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket spending.

For additional reading on remote jobs, check out these pertinent articles:

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