Ask anyone who works from home on a regular basis, and you'll hear the same thing: To pull it off, you need a dedicated workspace that's conducive to productivity. That may be feasible in a normal work-from-home situation, but right now, countless Americans are doing their jobs remotely because of COVID-19, and they're in no way prepared for it. Not only that, but many people don't have a separate room they can use as an office, which makes the current situation all the more difficult.
If you've been thrust into a remote work setup, there are a few tools you may want to invest in that could make your life easier in the coming months. Here are a few to check off your list.
1. A supportive chair
Sitting in a kitchen chair all day could result in back problems and pain. If you don't have an actual desk chair -- one with proper back support -- consider investing in one. Though going to a store to try one out is generally ideal, right now, you may not be too keen on in-person shopping. If that's the case, read online reviews to land on the right chair to order.
2. A fast internet connection
A sluggish internet connection can slow you down and make it difficult to connect with colleagues during online meetings. It could pay to upgrade your internet service to a faster connection if that option is available in your area.
3. A computer screen you don't need to squint to see
Many people work on laptops exclusively these days, but now that you're stuck doing your job from home, you may find that you're spending even more time looking at a screen and less time in meetings. If that's the case, make sure that screen is large enough to avoid eye strain. If it isn't, look at getting a new laptop, or keeping your laptop but getting a docking station and connecting it to a full-sized monitor that will be easier on your eyes.
4. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones
If you live alone, noise during the workday may not be an issue. But if you have a spouse who's home with you in the same boat, or if you have kids who are home from school because of the outbreak, then you probably have your share of concentration-zapping noise to contend with. The solution? A quality pair of headphones that blocks out background noise so you can stay focused when you need to.
Investing in the above tools could make it easier to do your job in the coming months, and do it well. That said, a lot of people are struggling financially right now, and if you're one of them, spending money on any of the above items may be out of the question. Furthermore, unless you're self-employed, you won't be able to deduct the cost of the above items on your taxes -- that's been the case since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was implemented.
What you can do, however, is talk to your employer and try negotiating a work-from-home allowance. Your employer might agree to reimburse you for certain equipment, or give you a certain sum of money to buy the things you need to do your job well. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask.