Where you should think about when arranging a home office

If you have not already done so, investing in a home office is certainly worthwhile. If not for a professional image towards your colleagues, then for ergonomic sitting for your back. Here’s how to set up a good home office.

First of all, it’s a good idea to consider where you want to create your home office. It’s important to have plenty of light so you can read properly, for example. Also consider what a suitable place would be in combination with your housemates, family and preferences. Do you want to sacrifice a separate room for it, or do you want to sit in a living kitchen amidst all the commotion? For example, one person may always want to have music or a television on. The beauty of a home office is that you can choose your own way. Think, for example, about the view you want to have, such as the garden or your family in the living room.

For inspiration on the look and feel, you can, of course, go to Pinterest and search for home office. You’ll see one board after another, making it easy to see what suits you. Apart from the fact that a home office should, of course, look nice, there are also other things to keep in mind when creating a home office. Ergonomics is essential here. There’s a reason why you don’t often have folding chairs and sofas in the office because they don’t give you a good posture if you have to work standing up. It can totally ruin your back, so make sure you have a desk and an office chair that you can adjust. You can find all sorts of information online about adjusting both your viewing angle on your monitor and the height of your chair.

Invest in a separate monitor

In your research into the correct ergonomic posture, you will probably discover that working behind a laptop is not good in terms of ergonomics. You have to look down too much, which can cause neck complaints. Invest in a good monitor with a keyboard and a separate mouse so that you can either use your laptop screen as a second screen to display certain statistics or information or fold it up and work solely with the monitor. Don’t forget to get the right cables, so that you can connect the laptop to the monitor (probably via VGA or HDMI). A webcam is also useful. Normally it is on your laptop, but if you close it and only use the monitor, you can use a separate webcam on your monitor.

Place the monitor at right angles to the window to not see any reflection on the screen. It is a good idea to sit near a window because you have a supply of fresh air, which keeps you sharp during the day. By extension, it is also advisable to place plants, because just one or two plants make people happier and clean the air.

Whether you like to listen to music, you can invest in a Bluetooth speaker or a wired speaker. Don’t forget to buy good earplugs. Firstly, they come in handy when the kids are too noisy, and you need to focus (at least if you buy earplugs with noise cancellation). Secondly, they make it easier to understand calls and prevent the rest of the house from listening to your phone conversations or presentations and courses you’re taking. If you choose smartly, you can also use them, for example, to go for a run during your break.


If you’re a slob, make sure you have not only a desk with drawers but also some other storage space near your home office. This can be useful for administration but also to give you a good place to put your clutter. Especially if you start living more at your desk, it will soon be cluttered with paperwork. Invest in a cupboard or box to put loose things in. And don’t forget an office trash can so snippets of paper or letters and documents that are no longer needed can be deposited there, so they don’t unnecessarily fill up your desk and your storage space.

Light is important for your workplace. If you want to work late at night, you can forget about daylight. You can invest in a nice lamp, but do so with a smart lamp, for example. These can give off different types and strengths of light. Yellow and dimmed for atmosphere in the room, but bright and white for when you need to read something. It is important to have a lamp at your office in any case, because in the winter it can be dark at five o’clock in the afternoon and it is better for your eyes if the whole room is illuminated, instead of your monitor or laptop screen being the only source of light.

Check your employer

Before you start your home office, check what options your employer offers. Some employers pay employees for a desk, but some employers give you the option of picking up a monitor from the office (or sending it to you). This will not only save money, but also less searching for monitors. Finally, it is good not to think too classically: a paperweight, a printer, a pen holder, they are not needed at all for most professions. Besides, you don’t have to buy everything at once, because most online shops deliver the same day or the next day if something is missing in your brand new home office.

Is it wise to turn on your webcam in a video meeting?

We have been working from home for over a year now, and by now, everyone has found their way of working from home. However, as an employee, you sometimes have to give up something, like privacy. At the same time, it can be a major annoyance for managers if their employees always have the camera turned off in meetings. What is the best solution: to switch the webcam on or off during meetings?

The question has been asked in many organisations in the past year: to what extent can you call on people to switch on their webcams? There are no rules for this. Moreover, it is also situation-specific. In a team update with 50 people where you do not say anything, it is considerably less important to turn on your webcam than in a meeting where you are presenting.

Webcam on or webcam off

On the other hand, you can come across a certain way if you do not switch your webcam on. After all, it is not very pleasant for someone giving a presentation to be looking at all those black boxes instead of people who are listening in and getting carried away with the subject. Especially if there is a discussion, for example, it is nice to have some visual support. After all, communication is much more than just words.

It is, therefore, not so much a question of whether or not you have to do it, but more a kind of courtesy towards each other. It can sometimes feel a little awkward because, in a lecture hall, you always look at the speaker and don’t really see the other person’s face. Now everyone sees each other’s faces, and you never know who is looking at you. You know, in real life. As a manager, be aware that very self-confident employees may have difficulties and try to coach them if necessary.

Some people experience the webcam as a breach of their privacy. Suddenly you are showing your colleagues your home, while you may not want that at all. Fortunately, you do not necessarily have to show your home (or another location where you are at the time). For example, it is possible to “blur” the background. There are also virtual backgrounds. In Zoom, these are a few images that you can choose from, but it is also possible to upload your own image.

Tips for video meetings

A tip is to make sure your camera is at eye level. This makes it easier for people to feel like they are just making eye contact with you. Moreover, a camera that films from below without your consent can give a somewhat inflated and arrogant image of you. Look at films and how small world leaders like to be filmed: from below, you appear taller and more powerful.

Moreover, if your camera is at the right height, ensure good lighting, so you do not appear overexposed or as a black shadow. A ring LED lamp, for example, can provide good light if it is difficult to reach in the place where you have made your home office. Also, always inform your family members or housemates that you are in a meeting and the webcam is on.

In the end, it is wise to turn on your webcam, especially if the situation in your living room is quiet (no children running around) and you look like you would if you were in the office. It is not compulsory, but it shows a certain amount of respect and professionalism towards your colleagues. People can see you, know they have your attention, and the conversation feels more human than when only a voice can be heard.

Real connections

At the same time, especially if you have many meetings, you can quickly get tired of online conversations. That’s because there’s often a short delay in the ‘line’, so communication doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes you can choose to turn off the camera, although it is and remains wise not to do this too often and to show that you are involved as an employee. But above all, make real connections with people because face to face is best, even if those faces appear virtual.

How to improve team spirit during working from home?

By now, many are used to working from home. Attending online meetings, presentations in your living room and dividing the work together are common in many teams. However, many people miss the informal chats at the office that are often the glue in a team. After all, those chats ensure that you know each other professionally and get to know more private details. That makes for a better bond. You can strengthen team spirit in a time of working from home in different ways.

Organise a quiz

A quiz combined with a video conference is a good way to keep the team together. You can even combine two things: getting to know more about the company and each other. For example, get some information from the team members in advance and work it into funny questions. There are platforms available for this, like Kahoot. You have full control over how funny you make the quiz, so it can still be quite businesslike. A quiz is a nice break from all the work. Especially if you have a few competitive people in the team, it is likely to get a very positive reaction.

Send a pre-weekend summary message

It is very kind to give a compliment in response to an email, but it is even nicer to show that you see and appreciate a certain employee publicly. Especially after a long week of hard work, it is nice to express your appreciation, end the week and wish everyone a nice weekend. You can do this, for example, by sending a WhatsApp message to the team in which you summarise the week and give credit where credit is due, possibly with a cheerful gif or another image. This not only gives the team insight into what is happening but also a sense of satisfaction, of: “We did this together this week!”.

Ask for something personal before a meeting

There are still many meetings where participants immediately get into business. You don’t have to talk about private matters for fifteen minutes to touch your employees, but showing a brief personal interest works. Just asking how a certain sport, child or education is going gives an employee the chance to think about his private life and share it with other team members. Moreover, it also opens up the possibility for employees to ask the question in return, which allows you, as a manager, to mingle a bit more with your colleagues.

Use a collaboration tool (and add a chit-chat channel)

Collaboration tools are great for getting a quick overview of where things stand. Whether you choose Trello, Slack or Microsoft Teams, this software doesn’t just give you the option to keep track of work-related stuff. There is also room for gifs, funny pictures and, for example, funny questions. Slack, in particular, lends itself very well to this. You can create a chat channel here that you might call the ‘coffee machine’, where employees can do an after-weekend check-in with each other on Monday mornings and share memes and other jokes with each other throughout the week. Creating such a channel shows that you as a company understand that you are dealing with employees and people. Plus, it shows that it’s okay to talk about something other than work every now and then.

Organise a monthly online get-together with a shared Spotify list

While all of the above are mainly done between jobs, for some employees, it’s nice to be able to let go of work for a while and then close their laptop and start their evening. A monthly online get-together on a Thursday or Friday afternoon, for example, can bring employees together because they don’t feel the pressure of still having work to do. So if someone wants to enjoy a glass of wine, that’s an option too. As a conversation starter and for fun, you can also create a shared Spotify list to which employees can add their own songs. You could even choose a certain music theme each month. People can then talk about music, maybe doing a dance or sharing a fun, personal memory. It’s a change from work and a great way to get to know each other better.

Online escape room

A team outing is out of the question in these times, so many companies turn to online options. There is, for example, the online cocktail workshop or the pub quiz. Another challenging option is the online escape room. Here you can also see which employee is more dominant and dares to step into the leadership role. Above all, however, it is fun to get the team to work together on a solution. Often, an organiser sends parts of the puzzle to people at home, which means that good online communication is required to make progress. Cooperation is key, and that is only really expressed in an exciting online escape room where time keeps ticking away.