Working from home usually requires very few supplies. At a minimum, you need a computer, a strong internet connection, and somewhere to sit.
But there are several tools and resources that can make your remote nurse office more comfortable and efficient. These tools can help you focus, improve your comfort, and keep you organized, whether your remote job involves many phone calls or long stretches in front of a screen.
Here are some of the tools recommended by remote nurses in the Nurse Fern community. These are the real-life resources that have helped other remote nurses succeed in their work-from-home nursing careers.
Noise Canceling Headphones
“My favorite way to tune out neighborhood noise”
Many nurses find working from home more peaceful than hospital or clinic-based nursing – until their neighbor launches a major construction project.
Noise-canceling headphones can help you focus by blocking out distracting background noise. You can also use them to stream music specially designed to help you focus.
There are options for all sorts of budgets, from adjustable, high-tech options to budget-friendly models that cut out the most irksome background noise.
White Noise Machine
White noise machines are another tool that can help battle neighborhood noise. They can be particularly useful if your family is home in another part of the house and you find yourself distracted by the sound of your kids or partner.
Try setting up a white noise machine in the hallway outside your workspace. This can help create a sound barrier between your office area and the home chaos. There are all sorts of options available, but adjustable models that allow for easy transport can help you bring your work on the road or double for night-time use as well.
“Gaming headphones – more comfortable for being on calls all day.”
Certain remote nursing jobs require a lot of phone time, including remote triage nurses, health coaches, and case managers.
Gaming headphones can be more comfortable than standard telephone headsets (or worse – cradling your cell phone on your ear).
Other wireless headsets incorporate call functionality and microphones to improve sound quality. Some also offer noise-canceling benefits to help you focus on reports or charting in between phone calls.
“Standing desk, going from 20k steps to sitting all day has been very hard on the body.”
“I work 4 tens and don’t want to sit that whole time.”
Bedside nursing can be physically demanding, but working from home can cause a totally different problem: too much sitting. A standing desk can help you break up long periods of sitting.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a standing desk if you only use them occasionally. You can prop your computer on a box or stack of books, or try putting your computer on an elevated or bar-height countertop in the kitchen.
If you’re looking for something more permanent (or that can be adjusted), there are many standing desk options available, from low-budget rolling carts to fancy programmable desks with preset heights that easily switch between users.
“It’s the best way to stay comfy if you roam your house and outdoor space.”
Working from home offers tremendous flexibility – you can set up your computer in your bed, from your couch, or on the back porch. But working on a soft surface can be hard on your posture and lead to issues like neck strain and carpal tunnel, not to mention the general difficulty of keeping your supplies organized while roaming the house.
A lap desk can ease the strain on your neck, back, and wrists while offering a firm surface for your computer, notes, and phone.
Some lap desks have a soft, cushiony bottom that is perfect for working on the couch or from bed. Look for options with built-in storage for a notepad or your phone, which can prevent loose supplies from rolling off and disappearing into the couch cushions.
Other lap desks have extendable legs and work as a mini standing desk. These are great if your work involves many video calls because you can adjust the height and angle of your laptop for a more flattering view.
A good office chair is an investment in your health and comfort. It can be tempting to spend your work time in bed or on the couch (guilty!), but an ergonomic office chair will protect your neck, back, and wrists from unnecessary strain or injury.
A quality office chair is particularly important for remote jobs that require long periods of sitting without many opportunities to stand up or move around. Whether you’re looking for high-style, extra back support, a budget option, or a gaming chair, there are tons of options at every price point. Facebook marketplace can also help you find a good deal.
Fidget Toy & Puzzles
“Puzzles. I do so many puzzles during meetings. Haha”
“Fidget toy for those long phone calls.”
If your work includes many meetings, it can help to have something to keep your hands busy.
If you have a long meeting where you don’t need to see the screen, this can be an opportunity to do quiet household tasks, like folding laundry or minor tidying.
But for those meetings where you need to stay at your desk to view a presentation or refer to your notes, then fidget toys and puzzles can be a lifesaver.
The trick is to find something that allows you to fully focus on your work while helping you burn off excess energy. You can borrow fidget toys from your kids or invest in a few puzzles to start. Serious sensory-seekers might look into something like a subscription box made especially for fidgeters.
“An exercise ball to bounce/sit on when I’m tired of sitting still but can’t get up from the computer.”
There’s limited research about whether exercise balls are better than a standard office chair when it comes to health outcomes. But many people say that exercise balls help them burn off energy when they’re stuck sitting down for long periods. They can also be swapped out for a regular chair when needed and can double as an exercise tool during workouts.
Exercise balls can be found cheaply online or at your local big box store. There are also many options now available for those who are interested in upping the aesthetic of their home office. If you love sitting on an exercise ball, consider options that integrate into a stable frame with a backrest to provide support when you need a break.
Under the desk treadmill
“A great way to get your steps in, especially if you are transitioning from floor nursing to being WFH. I’m used to constantly moving.”
If you’ve invested in a standing desk, you can up your fitness game by adding an under-desk treadmill to your home office setup. Most of these treadmills work well in small spaces. Look for models that include features to help dampen noise during video calls. Others offer an autostop function if you need to take a sudden phone call.
If you’re committed to the standing desk/treadmill set-up, there are options that include both features in a single model. Under-desk ellipticals are another option for those who would like to continue using a traditional desk or who want something more economical.
Fun office supplies
“Sticky notes!! The most important things go on stickies.”
After investing in a great office chair and ergonomic desk, it’s time to think about fun office supplies that can brighten up your workspace.
Pens and sticky notes in a variety of colors can help you stay organized. If you have the wall space, a white board or cork board can help keep important papers on display.
Once you have the essentials in place, don’t forget to add a few fun touches for inspiration. This set of printable signs from Etsy are a humorous way to personalize your workspace. Nurse entrepreneurs might enjoy this word art sign. A houseplant or two are another great way to brighten up your work area.
Comfy cardigan/robe & Slippers
No matter what office chair or desk you choose, remote nursing almost universally allows you to wear whatever you like while working.
A comfy cardigan or robe, as well as cozy slippers, are Nurse Fern’s favorite way to enjoy chilly days working from home. Athleisure can also allow you to squeeze in short bursts of activity or a quick walk during your lunch break without the need to change outfits.
For those who need to occasionally go on-camera for Zoom meetings, consider pairing a nicer blouse and a loosely-structured blazer or cardigan with comfy joggers on the bottom. A necklace or earrings can make you look put-together without wearing a full-on suit or work trousers. Bring on the spandex!
Working from home is an excellent excuse to up your snacking game. If you’ve worked on the floor or in a busy clinic, you might be used to packing shelf-stable snacks that can be consumed as quickly as possible in between patients. Now that you work from home, you can enjoy better quality snacks.
Convenience is still important, however. If you’re in the flow of a project, you don’t necessarily want to take the time to prepare something complicated.
Consider prepping one or two snacks on the weekend that you can store in the fridge. Recipes with whole grains and a good protein source can help keep you full between meals. Energy bites, homemade granola bars, and savory muffins are great grab-and-go options for busy days (as long as your family doesn’t steal them first!)
One potential downfall of working from home is procrasti-snacking. This is where you find yourself standing in front of the pantry, mindlessly consuming potato chips instead of tackling a difficult project.
Be sure to have easy, filling snacks on hand that prevent you from inhaling a can of Pringles for breakfast just because it’s there (I speak from personal experience!).
Pre-cut veggies and hummus, cubes of cheese and crackers, and yogurt and granola are good, protein-rich options.
My personal favorite? Homemade pickles on a Triscuit with a smear of cream cheese. Delicious!
One of the greatest benefits of working from home is the ability to customize your workplace to exactly suit your needs, comfort, and personal taste. Some employers may even provide office equipment, like a computer and headset, while others provide small stipends for miscellaneous equipment.
It’s worth asking your employer about reimbursement for basic home office supplies. After all, working from home saves your employer an enormous amount of overhead since you must supply your own internet, electricity, water, bathroom supplies, coffee, and housekeeping.
What tools have helped you succeed in your remote nurse career?
Join the conversation in our Instagram community.
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