How to create a home office in a small space
Expand your empire from the tiniest of spaces.
Working from home is one of those things that sounds great but loses its appeal pretty fast. When the pandemic first hit, many of us thought working from home would be less tiring and save us heaps of time… but many of us were wrong.
Studies have proven time and time again that home-workers work more hours than office workers. This is usually put down to the struggle to ‘turn off’ as well as added pressure to work overtime. Add zoom fatigue into the mix and the office starts to look pretty good.
Whatever your preference, you have probably had to work from home at some point recently due to COVID. If you live in a mansion, that’s fine. But what about us regulars with less space? If you are working at the kitchen table or in a tiny spare room, this is for you.
How to set up an office at home
The most important piece of advice we have is to make a space – no matter how small – that is only for working in. Working, eating and sleeping all in the same place is a one-way ticket for depression and distraction, so separate your spaces as much as possible.
Even if you only have one room, separate your work area from your sleep area. Creating separate spaces helps the brain get into work or sleep mode when you need it. A divider screen would be ideal for separating sections of a room but even just a coloured rug works.
Some people do a fake commute to get them into work mode but don’t worry if you don’t have time for that. All you really need is a slightly different décor in the area you want to work in and the area you want to relax in.
This goes for timings too. Create some sort of structure and stick to it. If you are sending emails from your phone before you go to sleep, your brain will have a hard time adjusting and you are unlikely to rest properly.
Once you’ve got your mind settled, you need to think about getting your body comfortable too. Ergonomics is the practice of moulding technology and equipment to the human body – not the other way around.
An ergonomic workstation should feature a computer chair with wheels, a screen at eye height and a keyboard that allows a 90degree bend in the arms. Your feet should easily touch the floor with a 90degree bend in the knees also.
If you have more space, a standing desk arrangement might be better for you. If you do go for a standing desk in your home (or workplace), make sure you invest in a standing desk mat. Standing is better than prolonged sitting, but without a mat it can still cause you harm.
Protect the floor
Whether you have carpet or hard floors, you need a chair mat. Chair mats are the only line of defence between your chair’s casters and your floor, and the repetitive motion of wheeling will leave scratches, tears and ugly marks.
The most popular chair mats are completely transparent, so they do not change the style of your room at all. They come in rectangle or keyhole shape and can be made to measure or standard-sized.
Chair mats for carpet have small grippers on one side. These hook into the carpet pile and hold the mat in place. Hard floor chair mats do not need grippers as the underside of the material has non slip qualities already.
Get the gear
At a minimum, you will need a laptop, but we highly recommend a monitor screen to give you more space. This is important for your posture as well as your productivity, because being hunched over a MacBook Air will quickly get uncomfortable.
If you can’t get a screen, a stand for your laptop might work well. They lift your screen higher to create the ergonomic workstation, and you can put a cheap keyboard where the laptop’s used to be.
Your ergonomic chair is important for your productivity, too, and if you are employed by a business then they will usually pay for it. If you are a sole trader, you can claim back the tax on any work-related expenses on your tax return.
The best way to make use of a small amount of space is to build upwards rather than outwards. Stackable shelves are a great way to store files and hardware without creating clutter, and they don’t have to be expensive at all.
Stacking shelves under your desk is another way to create out-of-sight storage – just make sure you leave space for your feet! If you did go for a divider screen in the first stage, maybe you can add some hangable shelves to it. This is the stage where you can get creative.
If you have the time (and skills), ditching table legs altogether and attaching your desktop to the wall is a great way to open up space underneath. The ‘floating shelf’ look works perfectly for a home office setup and gives you space to stack shelves underneath.
How to create a home office in ANY space
If you want to work from home, a home office is more important than you might think. Having your own space to work from means you can focus on work while you need to and forget about it when you’re trying to relax.
Being comfortable but focussed with an ergonomic work setup and the right equipment is easy in any sized room. The best way to keep your spaces separate when you don’t have much is to differentiate between work, play and sleep.
Building upwards saves space, decorating purposefully keeps you focussed and protecting your floor and walls keeps everything lasting for longer. If you want more personalised advice for creating a home office, feel free to reach out to the team!