These days more and more people are working from home, both for safety reasons as well as a convenient way to avoid the annoying morning commute. Yet some homes are simply short on space and don’t have an entirely separate room that can be dedicated as a home office. Especially if you have children.
Though with a little bit of creativity, there are a few ways to transform spaces in your home into a home office, with the furniture and features to support productivity.
Finding Your Space
The first step in developing an effective home office with limited square footage is to find just the right space. This might be a desk in the basement, an office nook built into space under the stairs, or transforming an unused section of a walk-in closet into a functioning office space. Sometimes a simple corner desk in the living room made from veneered plywood will suffice.
Finding The Right Chair
If you don’t already have some type of office chair in your home, you might be tempted to simply grab a kitchen chair. Though you might find what was once perfectly fine for a half-hour family supper, it becomes a true pain in the posterior over the course of a long workday.
Of course, not any old office chair will due. This is one of those times when you might want to break out the measuring tape. You want to make sure that the office chair you choose will fit not only you but space and the desk. A chair that’s too high might prevent you from letting your feet comfortably sit on the floor, or simply won’t allow enough room for your legs to fit properly under the desk itself.
Most people want some type of padding for the seat, and perhaps the arms. If you’re the type of person who likes to lean back in their chair, you might want to also think about things like lumbar support as well as just how far the chair leans back. If possible, try to choose a home office chair that is adjustable.
Investing In A Filing Cabinet
For some people, a filing cabinet is a piece of furniture from a bygone era of papers and slide-rules. Though for many a filing cabinet is a very convenient way to keep office papers, manuals, and industry directories all in one place.
You could even go with something as simple and inexpensive as a two-drawer, half stack filing cabinet with a stationary drawer. You can then set it up with hanging folders in one drawer, and perhaps use the other drawer for loose storage.
If you do have the luxury of a formal office desk in your home office, you might still find yourself challenged with keeping everything organized. Sometimes even a few papers can join forces to hide your favorite pen like the Bermuda triangle.
Installing drawer dividers lets you keep key items like pens, pencils, post-it notes, and paper clips at your fingertips, without having them live on your desktop full time. You can then assign each item its place and keep yourself in the habit of putting it back when you are done.
Make Use Of Available Shelving
If you are improvising a home office space from your usual living space, then you might have to make some hard decisions about what stays and what goes. Ideally, you want your home office space only to have work-related items in it. This might mean taking down the photo of dear Aunt Edna to make room for some industry periodicals or moving your child’s collection of cherished bedtime stories into another room.
Stackable Tote Bins For Maximum Storage And A Minimum Footprint
These days a lot of heavy-duty tote bins are truly made from heavy-duty materials. Depending on what you pack into them, the bin itself might hold up, even if you can’t physically move it yourself. This also means that heavy-duty tote bins are easy to stack.
If you are forced to use the kitchen table as your desk, or your desk is in a primary living area of the house during the day, then you might need to take down your office every evening and put it back up again the next morning. Being able to put everything you need into stackable tote bins helps ensure that everything stays together, while also being protected from the accidental bump from the dog or the kids catastrophically spilling their juice.
Buy A Chair Mat For Carpeting
A lot of people who have to improvise a home office space find themselves setting their rolling office chair on a carpeted floor. If you’ve never experienced this before you might find it quite challenging to move the chair more than an inch while you’re sitting it in. Especially if it’s a deep pile, soft carpeting.
Most office supply stores and the online vendor can sell your chair mat for relatively cheap. Just bear in mind that there are different sizes. So, once again you’ll want to break out the tape measure to make sure you are buying the one that’s best for your small home office space.
Lighting A Home Office Space
Most people are aware of the impact of digital eye strain caused by computer monitors, tablets, and smartphone screens. Yet even something like poor lighting in your office space or poorly directed lighting can be an issue.
Some undercabinet lights are meant for kitchens, that you can repurpose under a shelf or overhead to give you soft lighting without having a glaring bulb shining at your face. Then it can also help diffuse the deep shadows that are sometimes caused by lamps.
Hang A Curtain Or Drapes To Deal With Reflections
Let’s say you’ve done your homework. You’ve found a great spot in the house that is just big enough to meet your home office needs. You found a comfortable chair that fits your desk, and you’ve got your storage all sorted out. Then you open your laptop only to find a myriad of eye-straining reflections from windows and TV screens glaring back at you.
While you might be tempted to simply work in the dark all the time, you’ll likely find that the stark contrast between the laptop screen and the darkness around you causes eye strain. It might even be hard to write notes or read a manual.
The better alternative here is to hang a curtain or drapes over the offending source of the glare, or right behind your chair. It might even give you an added sense of privacy. In a pinch, a neutral color bed sheet might get you by until you find an alternative.