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In a 2016 Gallup survey, 43% of employed Americans said they worked remotely at least sometimes. Benefits include higher productivity, company engagement and increased opportunities for professional growth, according to the New York Times.
Working from home can be appealing if you have a long commute, if you’re a stay-at-home parent or simply because you’re more productive. But it can also be a challenge if you lack the space needed for a functional working environment.
As tempting as it sounds to work from the comfort of your bedroom comforter, it might not be the most productive of places to set up your laptop and notepad. You might not need the dual-monitor setup you might have at your work office, but you still need a dedicated space to help you get into the zone for work.
As Teris Pantazes, co-founder and CEO of home improvement company, EFynch, suggested, “You do not need to mirror your office space at an office building, but you want to carry on the qualities that help you focus.”
If you don’t have the square footage but are seeking the convenience and productivity that comes with working from home, we’ll show you how you can make a home office work in even the smallest of spaces.
Find the Right Room Real Estate
At the end of the day, all you need to furnish a home office is a desk and a chair (we’ll talk about decorative details later!). So, finding a space in your home, no matter how small, can be a breeze if you learn to think outside of the box.
Identify an underused part of your home. It could be a corner in your living room, a small space in an entryway or even a spare closet. Get creative with how you view the space.
Remember to consider lighting options: Is there access to natural light? If not, is there an outlet to plug in a desk lamp or install overhead lighting? Make sure adequate lighting is possible in your potential workspace – especially if you’re working on a lap or alternative screen, as dim lighting could harm your eyesight.
Consider what electronics you may need and determine whether or not the space has the ability to host the devices that you’ll need. If you don’t have enough outlets, determine if you’re able to install one in the room. If you’re renting, this might not be an option.
Most importantly, be realistic with your workspace, as you may only have a few feet to work with. Keep in mind that it’s a space for working and not a space that requires entertainment or any additional amenities. As long as you’re able to sit comfortably and have access to proper lighting and electronics, you’re on your way to a functional home office.
Now that you’ve pinpointed a potential location for your home office, let’s talk organization and storage. Even if your workspace in minimal, your workload might be anything but, so finding a place to keep important documents, folders and even work supplies is a must.
If you’re finding the space on either side of your desk to be a bit cramped, look up! Adding shelves above your workspace is a great way to keep the mess put away and in an easily accessible location. It’s also a sneaky style trick to make a room look larger.
“If you’re using a small closet, it can be outfitted for work by building shelves installed above for storage,” said Claire Tamburro, interior designer and the principal of Tamburro Interiors, LLC.
You can add shelves DIY-style or call a friend or family member to come over and help you during installation – either way, it should be a pretty quick, inexpensive and easy task, once you buy the materials you need. Tamburro suggested to add baskets or crates on the shelves to separate items and stay organized.
If you’re renting or find that adding shelves to your space is a no-go, you can either choose a strategic area in your home that already has storage or shelve space, like a built-in bookshelf, cabinet or dresser. You can also purchase a small storage piece, like a filing cabinet, and keep it under your desk space.
Whether you’re using new shelf space or purchasing a small storage bin or cabinet, make sure it works for the needs of your space. Meaning, keep it simple and minimal, as to not overwhelm the small amount of space you’re using.
Get Creative with Your Office Furniture
The two most important concepts when it comes to furnishing your home office is minimalism and multipurpose, so start by shopping for only the necessities (a desk, a chair and a lamp, if you need an additional lighting source) and get creative for how they can be used in your space.
The desk only needs to have enough space for your work computer or laptop and a lamp, if needed, so that alone establishes what size you’ll need your desk to be. The same goes for your chair. You only need something that’s comfortable and functional. Style should always follow functionality.
You might even be able to use a chair already in your home, like a dining room chair or decorative chair in your living room. Not only will multipurposed furniture save money, it can help make a more cohesive experience between your home office and the rest of the elements in your room.
However, there are benefits to buying new, dedicated furniture for your home office, as it mentally creates an environment of work versus home, according to Pantazes.
“The right chair and a table help you focus and also separate your home life from work life,” Pantazes said. “Even if you use a specific chair, that should be a place where every start of the work day, you begin. This will help you in the right mindset.”
Keep Decorative Elements Simple
You found the perfect location, you planned for proper storage and organization and now it’s time for the fun part: personalization! While minimalism is important for a small home office, that doesn’t mean you can’t add a few design elements.
There are a few subtle and easy ways you can let your unique personality shine through your workspace and that’s by customizing a few items you’ll already need for your desk.
N’Ckyola Green, the decorator and owner of Xtraordinary by Design, an interior design business located in Texas, suggested to use everyday desk items, like office or storage supplies, to express your personality. You can find fun office supplies at stores like Target, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and more!
If you’re finding your desk space cramped and your shelves or storage at capacity, get creative and add a fun area rug underneath your home office space. A rug can add a pop of color or design while still remaining functional in the amount of space you’re working with.
When it comes to adding textiles to your workspace, make sure you’re complimenting the already existing colors, patterns and overall design of the room you’re using, especially if a public space in your home, like a living or dining room, is being multipurposed with your home office. You want your living and work space to flow seamlessly, as to not draw attention to the added elements in the space.
“Pay attention to color and pattern and try to avoid anything too aggressive or too busy,” Green said. “Color and pattern affect our moods, thoughts and productivity, so choose wisely.”
- Oslari Painted Console Table – $129.99
- Maynard Upholstered Dining Chair – $104.99
- Mini Succulent & Cactus Plants – $19.99
- Wood Desktop Paperboard Calendar – $9.99
- Malachite Rug – $248
- Removable Wallpaper – $42.99
- 3 Drawer File Cabinet – $187.99
- 6-Outlet Power Strip Extension Cord – $25.99
- 3 Piece Floating Shelf Set – $23.30
- Hayes Marble Base Stick Lamp – $28.49
Again, be realistic with the amount of space you’re working with, especially if you had to multipurpose an existing living space of your home to accommodate a home office.
Make sure that wherever you choose to add a workspace that it’s in an area that allows you to concentrate, be productive and ultimately find success when you’re working from home.
How did you make the most of your small home office? Give us tips in the comments below!
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