Not all teleworkers are lucky enough to have a large house. This means that designated office space will be limited. In fact, many teleworkers I know work from a partitioned corner of their kitchen or living room. If you’re in a similar situation, planning your home office can be a challenge. What can you do to have an efficient workspace in a small area?
Spend time planning your space. It’s best to make a visual plan so that each square foot is accounted for. Doing this saves more time and effort over moving furniture around on the spot.
Avoid large furniture. The smaller the space you have to work with, the leaner your furniture should be. I made the mistake of buying a large drafting table with a lightbox. It takes up half the room, but I only use a third of its surface. A more practical choice would’ve been a smaller desk and a separate lightbox that I can tuck away when I’m not using it. At least the table is foldable, so I can rest it against the wall when I need more floor space.
Which brings me to the next point — have folding or stacking furniture, if you can. This is especially important for pieces you don’t use often, such as extra chairs or tables. I’m not saying that you have to go out and buy new furniture. Just be selective about which existing pieces go into your office.
Go multifunctional. As much as possible, use multifunctional furniture. For example, a cabinet of the right height can also be used as a standing workstation. You can also have a small bench, ottoman, or side table with storage compartments. If you’re using a laptop, a cabinet with a foldout desk can be a good choice as your work desk if the height and size is comfortable enough for you.
One of the things I did was to modify an old computer chair so that it can serve as a stool when a visitor needs to look at the computer with me, and also function as an ottoman when I recline my own chair to relax.
Take advantage of vertical space. For extra storage space, install overhead shelves in your office. This allows you to increase the functional surface area that you can work with. You can make these shelves easier to reach by having a small stepladder nearby.
Purge ruthlessly. I used to keep the boxes that came with new software and equipment. By storing these boxes, I was essentially storing air. When I eventually recycled the boxes, I found myself with almost a full cabinet of free space. In case you’ll need some boxes in the future, don’t store them as they are. Instead, fold them up so that you can pile several boxes neatly in a cabinet or under a bed.
Here’s another thing that eats up office space: old or broken computer peripherals and parts. If some of them are still working, donate or sell them. If not, throw them away or recycle them.
Look for inspiration. Browse the web for examples of small rooms and see what makes them work. Here are some sites that can help:
- Small Space Style
- HGTV has a small space section
- Inspiring workplaces Flickr (s yhoo) Pool
- Shedworking — Technically, this blog is about using sheds as living or working space. Many of the sheds are small, so they might give you some ideas.
Having a small home office shouldn’t be a big disadvantage if you know how to work around it. with some careful planning and creativity, the worth of your small office won’t be measured in square feet.
Do you have a small home office? How do you work around space constraints?