How to Create a Better Home Office for Remote Work

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Working from home always seemed a dream scenario. But when that becomes the only option — as it has for so many people suddenly working remotely in 2020 in the pandemic — there is a greater focus on how to remain productive. Home offices became essential, and many have gotten creative with their space in order to accommodate these changes. Now that more children will be starting the school year remotely, as well, many home-bound employees are looking for new ways to create a dedicated, distraction-free workspace.

CircleAround reached out to Susan Young, the owner of Color Joy Interiors — an Indianapolis-based interior design and home-staging firm — for her advice on how to transform homes with remote-work conditions in mind. A Girl Scout alum, Young specializes in helping homeowners decorate their homes on a budget. 

“I love being resourceful when designing a space,” she tells CircleAround. “Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I've been offering 30-minute virtual-design sessions as an option for those not comfortable doing in-home sessions yet.”

1. Make Rooms Multi-Functional

Most of us don’t have a separate, designated home-office room. But Young gives us plenty of examples of how we can turn any existing space into a working environment, too. 

Bedrooms: Most of us don’t spend a lot of time in the bedroom, except for sleeping. Young advises minimal sprucing to turn a bedroom into a home office, like simply adding a low-cost desk. You can make the space even more functional with a comfy, ergonomic chair, and containers for office supplies to fit under the desk or bed. “Adding a desk to this room requires little extra expense, and the room can still be used as a guest room when needed,” says Young for those with a space bedroom. 

Rec rooms, playrooms, bonus rooms, and dens: “Many times, a home has a bonus area, used for a kids’ playroom, workout area, or extra seating area,” Young explains. “A little clearing of the clutter could allow these rooms to double as a workspace.” 

She also notes that many of these rooms already have chalkboards or whiteboards, making them ideal for big-picture thinking and brainstorming. Reworking a playroom to reflect more of a classroom is an extra bonus for students learning from home

2. Get Creative If You Have Limited Space

For those with limited space to begin with, there are creative ways to carve out a workstation. 

“Examine your home and see if you have any spare corner of your home, such as an entryway or hallway, where you could place a desk or small work area,” says Young. “Some ideas for this space could include a corner desk, or even a folding desk, which saves space and only comes out when needed.”

And if your place still isn’t large enough, never underestimate the power of a table. “Any table will do when it comes to creating a makeshift workspace,” she adds. Sofa tables, bar tables, and kitchen tables are perfectly fine when paired with a laptop.

3. Consider Noise Levels 

It’s not enough to just set up your workspace anywhere. “With multiple members of the family now working from the same location,” says Young, “a quiet location may play an important role in choosing a location for an office or workspace.”

“For example, students who are attending e-learning from home, or professionals joining a video conference, will need to have a quiet space away from the rest of the family to video-conference. In these cases, consider closed-door areas where the noise of the rest of the home does not interfere with listening, participating, or learning. Consider sound barriers in the room, such as noise-absorbing wallpaper, wall art, panels, or even curtains.”

4. Be Resourceful

Don’t overthink it too much when setting up a home office. You may likely already have many of the things you need in order to be productive. “Begin by re-thinking the ways you currently use the spaces in your home,” Young suggests. “What furniture could be re-used in a different location or in a different way? What is my style of work, and what other pieces could I purchase to enhance the areas I have already created?”

Once you evaluate your current furniture and materials, you can make budget-saving decisions to create the home-office setup that works for you.

5. Choose Functionality and Comfort over Style

“The new ‘working from home’ era has become less about creating an ideal office space, and more about finding a space where you can think, and work quietly and comfortably.” Young notes that everyone’s definition of comfort is different, and you have to find the setup that works best for you. But she says that flexibility is key, “as the situation might change at a moment’s notice.” 

Wherever you set up, Young advises equipping your home with “comfortable chairs offering proper posture and back support, corner desks with ample storage for office supplies, and bright lighting for working and video chats.”

Tags: Navigating the Pandemic, Working From Home

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Written By

Katka Lapelosová

Katka is a writer from New York City, currently living in Belgrade, Serbia. See Full Bio

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