Many people who work at home don’t really have a good space for it. Not all homes have enough room for a separate home office, but having a dedicated work at home space makes a big difference.
I know that it’s easy to feel as though you don’t need a separate space. You may be working in your kitchen or living room and feel that you’re doing just fine.
And maybe you are.
But it’s more likely that you could do better if you had your own work at home space. Somewhere that you won’t be interrupted so often. A place where you have more control over the background noise. And where you can keep all the stuff you need to be productive without someone moving it on you.
Where Will Your Work At Home Space Be?
The first question you need to answer is where your work at home space can be in your home. Depending on your home, this may be easy or difficult to answer.
The best solution is to find a room in your home where you can set up a home office. A place where you can close the door has a lot of advantages when you’re working at home.
Some work at home jobs require this, for example. If you’re on the phone with customers a lot, they want you able to close the door so that you have a quiet place to work. You may also be required to have a door you can close if you have to keep information private for legal reasons.
But not every home has an available space where you can do this. And not every work at home job requires it.
It’s not at all uncommon for a work at home space to be a small desk in whatever nook you can fit it into. While it’s not as private as a room with a door, it can be enough.
And if you can’t manage that, there many people who work at home at the kitchen table or sitting on the couch. Do what you have to do to succeed.
Truth be told, this flexibility is one of the great things about working at home. If your job or business doesn’t require that you stick to one spot, you can work in a lot of different places. You can even head out to the coffee shop or coworking space if that suits your needs.
What Are The Basics Your Work At Home Space Needs?
The next thing you need to consider when planning your work at home space is what you need in there. This can vary quite a bit, depending on what kind of work you do at home. Start with the basics. You can upgrade later.
If your business is primarily or entirely online, such as blogging, the main things you need are your computer and desk. If these can be separate from what the rest of the family uses, that’s a big step in the right direction. There are few things more frustrating than having to sort out conflicting priorities that keep you entirely from working.
When you have only one computer in the family and the kids need the computer for their homework, what do you do but give it up? That’s why you need your own if at all possible.
A space to work on your business also makes it easier for you to set rules about when you are working. Even if you aren’t in a separate room you can set rules about what the kids can and cannot bother you with while you work.
The biggest challenge comes in when you can’t claim a separate space directly and you have to set up your home office in a shared area, maybe even a shared computer.
No matter whether you share your workspace or have a quiet home office separate from everything else, you have certain needs in order to work productively. This can include a calendar, reference materials, telephone, writing materials and so forth.
Your computer needs the software that you use in your business. You may also find that a dual monitor setup helps with productivity (seriously, try it if you can, it’s amazing!). These things require space.
Talk To Your Family
When you know which space you want to work in and what you need for it, talk to your family about it. It doesn’t matter how simple your needs are or if you need to claim a full room. Talk to them.
Sometimes they’ll be happy to let you have the space. Other times you’ll meet up with resistance.
It can be hard on a family to give up a portion of the house to be used as a home office. There are always other things the space could be used for.
This is why many home offices are also guest rooms. It’s a good way to compromise on the space. You may still need to talk to guests about your needs during their visit, but you’ll have the room to yourself much of the time.
Even when your family is understanding about your needs, you need to ensure that they will respect what this means. Just because they want you to use the space you need doesn’t guarantee that they truly understand what you will need from them when you work at home.
Go Beyond The Basics
My work at home space has changed a lot through the years. What I’ve been able to claim has depended on the space we had available and the needs of the family.
When my kids were little, my home office was shared with my family. I had my own computer, and a shared desk (big desk). Much of my work time was with either one of the kids or my husband on the other computer. It made for a bit of a challenge when working.
With this little space I kept a part of the desk and a file cabinet for my work. As I do work entirely online, my needs in terms of space are relatively few.
But the real hardship was having other people underfoot when I wanted to work in peace. Sharing my space meant that I had to claim my space mentally as much as physically. I couldn’t let what the others were doing on the computer distract me overmuch. Playful children didn’t make that easy.
These days, I have a lovely home office with my own desk and a door I can close. Working in there is so much more comfortable and productive. And of course, my kids are older and much better at letting me work most of the time.
Think about the little things you need to keep your workday going smoothly. Throw in a water bottle and for the most part, I’m good to go most days. But other people need more.
Some people like some background noise as they work, for example. I always suggest streaming music rather than turning on a television, simply because music is much easier to ignore. Music can make your day much more pleasant without taking away from your ability to work.
Puzzling out the little details on how you can set up your home office space takes time, but it’s worth the effort. You can increase your productivity and your contentment with your work when your workspace suits your needs. In time, you’ll find exactly what you need to make an amazing home office for yourself.
Where Does The Money Come From To Do All This?
If you don’t have a lot of money to spare, it’s difficult to figure out where to get the money to create that perfect work at home space. Not everyone can afford to just go out and buy a new desk or the other things you’d like to have in your home office.
So what do you do?
There are a few options for setting up your home office on a budget.
Option 1: Garage Sales
You might be amazed by how much stuff you can get for your home office at garage sales. I paid $5 for my office chair at a garage sale, and it is by far the best office chair in the house. My husband has tried to claim it a time or two, even though we bought it for my office, but that only gets him the death glare. It’s not happening. Mine!
Pay attention to garage sales in your area, and you can fairly quickly pick up a desk chair, file cabinets and anything else your home office needs without spending a fortune.
You may even find some of the electronics you need, although you have to be very careful that everything still works, and get any computers checked for viruses before doing anything. Used electronics are kind of a gamble, but you can make it work.
Option 2: Build It Over Time
You can also improve your work at home space over time. Start with the basics, and then add to it as your budget allows.
If you have a laptop or tablet you can work on, for example, all you need is a quiet place where you can work undisturbed. It doesn’t have to be in the perfect spot in your home. Look around and figure out what the best space is for you to work.
Work toward having the money for the next thing you’d like for your workspace. It might be a desk, a second monitor, a better place to keep your supplies, whatever it is you need.
Remember the money you spend on your home office is an investment. You may be able to write some or all of it off on your taxes as well. But the key thing here is to buy the things that will make you more productive so that you can earn more money from home.