Up until a year ago, when I was freelance and part-time, I didn’t have an office to go into. I worked from home daily, late at night, early in the morning, and every time in between. Now, I do have an office to go into, but even when we’re not working from home due to a pandemic, the Everygirl team works remotely twice a week. All of my work-from-home experience has definitely served me well. Though I miss my coworkers, of course, it only took a week or two for me to remember that I’ve done this before and I can do it again.
Despite all of my extensive experience working remotely, I’ve really never had a home office. I often work from couches, dining tables, kitchen countertops, and the like. I’ve done phone interviews in the passenger seat of a car, outside of a restaurant, and even at a polo field (a story for another time). I say all of this because I truly believe that you don’t need to have a huge, expansive, spare bedroom-style home office to get good work done.
Still, things are far easier if you have a functional office at home. A functional office can be a small spot you’ve carved out in a walk-in closet or your bedroom, it can be at your dining room table, or, yes, it can be a spare room. There’s no size requirement for what’s functional, it just has to work for you. If you’re working with a smaller space, you might have to get creative, but it’s totally doable. I rearranged the furniture in my tiny apartment, moving a dresser out into the living room so that I would have some space for a small desk (that I have yet to order, but I digress). Maybe you can repurpose a piece that you already have to store work supplies or use as a desk. There are always creative solutions!
If you don’t have space for a desk:
If you don’t have enough room in your home for a whole desk situation, you’re definitely not alone! Living in a small space means that you prioritize what you really need and say goodbye to all the rest. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have a functional office space at home. Maybe you can set up a designated office space in your kitchen or dining area that you’re able to keep organized and break down at night with the help of some bins, file folders, and the like, maybe you’re working from a tray table in the living room, or maybe you can swing a narrow table or entryway piece that can function as a desk, even if it’s technically not one. If you can, especially if you’re using a space during the day that you’d want to use for something else in the evening, clear away all of your work-related things at night. Stash your computer, put your notepads on your bookcase, and clear away pens, electronics, and anything else you got out. You’ll feel like there’s a real end to your workday and you won’t have to deal with the clutter that can take over in the middle of a busy day.
It can be super helpful to designate one space for daily work, wherever that space may be, but it’s also a relief for those in this situation (me included!) to have the ability to move around if one spot isn’t working for you. Stand at your kitchen counter for a bit, pop out onto your balcony or into your backyard, settle in on your couch for an hour or two, the possibilities are endless—just make sure that you’re able to focus on what you’re doing, rather than getting sidetracked with distractions.
If a small desk will work:
A small desk can be oh so chic, but you still have to be strategic about where you set that sucker up and how you make it work best for you. A small desk likely won’t have many (or any) drawers, so maybe you need a small portable filing situation to help you keep documents in check, but can also be tucked away when you don’t need it. A container for pens, pencils, markers, scissors, or anything else you might need to reach for during the day means everything is close when you need it.
If you’re able to carve out a real office space—like, say, a large closet or nook that you don’t really need—that can be helpful, but even if you can’t, try to make your “office space” feel separate from your bedroom, living room, or kitchen. It’ll help with your mindset while you’re working—and while you’re not. Still, just because you’re trying to differentiate between your work space and your living space, that doesn’t mean that it has to stick out. Choose a desk that fits the vibe of the rest of your furniture in that room. If you’ve got a minimalist neutral theme going on, stick with it, unless you’re trying to make your desk stand out. Select supplies and decor that flow with your space (which means, don’t make it look like your company-issued cubicle at work). It might sound silly, but working from home is so much more enjoyable when you’re not hating the space where you’re working.
If you’ve got the space for a full home office:
If you have the space for a complete office set up, you’re really living the life. Spring for the desk that makes your home work life easier. Make sure you have designated spaces for organizing, whether it’s files, notepads, inspiration, fabric, products—whatever it is that you personally use while working. Get a good chair that will keep you comfortable during the day, but is still supportive while you work. Make sure the spot is well-lit—if it’s not, you’ll need a lamp. After that, it’s about decorating your space to make it a welcoming and enjoyable work space for you. After all, you’ll spend hours there each day. Add a plant, a chair, a rug, some artwork… you get the idea.