On the Home Front: How to Build Your Remote Office With Less

Posted on: 02/12/20
Written by: Tina Martin


From engineering to architectural, growing numbers of A/E firms are opting to be flexible when it comes to where and how employees work. In fact, according to PSMJ's 2019 A/E Bonus & Benefits Benchmark Survey, increasing numbers of A/E firms offer telecommuting to firm leaders, as well as design and technical staff.

silver iMac with keyboard and trackpad inside roomAnd so, recognizing the many benefits of remote work, your boss has finally given you the green light to work from home. But now, you’re looking around your house and wondering where you’ll possibly fit a home office in your already-cramped space.

 If you live in a studio apartment, a tiny home, or a house that’s simply too packed with kids to spare a bedroom, you might be thinking you might have no choice but to camp out at coffee shops or move house in order to stay productive while working remotely. Before you spend the money, check out these tips for designing a productive home workspace when you don’t have a lot of cash or square footage to spare.

Look for unconventional spaces
So you don’t have a spare bedroom, but do you have a walk-in closet, pantry, or attic? While unconventional, these spaces can make great home offices, especially when you’re only working remotely part of the week. There are lots of tips for converting closets and pantries into workspaces, but if you’re setting up shop in an unheated attic or basement, invest in a portable heater to keep it comfortable. You can find portable heaters for less when you clip coupons and apply cashback offers. Just be sure to turn it off when you’re not working to avoid racking up a huge utility bill.

Forgo bulky office furniture
An executive desk may feel official, but bulky furniture will only make a small office seem cramped. It’ll also take a big bite out of your wallet — traditional wooden desks can cost upwards of $1,000. Instead, opt for space- and cost-saving furniture like a floating desk and modular cabinets. A floating desk is an easy DIY project if you’re handy, but if not, IKEA is a fantastic source for compact office furniture on a budget.

Don’t forget ergonomics
If there’s one thing that’s worth splurging on in your home office, it’s ergonomics. An ergonomic workspace is better for your productivity and your health. While ergonomic office chairs are expensive, remote workers can save money by shopping secondhand. In addition to local businesses, university surplus stores are a good place to shop for lightly-used office furniture.

 While a supportive chair is important, remote workers should avoid sitting all day. Mount a second floating desk higher to serve as a standing workstation or buy a desk riser to go on your existing desk. If you regularly work long hours at home, consider adding portable gym equipment, like ankle weights or resistance bands, to stay active when taking breaks.

Keep it organized
It doesn’t matter how well you design your home office — if you can’t keep it organized, you’ll struggle to stay focused and productive on the job. The cheapest way to keep your home office tidy is to opt for digital files whenever possible. By preventing paper from piling up, you eliminate one of the biggest culprits of office clutter.

For office supplies, equipment, and paperwork that can’t go digital, look to inexpensive solutions that work in your small space. Wall-mounted file holders are a clever alternative to bulky filing cabinets, while an over-the-desk pegboard organizer keeps office supplies close at hand yet out of the way.

With these tips, you can design a home office that maximizes your space and your productivity for $1,000-$2,000. That’s less than the average American spends commuting in a year! While that’s hardly the only reason to work from home, putting extra time and money in your pocket is an added benefit you’re sure to appreciate.


About the Author  Tina Martin, a contributor to ideaspired, stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance. 
Photo Credit: Unsplash

2019 A/E Bonus & Benefit Plans Benchmark Survey ReportNow in its 10th biennial edition, PSMJ's 2019 A/E Bonus & Benefits Benchmark Survey Report provides data on the various types of incentive bonus plans and other employee benefits provided by firms in the A/E industry. In addition, the report analyzes the level of satisfaction with various types of bonus and benefit plans. We report the results by firm size, type of service, geographic location, type of client, and client marketplace.  To benchmark your A/E firm’s bonus program, employee benefits, and much more, get your copy now.Learn More Now


You also might be interested in these related posts:

Most A/E Firms Now Offer Flexible Working Situations

Resolving These Common Remote Team Fears Can Help Your Small Business Thrive



May 25, 2023

Before Selling a Small Firm

The A/E space is a highly fragmented industry and, as a result, it is composed of a great number of small firms with fewer than ten or fifteen employees. Many of these firms grew..

Read More
May 1, 2023

A Roadmap for Assessing and Improving Your Firm’s Resource Management Practices

In this tale of two architecture and engineering firms, one — we’ll call them AB&C — is on top of its resource-management game. Project managers and firm decision-makers at AB&C..

Read More
May 1, 2023


Is it an anomaly or the start of an encouraging trend? The latest Quarterly Market Forecast data from PSMJ Resources, Inc. shows that we may have the worst behind us on slowing..

Read More