Staying Home: How to Build Your Remote Office With Less

Posted on: 03/19/20
Written by: Tina Martin

With growing numbers of businesses including engineering and architecture firms closing their offices and sending employees home to work, we are reposting this recent blog article with some suggestions on how A/E firm leaders, and design and technical staff can quickly setup a home office and be productive in a short period of time.

Recognizing the many benefits (if not the necessity) of remote work, your boss has 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


With Susan Strauss, Harassment, Discrimination, and Bullying Consultant, Tuesday, April 7, 2020 12:30 – 1:30 (EDT)

Leadership of virtual teams is not the same as leadership of face-to-face, co-located teams, explains harassment, discrimination, and bullying consultant, Susan Strauss. Leading a virtual team is more difficult; it requires a dynamic interaction between technological systems and human systems that the virtual leader has to address and balance for work to be accomplished. Susan discusses the tools and techniques firm leadership needs to facilitate “working together apart” in virtual environment.


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

10 Reasons E-Learning Can Meet Your Training Needs




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