How to Have a Home Office When You Have Limited Space

Working from home definitely has its advantages. The commute sure beats having to rough it out with rush hour traffic each day. And it’s certainly nice that all you have to do is change out of your nighttime pajamas and into your daytime pajamas to start your work day (though there is benefit to actually “changing into work clothes” to start your day too). But, what if you don’t have the luxury and privilege of having extra space where you can set up your workstation?

By now, you’ve likely learned that it is definitely in your best interest to have a dedicated space that is specific for work. This way, you don’t blur the lines between your work and personal live into a slurry of confusion, depression and anxiety. You can more easily leave work at work, and enjoy your private leisure time in peace. 

The Spare Bedroom

Now, ideally you have a completely separate room with an actual door that you can close off from the rest of your house. This could be a spare bedroom or a small den that you convert into and furnish as a home office. If you’ve got the space to spare, that’s awesome. Ideally, you have some natural light for a better working environment. 

You need this for your mental health and wellbeing, so a cramped walk-in closet probably isn’t the best idea, even if it creates a distinctly separate, isolated workspace. Let there be light.

But, what if your house doesn’t have an “extra” bedroom? Or what if you live in an apartment where square footage is at a premium? Even if this is the case, you can still try to give yourself a space that is dedicated specifically for the purposes of work. Even if you have limited space, you need to make this a priority. 

The Office Corner

One common option that people may choose is to have a small desk in the corner of a room. Preferably, you don’t want this in your bedroom, as this can interfere with your natural sleep quality (and quantity). If you have enough of a “nook” in your living room that’s away from where you watch TV, that can work. Just be sure you’re not sitting on the couch as your “office,” as that could lull you into too much comfort. 

A similar space in a den or dining room could work just as well. Keep it as far away from the main “public” space as possible. Some homes have a breakfast nook off the kitchen, in addition to the main dining room. If you don’t need two places to eat — and let’s be honest, you probably don’t — then the breakfast nook is another good choice for a home office. Conversely, you can use the dining room as your office and turn the breakfast nook into where you normally eat. 

The Working Island

Keeping with the kitchen line of thinking, depending on your layout, perhaps you have a kitchen island, some extra kitchen counter space, or some sort of kitchen “peninsula.” Even if this space serves additional purposes during food prep, it can function as your home office when it’s work time in a pinch. It’s not as ideal, to be sure, but it’s better than “working” on your laptop in bed or on the couch.

The Right Home Office Chair

Following this same kind of thought, sometimes all it takes is a subtle differentiation to clearly distinguish that separation between work and personal life in your head. For instance, if you use the dining room table as your “home office” with your laptop, be mindful of the chair you choose while you’re in work mode.

If you sit in one chair for when you’re working, then sit in a different chair when you’re eating. These chairs should be in different positions so that switching chairs literally changes your perspective. If you’re looking at one window (or wall) while working, you should be looking at a different window (or wall) while eating. What you see in front of you is different, even if the difference is subtle. 

Finding More Workspace

Of course, the other alternative is to move your home office out of your home. Working from home isn’t for everyone, and during these times of lockdown and self-isolation, working outside the home might not be practical or recommended. When these quarantine circumstances change, though, you might look into coworking spaces and other options (the coffee shop isn’t ideal either) when you need to get in some focused work time.

What does your home office situation look like?