How to set up a home office on a shoestring budget

Working from home may be in the new normal in view of the crippling coronavirus pandemic.  If you’re part of the growing remote-work population, you may be considering setting up a home office. However, as most people don’t have a large budget to invest in designing an office, this may feel like a daunting task. To help you get started, we’re sharing functional home office ideas and simple design tips to make your new space feel practical and stylish, without breaking the bank.

Select the room

When setting up a home office for remote work, the first thing you need to do is choose a location in the house. You’ll want to use a room that has enough space, receives plenty of sunlight and is out of the way from high-traffic areas. A few rooms to consider for a home office setup include:
  • A spare bedroom.
  • A space off of the living room.
  • A room adjacent to a backyard entrance or patio.
  • A finished basement.
  • A second living room or den which you can add doors to.
  • A finished attic.
If you concentrate well in a noisier environment, you may also consider a room next to the kitchen instead of the living room.

Clean out the space

A decluttering project is in order before you start buying furniture and equipment.  Clear out unwanted furniture, old carpets or linoleum, broken shelves and junk.  Call a skip bin to come and take it away for you.  Clean the space/room you have chosen for your home office.

Get Your Home Office Essentials in Order

After you’ve selected and cleared a space to set up your home office, it’s time to pick out furniture and other essentials. Here are a few must-haves for your new workspace, along with tips to improve your home office’s functionality: A desk: Make sure you have enough space to work at your desk. There should be plenty of room for your computer and any other materials you’ll need throughout the day. Desk chair: When choosing a desk chair, look for one with adjustable height and depth, lumbar support, a backrest and enough cushioning. Book shelf and/or file cabinets: Decide if one or both of these storage systems work for you, based off your available space and how many books and papers you have. Lighting: Add a mix of desk and floor lamps to the room to set a warm atmosphere. Any technology needed for work: This includes a laptop or desktop computer, high-speed internet, a printer, an office phone and any conference or video call equipment. If you can, choose furniture that’s visually appealing, functional and that complements the style of the rest of your home. To save space in your home office, look for desks with drawers and organizers to store important papers. If you have a limited office design budget, try refurbishing furniture you already have as desks and bookshelves. Online resale groups are another great resource to find inexpensive office furniture.

Keep Things Organized

The key to setting up a functional home office is to add plenty of storage space. Wall shelving and cabinets are a must-have for binders or books you need to keep handy. You should also invest in containers, drawer dividers, folders and mail organizers to sort papers and supplies.

Personalise your brand new office

Having a place for everything (and everything in its place) is a big part of creating a visually appealing office, but decorating is also key to creating a work space that feels inspiring. Painting and changing out window treatments is an easy, inexpensive way to bring new life to the room. Adding artwork, photos and knickknacks will go a long way in making the office feel like your own, too. Look around other rooms in your home or in storage areas to see if there are any accessories you can bring into the office to save on buying new décor. In addition, placing a few plants on shelves or tables will add brightness to the room. Succulents are a popular, low-maintenance choice for offices, though you can’t go wrong with zero-maintenance fake flowers either.

Plan for Visitors

Will you have teammates or clients coming in to visit at your home office? If your profession requires meeting people throughout the day, make sure they have a comfortable place to sit and work. Depending on how much space you have in the office, you can add upholstered chairs, an end table or a coffee table to host meetings and work collaboratively. A long interior hallway with a bench or chairs can even work as a reception space. Reuse seating options and tables you have in other areas throughout the house for an eclectic look, or check garage sales and online resale groups in your area for a bargain on gently-used furniture.

Save Your Receipts

If you’re self-employed and your house is your primary place of work, it’s likely that some or all of your related home office improvements will be tax-deductible. Hang onto receipts and chat with a tax expert to find out exactly which projects will save you more come April 15th. If you’re working remotely for a company you don’t own, it’s still worthwhile to hang onto receipts for your initial home office setup, supplies and any tech purchases not provided by your employer. Many companies will reimburse remote workers for certain items.

Keep an eye on time

A home office is exactly what its description says it is – a home.  So, make sure you have a good home-and-work balance when you embark on this exciting period to work away from the office. Home office working environment is brilliant because you don’t have to fight traffic every vday to go to work.  They can also be distractions if you don’t put some measures in place to ensure that you are working enough hours every day to make your business a success.

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