If you find yourself in need of a better place to work in your home, a mixture of improvisation and added tech could help you build the ideal office away from the office.
Your couch or your comfy chair might have seemed like a good idea when you were just getting started with this whole remote work thing, but now that you’re working from home for months on end, you might need something better for the long haul.
Read on for a few ideas for putting together a home office on the fly:
Aim for out of the way. Whether you’re in a large house or a small apartment, your office area should allow you get away from distractions so you can focus. An unused area intended for storage like an attic or even a large closet could work; an empty room would be even better. If those options aren’t available and you need to set up in a lived-in room, choose one without a television set. Your kitchen table can work in a pinch if a desk is not an option, but set boundaries so that those who live with you know that when you’re sitting in your home office, you’re working. CNN recommends at least two sources of lighting—and if you can put your desk near a window, even better.
Get a monitor, a webcam, and other accessories. While it’s possible to get by with just a laptop, a larger screen helps you focus on the task at hand and may improve productivity, especially in certain types of work. Graphic design tasks, for example, are easier with extra space, and more real estate means more room for a spreadsheet. A traditional computer monitor is best, but if you need to improvise, an old flat-screen TV can make a decent makeshift monitor, as long as it has an HDMI port on the back and a resolution of 1080p or above. Many current laptops include either an HDMI port or a USB-C port, so they can be plugged into any modern screen with the right cable. Additionally, an extra webcam that isn’t on your laptop can improve the overall quality of your video calls (if you can find one, as shortages have been reported).
Consider comfort. If you’re going to be sitting in a chair for eight hours a day, every day, invest in a good one. They can get expensive, of course—a Herman Miller Aeron, for example, sells for upwards of $500—but there are a wide variety of options available. You might consider a “gaming chair,” a racing-inspired desk chair that might be a bit blingy for a work environment but is designed for long hours of sitting, is highly adjustable, and may cost less than a high-end office chair.
Make it your own. If you’re running low on space, you can still spruce up your work area to make it feel more like an office environment. According to the New York Post, some New Yorkers are bringing a little design whimsy to small nooks inside of tiny apartments. “It was really important to have a space to sit down that wasn’t my couch or propped up on pillows in bed,” Megan Collins, a fashion writer, told the Post. She worked with a designer who painted an accent wall in front of her desk in her Lower East Side apartment, put up a bulletin board and accessories, and added a stylish upholstered chair.