As it becomes mainstream or necessary to work from home, folks with small spaces can begin to feel the squeeze. Don’t let the idea of transitioning to remote work hold you back, regardless of how few square feet you have available.

10 Minute Read

How to Create a Home Office When Space is Tight

Giving your remote employees the tools to work from home successfully is critical—after all, not everyone has a designated den with a desk or a spare room to convert into an office. For people living in cramped studio apartments or crowded housing with roommates or family, ingenuity is key. Convinced there’s no possible way to squeeze a little work-from-home niche into your home? The few feet you need to set up shop could be right in front of your eyes, currently disguised as something else. With the following small home office ideas for inspiration, you should be just hours away from having a clever, comfortable, practical home office from where you can get down to business.

Divide the Living Room

A compact desk or folding table often fits into a small living room, after reworking the furniture layout. For instance, if your living-room seating is pushed up against the walls, pull it together at one end of the room. By creating a cozy conversation area, off to one side, you make space for a small desk. Vertical space is crucial when space is tight; finish your office niche with a hanging lamp and a tall, narrow shelving unit that you can fill with workspace necessities. Use an area rug to define and anchor each space.

Consider the Coffee Table

If your living room has too little space to carve out a small office, turn your attention to the coffee table. A coffee table with a sturdy extendable lift top might make a decent desk. If your coffee table is large enough, consider investing in a comfortable office chair as well as an adjustable-height standard converter or a compact riser for your monitor. With the right hardware, your television could be converted to be your second monitor.

Regardless of your unconventional office setup, practice smart ergonomics, including keeping your wrists straight.

Divvy Up the Dining Area

Rearranging a dining area might afford space for a small home office, but if not, consider borrowing one end of the dining table to double as a desk. Utilize an existing hutch as office storage space or invest in a suitably sized file cabinet to house office essentials. A space-saving way to store small supplies nearby is with a multi-tier hanging fruit basket.

Eye Up an Island

Home office desk ideas often include a kitchen island; in fact, an island could be prime real estate for our VariDesk® Laptop 30™. If you purge or reorganize a little, the kitchen island’s cabinets provide somewhere to stash your tech gear, papers, and other work necessities.

Clear Out a Closet

Working from home often requires a quiet setting for making calls. If you share a home with roommates or loved ones, setting up a home office in a living room or kitchen may be less than ideal—who wants to use the bathroom or porch to take or make business calls?

If your only private, personal space is your bedroom, consider turning its closet into a makeshift office. Maybe you could use a rolling clothes rack as a compact solution for hanging slacks and shirts in the room. Measure for under-bed storage bins to stash office extras and shoes, sweaters, handbags, and anything else currently hogging the closet shelving. 

Slide a sit-stand desk into the empty closet, or construct a custom-sized work surface, using a sturdy plank and brackets; work a monitor arm into your plan to free up valuable work-surface inches. Choose an ergonomic, low-back chair that tucks under the desk to optimize space when the day is done. Closets typically lack outlets, so use a suitable heavy-duty extension cord for your computer and its powered accessories. 

When you’re working with limited space, remaining organized improves productivity, so be tidy and savvy about how you arrange the contents in your little closet office.

Look Behind You

No matter which room you squeeze your workspace niche into, or how cramped it may seem, if you’ll be making video calls, consider the sightlines behind you. Imagine realizing that an unmade bed, cluttered countertop, questionable artwork or even an open bathroom was in plain view, after ending a virtual meeting with a client, coworkers, or your supervisor.

To sum it up, a well-planned home office is less about generous square feet and more about the comfort, productive energy, and good vibes it generates -- and, of course, the paycheck it helps you produce.