Many Australians have embraced the growing trend of working from home. With this flexible working arrangement considered to be part of the new post-lockdown normal, more people are converting spare rooms to home offices.
However, residents of apartments dwellers face the challenge of more limited living space. Without a designated office space, boundaries between personal and work life blur. It’s easy to become disorganised and stressed.
Rest assured. With some creative thinking and smarter planning, you can set up a comfortable, well-functioning workspace in your apartment, regardless of its size.
Identify your home office needs
- Consider what activities will take place in your workspace.
- Do you work mainly on the computer or need room to spread out notes, reports, equipment, or materials?
- Do you prefer to sit down or stand up when you work?
- If you live with other people, do you need privacy for phone calls or zoom meetings? Is a quiet location away from the main living room a better option?
- Do you have reliable Wi-Fi access, lighting, and heating?
- Do you have boundaries to keep your work and personal life separate? This is vital to help you focus and work productively then step away to relax, play or sleep.
Careful planning is essential to create a comfortable, well-functioning and inspiring home office that works for you.
Take advantage of underutilised spaces
- Change how rooms or spaces are used.
- Repurpose areas such as book nooks, underneath staircases, living room corners, entry areas, even walk-in wardrobes. Consider room dividers, shelves or curtains to section off the area.
- Use vertical space. Narrow spaces may fit a desk but leave no room for cabinets or other office equipment. Claim the wall above your desk and install a hutch, floating shelves or a whiteboard. Put devices such as printers on the shelves and use inexpensive stackable boxes and baskets to store supplies.
Choose innovative, functional furniture
- Find the desk best suited to your needs. Do you work mostly on a computer? A laptop stand or small portable desk may be just right. Need more working room? Look at desks with pull-out keyboard shelves or compact solutions such as wall-mounted, fold-down desks and drop-leaf tables.
- Invest in an ergonomic office chair that supports your body. A dining table chair won’t cut it if you’re sitting at a desk for long periods. A sturdy, height adjustable chair with good lumbar support is essential. Check for comfy padding, arm rests plus an appropriate weight limit. Remember to use a non-slip mat or chair coasters on tiled or wood floors. There are lots of options for colours and materials that can make the chair a feature or blend into existing decor.
Stay organised with clever storage solutions
An organised work area can help improve your efficiency, making you more productive and less stressed.
- Choose effective storage solutions for your space. Favour compact, flexible items such as cabinets or printer stands that fit below your desk, or desk hutches with doors to keep everything out of sight.
- Use open shelves for easy access to storage tubs, store documents in colour-coded hanging folders.
- Buy a storage cart with wheels so you can tuck it away when it’s not needed.
- Use a memo board, white board or glass top desk organiser to keep phone messages, reminders and important information in an easily accessible place.
- Utilise cable management boxes, cable clips, power boards and charging stations to keep cords and cables together, safe from inquisitive pets or children.
- Shred or bin materials you no longer need, to reduce clutter.
Harness the power of natural light
Where possible, set up your workstation near a window or sky light. A room with a view gives a sense of being open, and natural light is shown to boost mood and creativity. If you work long hours or late at night, add a quality desk lamp to reduce eye strain.
Create a place where you love to be
Choose furniture you love so it adds to the aesthetic of your apartment. Include special features to personalise the space and inspire you. For a touch of nature, try flowers or plants that improve air quality. Add a memo board with motivational messages and photos, an oil burner or candle, a favourite artwork or a quirky paper weight.
Tips for working from home
- Be a good neighbour. You may enjoy jovial zoom meetings or loud background music as you work but be mindful of disturbing others in the building. Ensure that you review your property’s by-laws and building rules to ensure that you are inline with your building’s rules.
- Install sound-proofing strips on doors and windows or buy a white noise machine to help tune out distracting noises from housemates, neighbours, television and music or traffic.
- If you live with sociable children or housemates, limit their interruptions using a clock or sign showing “do not disturb” or “out of office”.
- Working from home does raise challenges for apartment dwellers. But it is possible to have a designated ‘office’ for work, even in the smallest spaces!