By February 18, 2013 Read More →

How to work from home in a small space

Or why you can ignore the stock advice to have a separate office space when you work from home!

Work from Home Wisdom - How to work from home in a small space, Santhie GoundarYou may already know I strongly believe you don’t need a dedicated space in order to work from home successfully. But no need to take my word for it – today freelance journalist Santhie Goundar shares her own experience of making it work in her own small living space:

One of the most common bits of advice to those looking to work from home is to have a dedicated room as your ‘office’, so there is a clear separation between your home life and work life. However, if you’re anything like me, an inner-city dweller of an exceptionally small living space (such as a studio flat or a small one-bedroom flat), you’ll know this simply isn’t possible.

Worry not, for it is still possible to work from home just as well as the rest of them – here are some ideas for ensuring you can make it work.

1) Find whatever space you can:

Not having the luxury of a designated ‘office space’ means you simply have to carve out a space from what you’ve got. For me, this means working in my living-room-with-kitchen-area – usually with a foldaway table put up so I can work on my laptop while sitting on the sofa, although I have also been known to work while standing up with my laptop parked on top of my crockery cupboard, which is also where my box files and reference books are kept.

For those who want an ergonomic place to work it is possible to work from home at a workstation that can be covered up or neatly packed away, for example behind cupboard doors.

2) Sit with your back to the TV, or other distractions:

I find when I’m facing away from the TV, I’m not so tempted to turn it on while I’m supposed to be working. The old adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ applies when you work from home, and you can use it for other things that may distract you from your work, such as the cake tin, games consoles or anything else that might catch your fancy during the working day.

3) Tune out unnecessary noises:

Ignoring landline calls (during the day these are likely to be spam calls, especially if you usually conduct business on your mobile phone), ringing doorbells unless you’re expecting a delivery, the comings and goings of others in your building and so on may take time but comes with practice. If working with music is something you can do, plugging in your headphones can help here.

If you have pets, it may help to shut them in another part of the flat for a portion of the day, or let them out. The important thing here is to minimise distractions, and ignore the noise distractions you have no control over.

4) Collapsible and foldaway furniture are your best friends:

I can’t overstate how true this one is: if you work from home with very little space, furniture that collapses to take up less space or neatly folds away is an absolute godsend. My foldaway table stacks away against a wall (or behind a bookcase) when I’m not using it. Added to that, storage containers (e.g. box files) that can be easily stashed away (for example, on a bookcase, or stored under the sofa or your bed, and so on) are also essential.

5) If all else fails, get out:

If it really isn’t working out for you, sometimes the best thing you can do is to get out. There are many alternative places to work, such as in cafes, libraries, parks, hotel lobbies, co-working spaces and Jelly – and better still, most of them have free (or cheap) Wi-Fi. Sometimes a change of scenery and fresh air really is the best thing to help your personal productivity – be happy to try anything and everything until you find what works for you.

Santhie Goundar is a London-based freelance journalist and editor and writes mainly on accountancy, tax, business and career-related issues.

Posted in: Home offices

4 Comments on "How to work from home in a small space"

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  1. Absolutely! 2 businesses, was 3, run from a small one bedroom flat. One of us has a table in the living room/kitchen area as a desk. It’s not me, though. My desk is the top of the bedroom chest of drawers with the end of the bed as my chair. Ergonomic it isn’t, but necessary it is!

  2. Thanks Rosie! My husband and I have a similar arrangement to yours, actually (on the occasions he works from home). Like yours, not terribly ergonomic, but definitely necessary! It’s all about finding/making whatever space you can to do your work. I think living in such a small space really forces people like us to be creative and resourceful with what we’ve got 🙂

  3. sean says:

    Great page Rosie! I took the Xbox and TV out the office so I can focus on work. I have alote of room so I had to put only work related stuff in my home office.