If you have ever wanted to work from home or had to due to the pandemic, then you have probably wondered about what the ultimate home office setup is really like—and if you can have one.
Anyone working from home needs a place to do that. Working on the couch or at the table is fine, but there are times when you may wish you had your own desk to work at.
While the ultimate home office setup is going to be somewhat different for everyone, there are some standards that just make sense. Keep in mind, setup and decor are two different things.
Setup vs Decor
The ultimate home office setup is less about interior design and more about practicality, functionality, and efficiency. While this will rely a lot on the size and shape of your space, as well as budget, the same principals will apply to most.
Considerations Before Starting
You’ll need to consider what you have available already, what you need to have, and how you will utilize the area. For example, do you mostly work on a computer? Do you use a laptop or PC? Do you need space for more than one monitor? Is paperwork and storage going to be an issue?
Apply Practicality and Functionality on the Front End to Save Time and Money
Knowing the answers to these questions and taking them into consideration before you start can make all the difference in saving both time and money.
Once those things are in order, and you have the best home office setup possible for your living area, then you can focus on decorating your office space.
This is when you work on making it visually appealing to you. This is where things will differ greatly from one office space to the next.
Your ultimate home office setup will obviously hinge greatly on what type of business you are in. For example, an accountant is going to have different needs than an engineer.
A person who goes on the road a lot will likely have different needs from someone who is in their home office more.
Regardless of these differences, everyone starts in the same place. You have to choose where your home office, even if it is just a desk space, will be.
Is There a Perfect Place for the Ultimate Home Office?
In a perfect world every home office would be in a separate room with a door that shuts, preferably away from the area of the home with the most noise and distraction. It would have access to plenty of natural light and a ton of outlets, in addition to great access to WiFi.
While perfection is almost never an option, try hard to find a separate, dedicated room to use as your home office. This is good for tax purposes, and to help make sure your home office setup is relatively quiet.
Using your dining table or kitchen table doesn’t help with either of these, but in the end, you have to work with what you’ve got.
If you do not have a guest room or some other separate space you can convert to a home office, you’ll have to get creative.
This is especially challenging if you do not own the home, as any work you do on your home office setup will have to be temporary.
Once you have the space, it’s time to think about furniture.
The Ultimate Home Office Desk Chair
Before getting into anything else, the desk chair is just about your most important piece of equipment. Do not scrimp on this.
For an ergonomic setup, you have got to have a comfortable chair. A superior home office setup will include an adjustable desk chair. This is just about a necessity.
Everyone’s personal needs will differ. Be sure to consider wear and tear when you choose a chair. It needs to be able to bear your weight plus some.
Look for function over fashion. You can’t work if you are uncomfortable or in pain because of your chair.
The Ultimate Home Office Desk Setup
Choosing a home office desk is one of the most fun parts of the home office setup for many. The options range greatly in size and style, so this is where some fashion can come into play. However, it is more important to ensure you get the right desk to meet your needs functionally rather than aesthetically.
Office Desk Size
This will greatly depend on the size of the space you have available. If you’ve got the space, then a larger desk may be a good idea. Certainly, you will be better able to spread out in your work environment.
Furthermore, if you prefer working with two monitors, you need a larger space for it. Remember to use a desk pad to protect your area regardless of the type or side of the deskof desk you get.
Office Desk Type
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional desk. Even an old table, if it’s solidly built and level, can do double duty as a desk for your home office.
Of course, it will not have drawers or cable management. However, if you do not have a need for these things, then it’s not a problem.
If you need the space of the table, you may be able to add a cabinet with drawers or even plastic drawers underneath for storage.
What about a Standing Desk?
If you don’t have a very large dedicated space, then this kind of desk setup could be a good option. This is particularly true if you’re into fitness and can stand for a good length of time.
Of course, if you have a bad back or knees, a consistent standing desk setup is not such a great idea. A better option may be to get a stand that can turn your desk into a standing desk as needed. Then, you don’t have to stand or sit all the time. You can choose based on your needs at the moment.
If you do go for a standing desk in your office setup, consider an electric standing desk. Much like an adjustable desk chair, an electric standing desk can help you to ergonomically adapt your work environment to fit your needs.
Does Your Office Have to Have an Actual Computer Desk?
There is no office setup law that says your desk has to be specifically made for computers. Like the table option however, a desk that is not specifically designed for computer equipment will not have cable management built in. There are plenty of ways around that though.
Does it Have to be a Desk Setup at all?
You may be able to get away with using floating shelves. Not having a separate desk can be particularly helpful if you’re low on floor space.
But you will need to have wall space. Also, consider that straight ahead will likely just be a wall. For some that works just fine and helps block distractions.
Others may find that stifling. If you have no other options and feel that staring at a wall may not be great for your mental health, be extra certain to plan breaks into your day to get up and look at something else.
Lighting for the Ultimate Home Office: Natural Light, LED Light, Lamps, or a Combination?
This is another area where function has to come before fashion in your office setup. The more natural lighting the better, and all lighting has to be conducive to work and not harsh.
Keep it Simple
The decisions can be overwhelming. When trying to choose between an LED lamp or a hanging light fixture, or any other number of options available, it’s best to keep it simple. Try to work in some options and flexibility so you can adjust as needed.
Flexible Office Lighting
For example, if you can find a space near a window for natural lighting, that is preferable. Then, you can open and shut blinds or curtains as needed. Also, a lamp will allow for extra brightness on dreary days or if you are working later or earlier when it is darker outside.
Floor Lamp vs. Desk Lamp for Your Office
The decision between a floor lamp, desk lamp, or both will depend on space. Both are great if you have room for them. The more options the better. But, if you are low on floor space or space on your desk, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
If you are working in a tiny space you may be able to add some LED options that will stick under a shelf or to the side of a wall. These aren’t ideal. But, they are definitely better than no lighting in a small area.
Office Equipment in the Ultimate Home Office
If you already have a computer (and most people do these days), then consider this as a section with suggestions for purchasing your next device. That is, of course, if you get to choose, rather than your employer choosing for you.
Cables and Wires
Particularly in a small space, managing cables can become an issue. Having a wireless mouse and printer helps eliminate some of the problem.
A wireless printer can even go in another room as long as the computer can still connect to it wirelessly.
Personal Devices in Your Home Office
Take into account also whether you will want to keep your personal device in the same area. If you do not use your own devices for work, you’ll want to ensure you have room for both if needed.
If you’ve got a laptop, then a laptop stand may help you to save some space on your home office desk.
Also, a great battery life is a must, as is battery backup. Don’t forget to consider weight and size as well. If a laptop screen feels too small, you may be able to use a separate second monitor.
Pay attention to screen resolution regardless of monitor size or whether you use a laptop or PC. The higher the resolution the easier it will be for your eyes to focus.
Other Office Equipment Considerations for Your Work Space
Getting a desktop or laptop computer with fax support will help eliminate the need for another piece of equipment and keep your home office from becoming too cluttered. A monitor arm can also save space.
How Many USB Ports Do You Need?
Don’t forget to think about your USB needs. For either type of computer, consider a model with at least two USB ports. But if your computer is great in all other ways, then using USB docks is an option.
Video Calls and the Ultimate Home Office
Video meetings are common these days. Consider what others see when they are on a call with you. What is behind your desk? Is it a bare wall? Shelves? Some natural light coming from a window?
Video quality will generally be better if the light source for your home office is neither too bright nor too dim. If it is important for others to be able to see you well, consider a clip on ring light to use during calls.
Sound and Noise
Sound is important too. Make sure your equipment works as needed for others to be able to hear you.
Background noise is important as well. In the event that you are unable to find a separate room, you may have issues in this area.
If there are young children or pets (or both) in your home life, then they will probably get into your home office at some point even if it is in a separate room. This is where the mute button comes in handy.
You can’t stop all background noise. Do what you can to prevent it on the front end. Then, try to find equipment that helps block it out. A mute button that is super easy to find helps as well.
Electrical Needs for the Ultimate Home Office Setup
There is so much to this when it comes to your home office. If you are just going to have a laptop, you probably will not have an issue with power. If you use multiple laptops or computers, that’s another story.
Check In With An Electrician
However, if your job requires a lot of electronics, you will have to ensure your home office can handle it. It may be best to talk things through with an electrician.
A surge protector is probably a good idea for your office regardless. A fried computer is not conducive to productive work, and a surge protector can help prevent that.
If you have a lot of power strips and extension cords, make sure everything is untangled and plugged in safely.
It’s probably not a good idea to plug a ton of equipment into one outlet. Consider looking into an uninterruptible power supply for extra security.
Internet That Can Keep Up With Business Needs
Obviously you need internet access. It’s best to get the fastest option available in your area. Wi Fi connectivity is a big bonus.
A home office without a strong internet connection is not going to be very productive. This is especially true if you need to be able to attend video meetings with clarity.
What is The Ultimate Home Office Setup for Work Home Life Balance?
There are both pros and cons to working in a home office.
There are a lot of great things about a home office. From the lack of commute to the ability to wear whatever you want most of the time, no one can argue the fact there are plenty of pros to working from home. You can save money on lunches, work clothes, gasoline and more.
However, most find that a lot of those things that are great can have another side to them as well. For example, without the commute, there is no downtime in the car on the way home.
A parent may very well go straight from the desk to the kitchen to start supper with no buffer time in between, or straight from the home office to the kitchen table to help with homework. This is not ideal.
Many also find that they miss the chance to get out of the office and eat with coworkers or gather in the break room for a quick chat.
Beyond that, if your family is at home with you during the day, you may find that your work space and time boundaries are blurred or non-existent.
To be successful with a home office, it is essential to set clear expectations.
There is Freedom in Flexibility
Flexibility is just as important however, as things do not always go as planned. So, set expectations with coworkers also.
The fewer interruptions you have, the less invasive the few that do occur will seem.
Furthermore, if you do not intend to be on call at all hours, take advantage of snooze options to ensure you do not get notifications during off hours.
Creative Tips to Set Up the Ultimate Home Office for Small Spaces and Small Budgets
While an entire separate room is ideal, there are a lot of creative ideas for utilizing a small space to create a home office area.
It’s easier if you are working in your own home rather than a rental, but there are ways around everything.
You may have to give up natural light and make some furniture pull double duty. A door that will safely shut while working may not be an option.
But, where there is a will there’s a way, and Pinterest has a ton of ideas for how to create a workspace pretty much anywhere.
Linen Closet Office Space
One of the great home office ideas out there is to take advantage of vertical space. For example, you can take the door off of a small linen closet and install a wide shelf at desk height. Add some smaller shelves above the first for storage, and include under shelf lighting to save desk space.
Also take note of available corners. Corner space is often drastically underutilized. A corner desk can fill empty space well, and you may find it offers more room than you expected.
If budget is an issue, you can make a desk with some plywood and a couple of plastic drawer units. There are instructions for doing this online. Decorate it, and you have a low cost, sturdy desk with plenty of storage.
A Few Final Tips and a To Do List of Ideas
- Consider your environment. If you don’t own your place, do you need prior written permission to put together a home office, particularly if you need to do any drilling?
- If you are working for yourself, are there any zoning requirements you need to consider?
- Remember keeping clutter to a minimum and tidiness go a long way in making a space more functional, regardless of size.
- Think about storage needs on the front end. If you need a filing cabinet or drawers other than what your desk already provides, take note.
- Consider buying office furniture second hand online. You may find some very budget friendly options. However, for the office chair, you may want to stick with a new one.
- If you have things you need to keep secure, a fireproof bag might be wise. Along those same lines, if you have a lot of equipment in your home that belongs to your employer, be sure to find out your liability regarding damage. Is it covered by your homeowners insurance? Do you need to look into supplemental insurance?
Anyone Can Have the Ultimate Home Office Setup
The ultimate home office is available to everyone. Of course, all home offices are not created equal. Not everyone will have natural light or a separate room, but anyone can create a functional space using what they have with just a little planning and forethought.
However, you first have to know what your ultimate is. You can save yourself a lot of time and money by figuring this out on the front end. Having to backtrack and redo is never fun.
My Personal Ultimate Home Office
For example, my personal ultimate home office did not include a separate room. I knew I needed to be able to see what was happening in my home with my family throughout the day. However, I also did not need people on video calls seeing the chaos.
The answer was a desk in the open, with a wall behind me. I can see what is happening, and the only things people on a call can see is the window at my back.
There are plenty of places my family can disburse to when I have a call, and they know to do so.
My printer is shared with my husband and is in his workspace. I can just click print and go grab what I need.
Find What Will Work for You
This obviously will not work for everyone. Your ultimate is specific to you and your needs. But, you can’t even begin to create the best home office space for you until you understand what exactly it is that you need.
Take the time to figure that out first, and realize that nothing is ever set in stone. If something doesn’t work like you thought it would, change it.
The Home Office for Your Own Business vs. The Home Office as an Employee
Regardless of who you are working for, yourself or your employer, most of this will apply. The major difference is in your ability to make choices. Your employer may make the choices about your equipment, and they may require a separate room for your office.
They may insist that no pets or children can be around during video meetings. Basically, your ability to be flexible will depend on your employer. On the flip side, they may help with the cost of setting up an office in your home. They could offer a stipend, or even provide a laptop or other equipment.
When you work for yourself, you get all the flexibility, but you also know you will bear all the cost. It may be possible to get some financing to help with the cost of a home business, including setting up an office. Of course, if you have good credit and work to build strong Fundability from the beginning, it will be even easier.