How To Set Up a Home Office for Two

How To Set Up a Home Office for Two

Range Govindan
Feb 16, 2010

It's always hard to manage a home office when more than one person works at home. If your significant other and you have been turfing your home office space, then maybe it's time to try and set up a better home office.

In our home, there are two people using computers for work-related things. My wife uses her MacBook to work on photos and research, while I tend to stick to a desktop. A few years ago, we setup a home office using a large IKEA Galant desk. The desk was huge and it took up half of the room, but we could technically use both of our computers at the same time.

Unfortunately, large desks tend to make people spread their work, so my wife moved to the kitchen table, where she preferred the lighting. She proved that you don't necessarily need an office desk to create an efficient workstation. Rather you simply need a space that addresses all of your needs and is small enough not to get in the way.

Once you've set up a home network and have some sort of network attached storage (NAS) up and running you're all set to maximize your office space.

What You Need

Main desk for desktop, not too large, not too small
Cable management system
Secondary office desk
Desk lamps and floor lamps


1. First you'll want to set up your main workstation, the one on which your desktop will sit. Now, we're not going to decide who gets to use it, but usually, the person who works more from home or the one who's more computer inclined uses this one. There are a few interesting add-ons to this workstation. Drawers are always good to hide chargers, files, and office hardware, but open shelves work well too. Other ideas include setting up the peripherals underneath the desk. We've put printers, faxes and scanners there, on some shelving. They are neatly tucked away and out of sight.

2.The other main component to this workstation is the chair. If you spend hours upon hours oat your computer then we recommend using an ergonomic chair that won't wreck your back. The Herman Miller Embody chair has quickly become an Unplggd favorite for its inspiring ergonomics.

3. The computer on this workstation will be the main terminal on your network. If your peripherals, such as printers and external storage aren't wireless then they would be plugged into this.

4. The secondary desk can be setup in the same room, but we recommend that it not face the same wall. For example, we've seen great setups with two desks facing each other, a bigger one and a smaller one, or desks facing perpendicular or opposite walls. This allows each workstation access to a wall socket (hopefully) as well as storage solutions attached to the wall.

This second workstation is best suited for a laptop user and should include an external keyboard, mouse, monitor, and a docking station, if need be. Ultimately, the hardware is up to you, but we've found that working for extended hours on a laptop can get tedious. It's a welcome relief to have a bigger keyboard, real mouse and large screen space.

5. For small desks ideas, check out the smaller Galant desks or the Vika Glassholm with Lerberg legs from IKEA. The trick is to position them in nooks and crannies that most houses have.

6. No matter what table you choose, you'll want to make sure that cables don't end up taking over a room. We recommend managing cables with either velcro ties or cable management systems, like this one from Ikea.

Additional Notes: The important thing is to regularly change positions and places if you're working from home, since you've got the luxury of doing so. With laptops, nothing is easier. Taking some time off in coffee shops is also a good idea. It breaks the routine.

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(Images: Retro Traveler via CC license, Paul Gorman via CC license, This Space Is For Rent, rogersmj via CC license, Amy Love Yah via CC license)

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