How To Work “From Home” Without a Home Office

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

We’re not all #blessed enough to have a home office or a designated space that’s only for working, but if you have the kind of job that lets you work from your apartment, you still need some sort of workspace. Maybe you have a space you can easily transform into a desk on work days, maybe you’re one purchase or DIY project away from having the perfect telecommuting solution, or maybe you need a little help from your neighborhood coffee shop. Here’s how to make do with the space you’ve got and find the right work-from-home routine for you:

Make your desk do double duty

You may not have an extra room to turn into a home office, but if you have the space to fit a small desk that you can use for more than just work—say, for instance, a vanity—go for it. Alternately, you can use table space you already have, like a dining room table or kitchen island. Anywhere that you can sit at comfortably and lay out your work materials should work, just try to stick to one space so it feels like a routine and you’re actually going to work. The only thing that definitely shouldn’t double as a workspace? Your bed—keep that just for sleep and relaxation.

Mount a space-saving desk to the wall

If you have some extra wall-space but not enough space to put an actual desk in your home, try mounting one to the wall. Many wall-mounted desks take up less space, and some even fold up so they’re not in the way when you’re not using them. Get a stool or chair that you can place elsewhere when you’re not working or one that can be easily stored away, and you’ll have an instant mini office for your work-from-home days that won’t use up all your space.

(Image credit: Katy Cartland)

Use a portable laptop table you can stash away

Mounting a shelf or desk to the wall may not be an option for you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a workspace in your home. You can get a small, portable laptop table that folds up and can be stashed away out of sight, or, you can use one that doubles as an end table when not in use. Either way, your workspace will only be visible when you want it to be, and it can move throughout your space if need be (like if you want to move from your usual chair to the couch).

Scope out the cafes in your neighborhood

If you absolutely can’t make space in your home for the days you’re telecommuting, you can always head to a local cafe to work there. Scope out the cafes in your neighborhood and find out which ones have seating and WiFi, so you can figure out where makes the most sense to get your work done. Even if you do have an actual home workspace, sometimes you just need a break from your routine, so having a go-to cafe is a good idea anyway. Bonus: Your new out-of-the-office workspace will never run out of (and will always smell like) coffee.

Other Telecommuting Tips:

Don’t wear pajamas. If you don’t have a designated home office or workspace, getting dressed for the day will help you feel like you’re actually going to work regardless.

Keep wherever you work clutter-free. Whether you’ve got a little desk nook or you’re using a portable table, if your usual spot for working is a mess, you might have trouble concentrating.

Take breaks. Unlike when you’re in the office and leave to take lunch breaks or grab a coffee, when you’re working from home, it can be hard to remember to get up and do other things—try having your lunch in a spot away from your workspace, and having a few minutes of outside time to break up your day.

Do you ever work from home in your small space? How do you make it work?