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Working from Home: How to Create an Office on a Budget

Working from Home: How to Create an Office on a Budget

Working from home has become increasingly popular over the past few years. With remote work on the rise, more and more people are looking to create a functional home office on a budget. Setting up a comfortable and productive workspace doesn't have to cost a fortune if you make intelligent choices. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to design an efficient home office without breaking the bank.

Determine Your Needs

Before starting your home office design, take some time to evaluate your needs. This will help guide your setup and equipment purchases. Here are some key questions to ask yourself:

  • What tasks will you primarily use the office for? Writing, computer work, phone calls, video conferencing, etc.?
  • Will you need space for additional activities like bookkeeping or product assembly?
  • Do you prefer to sit or stand when you work? This will impact your desk selection.
  • How much storage space do you require? Shelving and cabinets add up fast.
  • What's your timeline? Can you spread more significant purchases over time as your budget allows?

Once you've reflected on these working styles and task considerations, you can strategically shop for items tailored to your home office goals.

Working From Home Office Tips

Select the Right Location

Your home office location will significantly impact your productivity and comfort. When selecting a space, keep these factors in mind:

  • Noise – Choose a quiet spot away from high-traffic areas in your home. This will reduce interruptions and background noise during calls and concentration tasks.
  • Lighting – Ensure adequate natural light and supplement with task lighting as needed. Poor lighting strains eyes and saps energy over an 8-hour workday.
  • Ergonomics – Pick a space where you can organise gear properly to support good posture and minimise repetitive stress injuries. Don't just plop a computer on the dining room table long-term.
  • Accessibility – It should provide easy access to power outlets and ethernet ports to avoid dangly wires across walkways.
  • Size – Ensure you have enough space for your planned office setup and activities without feeling cramped.

Ideally, find a location meeting all criteria, but noise and ergonomics are critical. You can't be productive if distracted or in pain.

Office Furniture: Stick to the Basics

When outfitting your office, resist the temptation to go high-end. Costly furniture depreciates fast. With some savvy shopping, you can get professional-grade essentials on a budget. Focus spending on critical elements:

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Desk

This central piece impacts your daily comfort. Invest in an adjustable sit/stand desk. Brands like Flexispot and Vari have quality options under $300. If that won't work with your budget, look for an ergonomic desk for around $150 or less.

DIY standing desks are another affordable option. Convert a table or counter temporarily, then upgrade later as funds allow.

Chair

Don't skimp here! A lousy chair causes long-term harm. Expect to spend $100-300 for adequate lumbar support, seat cushioning, adjustable armrests and smooth-rolling casters. Brands like Modway, Best Office, and Office Star offer sleek bonded leather or mesh chairs with ergonomic designs starting under $150.

Herman Miller's Aeron chair remains the gold standard but averages $700 used. That's not realistic for most basic home office budgets.

Storage

Shelving, drawers and filing cabinets keep your gear and documents organised. Target solid wood bookcases and lateral file cabinets for around $100-250, depending on size. Sterilite and IRIS offer inexpensive plastic drawer stacks for corralling smaller office supplies.

Lighting

Task lighting prevents eye strain and headaches. Desk lamps average $15-60 depending on style. Choose bulbs with a warm colour temperature (3600-4000k) to reduce exposure to blue light. Brands like TaoTronics, Joly Joy and Luyed have adjustable LED lamps perfect for desks and shelves.

Technology: Shop Strategically

Outfitting your home office with the right tech needs some strategic spending, too. These guidelines will help you allocate funds where they matter most:

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Computer

A mid-range laptop or desktop sufficiently handles typical home office needs for $500-800. Look for at least 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD drive, and an Intel i5 or i7 processor. Brands like HP, Dell and Acer offer suitable options.

Using an existing personal computer, you already own saves substantially. Just clean storage and upgrade RAM if needed.

Peripherals

Splurge on a high-quality mouse and keyboard for extensive computer use. Ergonomic versions reduce strain. Brands like Logitech and Microsoft offer wireless combos from $50-150.

Skimp on your monitor setup initially since you can add external screens over time as the budget allows. A single 24″ 1080p display suffices initially for under $150. Eventually, dual monitors improve productivity.

Wi-Fi

Fast, reliable internet is non-negotiable. Slow speeds hamper productivity and ruin video calls. Contact your provider to request better service if needed.

Investing $80-200 in your high-performance router and mesh networking gear can also help eliminate dead zones. Netgear's Orbi Mesh and ASUS RT-AX92U get excellent reviews.

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Work Zone Add-Ons: Nice-to-Have Extras

Once your basic furniture and technology needs are covered, consider extras that support convenience and efficiency:

  • Bookcases – for storage and decoration
  • Plants – to add greenery and visual interest
  • Whiteboard – for brainstorming sessions
  • Desktop organisers – keep small items tidy
  • Floor mat – cushions standing time
  • Artwork – motivational prints or photos
  • Decorative accents – plants, throws, baskets
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Thrift stores and discount chains like HomeGoods, flea markets, Facebook Marketplace, and Buy Nothing groups offer bargains on these finishing touches.

Helpful Budget-Stretching Tips

If money is exceptionally tight, get creative with the following cost-cutting strategies:

  • Buy second-hand gear in good condition
  • Accept hand-me-down furniture from friends or family
  • Repurpose existing furniture and household items
  • Build your basic standing desk
  • Use an old laptop and external peripherals
  • Add components slowly over time
  • Take advantage of sales events like Prime Day or Black Friday
  • Use cashback apps and credit card rewards towards purchases

The average home office setup costs around $2,000, including a desk, chair, computer equipment, software, decor and accessories. That said, creating a stylish, ergonomic and productive workspace is possible on almost any budget by following the recommendations focused on bargain hunting and necessity prioritisation.

Best Working From Home Setup

Best Standing Desks Office

Before setting up your new home workspace, consider what you’ll use it for and what features are most important to you. This will help guide your planning and purchasing decisions within your budget.

Determine Your Must-Haves

Make a list of what you require in your office space based on how you work best and the tasks you need to complete. For example, assess whether things like storage, a printer, external monitor(s), video conferencing capabilities, or a certain level of comfort are vital for you. Rank these must-haves in order of priority to stay focused as you set up.

Consider Desired Features

In addition to the basics, what elements would further enhance your productivity, creativity, or comfort? Maybe you’d benefit enormously from having plants that purify the air around you. Or perhaps ambient noise distracts you, so soundproofing is vital. List your nice-to-have features to refer back to later should you have a leftover budget.

Map Out Your Workspace Layout

Sketch out ideas for organising the physical layout and flow of your office. This will help you pick furniture and gear that fits your space well. Measure available rooms or nooks to know their dimensions, including ceiling height—account for needing to navigate around pieces. Leaving ample leg room can prevent an awkward, cramped feel.

Selecting Space-Saving Furniture

One of the keys to setting up an efficient home office on a budget is choosing furniture that serves multiple functions while taking up minimal area. Seek out compact or mobility-enhancing pieces tailored to small workspaces.

Invest in a Comfy Desk Chair

You’ll likely spend long hours sitting in your desk chair, so make sure it’s comfortable. Chairs with adjustable features like seat height, armrests, and lumbar support provide custom alignments that are ideal for you. Rubber wheels offer easy movability between tasks. Check secondhand stores first, then affordable retailers like IKEA or Amazon.

Add Multipurpose Seating

Supplementary chairs that recline fold up, or stack when not in use preserve precious square footage. Ottoman seating cubes or pouffes slide neatly under other furniture but pull double-duty as extra guest chairs when needed. They can even serve as makeshift tables in a pinch!

Select a Convertible Desk

Consider a compact desk that folds up or has a hidden keyboard tray to work with limited space. For even more versatility, choose a height-adjustable model allowing use as either a standing or traditional desk. You can alternate between them to boost energy and prevent bodily strain.

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Use Vertical Storage Opportunities

Installing shelves or slatwall systems takes advantage of vertical real estate, allowing you to store items of various sizes up and down. You can mount a wire storage rack for hanging files and supplies as a budget option—Customise with affordable organisational bins.

Add Multifunction Furniture

Seek out desks and cabinets providing storage along with surface space. For example, a bookshelf hutch atop a desk holds reference materials within arm’s reach. Nesting tables tuck entirely within one another and then separate for extra surfaces as needed. Repurposed pieces like vintage chests often have beautiful characters, too!

Selecting Space-Saving Technology & Equipment

Best Laptop Docking Station For Designers

In addition to optimised furniture, strategically choosing gadgets and gear that serve multiple purposes or stow away neatly will make your compact home office fully functional.

External Laptop Accessories

Deck out your laptop workstation with a few critical affordable add-ons: compact keyboards, folding laptop stands for ergonomic angling, basic external webcams, small yet powerful computer speakers, and multi-port USB hubs. Use wireless versions where possible to cut down cable clutter.

All-In-One Printer/Scanner/Copier

An all-in-one that prints, scans, copies, and sometimes faxes simplifies your tech toolkit. Compact inkjet models have small footprints suited to any tabletop or shelf. Consider using a library printer instead to save that space for infrequent larger jobs.

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Mounted Smart Storage

Keep essentials at your fingertips using mounted storage. Wall-mounted racks or wire baskets attach to vertical surfaces to corral pens, tapes, notes, devices and more right where you need them most. Command strip hooks are perfect for headphone pairs, too!

Convenient Surge Protectors

Choose streamlined power strips and surge protectors with rotational outlets, making plug orientation frustration a thing of the past! Models with extra-long cords give you placement flexibility while protecting precious equipment. For complete safety, add a mounted wall outlet splitter.

Shared Home Electronics

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Have items you only occasionally need, like scanners, paper shredders, or label makers? Consider keeping them in common household areas so multiple people can access them without cluttering your workspace. Coordinate sharing with housemates first.

Selecting Decor Elements

Work From Home Business

A professional yet personal ambience makes your DIY home office feel polished. Include touches that inspire you and reflect your style without breaking budget. Here are savvy tips for elevating your space affordably:

Incorporate Greenery

Bring life into your indoor work environment with lush potted plants,小さい tray gardens, or even single stem cuttings in creative vessels. Spider plants and pothos varieties thrive with just moderate watering. Greenery boosts air quality and mood, too!

Display Meaningful Art

Surround yourself with graphic art, photos, mementoes or colour palettes that spark creativity or peacefulness. Frame unique memorabilia, kids’ artwork, or magazine clippings in basic frames or washi tape—lean, lightweight canvases against wall edges rather than needing hooks.

Add Your Own Wallpaper

Use removable wallpaper or decals to customise your backdrop economically. Geometric designs, faux architectural moulding, or even a painted chalkboard-style stretch of wall over your desk can heighten visual interest and provide utility.

Incorporate Mirrors

Strategically hung mirrors visually expand smaller offices, make dark corners brighter, or create a focal point. Frameless leaning mirrors propped along counters or walls add light without taking up floor area. Hang a mirror behind your monitor to reflect natural light from windows onto your screen.

Display Functional Items Artfully

Rather than stashing things away in drawers, neatly showcase frequently used items as art installations—mount writing utensils in bulk to a painted piece of wood. Line up stacks of colourful file folders in wall-mounted acrylic holders. Prop reference books face out on a shelf like gallery sculptures.

Conclusion

Building out an efficient home office can be done without breaking the bank. This guide provided tips across critical categories like furniture, technology, extras and budget stretching to help you make strategic spending decisions.

Prioritise essential elements like your desk, chair and core computing gear first. Embrace the constraint of a tight budget to fuel resourcefulness and get creative, maximising used furnishings, sale events, cashback bonuses and more. Approach your office design in phases, adding convenience elements over time. Ultimately, you can craft a comfortable and inspiring workspace tailored to your needs at any budget level.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the absolute cheapest way to create a functional home office?

The most budget-friendly option is furnishing your office primarily with used items sourced for free or cheaply. Check Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, yard sales, and Buy Nothing groups. Repurpose household items creatively, too. Invest primarily in a good used office chair. Skimp on technology initially by using an existing old laptop with external peripherals.

What should I include to make video calls look professional in my home office?

Minimise background clutter and disruptions by setting up a quiet, private room with a blank wall behind you. Add a small bookcase with decorative objects to frame the camera shot. Position a desk lamp towards your face to illuminate you. Place your webcam with books or boxes at eye level, looking slightly down towards you.

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Is it less expensive to build or buy office furniture?

Building your own basic desk and shelving is vastly cheaper than buying equivalents if you have the tools and DIY skills. Just ensure you use quality construction materials that will withstand daily use without falling apart quickly. If you need more confidence in your building expertise, opt for budget-friendly, ready-to-assemble office collections from IKEA or Amazon.

Should I invest more in my desk or office chair?

Prioritise spending more on a high-quality, ergonomic office chair over an expensive desk. You can cause serious physical harm using a cheap chair lacking lumbar support and cushioning for prolonged periods. But a basic or adjusted table makes a fine desk surface for most home office tasks as long as you have a supportive seat.

Can I create a functional home office using mostly second-hand items?

Absolutely! Sourcing used furniture and tech items is one of the most budget-friendly ways to outfit a stylish home workspace while avoiding unnecessary costs. Shop thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and eBay for quality second-hand furnishings and equipment at a fraction of standard retail pricing. Just sanitise thoroughly.

Last update on 2024-07-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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