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Making a Home Office in Your Apartment

September 24, 2010 | Apartment Lifestyle, Everyday Living

More and more people these days are telecommuting or operating businesses out of their homes. This can be great if you have a large house and can dedicate a room to office space. However, if you live in an apartment, creating a home office can be a little trickier. Space is at a premium, and finding a balance between the space you need to live and the space you need to have an effective home office can be a real challenge.

How to Set Up a Great Home Office in Your Apartment:

  • Start with an Existing Wall: This will serve as an anchor to your office. Ideally, try to set up your office in a corner of your apartment, so you will have two walls to work with. This will give you plenty of space to post important work documents, goals and calendars up around you.
  • Screen Off Your Workspace: Use a tri-fold screen to block your view of the surrounding room. This will help you fight distractions and let you feel like you are in “work mode” as soon as you walk into your home office area. If you are not setting up in a corner, consider how you can create screens on both sides of your desk space to keep those wandering eyes to a minimum and avoid the temptations of your TV, bed or refrigerator.
  • Include a Window: You may not think you need one now, but having a window in your home office can take the edge off that “cubicle” feeling and provide some great natural light, which can increase productivity. If you don’t have a window in a good place for an office, just make sure your workspace is well lit to keep you alert and productive.
  • Don’t Overload Your Electrical Outlets: Before finalizing your choice of space for your new home office, make sure the location has access to an electrical outlet for power. If you intend to plug-in multiple pieces of equipment including lights, computers and printers into a single outlet, be sure to purchase a power-strip that can carry the wattage you need and that comes with surge protection for safety. If you need to route electricity from a wall outlet more than a couple feet away from your desk, make sure to secure cords to the carpet or baseboards so you aren’t tripping on them.
  • Draw Up a Floor Plan: This doesn’t have to be fancy, any pen and paper will do. The goal is to help figure out where everything will go: desk, chair, lights, computer, etc. If you have to move existing furniture to make space for your home office, this will help you plan out a new room configuration and determine what will and won’t work.
  • Make Sure Your Equipment is Well Ventilated: Unfortunately, home offices don’t come with technical support staff to make sure our computers are set up properly and safely. It’s very important that electrical equipment is kept cool and in a well ventilated area, and your computer is no exception. If you have a PC tower that you plan to store underneath your desk, make sure you don’t place it directly on carpeting. Lastly, those plastic floor mats that you can buy at office supply stores can help reduce the amount of static electricity surrounding your work space and protect all of your electrical equipment.
  • Get Organized: Being well organized will help you be more productive, so it’s worth the effort. If you are short on space and don’t have room to sprawl out, consider ways to organize yourself vertically. Think about storing documents, office supplies and equipment just above and below your desk space. Shorter filing cabinets can be stored underneath your desk. Plus, if you buy filing cabinets on wheels, they pull out for extra seating or surface space. You can also use simple modular shelving above your desk for extra storage and hang cork or dry erase boards on the wall to keep track of all your big ideas! Keep only those things you use frequently at your fingertips and store other reference materials in a nearby closet.

If you are considering setting up a home office in your apartment, we hope these ideas help and inspire you to get the most from your space—no matter how big or small. If you have any tips or advice from your own experience of setting up a home office, tell us about it!

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