Tips for Working from Home in a Small Space


Update (3/24/20): How Rent.com is responding to coronavirus and taking steps to help renters and property managers during this challenging time.


We’re all currently working from home.

Even if you spend a portion of your day still on location, home is now the hub when it comes to productivity. “As the coronavirus spreads, working from home is the new reality for many U.S. workers,” according to Business Insider.

The issue isn’t that you have to work remotely, it’s that everyone else in your home is doing it, too. Kids aren’t at school, significant others are home and everyone is vying for a productive space where they can get things done. You may only have a little bit of room to spare, so here are some creative solutions to help make working from home in a small space productive.

1. Claim your spot

As you look around your home for that perfect workspace, remember size doesn’t matter. Working from home in a small space is possible as long as it meets your other requirements. A few to keep in mind include:

  • Somewhere as quiet as possible
  • A place that’s comfortable, even if it’s only for short periods of time
  • An electrical outlet close by
  • A chair or somewhere to sit
  • A surface for balancing your computer

Even if you have to rearrange furniture, clear off a shelf or shift items around in a closet, create a space that clearly functions as a workspace.

2. Improvise your work surface

Traditionally, a table or desk is the top choice as the surface for your computer. When competing for a workspace at home, if you don’t have an office, prepare to improvise. It’s time to get creative with whatever will work, wherever it works.

Especially if you’re working in short bursts between helping kids with digital schoolwork or getting things done around the house, creativity is king. In a pinch, nothing works better than a lap (it’s what I’m using right now) and a chair. Two accessible items, and boom, home office.

If you don’t mind standing while you work, a clean countertop or kitchen island works great. It also keeps grabby hands away if you’ve got younger kids at home. They can’t reach your computer and accidentally close an unsaved document. Make sure to wipe down surfaces like these before transforming them into your workspace, and don’t leave your laptop unattended since it could get pushed off.

When in doubt, though, anything can become a work surface. Look around for spots going unused — an ottoman, extra chair or even a nice spot on the floor. These all make great work stations when space is tight. If you have more than one, you can even rotate between them to freshen things up during isolation.

If you find yourself working most often after the kids go to bed, scoot up to their art table and transform it into your evening workspace.

3. Keep it clean and free of distractions

This is easier said than done based on the number of people you have in your home but do your best to designate this spot as your private area.

Your workspace should be all about productivity. Remove distractions, including anything that’s not related to your job. If you’re at the kitchen table, clear off the placemats and anything else associated with the space’s regular use.

If you’re working on a coffee table or ottoman, dump discarded toys or magazines elsewhere. It’s hard to work when you’re surrounded by reminders of everything you also need to do at home.

Help keep yourself focused, and say no to clutter.

work from home

4. Gather supplies

Getting rid of the excess stuff in your dedicated space doesn’t free it up to get cluttered with work. Aim for the minimal amount of stuff to take up the least amount of space possible. You’re going to have to move it all eventually, so less is best.

Your computer, phone and maybe a small notebook to jot notes or other specifics is really all you need. We tend to spread out and fill up the space we have, so give yourself less room and only bring the necessities into your workspace.

5. Put the world on mute

People are another distraction to rid yourself of when sitting down to work at home. Use headphones if you can’t get away from the noise. Working to your favorite playlist may also help make you more productive.

It’s also a good idea to try and put someone else in charge of the human distractions during your work hours. Set up a schedule where only one adult works at a time. Then, establish the rule that the working parent is the last person anyone goes to with questions or requests.

6. Make it fun

Instances of video conferencing are likely to go up significantly during this time of isolation, so you may want to add a fun backdrop when working from home in a small space.

If there’s a bare wall behind you, get creative and move your favorite picture into view. Hang a curtain or ask your kids to create some original art. Try not to sit in front of a large window. While the shot of nature looks nice, there’s more chance for glare.

If you want a natural setting, set up your office on your porch. If your backyard is particularly picturesque, co-workers can catch nice wooded views while you all talk business.

Working outside in the sunshine

Photo courtesy of Lesly Gregory

You’ll survive working from home in a small space

Being productive at home when surrounded by your family and all the distractions they bring is possible.

Setting up a workspace, no matter how small, is the key to not only establishing the time to work, but having a place where you know you’ll get it done. Adding that certainty into these uncertain times can make all the difference.

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Lesly GregoryLesly Gregory has over 15 years of marketing experience, ranging from community management to blogging to creating marketing collateral for a variety of industries. A graduate of Boston University, Lesly holds a B.S. in Journalism. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, three cats and assorted fish.

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