home office setup guide

With the coronavirus crisis seeing many of us make the change from office-based to home working, home offices are suddenly springing up all over the country. Most of them have been put together in a hurry - but your work environment is too important to be just thrown together. A well-constructed home office will not only make your days more pleasant: it could boost your productivity, improve your health, and help stave off the many health complications that can come from spending so long at the desk.

Poorly thought out workplaces can lead to strains, back problems, and a host of other issues and complications. But knowing how to avoid these pitfalls isn’t easy: that’s why there is a whole industry dedicated to our health and well-being at work. If you're not a professional in home office design though, we’ve put together this guide to help you build your home office.

modern home office spoace with desk

How Do You Make A Home Office?

For many, the home office won’t differ so much from the workspace you’re used to travelling to. That means that the same rules apply, and you’ll need basically the same equipment. That said, when imagining home office setups, it’s useful to think about what has and hasn’t worked at the workstations you’ve worked at previously. This is, after all, an opportunity for you to build your ultimate work area, so there’s no reason to be limited in your thinking. It’s a great opportunity to try something new.

Here are the bare bones you'll need to start building your home office:

Computer and Wi Fi

We're going to go out on a limb here and say that if you're building a home office, you probably already have some computer equipment. If you don't, now's the time to buy a desktop PC, pronto! And if you don't have Wi Fi, it's probably time to get internet access.

Desk

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Your desk is the building block of the home office. Without it, your computer or laptop has nowhere to rest, and you have nowhere to work. There are many options on the market, from the humble computer desk right through to the versatile sit-stand desk varieties.

You ideally need a desk which allows you to find the optimum position to keep good posture. Postural issues can cause back pain and RSI, so avoiding this is key to maintaining your wellbeing while working.

A height-adjustable desk will allow for this and give you the option to alternate between sitting and standing during the day. With home work presenting less opportunities to get up during the day, keeping active is doubly important. While you might be able to skimp on an ikea standing desk, but if you want a solid platform might be better not to.

Ergonomic Chair or Stool

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An adjustable ergonomic desk chair which supports the lumbar area, the upper back and the neck is crucial for long hours at the desk. There is also a range of stools and active seats we’ll cover later which can help you stay active during the day, and boost your productivity.

Accessories, Storage and Everything Else

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Standing anti-fatigue mats, headphone stands, filing cabinets ... The list of possible additions is endless. What's essential to you will depend on what you do exactly, but below we've listed some of the key things you might need to complete your pro set up.

What Is The Best Way To Set Up Home Office?

bamboo desk in home office

The best setup for your home office is going to depend a lot on the type of work you do, but probably a lot more on how much space you have available. If you’re wondering how to make a home office in a small space, your needs are quite different from those lucky enough to have a dedicated office space. Later in the article, we also cover tips and strategies for optimizing your work setup in a small desk and small space.

If you work with drawings you will need a set up which incorporates a drafting table, for example. And if your work requires you to use multiple monitors, you will need to factor this into your thinking. You will know best how much desk space you require, and how much of the day you are likely to spend seated or standing.

What is true for all professions, though is that a set up which keeps you free from pain and injuries is crucial. That means you should choose ergonomic, adjustable chairs, and ideally a desk which allows you to change position and keep active during the workday. Additionally, if your work involves spending extended periods on tasks that require high surfaces, considering the right seating becomes essential, specifically drafting chairs.

Got a gaming room your looking to level up? Check out our gaming desk setup post!

Drafting Chairs

Drafting chairs are a special type of office furniture designed particularly for individuals who work on higher surfaces than a regular office desk.

They're revered for a few significant modifications, one of which is the elevated seat cylinder reaching beyond the 30-inch mark. This added height, not only accommodates elevated workspaces but also ensures an improved posture and decreased strain from long work hours.

Suitability Of Drafting Chairs For Regular Desk

Individuals frequently desire a drafting chair due to the increased desk surface height meddling with their arm angles and input device (keyboard, mouse) maneuvering.

Common misconception, it would seem. Drafting stools generally serve well with elevated work surfaces, not regular desks, due to their increased height and adjustability features.

Are Drafting Chairs Comfortable?

In the ergonomic furniture sphere, drafting stools shine with their remarkable level of comfort. They are built for long hours at workstations, crafted thoughtfully with adjustable features.

The reclining back, adjustable armrests, and the ability to sink or rise to your desired height create a customizable comfort experience. The allure doesn't stop at comfort alone; these stools are available in a myriad of colours, materials, and designs, catering to different aesthetics.

Benefits of Drafting Stools

The perks of using drafting stools extend far beyond comfort. They offer pivotal ergonomic support for users working at elevated surfaces, a boon for all stand up desk users.

Drafting stools champion adjustable height features, foot rests and lumbar support to perpetuate an optimal posture. Here are few noteworthy benefits:

  • Enhanced support at higher work surfaces
  • Customisable height adjustments
  • In-built footrests for extended comfort
  • Lower back support promoting optimal posture

These factors contribute to the growing reputation of drafting stools as a preferred choice for workers seeking both comfort and optimal physical support.

Office Chair vs Drafting Chair

The distinction between a drafting chair and a standard office chair is widely misunderstood. A simple explanation touches on the key difference - the elevation.

Unlike office chairs which reach a seat height of around 22 inches, the seat height of a drafting chair goes beyond, even exceeding 30 inches. This very important variance makes it significantly more comfortable and ergonomic.

Transforming Regular Office Chair Into Drafting Chair

A 'drafting kit' plays a pivotal role in correctly understanding chair transformations. Adaptation kits compatible with many of our office chairs, these 'aiding hands' enable an increase in seat height and introduce a footrest. This transformation makes ordinary office chairs apt for use at drafting tables and other tall working surfaces.

Where Should I Put My Home Office?

If you have a guest room in your home, this is the obvious candidate. Ideally, you want a space where you can close the door behind you and get on, which is especially true if you have children in the house.

For many of us, it is a case of needs must when choosing where to put an office at home. With the right equipment, some rearrangement, and a little bit of creativity, you can make a viable workspace in most rooms.

With a bit of imagination, you may well find your bedroom or living room can be turned into an office area, permanently or just once in a while. And you’ll be surprised how convincing it will feel once you’ve kitted it out with all the right equipment. If you only occasionally need a space to do your business expenses, we have ideas for you too.

The important thing is that you create a work environment that works for your needs. Building your own workspace puts you firmly in control of the user experience, and you'll know best what works for you.

Should My Desk Face The Window Or Wall?

Although a scenic view from the window might seem tempting, professionals often advise situating the table desk against the window, facing the room's entrance.

Office entrance visibility can enhance your awareness and prevent unwelcome interruptions, making this choice ideal for individuals with tendencies toward distraction.

If you want to learn more about how to optimize your home office layout, you should check out this informative article: Where in the house is the best place for a desk?

Which Direction Should Your Desk Face

A subsequent point to contemplate is, "Which direction should my desk face?" Improved mental functioning, concentration, and decision-making can often be achieved if your workstation is oriented towards true east.

For the home office setting where an east-facing setup isn't possible, a north-facing alternative often serves as an excellent secondary option. Adjusting your workspace's orientation when experiencing difficulty at work might render significant improvements.

What Equipment Do I Need To Work From Home?

Height Adjustable Desk

Height adjustable, or sit-stand desks have revolutionised the way we work. With sedentary lifestyles causing a spike in health issues, many of us have turned to the lifestyle changing powers of sit-stand working. And if you’re putting together a truly world-class home office set up, then we think you should do the same.

Height adjustable desk

But why exactly should you choose a standing desk for your home office setup?

When working from home we tend to work longer hours, and we get up less. That’s because there’s no one to speak to at the water cooler, and fewer distractions in general. This means there’s a danger that in our home offices we become even more sedentary than we were in the office. When you consider that office-based work and inactivity has been shown to have links to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and a whole host of other serious medical conditions, it’s a bad outlook.

However, building your home office around a standing desk can help keep you active and in turn help prevent these problems. Standing up 30 mins out of every hour has been shown to promote blood flow, and burns more calories than sitting.

Back pain, neck pain and RSI’s are all conditions related to bad posture, but also to maintaining a stationary position. Many instances of lower back pain, upper back problems and neck strain are caused by simply staying still for too long. By varying our position, we relieve the strain on various muscle groups, preventing long term problems.

Sit stands allow you to change position easily throughout the day, either by standing periodically or just varying the height. Standing for at least part of the day has been shown to boost productivity and wellbeing. Increased blood flow will keep your energy levels high, and it’s also been linked to lowering blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

Adjustable Height Desk Features:

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Stability and Wobble - Make sure you buy one that is stable in use, but also in transition between heights (to protect your computer equipment).
  • Programmable Heights - An electronic system which allows you to save your optimum heights is ideal.
  • Cable Management - Keeping your cables out of the way reduces clutter and trip hazards. Ideally should have a separate channel for your ethernet cable or other data cables.

Ergonomic Chairs

Every workspace needs a great chair, and whether you decide to boss it in an executive chair or have your eye on the slightly more humble office chair, the same principles apply. Whatever chair you go for, you need maximum flexibility and adjustability to ensure you can attain the perfect work position. Here are a few features to look for in an ergonomic chair. If you need more info on picking the best ergonomic chair for your home setup, see the guide we wrote.

Ergonomic chair for your home office

To keep you back in good shape you need a chair which allows you to fit to your frame and the shape of your spine. Make sure your chair has adjustable back height and lumbar support is the minimum, with adjustable neck support and headrest ideal.

To find the correct position relative to your monitor and webcam, you need a chair which can be set to height easily. Tilt allows you to find the perfect angle to workstation too, so you can work in the height of comfort and safety. We've created a sit stand desk height calculator that helps determine the ergonomically correct position for your desk, chair, and monitor so do check it out!

Consider A Mesh Back

When the hot weather sets in you’ll thank yourself for choosing a chair with mesh back. Not only is it great for airflow, keeping you cool and comfortable, but mesh provides great support for the back. Gets extra points for looking great!

Monitor Stand / Monitor Arms

Your monitors are your window on your world of work, and they’re most likely to be your focus for the majority of the work day. So getting your monitor set up right is obviously going to be very important.

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If you’re going to keep your home office space as ergonomically sound as possible and save yourself from postural issues, then the placement of your monitor or monitors are key. You need to make sure your monitor is directly in front of you, with your eye level a few inches below the top of the screen. With a stand-alone monitor this can be difficult to achieve, but luckily there are a host of options to help you find the right spot.

If you have the space, a monitor stand can do the job. If you want more desk space and greater flexibility of movement though, consider building a monitor arm into your set up. They normally clamp onto the back of your desktop, saving on desktop space, and allowing you a much wider range of positions. Check out our guide to the best monitor arms here.

Multiple Monitors and iMacs

For multiple monitor set ups, dual monitor arms are available allowing you to position your monitors in near-infinite arrangements, and freeing up twice the desk space! If you work on Mac, there are even arms available which are customised to support the weight of the iMac with specialised fittings.

Multiple monitors setup

Keyboard

A good keyboard is a must. You'll know what you prefer when selecting a keyboard, but we recommend choosing something as slim as possible, as this allows you to keep your mouse or trackpad tucked in closer, which minimises twisting as you work.

Mouse and Mouse Pad

There's nothing in this world more frustrating than a sticky mouse, so choosing your mouse and mouse pad wisely could prevent years of annoyance! It's worth noting that our desks have trackable surfaces so this is worth thinking about when choosing a desktop and desk mat if required.

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Headphones

Useful for blocking out background noise or for some motivating music, a high-quality set of headphones is a must for the home office. Even better if you sometimes double up and game at your workstation too.

To complete the set up, a headphone stand will keep your gear safe and your office looking slick.

Phone Stands and Holders

Unlike the traditional office setup, when working from home it's likely our mobile phone is now our full-time work phone. Having a dedicated phone holder on your workspace not only allows you to keep it safe between uses, it means you can multitask, and video conference while you work.

Computer Speakers

If like many of us you enjoy music while you work, working from home is an amazing excuse to turn up the volume. However, if you’re packed away in the spare room away from your HiFi, you’re going to need a set of computer speakers. Luckily, the audio quality of these little guys has shot up over recent years, so there’s no need to install a new stereo in your office.

Webcam

A good quality webcam is becoming a must-have now that video conferencing is becoming the norm. Incorporating a dedicated webcam into your home office means you’ll be crystal clear for all of your meetings, and of course whenever you need to catch up with your family and friends.

Microphone

Also a must, if you want to get your point across you need your colleagues to be able to hear you. Investing in a good quality microphone should mean you never get talked over again.

Small standing office desk

Pedestal Desks

Pedestal desks are perfect if you’re short on space or if you only home work occasionally. As they have such a small footprint, you can easily convert your living room into a sit-stand office for the day. Our range of small office desks is definitely worth thinking about if you need a home office you can pack away or if you are especially short on space.

Laptop Risers

Keeping the correct posture is more difficult when working from a laptop. This is why you should consider a laptop riser to your set up if possible. Coupled with an additional keyboard, you can still achieve the correct posture without investing in a new PC! Alternatively, an external monitor can be used and elevated to the correct eye level.

Storage Space

Even in the so-called paperless office, we still sometimes need to keep files. We definitely need places to put our clutter. And if your workspace is lacking in room, the need becomes much greater. Luckily you can find a range of pedestal file cabinets and clever storage options to help keep your space as tidy as possible.

What about messy cables you ask? Our desk cable organisers are just the ticket.

What To Keep In Desk Organizer

Desk organizer trays hold an array of office supplies. Imagine pens, scissors, sticky notes among other essentials neatly arranged in one place. This not only enhances workspace aesthetics but significantly improves functionality.

Still, it is not a strict desktop necessity – wall-mounted systems offer an excellent solution for those seeking to conserve desk space.

Best Material For Desk Organizer

The material of your desk organizer factors largely into its durability and aesthetic appeal. From robust wood to stylish metal, and versatile plastic – there are numerous options to pick from, each with distinct pros and cons.

We, at Desky, favor eco-friendly bamboo for its durability, elegance for your ergonomic workspace as well as its environmentally friendly nature.

That’s why we created the Bamboo Desky Minimal Under Desk Drawer, a sleek and spacious drawer that attaches to the underside of your desk and keeps your essentials within reach. It's made of high-quality bamboo that is sturdy, smooth, and easy to clean.

How To Install Under Desk Drawers

Adding a drawer to a desk indeed acts as a practical way to gain extra storage in a limited area. Installation typically requires appropriate measuring, acquiring the right drawer hardware, and some handy work with commonplace tools such as a drill or screwdriver.

To install any Desky Under Desk Drawers, you can follow these general steps:

  • Install the brackets on the desk using the screws provided. Make sure the brackets are aligned and level.
  • Decide where to mount the drawer on the brackets. You can adjust the position of the drawer to suit your preferences and space.
  • Drill the holes for the screws on the drawer. Use the tape measure to mark the exact locations of the holes.
  • Install the screws on the drawer and attach it to the brackets. Make sure the drawer slides smoothly and securely.

Improve Your Organization

To supplement a high-quality desk organizer, crafting a strategic blueprint for organizing your desk achieves ultimate productivity. Start by emptying your work surface, inspect each item and only return those that are indispensable.

Group associated items, ridding yourself of duplicates. Desk organizers come in especially handy for this task, acting as dividers for these groups. Additionally, maintaining consistent organization habits and decluttering periodically guarantees a neat workspace.

The effectiveness of a neat workspace has been scientifically backed by studies like this one.

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Other Things You Need On Your Desk

Having the right objects on your desk is paramount; they not only streamline your workflow but also create an inviting ambiance. A blend of modern gadgetry and necessary stationary should be within arm's reach to ensure effective working. Focal points to consider can include:

  • PC or Laptop: More often than not, your digital device might take center stage on your desk.
  • Reading Materials: Including work-related books or reference materials
  • Drawer Organizers: Ensuring optimum use of drawer space and ease of access.
  • Weighty paperweights: Prevent those vital documents from flying away.
  • Notebooks and Planners: Taking physical notes is often more effective, which makes these a key player.

However, what if your desk is too small to accommodate all these essentials? In the next section, we will explore strategies and solutions to optimize limited desk space without compromising on functionality and comfort.

What To Do When Your Desk Is Too Small

Limited desk space challenges our creativity, but with the right approach, it's an opportunity for better organization. Clearing clutter is your first step to reclaiming your workspace.

Everything from papers to stationery, unused devices, and personal items can become space invaders. Decluttering liberates surface area, enabling you to focus better on your tasks and improve productivity.

Utilize vertical space by incorporating shelves or vertical file organizers effectively. Hang items you frequently use on a pegboard for easy access, freeing up desk space. 

Maximizing Small Desk Space

Desk organization tools can truly work wonders at maximizing your small desk space. Compartments, holders, and drawer organizers keep your essentials easy-to-find and your work surface clear. Keyboard drawers or monitor stands that offer storage effectively increase workspace as well.

Mastering Multipurpose

Invest in dual-purpose items. For instance, think of a lamp with a built-in charger or a desk organizer that also serves as a phone holder. Multi-functional furniture provides maximum utility in minimal space, making it an integral part of managing small desks. 

Free Up Desk Space

Clearing valuable desk space is key to a more efficient workspace. Tidy your desk at the end of every day. Empty cups, wrappers and useless notes can pile up without regular maintenance.

Duplication in physical and digital files? Consider digitizing paperwork to reduce clutter on your desk. Reduce the tangle of tech cables by switching to wireless devices whenever feasible.

How To Fit Desk In A Room With No Space

Fitting a desk into a cramped room seems impossible, but creative space-utilization techniques can help. Consider installing a floating desk or using a portable laptop stand, which offer flexibility without bulk.

You could also look for corners and dead spaces in your room that are often underutilized. Convert these into compact workstation niches. Foldable desks also represent a good solution, providing workspace when required and conserving space when not in use.

How Can I Improve My Work From Home Setup?

If you follow our guide above, you should be able to create a workspace that's perfect for you, no matter what room you decide to build it in. If you're looking for some ideas to improve your environment even further though, below are a few ideas to really bring your space to life.

Minimalist home office setup

Lighting

How you light your space can make all the difference in your work room, so if possible choose a room with lots of natural light. If not, make sure you have plenty of lamps to prevent yourself from straining, without having to sit under the glare of the main lights. When working at a computer, it is sometimes advisable to have the light a little lower, so if you're relying on synthetic light, a light with a dimmer switch is ideal.

Optimize Space

Space optimization means utilizing every square foot effectively. Exploit vertical storage options, using wall shelves and hanging organizers. Keeping your desktop tidy can do wonders for productivity. Regularly declutter and dispose of unnecessary items immediately. Use foldable furniture if your space is limited.

Keep Your Desk Neat

A neat desk is a result of regular maintenance. Set a routine to clean it up at the end of each day: dispose of trash, wipe surfaces clean, and organize your items. Having a desk with adequate storage options can also help you keep things tidy.

Make it feel like home

We've probably all had to work in some pretty sterile workplaces in the past, but building a home office empowers you to put a bit of your own style into your workspace. Remember that this is part of your home, and not just a functional space. If you need some ideas on the combinations available with our range, check out our stand up desk buying guide.

Consider a Sit Stand Desk

If you're still using a static platform, one of the best ways to improve your home office is to install a standing desk. Keeping active is more important than ever, and the health and productivity benefits associated with a standing work style are not in doubt. So installing one of these sit stand desks from Desky could improve your life, not just your home office. Check out our full range of desks today!

Interested in how Desky's standing desks compare to their IKEA competitors? See this post for a full review and comparison.

How To Make Your Desk Look Nice

Your office desk is more than just a piece of furniture. It's a space that should reflect your personality and foster a conducive work environment. Here's how to spice up your desk setup:

Personalize It

Customization starts with personalization. Brighten your day and infuse love into your desk area by adorning it with cherished pictures in stylish frames. Inspirational art prints, beloved mementos, or even quirky trinkets can add a splash of joy to your desk without leading to clutter. Check out a few suggestions here:

  • Family photos
  • Favorite quotes in ornate frames
  • Colorful pen holders
  • Artistic nameplate

Decorate Your Office 

Infuse life into a plain office with a touch of creativity and a dash of color. Bright, dynamic hues inspire energy and productivity, while muted tones encourage calm and relaxation. Tailor your workspace to your needs with decor such as:

  • Desk lamps for warm, ambient lighting
  • A small, live plant for a touch of nature
  • Modern artwork on adjacent walls

Bring Comfort to Your Desk Area

Comfort plays a critical role in productivity. Making your desk cozy can certainly induce a sense of tranquility, even while battling strict deadlines. A plush desk chair, a soft throw blanket, or a compact desk heater may enhance comfort and, in turn, work efficiency.

Keep Minimalistic Design

Achieving a minimal desk setup requires careful planning and a disciplined approach. You should aim to preserve only the most essential items on your desk. Here's how to go about it:

  • Be selective. Only functional items should be a part of your desk setup. Restrict to things you use daily, like your computer, pen, notepad, and perhaps a desk lamp.
  • Wire Management: Unsightly cables can detract from the minimalist aesthetic. Make use of cable organizers to keep them hidden. Check out best-in-class cable management options from Desky.
  • Clean Regularly: Regular cleaning prevents clutter from building up. Make it a habit to tidy up your desk after your day's work.

Remember that minimalism is not about devaluation but focusing on what's truly important.

How Much To Spend For A Home Office Desk

Creating a home office isn't just about buying a desk. For transforming an existing living space into a home office, expect to spend between $700 and $5,000. Transforming spaces like garages or building entirely new spaces can cost significantly more, with costs spanning from $25,000 to $140,000 depending on the extent of the renovation.

What factors influence the cost?

Defining Reasonable Price For Desk

Desks come at myriad price points. Retailers like Target, for instance, offer selections with prices ranging from approximately $120 to $400.

While more costly than average desks, desks offering additional workspace prove critical for those with large computers or substantial workspace needs. It's all about balancing your budget and specific needs.

Setting Up A Functional Desk At Home

Working from home requires a suitable space that meets your needs and preferences. You should have a dedicated area for work where you can focus and avoid distractions.

It should also have ergonomic furniture that supports your posture and working style, as well as adequate lighting that keeps your eyes healthy and your mood positive.

Additionally, you should personalize your space with elements that inspire and motivate you, such as plants, pictures, or artwork. However, you should also keep your space clutter-free, as this can affect your focus and efficiency.

By creating a home office that works for you, you can overcome the challenges of working from home and enjoy your work. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all desks require drawers?

While they offer convenient storage, the absence of drawers does not reduce a desk's efficiency. Resourcefulness in using available space can significantly optimize a workspace’s potential. Incorporating the use of desk organizers, file holders, or desk caddies ensures a tidy, well-organized workspace, regardless of whether you have drawers or not.

Where should your desk come up to?

It is beneficial if your adjusted chair permits arms to bend at 90 degrees with forearms comfortably positioned on the desk surface. This armpit to desk height ratio encourages a healthy posture, reduces fatigue and increases productivity. A Desky Keyboard Tray can further enhance this positioning, bringing your keyboard right into your lap and ensuring that your wrists retain a neutral position while typing.

Can you work without a desk?

In some cases, you may find yourself without a desk. At times like these, portable work options become our best friends. Lap desks or portable standing workstations offer flexibility and mobility without compromising ergonomics. If possible, repurpose household items—a spacious ironing board makes a great standing desk!

Consider utilizing tabletops, kitchen counters, or even the couch armrests. Though unconventional, these solutions can suffice in a pinch. Be mindful of maintaining proper posture during these impromptu sessions; check Desky's guide to improve posture while sitting.

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