The coronavirus pandemic has made working from home the new normal for many of us. To help you avoid distractions and stay focused on your work, we recommend setting up a home office or a dedicated working space. Our in-depth guide explains how to get started.
Whether you're using a spare room or a study, the kitchen table or your summer house, you can create a working space that has everything you need to knuckle down from home. Making sure you have reliable tech is important (strong broadband is vital), but so is setting up the space and decorating the area in a way that makes it a pleasure to work in.
Below, we're sharing some home office design ideas to inspire you when it's time to decorate. We've also got details on picking the best spot for your home office, plus tips on buying the best furniture for working from home.
You could potentially be spending most of your waking hours at your home office station. Investing some time and money in personalising your workspace can go a long way.
We suggest planning your home office space to suit your personality – don't be afraid of vibrant colours and patterns if that's what you enjoy. Remember, colour can instantly transform a dull corner into a welcoming space that encourages you to stay productive.
Our image gallery below offers some ideas on how to create your home office:
Many people don't have an entire study that can function as a home office, so reworking other parts of your home is the way to go.
Here are some options to consider depending on the space you have available.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a spare room that you can convert into a home office, think of it as a blank canvas for you to personalise. You'll have privacy, more space for your desk, chair, tech and storage and there's no need to tidy every night – you can simply shut the door.
Your desk might need to double as a dressing or bedside table if the room will be needed for visitors in the future. Alternatively, you could consider buying a rolling desk that can easily be moved out of the way when you have guests over.
If you’re having to double childcare with working from home, you may have to use the living room.
When setting up your home office in the living room, you might need to remind other members of the house to use headphones if they want to listen to music, watch TV or play video games. In fact, it's probably a good idea to set up your living room workspace in an area that's facing away from the TV – a loud telly can tempt you away from your painfully boring emails.
The living room sofa is a soft spot to retire to when you need time away from your desk, but make sure you don't get too comfy. If your current home office desk chair isn't very comfortable, you can treat yourself to a replacement or try adding some cushions.
Many households will have the internet router set up behind the TV in the living room. If that's the case, you're more likely to get a speedy internet connection while using a laptop in the same room. Running an ethernet cable from the router to your computer is another option, but make sure nobody trips over it.
The dining room can potentially work as a home office. Check the table height to see whether it works as a desk and, if you're using a laptop, put a cover down so you don't scratch the surface.
A summer house or shoffice (shed office) in the garden could potentially be converted into a working space – these are becoming increasingly popular. You might prefer the view that comes with working in the garden, or there might be plenty of natural light. It can also create the feeling of 'going to work', which some people like.
If you want to put up small detached buildings, such as a garden office shed or summer house, building regulations will not normally apply if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and contains no sleeping accommodation. But always check full details on the .
When working in a garden office shed that's separate to the main house and further away from your router, consider that your internet connection might be choppier.
If you're working in a garden office, consider your home insurance and whether or not your current plan covers an outbuilding. You might need to contact your insurance provider and let them know about items of value stored in your office.
A spacious loft can make for a nice, private home office space. You'll want to make sure that it's as clutter-free as possible, as a busy work area can be a pain to walk around.
If your loft already functions as a bedroom or study area, you won't need to make too many adjustments to turn it into a home office.
But if you're starting from scratch, you'll need to come up with a price estimate for the project to avoid overspending and ensure you have planning permission, if necessary. Note the height of the ceiling and ensure it meets minimum height requirements – the highest point of the pitch must be at least 2.2m.
Another important factor to consider is internet access. Think about the position of your router and whether or not you'll get a good internet connection from the loft. If not, you'll need to feed an ethernet cable into the loft or try some wi-fi extenders.
If you're trying to build your home office in a confined space, you'll need to get creative.
Making the most of vertical space can help. Your home office desk only needs to be as wide as your PC monitor or laptop, so consider adding some floating shelves above you for general office supplies. You could also transform an old cupboard into an office desk, incorporating a shelf for your PC. Or an unused alcove could be enough to house a desk to work at.
If you have stairs at home, you may be able to create a little nook underneath. Putting some art on the wall and adding hanging lights above you will make the space feel cosier.
Standing room dividers or curtains can also come in handy if you want to separate a single room into different zones.
If you're renting, you'll probably be quite limited in terms of how much you can change your workspace. There's a chance you won't be able to paint your walls or drill holes so you can hang up large picture frames.
Before you start thinking about how you'll upgrade your home office, have a chat with your landlord and confirm what you're allowed to do. Some stylistic changes can add value to the property, so your landlord might be open to ideas.
You can inject some personality into your home office with vibrant accessories, rugs and furniture. Smart light bulbs can also allow you to 'paint' walls in colour without actually reaching for a brush. Philips Hue smart light bulbs, for example, will let you create colour profiles that you can swap between – you can have a bright 'work' mode during the day and a calming blue light in the evening.
If you need cheat sheets in front of you as you work, command strips and command hooks are both renter-friendly options. These are designed so that no marks are left on your wall when they're removed.
Your home office desk needs to be stable and potentially strong enough to support chunky tech products such as desktop PCs and printers.
Having a desk with lots of storage space is a bonus, but make sure there's enough room for your knees or you won't be comfortable. Drawers to the side will generally give better clearance for your legs.
Buy a home office chair that offers plenty of back support. If you don't want to invest in a new chair, try a special support cushion or lumbar roll and position it at the base of your spine.
Keeping things organised while you're working from home is really important. Your normal office should have plenty of storage space, but that might not be the case at home.
Work in some extra storage spots as you're decorating your home office. You could try buying a filing cabinet for the corner of the room or place a couple of small paper baskets on your desk.
If you've set up a computer in your home office, work on your cable management. Run the cables around the back of your desk and keep them compact with some cable tidies. Ikea sells a whole range of cable management accessories that keep things looking nice and neat.
Good lighting is key to improving productivity and keeping your mood up. Shop around for desk lamps or standing lights if things are a little dark.
If your home office is looking a little dull, try hanging up some pictures on the walls if you have the space. You could also put a digital photo frame on your desk to really put the 'home' in home office.
Add some vibrant colours to your home office with a couple of plants for the floor and your desk. Remember to factor in natural light when you're deciding where to put them.
Fill an empty wall in your home office with a stylish calendar or whiteboard. These keep your desk clutter-free and encourage you to stand up every so often.
A wool rug will add warmth to the room you're working from. It can also go some way to protecting your carpet if you're rolling around in your office chair.
Ideally, you should have proper equipment for home working. However, before you rush to buy, or if budget is tight, look at what you already have around you to see if you can safely make do with these in the meantime.
Kirsty Angerer, ergonomic consultant and member of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors, recommends these swaps:
Your productivity will take a real hit if you're surrounded by clutter while you work. But fear not, as there are plenty of inexpensive ways to neaten up your working space.
Consider investing in some desktop drawers for your stationery. Some drawers will double as a laptop stand, so you're getting extra storage space and a raised laptop display that's potentially even better for your posture.
Cable management is also key. If you have loads of wires trailing across your desk or by your feet, consider installing some wall trunking to hide the cables. 'A tidy home is a tidy mind,' as they say.
Having to work from home could impact your tax bill, home insurance and car insurance.
If your bills and other expenses increase as a result of working from home, you may be able to claim a tax rebate on what you’ve spent.