Where To Setup a Home Office

My home office setup
My home office setup

My home office setup

Among the first things you’ll do upon starting work from home is to figure out what space you’re going to use. Not everyone has a home office already setup and waiting for them. The space you choose is a big decision. It will have a significant impact on your future productivity. So it is worth taking the time to consider your options. And going with what will work best over what might be easiest.


The coronavirus outbreak has pushed a lot of people to work from home, many for the first time. Even more people are practicing social distancing. Don’t panic. At the end of the day you’re doing the same job. And you can still reach out to friends and family. But you’ll need to do so with a different toolset. This site is here to help you make the changes needed to make the most of the situation.


What You Need In a Good Work From Home Office

These are elements your chosen work from home space must support. There is some flexibility. But at the end of the day you can only do your job where you can make these things work for you.

Room for Your Desk

Or whatever you’re using as a workspace desktop. How big of a desk or table you’re using will determine how large your new home office needs to be.

  • Measure width (side-to-side) and depth (front-to-back) of your desk.
  • When measuring a space do so from any molding on the walls or near the floor.
  • You’ll also need room for yourself and your chair. As well as space to get to and away from your desk.

Electrical Outlets

Lack of outlets in a room is usually not a problem in modern households. Though some types of rooms offer better numbers and placement than others. Here’s what to look for in a potential work space:

  • 1-4 available outlets. Depending on how many devices you need to plug in. And if you have a power strip/surge protector available.
  • Outlet within 6 feet of your computer. That’s the average length of a power cable. An extension cable or power strip with a cord can increase the range.

Overloading your home’s electrical system should not be a concern. I currently run up to five computers and various other electronics in a single home office setup. Using three different wall outlets. All on the same circuit. And I’ve participated in home based LAN parties with 8-10 gaming PCs. All running from only one or two wall outlets. That said you can confirm you won’t overload anything. You’ll need to check out your electrical box, Google the typical power draw of your equipment, and go some quick math.

Internet Access

Remote work doesn’t actually work without the Internet. And a slow connection will reduce productivity while also increasing your stress. Setup where you can get a strong connection to your home network.

Wireless (Wi-Fi) – Test with your work computer before you move into a work space. We’re interested in the connection strength or number of bars you see. On a Mac this is in the upper menu bar, toward the right. On a Windows PC it is in the bottom task bar, also toward the right.

  • 4 Bars: Perfect!
  • 3 Bars: Good, especially if it doesn’t fluctuating beyond 3-4 bars.
  • 2 Bars: This would work, provided you mostly do things like email and web. It is not ideal if dealing with large files. Or planning to do video chat.
  • 1 Bar: Not acceptable. Find a different space. If you can’t do that, then look at moving your Wi-Fi router closer. Or at getting an external Wi-Fi adapter with a larger antenna.

Wired (Ethernet) – More reliable than wireless. It isn’t subject to interference like a Wi-Fi signal is. Also easier to setup, usually only requiring you to plug in the cable and that’s it. In theory wired is also faster. But in most cases your home Internet service provider is going to be the bottleneck.

  • Your computer needs to be in the same room as your modem and router. If you are looking at moving them consult with your Internet service provider.
  • Be mindful of where you lay down Ethernet cabling.

If placing cables across walkways then secure it to the floor. The easiest and cheapest method is with gaffers tape. That is what I used when setting up temporary work spaces for remote events. And it is what theater techs use for lighting and other cables. It doesn’t leave glue on the cable. And with some care it doesn’t damage carpet, floor finishes, or even paint when removed.

Connecting Your Work Computer To Your Home Internet

What You Want In a Good Work From Home Office

These are elements nice to have in your chosen work from home space. They will either may work easier or more productive. But if you have limited options they are not required.

Separate Space – Being able to work away from shared spaces or high traffic areas is ideal. Having a door is even better. It reduces distractions. And the space is known to you and others to be for work. All of which raises productivity.

Working from home with windowsQuiet – Be mindful of noises both inside and outside the home. But in the end you can only control so much. Headphones or earbuds can help a lot. Over the ear headphones/headsets are best, as they help dampen external sounds. If you have a nice set already then a quiet space can be lower on your priority list.

No Line of Sight To Others – If working around others at home try to keep them out of your line of sight. That’s in reference to when working at your computer. Not looking around the room. Someone in your line of sight is a big distraction. You’ll notice when they move. And you’ll be more inclined to engage with them. Causing interrupts for both you and them.

Window – Even back at your work office having a window is nice. It offers a chance to look away from your screen for a moment. Reducing eye strain and offering a quick, easy break. If you have a choice go for landscape view. Landscapes are better for recharging creativity.


Pros and Cons of Typical Rooms As a Home Office

Each type of room as a home office will offer benefit levels of benefit to your productivity as you work from home. Along with the things you need your new work space to offer keep these room specific factors in mind.

Spare Bedroom

Pros

  • Power outlets on most/all walls
  • Room for a desk or sizable table
  • Separated from much of your home, with a door
  • Window

Cons

  • None

An unused bedroom is among the most popular selections when setting up a home office. Offering everything we need and want in a productive workspace. It is what I have used for a home office setup for years. To the point that I look for a home with an available bedroom to use whenever I’ve moved.

If your spare bedroom is an unoccupied guest room can still work well. You’ll need to avoid using the bed itself, keeping to a desk/table and chair.

Breakfast Nook

Pros

  • Room for a desk or sizable table
  • Can use table currently there for work
  • Usually set up against a wall or two, offering some separate and boundaries

Cons

  • Near the kitchen, which is a high traffic area if living with others
  • Power outlet placement may not be ideal
  • If you still need to use it for meals then you’ll need to setup and clear off your work gear daily

Not as universal as a kitchen. But if you have it and aren’t making full use of it already it has good potential as a work space.

Man Cave/She Shed

Pros

  • Power outlets on most/all walls
  • Room for a desk or sizable table
  • Separated from much of your home

Cons

  • Loss of your favorite personal space

An established man cave or she shed can quickly and easily become a home office. If it is a large enough space you could move your work into it without displacing what is already there. But you will find the space less relaxing when off the clock. You will start to associate the room with work. Having more work related distractions in the evenings and weekends. If you can mentally compartmentalize the two, great. But if not you could enjoy the space less on your personal time.

Dining RoomDinning room table

Pros

  • Room for a desk or sizable table
  • Can use table currently there for work

Cons

  • Power outlet placement may not be ideal
  • If you still need to use it for meals then you’ll need to setup and clear off your work gear daily
  • Regularly walking near the chandelier is annoying for taller people

How well a dining room will work for you depends on its setup. And how often you were using it before. A dining room separated from the rest of your home by walls offers an easily established work space. Though you likely don’t have doors. An open concept home will depend on where the dining room falls in relation to other traffic in the home.

And if your dining room has a chandelier consider raising it up. At least until you move back to an office outside of your home.

Finished Basement or Attic

Pros

  • Room for a desk or sizable table
  • Separated from much of your home

Cons

  • Noise from above or below if living with others
  • Seasonal temperature concerns

An unfinished basement or attic is no good. There may not be enough power outlets. Lightning and floor space are a problem. Not to mention it isn’t a clean or nice space to be in for hours.

A finished basement or attic has great potential. Enough so you are probably using it for something already. One thing to watch for is temperature extremes. At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and rush to work from home it is spring time for much of the world. We don’t know how long social distancing practices will stay in place. And you may end up working from home full or part time, even once COVID-19 has passed. Summer and winter could bring temperatures you aren’t comfortable working in.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends workplace temperatures between 68-76°F (20-24°C). Your personal comfort levels might be more specific. But within that range your productivity shouldn’t suffer. On the bright side there aren’t any co-workers around to fight with you over the thermostat.

KitchenKitchen home office space

Pros

  • Plenty of wall outlets
  • Counter is a good start to a standing desk

Cons

  • Considerable noise from appliances
  • High traffic area if living with others
  • Not the most hygienic setup given current world events

In a small home you may not be able to strike the kitchen off your list. But it is one of the least ideal rooms to work in. Easy access to food and drink is more con than pro. Sure you can take a quick break by simply turning around. But if it increases your snacking that’s not healthy. And spilling on your laptop would be disastrous.

Living Room

Pros

  • Couch is comfortable if working with only a laptop

Cons

  • TV is a big distraction, avoid
  • High traffic area if living with others
  • Little to no room for work friendly furniture
  • Associated with relaxing, not work

If you live with others the living room is a bad place to setup for work. It is often the center of the household. Having access to a TV while you work is a bad idea. Even if you usually watch videos while you work that’s on your work computer. You associate the TV with relaxing at home, not the mind set you want to be productive.

If you really do work better with the TV running in the background then check out these free movies and TV shows made available while we all shelter-at-home.

Your BedroomHome office in the bedroom

Pros

  • None

Cons

  • Disturbs your significant other if they are on a different sleep schedule
  • Little to no room for work friendly furniture
  • Associated with sleeping

There is no upside to using your bedroom for work. Mentally you associated it with sleep, which is important. It better allows you to quiet your mind and go to sleep. If you start to associated it with work it can cause work related distractions at night. Keeping you awake longer.

It also encourages bad habits, which can affect productivity. Sure, being able to wake up and get right on the laptop to work sounds good. And if you don’t have any video conferences scheduled then who cares about bed head? But you won’t establish a routine which helps get you mentally prepared to start working. A routine like what you had before you started working from home.


Compromise Is Inevitable

Most new work from home employees didn’t have time to setup a new home office. We were thrown into this situation suddenly, and often without warning. The best workspace for you is going to be a compromise. Especially if others you live with are now home 24/7, too.

Don’t go hunting for the perfect home office nook on Pintrest or Instagram. There are gorgeous tiny spaces shown. And many even look functional. But they involved planning and time. Not to mention trips to the hardware store.

Keep these key points in mind when having to pick the best option available to you:

  • Being able to separate work from home life is important for productivity. And for being able to relax afterwards.
  • Your own room is great. But you can create boundaries to establish the same separation in a smaller or shared space.
  • Power, Internet, and a surface to put your computer are critical. Everything else is a bonus.
  • This is temporary. For how long we don’t know. But eventually we will come out the other end. If you don’t like working from home you’ll be able to return to a regular office setting. And maybe you’ll like working from home. And will setup a more ideal space in the future.

When You Don’t Have a Desk

Those of us with years of remote work experience don’t usually have a perfect setup, either. You chose your home to be a home. A home office is a consideration, but it doesn’t rule your choice where to live. Accept what you can do for now. Don’t worry about the rest until you’re in a better position to do so.