Do you have a proper workspace or are you working from your couch, bed, or kitchen table? If you don’t have access to a dedicated workspace, your productivity will suffer, along with your back and posture.
Having a real desk to work at – even if it’s just a table with the right chair – is essential for your productivity and health.
Employers have been providing employees with ergonomic furniture for decades in order to prevent injuries that cost the company thousands of dollars in claims. However, working from home doesn’t grant you easy access to ergonomic furniture unless you buy it yourself.
If you can’t find or create a proper, ergonomic workspace at home, you need an office. The problem with renting office space is, of course, the cost. If you’re running a business from home, you might have the funds for an office, but gig workers and contractors aren’t so lucky.
Seven Personal Office Space Options
If you’re an employee or a contractor, you probably don’t have an extra five thousand dollars a month to drop on an office suite. If that’s your situation, the following seven ideas will help you get a proper workspace on a small or non-existent budget.
1. Utilize coworking space
If you’ve never heard of coworking, you’re in for a treat. You’ve probably spent many hours working at local coffee shops while sitting next to other remote workers at a large table. Coworking is similar but with more structure.
For example, Novel Coworking office space feels like a real office, not a busy coffee shop. You can rent a full suite, a private office, a dedicated desk, or access to the space with open seating. Prices range from a couple hundred bucks a month to a few thousand. If you happen to have a coworker nearby, you can split the cost of a private office and pay even less.
Renting a coworking workspace is a great way to save money while giving yourself a real, professional workspace. Plus, depending on what company you rent from, you could enjoy perks like:
- Free coffee
- Free snacks and beverages
- Free photocopies and printing
- 24-hour access
The biggest coworking space perk is not having to clean the office. You definitely need to clean up after yourself, but you’ll never need to get out the rubber gloves to clean a toilet, take out the trash, or spray down your desk. All cleaning and technical maintenance is included in your membership costs.
2. Convert your kitchen table into an office
This idea may not work if you have a family or a significant other who doesn’t like change. However, if you can’t afford to rent office space, a converted kitchen table is your best bet.
To convert your kitchen table into an office, start with the right table. Your current table probably isn’t ideal for working on a laptop or desktop computer. It’s probably not the right height and the chairs are unlikely to be ergonomic enough for long-term use. It’s not a good idea to use a table like that for long. This can lead to serious musculoskeletal problems with your back, joints, and even carpal tunnel.
Rather than trying to use your kitchen table as a desk, get a large desk that can also be used as a kitchen table. You’ll spend far more time at the table using it as a desk than you will eating.
Once you have the ideal table, you need a proper office chair. You can use your office chair while working and switch to a different chair while you eat. Better yet, get a pneumatic adjustable standing desk so you can switch from standing to sitting while you work throughout the day.
While standing isn’t a replacement for exercise, switching between standing and sitting will help prevent major problems associated with doing either for the course of your entire day. For example, sitting all day can restrict blood flow and cause fluid to build up in the legs and feet. Equally, standing all day can cause knee joint pain. Using bad posture in either position – or standing without using a proper standing mat – can cause back problems.
3. Ask a local business owner to share their office space
Do you know a local business owner who has office space? Find out if you can rent a corner of their office from them. If they don’t use their office daily, ask about renting their office space when they aren’t there.
Depending on their lease, they may be able to allow you to work in the space without being affiliated with their business. Otherwise, you may need to create some kind of partnership to make it legal.
Either way, all you need is a corner with a desk and a chair. Many business owners need extra funds and will be more likely to take you up on the offer. The cost of renting office space in America is astronomical, with some costs up to $1,554.16 per square foot. Even at lower prices, your contribution will certainly help another business owner pay the bills.
4. Pitch a gazebo or tent in your backyard
If space constraints are keeping you from setting up a proper workspace, you may need to pitch a gazebo or a carport-style tent in your backyard. This option will work in warmer months, but isn’t ideal for winter unless you can figure out how to heat your space safely with outdoor propane heaters or electric space heaters.
Some options for heating include:
- Tiki-style propane heaters (You’ll get several hours of heat on one 4.5-gallon propane cylinder.)
- Industrial restaurant patio heaters (These can be adjusted to supply different levels of heat.)
- Infrared electric space heater (Infrared heat is absorbed deeply into the body and warms your body rather than heating the air around you.)
- Tent heater (It hangs from the ceiling on a hook and has a small fan to blow the heat.)
- Tent-safe wood stove (All you need to do is install proper ventilation.)
A change of scenery can make you more productive, and there’s no better scenery change than moving your office outdoors.
5. Get a pre-made shed for your backyard
The other option is to get a pre-built shed for your backyard and use it for an office during the day. You can get sheds with floors made of metal or wood. Metal sheds are easier and faster to assemble and often come with hardware on the walls for attaching shelves.
You can expect to spend around $800-$1,000 or more for a high-quality, decently-sized shed. However, it’s worth the investment because, with the right permit, you can connect the shed to your electricity, and you won’t have to run extension cords out the door or window to power your computer and other equipment.
The downside to working outside in a shed or a tent is that you can’t leave your electronics outside overnight. You’ll need to bring everything in at the end of your work day. Possibly even your chair, depending on the weather. However, a slight inconvenience is a small price to pay for having an office with no monthly cost and no commute.
6. Get a loft bed with empty space underneath for an office
There are adult-sized loft beds with space underneath for a desk rather than a second bed. If you don’t mind sleeping high off the ground, a loft bed could be the answer to all of your space problems when trying to set up a workspace.
Some loft beds come with a desk, but you’ll probably need to buy a different desk. Sell the desk it comes with and put the money toward a new desk.
You may be surprised to find that working underneath a loft bed is quite peaceful. You’re not exactly surrounded, but having a low roof and side walls will make you feel more enclosed, which will also slightly reduce the amount of noise that intrudes into your space.
This solution is best for people who don’t need to sleep on a specific type of bed or mattress.
7. Get a giant bean bag for your living room
This solution is not for everyone, but if you can sit comfortably in a giant bean bag chair in your living room, you’ve got a cheap option for a workspace that takes up a small amount of space.
Giant bean bag chairs are incredibly comfortable when filled with the right kind of stuffing and in the right amount. You might need to take out some of the stuffing to get the right ratio, but that’s easy. Try to find a store in person that sells bean bag chairs so you can test them out before you buy. You’ll pay several hundred dollars for a good giant bean bag chair, so do your homework first.
Large corporations place huge bean bags around their offices for employees to enjoy. Working from a giant beanbag is surprisingly comfortable for short periods of time.
Not having space to work in your home is frustrating, but there are options and creative solutions.