Home Office Design Ideas: Creating an Affordable Ergonomic Workspace

We’ve all been there: you wake up, stretch, check the time on your phone, and it hits you: you’ve overslept. How will you make it to the office on time? You’ll have to skip breakfast, speed in the right lane, create a fake parking spot, and call in from your cell as you race up the escalator. 

Or at least … that’s how it used to be before the home office became the way of the future. 

These days, oversleeping doesn’t carry nearly as much weight. “Oh no, I overslept! Now I’ll have to do the same thing I do every morning: keep my video off for my first Zoom call while I yawn my way through Mr. Coffee finishing its brew.” Even on my most egregious weekday oversleeps, I still make it to every call because there’s no commute to delay me. It’s the beauty of remote work … but it’s the difficulty of it too. 

Without the physical divide between the home office and the work office, it’s hard to organize work life and home life. That crucial quarterly meeting with the board doesn’t feel as crucial when I’m calling in from my couch while my kid watches Creature Report. 

That’s why it’s more important than ever to design a home office space that is ergonomic, comfortable, and allows you to focus on your workday. 

5 Tips for Creating the Perfect Home Office Desk 

Invest in the standing desk 

One of the best small home office ideas innovations is the standing desk. These desks used to be cost prohibitive to the at-home worker, but in recent years they have become much more affordable. 

The benefits of the standing desk are many: reduced back pain, increased concentration and productivity, and even better overall mood. An adjustable standing desk allows you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, which helps keep your body moving and can keep you from feeling like you’re chained to your chair all day. 

As someone who invested in a standing desk early on in the pandemic, I can tell you firsthand that it’s worth the money. Being able to shift my position and stand instead of slouching has noticeably improved my workday joint pain, especially in my knees and lower back. 

If you’re looking for standing desk ideas, I’d recommend looking into both adjustable standing desks and standing desk converters. The former is great if you’re looking to build your home office desk and workspace from scratch, while the latter allows you to add a standing option to an existing desk. 

Woman using standing desk at home.

Recreate the “real” office environment 

You might ask yourself: “How can I make my home office desk look good?” Form and function are both important when designing your workspace, and the nice thing about your office being in your home is that you can truly do whatever you want with it. That said, there are benefits to recreating some of the vibe of your in-office workspace. 

For example, if you had a whiteboard at work for collaboration, consider investing in a small whiteboard for yourself to help brainstorm. If you used to have pictures of your family on your desk at work, bring them into your home office. If you’re a person who always has a mug full of random writing utensils on your desk, drop a stack of Bics into your favorite cup without fear of a coworker snagging the only good felt-tip. 

It’s a psychological game for remote workers to get themselves into the mindset of being at work even when they’re not “at” work. One way to get into this mental space is by creating a physical space that mirrors the work environment. 

Optimize your space 

The ideal home office space would be a room of its own, but that’s not realistic for many working folks and families. Instead, many of us are strapped for space and left wondering how to design a small home office without a dedicated room to work. 

The key is to design your home office space – whether it’s a room, a wall, or a corner – to make it feel like a work zone and not a home zone.  

One of the benefits of a standing desk is that you can store things beneath it. For example, I have two 4-foot shelving units below my standing desk to house my printer, extra power cords and cables, and various miscellaneous office supplies. 

If you’re confined to a small space and ask yourself, “How should I arrange my office with a standing desk?” the answer is: optimize the space you’ve got. Consider sliding drawers to go under the standing desk. Save space by not purchasing an office chair and instead committing to doing any seated work at your kitchen table or outside patio.

Accessorize for comfort 

We hear the term ergonomic thrown around quite a bit these days, but what does it mean? Quite simply, to be ergonomic is to be designed for efficiency and comfort. 

When searching for home office desk ideas, keep in mind that the best accessory for a productive workplace is comfort. A standing desk is a step (or two) in the right direction, but also consider an ergonomic standing desk mat like The Genius Mat from Sky Mat that is specifically designed to be used with a standing desk to improve posture, relieve foot and knee strain, and help you to stand all day in comfort. A pressure-relieving standing mat is small enough for any office space, but can make a lasting difference. 

Similarly, even the smallest home office space can benefit from an oxygenating plant such as a Bamboo Palm or Dragon Tree, or from a small essential oil diffuser that can release energizing or stress-relieving scents throughout the day.  

Illustration of woman using standing desk.

Leave room for breaks 

Although it is important to find space within your home to channel your most productive employee energy into getting your work done, it’s also important to remember that even in an in-office environment, you are expected to take breaks. 

Without the boundaries of the physical workspace – the morning rush, the evening drive commute – it’s easy to Just. Keep. Working. However, to avoid burnout, stay productive, and maintain a healthy work-life balance, allow yourself the time and space to take breaks throughout the day. This means leaving your home office – as cute, comfortable, and ergonomic as it might be – and giving yourself room to decompress and refocus.  

Designing your home office doesn’t have to be an expensive or arduous endeavor. Invest in a few pieces that will make your living space feel like a productive workspace, and remember to set boundaries between work life and home life, and vice versa. 

Contributing Writer: Shannon Curley