how to set up a home office for remote work on a budget

How to Set Up a Home Office for Remote Work on a Budget

The recent and significant increase in work from home opportunities is shining a bright, fluorescent light on the often neglected home office. Prior to the pandemic causing us all to wonder how to set up a home office for remote work on a budget, most homes didn’t even have a dedicated home office space, and if they did, it was shoved in a bedroom corner or stuck in a dark basement. The equipment was outdated, the furniture uncomfortable, and the entire setup was not conducive to productivity.

Times have changed and if you don’t already have a work from home position, the chances that you will hold a remote or hybrid position sometime in your career have increased dramatically. While an increasing number of employers are offering initial and annual stipends to assist with costs, for many, outfitting a home office can pose a financial burden. Between furniture purchases and ever-changing technology requirements, the costs can really add up.

If you are facing this situation, there are many strategies that can help keep costs down. Below are just a few options for how to set up a home office for remote work on a budget.

Budget Home Office Ideas

The first question many homeowners face when deciding how to set up a home office for remote work on a budget is where to put it. While many new home builders today include home offices in house plans, most older homes or condos don’t have dedicated spaces. However, establishing a dedicated home office space can be key to maintaining productivity and maintaining boundaries between work and leisure.

The most budget-friendly option for homes without an office is to consider reusing underutilized space. Spare bedrooms are usually the obvious answer because they have built-storage and can offer privacy when needed.  Other examples include a dining room that you only use a few times a year or an unused porch space.

Of course, many modern homes are too small to accommodate a separate space for an office. In these instances, you can consider taking over part of a larger room. There are a variety of room dividers that can be employed at a reasonable cost. You can get creative and consider out-of-the-box ideas such as using curtains or bamboo blinds that fit in with your decor.

Other options for small homes include modifying a closet space or utilizing portable storage or folding tables that can be put away at the end of the workday. Check out the furniture options advertised for dorm rooms. Furniture designed for this purpose usually includes study spaces that are both space-saving and reasonably priced.

Cheap Home Office Desks

With the space established, it’s time to furnish. When it comes to desks, there are a wide variety of reasonably-priced premade options to choose from through high-volume outlets such as Amazon and Walmart. However, before you rush out and purchase the cheapest desk you can find, take some time to decide what you need. Setting up a home office for remote work on a budget is only cost-effective if your furniture choices meet your needs and stand up to daily use.

If you are a little crafty and don’t want to use a pre-made version, another budget-friendly option to consider is making your own desk. If you are skilled enough, you can make your own custom desk from scratch. However, an easier option is to creatively modify an existing piece of furniture that you own or that you find at a thrift store.

Best Budget Home Office Chair

When deciding how to set up a home office for remote work on a budget, another key component is the desk chair. The importance of a well-designed ergonomic chair for maintaining good posture and preventing back pain cannot be underestimated. Establishing a good fit involves making sure your feet can rest flat on the floor, that arm rests are at a comfortable height, and that there is appropriate lumbar support, among other items.

While you may think that this means a good chair is costly, that’s not necessarily the case. Corporations buy an amazing number of ergonomic chairs for their employees to sit on. However, these are items that are frequently discarded and difficult to resell. Try contacting a local office furniture wholesaler, furniture mover, or used office furniture sales website. There are plenty of deals to be found.

Home Office Technology

Keeping up with ever-changing technologies can be costly when setting up a home office for remote work on a budget. While a full discussion of the most cost-effective home office technology is beyond the scope of this article, below are a couple of things to keep in mind that will help keep costs down.

First, only buy what you need. Technology today is very customizable, especially when you buy online. Decide on technology specifications that you require, and don’t spend money on what you don’t need. For example, don’t get a monitor with high-level graphics capabilities if you only use the word processor.

Try refurbished technology. If you’re hesitant to try out that no-name brand to save a few bucks, try exploring the costs associated with a refurbished model in your favorite brand. There are a growing number of companies dedicated to selling a wide variety of refurbished technology. For peace of mind, check for products that are “Grade A” refurbished or factory refurbished for the highest quality.

Home Office Items to Avoid

The most important items to avoid purchasing when want to set up a home office for remote work on a budget are those you don’t need. Not only do unneeded items cost extra money, but they also take up space and contribute to clutter. While clutter is unsightly, it can also take a toll on your productivity.

So, take the time to identify exactly what you need in your home office. For every item you identify, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often will I use this item? It may be more cost-effective to use a free smartphone scanning app than spending money on a flatbed scanner if you’re only going to use it once a month.
  • Do I need this item to complete my job functions? While that home office video production studio is really cool, do you really need it for your job?
  • Is there another cost-effective way to access this item? For example, can you access your company’s specialized software and equipment when necessary? Another option is to look for a coworking space that offers access to specialized office equipment.

Home Office Items to Splurge On

While keeping costs down is important, your long-term happiness in the new workspace is just as important to your financial well-being. So below are a few areas where you should avoid cutting corners when you want to set up a home office for remote work on a budget:

Good lighting: Bad lighting can cause eyestrain, headaches, and general grumpiness. So, if your office is a little dark, optimize the natural light by hanging mirrors and removing blinds. In addition, invest in appropriate task lamps and ambient lighting fixtures. You can also consider adding new ways to let in natural light such as a glass door or tube skylight.

Comfortable temperature: Temperature can be key to maintaining a comfortable office space. Being too cold or too hot can affect productivity and contribute to bad moods. If the space is too cool, consider a space heater or throw blankets. Too warm? Invest in a portable air conditioning unit or fan.

Personalization: This is your home office, and you can customize your space entirely to meet your needs. There is no need to replicate your corporate workspace. Set aside some funds to allow your creativity to express itself. Add some inspirational artwork, paint colors, or wallpaper. Accessorize with a neon-colored stapler or leopard print throw. Make this a room you look forward to spending time in.

Before you go…

Your home office is where you will be spending a lot of your time. Therefore, it is well worth an investment of time and money to create an environment that will meet your needs. Utilize the tips above to keep your costs contained, but don’t forget to have fun exploring the different options available to you now that you work from home.

What budget-conscious ways have you used to set up your home office for remote work? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you!

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