Starting out as a freelancer, the one area I took a while to get used to was not having a dedicated space or office to go to each day. Creating the perfect freelance home office workspace has helped me to increase my productivity and helped me to be more focused on the tasks I have to complete to become more successful.
But this isn’t all about me, it’s about you and how you can create the perfect office space for you and your freelance career. Having a dedicated office or desk space helps you to feel more organised and able to focus, since you will have fewer distractions.
Home Office Space vs Coworking Space
When starting out for yourself, there are two main options you have. You can find a local coworking space or create the perfect home working space for yourself that you will feel relaxed to work in. For some, working from home can be very isolating and so they choose a coworking space to be around others, but for others more comfortable with working alone the expense and commitment of a coworking space can add to the worry of making enough money to pay the bills.
Ideally, you can mix these two ideas up and maybe use a coworking space 1-2 days a week to be around other freelance workers and create yourself an amazing home office workspace that you will be productive and creative in.
Finding Your Home Office Workspace
Early in your freelance career you may not want, nor have the funds available, to commit yourself to a traditional rented office space. Your main focus is on building up your business and finding regular paying clients.
Deciding to dedicate a space in your home to call your office is an important decision. If you work from home often, as many freelancers do, it will allow you to keep homelife and worklife separate. So when you are home and relaxing on the sofa, you can switch off a little. On the flip side of that you are less likely to find yourself binge-watching Netflix when you should be working on your content strategy…. Ahh yes… distractions. Having a dedicated space will help avoid them too.
The space you choose for your home office should be a dedicated working space, but finding an area in your home where you can have your desk and all your work-related items together is the main focus. Keeping some paperwork in the kitchen, a receipt box in the bedroom and tax returns in the living room is what you’re aiming to avoid.
If you can, your space should include natural light, some real plants (they help oxygenate the room and help you think clearer). They must be real plants and not fake ones, something that is easy to look after and easy to maintain. Check out this article for some ideas: 10 Best plants for your desk.
Invest in Your Home
If you are in a financial position to rent a traditional office, I have another idea for you. Why not invest in extending your home instead and build a dedicated home office? This is good because it adds value to your house, saves on travelling time to and from the office and you can design your ideal space. If the area is big enough, you can even invite other freelance friends over and create your own coworking space.
You can go the whole hog and add a space for your own coffee machine, which will be much more rewarding than paying for expensive coffee in a coffee shop or the drab coffee often found in coworking spaces. It’s important to keep yourself alert, as this will help you keep focus for longer. Make sure you drink plenty of water too, as dehydration ruins concentration.
Home Office Organisation
You now have your corner of the world sorted, your space to build your empire. Keeping your kingdom organised and tidy will help you be more productive. Investing in storage solutions such as a classic but inexpensive Kallax unit from IKEA will help keep your paperwork and gear organised and look good too.
Then there’s the running of your business to keep organised too. How do you keep track of your calendar, accounts and to-do lists? Do you prefer digital organisers or are you a fan of the traditional paper and pen?
Include Colour in Your Office Space
Choosing the right colours in your office will help send your brain the right messages. Blue shows power and trust, Yellow is for energy, and orange is associated with happiness. You don’t have to go too crazy and I’d suggest an interior design with a light and airy feeling is best. Also remember to try to create a warm feeling, rather than a sterile or formal one, as this is part of your home.
If you can’t or don’t want to paint the walls, you can always add colour by hanging some wall art or pictures of your family. Maybe frame your favourite motivational quote that will inspire you.
Furniture for Your Home Office
You are your own boss, so it’s up to you if you choose to sit on the sofa with a cushion under your laptop to work, but I’d say investing in some good furniture will help both your productivity and your posture. Have a look at this workstation assessment from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to get an idea of what an ideal desk setup should look like.
Office chair choice
A proper office chair with a high back that gives lumbar support is ideal, but at minimum your chair should have height and tilt adjustments to help keep your posture correct while working. I suggest going to a furniture shop and sitting on all the office chairs you can to find the one that suits you best. If you’re unable to get to a furniture shop, then read reviews on places like Amazon and choose a chair that is as adjustable as possible to maximise comfort and ergonomics.
Choosing an office desk for your home office
Let’s be clear… your kitchen table is not an office desk! It’s OK to work at a kitchen or dining room table ad-hoc, but for long term working, you will have better posture at a dedicated office desk. The reason for this is that our posture at the humble kitchen table is different from sitting at an office desk.
A desk with adjustable height is better as an office desk for this reason. Standing desks are a good option also, as they allow us to work standing up and maintain correct posture without slouching over a desk. I’ve also seen claims that they can lower the risk of weight gain (which can be something of an issue for anyone working from home).
Choose a larger monitor
After lots of research looking for a monitor within my budget, I chose an HP 27 Inch HD screen. It’s much better for my posture and my eyes than a 13-inch MacBook Pro screen alone and it gives me the visual real estate I need for editing videos and working on my websites.
Investing in a quality screen is important, as you’re probably going to be staring at it for most of your day. An HD monitor, up to 27 inches is ideal. If you are doing design work or want something larger, you will be better off with a 4K monitor for a better screen resolution. I chose the HP 27fh monitor, as it has height and tilt adjustments that help with ergonomics and mean I make fewer trips to the osteopath!
Are you short? If you are less than 165cm (5ft 5in), then you may need a footrest to ensure correct posture at your desk. This will partly depend on how high your desk is and how low your chair will go. If your chair is at the lowest it will go and your feet are not flat on the ground, place a footrest under your feet and this will improve your posture.
Upgradeable Office Ideas
Getting started out as a freelancer is tough. I’ve done this myself in the last few years and when I worked in an office for an employer, I never thought twice about the chair and desk I used or how much light I was getting. I was given a seat to sit at for 7-8 hours and that was the option.
There are cheap office solutions, but I recommend that you make the investment in the best you can afford at the time. Your mind and body will thank you and you owe it to yourself to be comfortable now you’ve made the step into freelance freedom and you are now the boss.
Something as simple as adding a laptop stand and connecting a separate keyboard and mouse to your laptop when you are working at your desk will be a great start to building your freelance home office workspace.
Make Your Home Office a Smart Space
Get yourself a freelance assistant. Wait! What? Why would I be telling you to spend money on an employee, when you’re just starting out? What I mean by a freelance assistant is use smart technology to help you do things more easily like setting reminders and alarms without leaving your chair.
An Amazon Alexa speaker is great for this. I find that when I work alone, it can be easy to get into my flow and forget the time, so if I have a meeting or call that I need to remember, I set a reminder using Alexa. Saying it out loud, and it is less disruptive to my flow than stopping to set an alarm on my phone or make a calendar reminder. I can also listen to my favourite podcast, stream music or ask Alexa to read a book to me if I want to give my eyes a rest.
If you create a home office, I’d love to see your setup. Please tag me and say hello, I love to hear from you guys. Here is my little corner of the world that I work from. I’m next to a window for natural light and I have plenty of storage behind me. I keep my camera and studio gear set up, so I can easily record videos without having to take the time to set up for each session.