This article was originally published in September 2022

With technology changing so rapidly, working from home has never been easier. We visited three South Australians in their home offices to see how they’ve transformed their spaces. Plus, we asked them for their best tips, home office must-haves and daily practices that make for a successful working-from-home setup.

These three spots – a renovated two-storey artists’ studio on a farm, a suburban backyard shed and a dedicated home office space – are perfectly laid out thanks to cleverly chosen pieces, lighting, plants and so much more.

How I Work From Home: Alexis Teasdale

Alexis Teasdale is writer, stylist and creative director with a bright, textural office in her converted backyard shed in a leafy Adelaide suburb. She uses it for event planning, styling, crafting and writing and it features lots of different storage ideas to house her props and tools.

Talk Us Through Your Home Office Setup

We relocated from interstate a few years ago, and when we found our house it had a fantastic shed out the back. I knew straight away it would make the perfect home studio. I do about 50% of my work at home and the rest on location, so it’s the perfect amount of space.

What Are Your Home Office Must-Haves?

Stylist Alexis Teasdale needs plenty of plastic storage tubs in her home office setup.

Because I need a lot of props for photo shoots and event styling, how I store them becomes really important. Wheelable plastic storage tubs are so handy because I can roll them from the office to the boot of the car, and they stack up easily too. The Otto ones are cute but sturdy.

An at-home printer has been a game changer for me. I create a lot of designed printables, from kids’ activity sheets to menus for events. Now I use the HP Envy Inspire to print a lot of them at home and only outsource when I really need to, which saves money.

Lightweight plastic drawers have also been incredibly handy. I use enormous trestle tables as desks that can be moved around depending on whether I need them for a flat-lay shoot or an event. That means everything else in the office has to be pretty portable, too. I chose plastic storage drawers that are easy to roll around and, because they’re clear, I can see what I’m reaching for straight away.

What’s Your Favourite Thing About Working From Home?

The flexibility. I have three small kids who do a lot of extra-curricular activities, so I have more freedom to juggle their schedules with my own, knowing I can always duck out to the studio to work in the evening or on weekends.

And the Biggest Challenge?

At first it was not having the energy of a lot of people around. I went from working in a very busy, social office to working alone and that took some getting used to. Now I know that I have to keep myself busy and motivated without that face-to-face interaction. I listen to podcasts and audiobooks and make Zoom calls, which keeps the studio vibes bright.

What Sort of Flexibility Does Working From Home Grant You?

Being able to work from anywhere means I can still participate in the kids’ very busy schedules during the week. If I have phone calls to make or a story to finish, I can do that in the car park while I’m waiting for them to finish school. Quite a few clients have seen the school oval as the background of a Zoom meeting and we have a laugh about it. It’s more and more common to be working from anywhere these days. It’s a juggle, but I love knowing I’m in control of my time.

And Your Desk Can’t-Live-Without?

A range of storage solutions means Alexis’s home office setup remains neat and tidy.‍

That’s like choosing a favourite child! But I really wouldn’t get anything done without my epic Sharpie and Posca collection. I use them in pretty much every craft project I’m commissioned to do, and they last for ages and ages.

What To Try

SEE ALSO: Clever Ways to Improve Your Working From Home Productivity

How I Work From Home: Damien Coulthard

Damien Coulthard is an Adnyamathanha man from the Northern Flinders and Gammon Ranges in South Australia. He works as a teacher, artist and co-founder of Warndu, an Indigenous-owned small business that sources, markets and educates about native ingredients in partnership with Aboriginal communities, businesses and allies.

He’s based in an artists’ studio, called Mallee and Myrtle Studio, that’s flooded with natural light and has inspiring 360-degree views of the surrounding bush on his property north of Adelaide.

Where Is Your Home Office?

We’re located just outside Clare Valley, overlooking the valley and Yorke Peninsula. The top of our property is around 560m above sea level, and has stunning views across the landscape. The studio is separate from the house, making it perfect for creativity.

Talk Us Through Your Home Office Must-Haves

 A sit-stand desk is Damien Coulthard’s favourite piece of equipment for working from home.

A sit-stand desk was the one thing the studio really needed. When I’m working on commissions for extended periods of time, it’s important to have the ability to either sit or stand – I can avoid being in a static position and it reduces muscle fatigue. Answering emails is a big part of operating a small business, as is developing concepts for future projects, and this desk makes that possible. 

Having light, clear storage allows me to stay organised. I can also see what I’m working with. I’ve filled glass jars with ochre harvested from Adnyamathanha Yarta, the Flinders Ranges region, to trigger memories of significance to my family and community.

The right tools are really, really important in my artwork. Having an easel means I can view my art from different angles, as well as store it safely.

What’s Your Favourite Thing About Working From Home?

The number one thing for me is having more time with my family. Up until this year, I was working in Adelaide during the week as a teacher. In two years, I’d clocked up 110,000 kilometres just driving back and forth. Waking up in a nice, quiet environment, surrounded by trees, gardens, animals, wildlife and family, has made a huge difference. I’m also reducing my footprint on the environment.

Also, the flexibility and being in control of your aspirations – and the outcome and reward – is more satisfying. 

What’s the Biggest Challenge When Working From Home?

I worked at a school for the past 15 years, so everything was scheduled and timetabled. Now I’m accountable for myself. With art commissions, you need to be promoting across different platforms, catching up with clients, setting timelines and achieving deadlines. 

What Flexibility Does Working From Home Give You?

It’s mainly a change in lifestyle from the school environment, where you work to a timetable supported by bells – a bell for lesson change, a bell for recess, a bell for lunch, a bell for day closure, followed by staff meetings. Everything runs on a timetable. Now, I have the flexibility to take on new learning experiences with minimal notice that align with my personal and business interests. Plus, not having all that travel time means I can spend more time with my family. 

This is my first year back at home. Now, I have two days working with an Aboriginal-led program called Tjindu. It’s an important part of my work, collaborating with Aboriginal knowledge keepers, experts, families and schools to support the aspirations of Indigenous students. 

The rest of my time is spent working within our business, Warndu. We support the restoration of culture, community, tradition, health and our soils through the products we make using native plants. We also offer unique food experiences in collaboration with First Nations people, Aboriginal businesses and allies.

A colleague and I have developed an experience called Place, Taste, Story. It’s about sharing stories from an Aboriginal lens to create a deeper understanding of First Nations histories, as well as supporting the people we work with culturally and economically. 

My partner Bec has been a big part of the transition to working from home, and a pivotal part in developing Warndu into a successful business. I’m really lucky that I’ve had that strong female presence, from both family and friends, to offer leadership, guidance and support. 

Natural light is important in a home office setup and Damien Coulthard’s has plenty.

What To Try 

SEE ALSO: How to Switch Off From Work When Working From Home

How I Work From Home: Sue Milner

An experienced financial sales and strategic partnerships manager, Sue Milner has a cosy, dedicated office in her beachside home. It’s a functional space with cube storage and a built-in desk and her handmade shell art features throughout, with books and plants also adding vibrancy to the small space.

Tell Us About Your Home Office Setup

My workplace is located in my study in my home in Adelaide. My job is based interstate, so at first I started at one end of the house being close to the modem and the WiFi. Then, as I had to work more from home, I moved into this office space, got a WiFi extension and got more organised.

What Is in Your Must-Have Office Kit?

I have a lot of virtual meetings throughout the day, and it’s essential for me that I have a great setup for that. In terms of functionality, it is really important to have a good computer monitor. I need to be able to comfortably attend virtual meetings throughout the week.

I’m set up so I can access my computer and, of course, my big screen easily. I’m really mindful of the background during virtual meetings and the way the lighting is set up. Lighting and positioning of the screen is really important.

Another thing I find really convenient in the office are my sticky notes, which I use to jot down my tasks and quick to-do lists for the day.

What’s Your Favourite Aspect of Working From Home?

Financially, it’s been fantastic to no longer be paying for car parking fees and I save on commute time, which was 30 to 40 minutes each day. I think the biggest element for me is actually getting more time back in my day. I’m way more productive working from home.

What’s the Biggest Challenge When Working From Home?

Working from home meant turning a room in Susan’s home into an organised workspace.  

I could say the WiFi and the technology, but it’s actually not seeing people face to face. I’ve gotten used to that over time. The virtual presence and meetings have gotten a lot better now, so I think I’m more comfortable with doing that and happy to work at home by myself. 

What Flexibility Does Working From Home Give You?

You need a good balance to your day, ensuring that you’ve got time to go outside for a walk and to breathe the fresh air. I focus a lot on making sure I’ve got that, so I always start the day with a coffee, take our dogs for a walk and make sure the house is organised. Then I come into the office and get started on work. At the end of the day, I make sure I turn off all the technology and actually close the door as I leave, so that I have officially knocked off for the day. 

What One Item on Your Desk Can’t You Live Without?

My must-have item is definitely a really great desk chair. I can't believe I actually had an old chair for so long. I recently got this new chair and it is amazing and so comfortable. It’s made a real difference to how I feel throughout the day.

What To Try

SEE ALSO: Easy Ways to Boost Your WiFi Signal At Home