It’s no secret that more and more Australians are working from home, even just for a portion of their working week. But not everyone has oodles of space to spare for a dedicated work area. If your space is limited, then these small home offices ideas and tips will help maximise the area you do have, helping you carve out a little idyll of your own.

Keep Your Desk Clutter Free 

Don’t let your work desk become a dumping ground for books, pens and papers. It’s a slippery slope, as small spaces can quickly become cluttered and messy-looking when stuff starts to pile up. Instead, use trays, baskets, tubs or a small set of drawers to stash away work paraphernalia. 

A clever hack? Use a label maker to keep track of where everything is kept. Keep only the essentials on show on your workspace, such as a couple of pens and a notepad or two. Now, it not only looks organised and inviting, you can also find everything you need with ease and are ready to go when you need to jump into your next project.

What to Try

Work products on white desk showing how to keep a small home office clutter-free with baskets and drawers

Use a Laptop or All-In-One Computer

Ergonomic experts say a proper desktop computer is ideal when you’re working from home, but laptops take up a lot less space and you can pack them away when the work day is done. “A laptop can definitely save you some space,” says Anthony Hill from Geeks2U, but there is a great middle ground option. Consider “an all-in-one desktop computer, where the computer is built into the monitor so you only have one device with limited cables”, suggests Anthony. He recommends purchasing an all-in-one from respected brands such as HP and Lenovo.

What to Try

SEE ALSO: Home Office Design Ideas to Inspire Productivity

Consider Your Cords

Got a lot of gadgets? The cables from your phone charger, computer, printer and internet router can get tangled and look ugly and untidy in a small office space. One of the best small home office ideas to keep things organised is to use a pack of simple cable ties, some cord clamps or concealers. It’s a little thing but it has a big impact on productivity and the look and feel of your workspace.

What to Try

A clever trick to make a small home office look tidy is to use cord concealers.

Let the Light In

Lighting is very important when you’re setting up a home office — no one wants to work in a dingy or dull space. You’ll be far more productive, not to mention feel happier and healthier, if your desk is positioned in a well-lit sunny spot, preferably by a window. University research has shown natural light to have the most positive effect on workers

But natural light isn’t alway an option, especially if you are tight on space. As a solution, set up a lamp or two to really brighten things up.

What to Try

Top small home office idea: if there is little natural light, add a desk lamp.

Look Up 

Anthony from Geeks2U is a bit of a guru when it comes to small home office ideas to make the most of a tiny area. His best tip ever? “Go up!” he says. “Use the full height of your wall by installing shelving that goes high up, stack drawers and use the space under the desk. This will allow you to optimise the amount of storage in a smaller floor space.” Floating shelves are a super idea to maximise storage space; they’re also modern and streamlined, adding style to the overall look and feel of your home. 

Or opt for a desk with a hutch for a clever solution to storage dramas, or try risers, which not only help provide better ergonomics, they also give you some clever storage.

What to Try

Stay on Top of Paperwork

In smaller spaces, there’s simply no room for filing cabinets and stacks of paperwork. But in many jobs, some paperwork is unavoidable. To prevent piles mounting up, invest in a small shredder. It will quickly become your MVP in a compact home office, safely nixing printed documents before they have time to become clutter.

What to Try

Go Digital

If you can avoid stacks of printouts, then do! Embrace digital storage solutions and keep your projects efficient and organised. A portable hard drive is so handy – it’s sturdy, compact and ideal for working on the go, with oodles of room to back-up your documents, photos and videos. 

A solid state drive (SSD) allows for speedy file sharing and can be ultra-secure, with password protection or additional encryption, to keep sensitive documents safe. Another option? Step into the future and sign up for online cloud-based storage – which can offer as much storage as you need for images and documents.

What to Try

A great tip for your small home office is using digital storage for files to save space.

SEE ALSO: Let the Geek Guide You: How to Secure Your Business and Data

Be Clever With Colours

According to Angela Wright, a renowned colour psychologist, certain colours can impact the way we feel and perform at work. When setting up your own working from home space, use colour to create a mood – green is calming, blue is stimulating, while red inspires action and energy, and yellow makes us feel happy. 

When choosing accessories and stationery, stick to one colour or tone overall; this will look more polished and put-together, which is particularly important for smaller spaces. Consider the colour scheme of the rest of your house, too – you want your workstation to blend in.

What to Try

Limit Distractions

When you’re working from home, there are so many distractions that can disrupt your workflow. From the TV to the ever-growing laundry pile, it’s tempting to take breaks and focus on other things. 

This is even more challenging in a small space, or if your work area is in a high traffic area of the home. But here’s a hot tip – try setting up your desk to face a blank wall. Hello, instant concentration! 

Another great idea is investing in noise-reduction headphones to block out noisy neighbours (or family members!), garbage trucks or barking dogs. Staying on task is tricky, so use to-do lists and a planner to prioritise your time.

What to Try

Investing in a set of noise-reduction headphones is the perfect way to help reduce distractions in your home office.

Choose Your Chair Wisely

If you have a desk in a hallway or the corner of your kitchen, opt for elegant furniture that’s pleasing to the eye and matches the existing colour palette. Prevent your space from feeling cramped and cluttered by selecting a compact chair with thin legs – these create an optical illusion of taking up less space. You also can’t go wrong with furniture that does double duty – an armchair easily slips into your dining or living room when work is done.

What to Try

SEE ALSO: Home Office Ergonomics: A How to Guide

Keep Office Essentials Behind Closed Doors

Clean out a cupboard and dedicate it to your office equipment, so clunky items like your printer or shredder don’t encroach on the rest of your living space. You can also store your work paraphernalia here at the end of your workday. Being able to close the doors and hide away your work stuff is not only beneficial for keeping things clean and tidy, it’s also a positive mental step that disconnects you from work when you’re ready to “clock off” for the evening.

This article was originally published in 2021 and has been updated.