This post is sponsored by Officeworks.
Whether it’s for work or study or your burgeoning side hustle, there’s a growing trend to work from home and a greater need for the home office.
I work from home, and at times my husband works from home too.
But if you’re anything like me, you don’t have space to for a whole office or the cash to spend a fortune on supplies.
For a long time, I worked on my laptop on the bed. While frugal and space saving, I ended up with constant chest pains from the poor posture.
Then I upgraded to the ironing board and dining chair in our bedroom. Again, frugal and multi-functional, but the poor ergonomics resulted in sciatica (the right chair really matters), and my work was often buried under a pile of ironing.
So when Officeworks asked me to take part in their ‘We Live Lowest Prices’ campaign, we were well and truly overdue for a home office makeover.
We created our home office for less than $500.
Here are the essential things to know about creating a home office you’ll love on a budget.
1. Start With Your Available Space And Measure
It’s essential for productivity to have a dedicated area for your home office (read: don’t try to work on the bed).
If you’re like us and don’t have a dedicated room for an office, look for an under-utilised space, a corner of a room or a closet to work in. There are lots of amazing home office design ideas on Pinterest.
Whether you have a whole room to dedicate to your home office or just a corner of the living room, you need to measure it so know exactly how much space you have to work with. You want to make sure your purchases fit!
For us, we chose a corner of our bedroom to become dedicated office space.
2. Work out what you need – keep it minimal
What are the basics you need to create your home office? What do you already have on hand and what do you need?
Can you repurpose what you already have on hand? Make sure you take ergonomics into account!
If you’re starting from scratch as we were, there are inexpensive options available from Officeworks.
We chose the Floyd Loop Leg Desk because it is just right to fit the space we have, it has a slimline look and a faux wood top that doesn’t scream office cubicle! If we wanted to put work away, we could swap the computer for an indoor plant, and it would look quite nice.
I also chose the Carmody Desk Chair which is a good balance between affordability and ergonomics.
Pro tip: put a timer on your computer to remind you to get up and walk every half an hour. While the chair we chose is designed for 3-5 hours of sitting, a timer will remind you to get moving more often and stay healthy.
3. Save By Adopting a Paperless Office
Save money, save space and increase your productivity by going paperless. A paperless office means you can set up easily in a little nook anywhere and potentially take your whole office to the local cafe if you’ve spent a little too much time without human contact.
By embracing electronic filing you:
- Save Space and Reduce Clutter: no need for filing drawers or storage shelving or boxes.
- Save time: Use the camera on your phone or tablet as a scanner and upload your filing to a note-taking app like Evernote. The search function makes files super quick and easy to pull up and you can take your filing system anywhere you go for easy access outside the office.
- Save Money: By going paperless, not only do you not need filing cabinets and all the requisite filing paraphernalia, you don’t need reams of paper and ink cartridges.
By keeping things minimal, you can also multi-task the space, converting it back into an occasional table when you’re finished, for instance.
We were, until recently, a tablet-free household. But as I found myself reading more and more online and filing paperlessly, I’ve embraced tablet tech for portable cloud access.
The Lenovo costs a fraction of other tablets, but so far I’ve found it has all the same functionality and it’s been a useful addition to our home office. Big enough to read on, small enough to carry around.
On the few occasions that you just can’t avoid printing, a trip to Officeworks to print in the store is a cheap way to go (it’s what we’ve been doing for several years now whenever I need to print something like an online sewing pattern). You can also upload your printing on their website, which makes things super convenient.
Pro-tip: Backups are essential in a paperless office.
4. How to Work in a Multi-Functional Space
As much as I agree with Virginia Woolf that every person needs a “room of one’s own” that’s not a practical option for many of us.
But it can be hard to work when you’re sharing space with other family members.
In this case, a good set of headphones is invaluable. If you find music too distracting, white noise apps are a great alternative. I love listening to rain on the window while I’m working.
To be productive and self-directed, a planner is a must.
A wall planner would be awesome, but seeing that on the wall every morning first thing…not really how I want to wake up.
I’ve tried a few different planning options and settled for a bullet journal. I’m still an analogue girl at heart, and a bullet journal is perfect for tracking to-dos as well as everything else.
Our Home Office Update for less than $500
This is what we ended up getting for our home office:
- Floyd Loop Leg Desk: $49
- Carmody Chair: $59
- Acer monitor for hubby to use: $198
- Wireless keyboard and mouse (I hate wires, this makes your space so much nicer): $18
- Lenovo Tablet: $96
- Tablet Stand (totally, ahem, not for watching Netflix while I’m working): $14.95
- Sharpies (because a girl’s gotta have some colour in her life and her bullet journal): $19.95
- USB sticks to back up and transfer large files: $15
- Pen Cup: $4.67
- Plain journal for use as a bullet journal: $13.97
Total Spend: $488.54
From furniture to tech to stationery, you can create an inspiring and productive home office on a budget and in just one shop with the likes of Officeworks. Create a minimalist feel with an eye towards multi-functionality, and it will fit right into your home decor.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.