how to work from home without an office? Working from home can be tricky enough, even more so if you are having to do it from the dining room table with kids underfoot!

Running Your own business with physical products

Before we dig into this, I want to say that how to work from home without an office will be different depending on what your job is. When I was sewing and creating sewing patterns, life was different and my work stuff was all over the house. It was totally chaotic. The only way I kept everything organised was in piles everywhere. To be honest, it wasn’t great! It drove me bonkers and was a pain to clean the house.

Having physical products takes up much more room and you need extra space for storage. Multi-functional spaces are the best option if you don’t have a dedicated space just for your work. In our spare bedroom, we have created a multi-functional space that serves as a bedroom for guests with a sofa bed, as well as a built-in desk space with a small ergonomic desk chair. The side table for the bed also acts as extra storage space. With a little creativity, you can make your small space work for you.

Trying to keep my work stuff contained in the one room helped but wasn’t always possible. Now I work completely online and my life is so much easier!

*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I will get a commission, at no cost to you, if you decide to buy something through my link.*

How to work from home without an office by adapting your current set up

You might be able to create a home workstation just by thinking out of the box. Can you find a nook or convert a closet? The easiest way to do this is a mindset tweak, instead of thinking “I don’t have space” take a walk around your home using the “What if I changed…(the closet, this nook, the furniture)” 

In our house, we have this funny little nook which wouldn’t be useful normally. The pole (on the left of the picture) is a support beam that we need so the ceiling doesn’t cave in!

So we decided to pop in some shelves and a small desk, even though at the time I had no idea which direction my little Etsy business would go in. It just seemed to be the most logical thing to do with the space. The white Boxes of the shelf are from Muji and contain work related items from receipts to photo props!

image of a how to work from home without an office space with a built in desk and computer and shelves containing box files.

Needless to say, years later, this has become my office desk. I used to use a dining room chair at the desk but not so long ago, invested in a Pipersong Meditation/ADHD chair which was a game changer. If you struggle with conventional chairs, like me, then read my review post on the Pipersong chair here.

how to work from home without an office ADHD chair from pipersong

My friend Bushra converted a closet and made that into her workspace until she moved somewhere which had space for her own office. The great thing about using a closet is that once you close the closet doors, you are out of the office, you can turn off work mode and switch back into mom mode. This is one of the hardest things I find, that when you work from home, there is always the distraction of household chores and never ending laundry.

One of my clients converted the kids’ reading nook into her office space. The kids had grown out of it and no longer used it, so she reclaimed it as her own.

Before you poo-poo this idea. Take a walk around your home with fresh eyes and ask yourself whether there is anything that no longer gets used that you can repurpose. Or maybe you have a closet full of clutter that you can clear out to make space for your own little office. 

  • Do you have a closet full of clutter that you can clear out?
  • Is there a space in your home that isn’t being utilised?
  • Do the kids have a desk for homework that you could use during the day, when they are at school?
  • Is there a nook or dead space that earn its keep better?
  • Do you have a room, such as a formal living room that is rarely used? Is it possible to convert that space into a dedicated home office?

To create your home office space, it might mean getting rid of some bulky furniture, taking out or putting in shelves. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, in fact, simple is often better.

How to work from home without an office and instead use a work box…

On one of our SPARK Mastermind calls, Angela was just in the process of setting her business and getting set up at home and she was asking the rest of us what our essentials were. Di showed off her “office in a box”. Like me, Di’s work is all online (she runs the site Superlucky, and is an author and consultant).

Like many people, she doesn’t have a dedicated office space for her work but instead works from the kitchen table with her laptop. To keep everything all in one place and easily accessible/clean-up-able she uses a box that easily fits into a cupboard. In it, she keeps all her work-related things, portable laptop table/rest, pen case, post-it’s, notebook etc.

When she is ready to work she takes out the box and gets stuck in and then when she is done, she just puts everything back in the box and then the box lives in the dining room cupboard.

What to do before you create your home office setup

There is some great inspiration to be had on Pinterest (follow this board) and Instagram for home office ideas. But before you rush out to create the perfect insta worthy work environment, you might want to stop and have a think about the practicalities. For your job/business, what does your perfect home office exactly need? It might be just some or all of these and you probably have some specific needs too.

  • Natural light or good alternative good lighting – essential for video calls
  • Wi-fi connection – important if you live somewhere with dead spots
  • A dedicated desk
  • An ergonomic office chair
  • A filing system or somewhere to keep important papers
  • Things that help you to be more productive – bujo, post-it’s, beautiful stationery, clock etc.
  • Anything you need specifically for your business
  • Books and resources
  • Equipment such as a printer or photography set-up.

Once you know what needs to go into the space you can start figuring out how to piece it together. If you have come from a traditional office environment you might feel like you must have X,Y and Z but the reality is that often you don’t need all those bells and whistles. If you think like a digital nomad, you can’t carry everything, so what is it you REALLY need?

What do you really need on hand?

This really depends on your business, these are the necessities that I always have within arms reach…

Image with a collection of items to how to work from home without an office. notebook, masking tape, pens, stick notes
  1. Masking tape, my prefered brand is MT but I’m a sucker for anything cute!
  2. I Bullet Journal and my favourite notebook is the Rollbahn diary, I get through two a year.
  3. Mildliner highlighters, I love these and all of the colours, I have a huge pot full!
  4. Whiteboard notebook, I got this from Daiso. It’s 5 pages of whiteboard and can stand up, one of those cheap handy things that now I can’t live without!
  5. My favourite pen is the Uni Style Fit Multi pen, 3 colours. I have numerous pens, all have black but then I have different colours as the extras.
  6. And of course, Post-it notes. I use these mainly for planning and buying the colours that for the various sections of my brand to make it easier for me to plan!

Creating a work mindset ritual

What I love about Di’s ‘office in a box’ set-up is not only the ease and function but the fact that it creates a mindset where once she has taken out her workbox she is switching from mom mode into work mode. 

For me, I find this works having the desk set up. I only every sit at the desk for work, so once I am there, work mode is switched on. This really helps with productivity especially if you work from home.

I have friends who have a small start the work day ritual where they will light a candle and meditate for 2 minutes or stick strictly to a routine. The kids are delivered to school then they come back and start work rather than look at the housework – we all know that once you start that it’s never ending!

How to work from home without a home office with a laptop

The great thing about laptops is that you can work virtually anywhere. One of my Wonder Moms is an author (You can read about Kathrine’s business story here) and so she can set up her office for the day wherever feels comfortable.

Some days I prefer to sit on the sofa and work or if the weather is nice, out in the yard. I also enjoy taking myself out coffee shops. I also spend a month a year in Europe, which is great as I can easily take my work with me. I have a friend who spends 2 days a week working at the local library. You might even have co-working spaces where you live, which might be worth the investment.

The only the drawback of not having everything handy when you are not in your dedicated work space. Even when you work all online there are some things you need to store or have within arms reach.

If your home office is the dining table then setting up a couple of box files or a specific drawer/shelf for your work-related stuff is a must. If you have everything scattered around the house you will end up wasting so much time and energy looking for what you need when you need it.

I use Muji storage boxes, everything I need is on the shelf above my desk. But your storage spot could be anywhere that you can make the space for it.

When you have a lack of space it does help you focus on what you *really need* and what you *really need to keep*.

What if your business is not just online?

This is where things get a bit trickier. For example, Kaliah from Sakura Milk Jewelry has two little boys and she makes jewellery at home. To stop the little ones from getting into her work gear she originally converted her loft space into a workshop. As her business grew and then they moved home she got herself a “she shed”. She needs to have the space away from the boys because what she does is potentially dangerous.

If you do have physical products then you will need more space and be more aware of what you specifically need and how much space it will take. Often those in the crafting space don’t realise how it will take over your home as your business grows!

To Wrap Up – how to work from home without an office…

At the end of the day, the best way to set up your work from home space is to sit down and brainstorm exactly what you need to make life easier for you. Then decide on what creative home office idea would work for you. This might mean talking to family members about what you need, setting up room dividers, defining common areas, creating a corner desk or something completely different!

The three steps to get you started:

1. Get really specific on what you actually need. Don’t clutter up your workspace with things you use once in a blue moon.

2. Keep all your work-related things together, better for organisation and will save you time as you are less likely to lose things.

3. Recycle and repurpose, look at your home with fresh eyes. What can you change or get rid of that would open up for a better workspace?


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