How to Set Up a Home Office on a Budget
More and more, people are looking for innovative ways to achieve a work/life balance while maintaining productivity.
One of the best ways to accomplish this is through telecommuting, and recenttrends indicate that work-at-home arrangements for those who aren’tself-employed have risen by 140% since 2005.
In theory, cutting out the commute and being able to focus on tackling tasks from home is an attractive alternative to the office-bound norm. But, outfitting a home office to include everything needed to work optimally isn’t exactly cheap. Except, here’s a secret: it can be cheap.
Throw out of the window everything you think you know regarding expensive office furniture, fancy computer peripherals, and costly office accoutrements. Given the multiple tools and technological advancements available to virtually anyone with a budget, getting everything you need to work from home doesn’t have to require a mountain of cash.
Here’s how to set up a home office that will be conducive to getting work done without distractions and at a price that your wallet can live with.
If you’re going to be converting a guest bedroom, den, or other living space into a home office, your first concern is likely going to be related to the furniture. For many people, the first impulse might be to just yank everything out, whitewash the area, and head over to the nearest Office Depot to get a desk, a lamp, a file cabinet, and any number of other pieces of furniture that might be needed. For most, furniture costs end up being the biggest expense involved in setting up a home office.
To bring the furniture bill down as low as possible, here are a few suggestions:
- Stop and think about what you actually need. It’s amazing how quickly a home
office can become cluttered with things that are rarely ever used throughout
the course of a given workday. Take a minimalist approach to stocking your home
office with furniture, and instead of buying everything you think you’ll want in the future, start
with the bare necessities and build up from there as necessary.
- Make a list of the required pieces. A desk. A
comfortable chair. A lamp. A computer monitor. Et cetera. Come up with a short,
concise list of furniture must-haves. Try not to include things that could
encourage distraction, like reclining chairs, lava lamps, or digital picture
- Tap the secondary market. Your local Craigslist is an absolutely fantastic source for gently used office furniture that can be snapped up at a seriously cut rate. Not only can you find everyday consumers selling unwanted office furniture, you can also get information on local estate sales and going-out-of-business sales that can hold hidden gems you can acquire for pennies on the dollar. Is there a retail business near you that is closing its doors? Go inquire about buying their furniture. Often, they’ll be more than happy to liquidate it for a fraction of what it cost new.
If you’re strategic about getting the office furniture you need for your home office, you shouldn’t end up spending more than a few hundred dollars, tops. If it turns out that you actually do need that extra file cabinet in the future, you can always look to the secondary market again, later.
Connectivity is crucial for those who work from home. You know you need a reliable internet connection, a good wireless router, a good computer monitor, keyboard, and a few other select pieces of hardware. For internet service – before you go out and sign a multi-year contract with an internet service provider, be sure to shop around just to be sure there aren’t less expensive alternatives available to you.
Here’s a pro-tip for anyone who’ll be working from home more than a day or two a week: invest in a high-quality, mechanical keyboard. Be sure to scour ebay and even your local tech store for open box returns or manufacturer refurbished mechanical keyboards. Due to their smart construction, these devices can be easily fixed and upgraded, and they last for a long time.
A final note on routers: unless you absolutely have to, do not buy a wireless router directly from your internet service provider. The routers they would like to sell you are often low in quality and high in price. Remember that modems and routers are two different things, and the best bang-for-your-buck comes from getting a two-in-one model that performs both functions. Netgear and Motorola provide some world-class modem/router combo devices that will almost certainly cost less than what the internet company wants to sell you.
Ready, Set, Work!
Thinking critically about how to set up your new home office can save you thousands of dollars and hours of precious time. By relying on secondary markets for needed furniture and accessories and by knowing what equipment you need instead of what you want, the savings can be even greater. Now that you have a plan for building out the home office of your dreams, go forth and be productive!
Kevin is the founder of Vast Bridges, a lead generation and customer acquisition firm focused on helping companies grow. They were voted the best place to work in Jacksonville, Fl. so Kevin knows a thing or two about a happy and productive workforce. Kevin develops and implements strategic business for different companies, something that has allowed him to become an expert on the different ways of growing a business.