Our first guest post from my fab friend Lou Obi-Drake telling you all about how to create a home workspace in a tiny home! Read on to see how Lou and her husband CJ have created a space at home that works for them during this weird time of lockdown at home. Whatever space you have you can find a way to make it work for your work and regular home life too.
What happens when with one days notice you are now working from home, a tiny home, and not just you but your partner too? That is a situation faced by many and I wanted to share what I have learned in the last three weeks of working from our tiny home.
I want to share how I convert our space to a fun, creative environment that creates a divide between ‘work’ and ‘home’ for our wellbeing and happiness. I hope my learning will be useful to someone else facing a similar challenge of a tiny space and provide inspiration of how it is possible.
Our tiny space
To give some context, I rent a small flat in East London with my husband. A really small flat! Our combined living room and kitchen is 170 inches by 200 inches (4.3 metres by 5 metres)
Our bedroom is 139 inches by 123 inches (3.5 metres by 3.1 metres).
We like being on the doorstep of all of our favourite places and spaces and being so close to so many transport options. We are natural explorers and wouldn’t often spend that much time at home, so a tiny space works well for us, in normal circumstances. Now our challenge is to work out how to make the tiny space act as an effective home, work… and exercise space.
I currently work as a Director in a learning and development charity which means lots of online webinars,meetings and calls, creative thinking and design and creating content (including videos). My husband is a recruiter who is always on the phone, and is a co-founder of a content platform, so he is also creating video content.
Learning how to create a home workspace in a tiny home
Week 1 of lockdown – A sudden change of life
We were thrown into working from home without much time to think about how we would make this work. We learned that we needed malleable spaces for the different activities we do on a day-to-day basis. We needed space for taking calls, space for creating content and space for creative thinking.
I also quickly learned that it wasn’t very good for my posture to take phone calls while sitting on my bed!
We struggled through the week wondering how we could make our space work for our usual habits and routines as well as a full working week!
Week 2 of lockdown – Making better use of what we have
Week 2 was a chance to be creative with the furniture at our disposal. What in our flat could have a dual purpose? and how could we make the best use of the space we have?
We converted my dressing table into a desk, the Ottoman into a chair and the living room coffee table into the call centre hub.
Things were working much better in our second week working from home but I realised I needed space to be able to stand and work. Sitting down, whether on the sofa or my dual purpose Ottoman-come-deskchair for a long stretch of time wasn’t good for my posture or ongoing various aches and pains.
It was time to spend a bit of money to improve our tiny home for working in… we might be in this lockdown for a while!?
Week 3 of lockdown – spending a little to make the most of our tiny home
It’s week 3 and so far so good! I think I have created my ultimate home workspace in a tiny home. Well, in-fact multiple workspaces. I decided to bite the bullet and buy the following items to help me curate the space.
Small standing desk – £37.59 Ebay
I was reluctant to purchase this at first, but as someone who needs to keep moving (or at least standing) and is more creative when on my feet, this felt like something that would have an exponential impact.
I don’t really have any room for additional furniture so I trawled the internet for something small and compact that could be tucked away when not in use. This seemed to fit the bill and also has space in the bottom to keep my current paperwork and laptop packed away for another day. It is also on wheels so it is easy to manoeuvre around my small space.
A whiteboard – £15.75 Ebay
I have been known to use my white walls to keep post-it notes on, except now I am even more determined to separate out work and life space, even if it is the same space. My brain seems to work differently when I am standing up making notes and have a blank white space creative thinking.
I considered other options like the reusable static whiteboard sheets, but having previously used them (and found the static to fade) I felt like a whiteboard would be a better longer term investment. I bought one that was the right size to it under my bed so it could be packed away at the end of the day. I have lights that I can hang my whiteboard on with some string I already had. I also bought a stand, but right now I haven’t needed to use it. The whiteboard and stand will come in useful for some learning content I have planned where I will use it in a video.
A phone and light stand – £23.13 Ebay*
As you can see from the video, I have no windows in my flat (yes it’s strange and yes it’s awful during quarantine, but it is a sacrifice for living so centrally). The bright light is totally necessary for filming content and for adding light to webinars and conference video calling, or it just looks like I am sat in a dark room at nighttime. This may or may not be a necessary purchase, it depends on how much light you have and what kind of work you do. (*this isn’t the exact one I have as it was purchased from a local shop just before total lockdown)
A mobile phone holder– £8.99 Ebay
This is definitely for work and life. I purchased this phone holder to be able to have hands free video calls, you can attach it to almost anything, so I can attach it to my standing desk, when I also need to do other activities like typing. It’s also great for having phone calls with friends, again hands free. Especially sitting in bed- I can attach it to my bed frame and agle it so I can chat to friends without that annoying ache from holding it for too long. I have also found I can use it to read handsfree on my phone, tablet and kindle. Which is an added bonus.
My new purchases have enabled me to turn our bedroom and living room in effective, changeable work spaces, using items and furniture that can be tucked away at the end of the workday.
The routine of setting up the space and then packing it away is also very effective for my psychological well being, to be able to relax as I have turned the space back into the ‘living space’.
Regardless of what happens with the current Coronavirus lockdown, I imagine I may be working at home a lot more in future months anyway due to a planned career change. So I am sure my new purchases and home workspace are going to be used a lot more in the future.
Lou’s Top Tips to Create a Home Workspace in a Tiny Home
- Be creative with the furniture you already have, how can you make it multipurpose?
- Find a way to change your space from ‘work’ time to ‘home’ time to separate your work/life balance
- Think about the different parts of your day you need to cater for… phone calls, video, creativity, etc and work out how you can ensure you have a space to do each of those things
- Spend wisely, you don’t need to spend a lot to get a few key items that can help transform your home into your workplace
- Don’t stress… this is a weird time for all, remember we aren’t always working from home, but at home trying to work!
Let me know if this has been helpful and whether you have found creative ways of making use of your tiny space?