How to Set Up a Home Office Primed for Productivity

Time Several Hours

Budget $ $$$

Skill Level

WORDS BY Gillian Grefe

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Published on May 12, 2020

Havenly and Yahoo are working together to provide creative tips and inspiration for making the most of what matters right now: your home. The space you’re living, working, and playing in. Follow along as we share easy ways to add structure, sanity, and a smile to our new stay-at-home realities. And for more overall well-being tips, check out Yahoo Life, too.

By now, you’d think we’d all be old pros on how to work from home effectively. But between the kids, the constant company of quarantine companions and being stuck at home for what seems like the millionth week in a row, you might actually be missing your normal office space. It’s weird, we know.

But just because you can’t necessarily escape to the office doesn’t mean you can’t bring the essence of the office to you. We’ve partnered with Yahoo to bring you a guide for creating a beautiful, productive space—plus a few tips on actually staying productive—so you can confidently face down your Monday. Major home office inspo, right this way.

You don’t need an entire room to create a home office—all you need is a small space designated strictly for work during work hours. You’ll want a place or piece of furniture where you can comfortably place your computer, because contrary to its name, laptops can get dang annoying on laps. 

To create a temporary home office, invest in double-duty furniture that goes from home office to just plain home when this is all over (bonus: you can still use these pieces on any future work-from-home days). 

For example, this brass bistro table works as the perfect laptop perch for now, yet will transition neatly to an outdoor patio table when you head back to the office. Our designers love this rolling console table—it makes for an ideal at home desk, but can also be used as a media console or floating kitchen island.

Once you select a designated space and key piece of furniture, just add light. Lighting is an important element of every productive work-from home-space—it helps create and enhance the mood while setting the stage for more flattering Zoom meetings

But that doesn’t mean brighter is always better. It’s important to have enough light that you’re not straining your eyes, but having a lamp with a shade creates a softer glow and a better sense of calm while also enhancing all your best features during an important video meeting. A sleek table lamp with a crisp, white shade can easily go from work desk to nightstand when we’re back in the real world.

You can also create a feng shui home office layout to further boost your focus. While there are many tenets of feng shui, some of the basics include placing your workspace so that your back doesn’t face a door and adding air-purifying plants like the ultra-low maintenance sansevieria, or snake plant. 


Setting and communicating clear boundaries is critical for work from home success. Let your roommates, family, or partner know how to respect your work time by having a discussion on what this looks like—when your work hours are, when it’s appropriate to have conversations, and how to balance any other obligations like virtual learning, childcare, and cooking meals.

Don’t forget to respect your own boundaries, too: stop checking emails and Slack at a certain time of the evening, turn off your phone and social media the hour leading up to bedtime for better sleep, and minimize distractions during your work time, workout time, and even free time. Don’t be afraid to say no when necessary.

Eclectic / Bohemian Interior Design by Elizabeth

Breaks are key to workday productivity. Taking frequent, small pauses lets you return to your projects refreshed and more focused.

Try not to eat at your desk. It encourages unhealthy snacking and mindless eating habits while preventing you from taking real and necessary breaks. Get up, move to the kitchen table (or remove your laptop from the kitchen table) and take at least 20 minutes to sit and enjoy a meal. Your brain—and your body—will thank you. On the other hand, be sure to drink plenty of water! Hydration boosts energy levels and brain function, while also creating built-in bathroom breaks to get up and stretch your legs.

Having a cozy corner that invites relaxation will help you indulge in some quality self-care. Designate the couch or a comfy chair as your space to unwind. Then at day’s end, light a candle, cuddle up in this CB2 throw blanket and read a good book, or order some takeout and pour the wine in a snazzy wine glass to help the stressors of the day dissipate.

Taking time for just yourself during this time will help you stay sane—and ultimately helps boost productivity at work. Remember the analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others? We can’t show up 100 percent every day if we aren’t taking care of ourselves.

The toughest part of working from home is the lack of boundaries around work time and personal time. With ever-present access to email, Slack, phones, and computers, and no real leaving-the-office commute (besides from the couch to the pantry), we have to work extra hard to designate a “shutdown time” for the evening. 

Give yourself a realistic log-out time at the end of the day—and stick to it. When that time nears, give yourself 20–30 minutes to tie up any loose ends, scan your calendar for the following day, communicate to your team you’re signing off for the night, and close the computer and walk away. 

If you’re still having trouble transitioning from workday to night, try a 10-minute meditation (available for free on the Calm App) to signal to your mind, it’s quittin’ time! Then, continue on to your evening, whether with a rejuvenating workout, a happy hour cocktail, or connecting with friends and family.

Words by Avery Johnson