If you do not have the luxury of a separate room that you can use as a home office, you can not just close a door and walk away at the end of the working day. But you can (and should) replicate that feeling, no matter where your home office is located.
Working from home means no commuting and more flexibility to work the way you want. But it can also blur the boundaries between work and home in unhealthy ways. If you can hide your home office when work is over, it will help you keep those boundaries clear and healthy.
Let̵7;s look at why this is important and how you can make it happen.
The benefits of hiding your home office
When you leave the office and go home, or even close the door of an office in your home, you create a physical boundary between “work” and “home.” This in turn signals to your brain that work is over and you can relax completely.
But if your home office is the dining table or a corner of the living room, it is always present. You do not leave a building or close an office door, so you never give yourself the signal that the work is done for the day.
This can make it harder to prevent work from creeping into your personal life. Sure, most of us have had to send the odd midnight message or put in an excessively long workday. But if you always check work messages during dinner or return to the desk to do “just one more thing”, you’re on your way to burnout.
Ideally, working from home should be a benefit, not a job, and a home office you can hide or put away can help you keep it that way. Your office is a visual reminder of work, so when it’s visible, it’s easier to keep it thoughtless and enjoy your personal time.
5 ways to hide a home office
Let us now go into some ways you can create a distinction between your work and your personal time if you do not have a separate room for it.
Create a visual border
If you use a section in an existing room such as your office, you only need one way to block that section from view when you are not at work. As a bonus, a visual barrier can also give you more privacy while you work.
A room divider is an easy option because you can move it if you still decide where your home office should be. But if you have settled in one place, a room divider curtain is a more semi-permanent option.
Another method is to arrange the furniture so that it creates a border. Every large piece, such as a sofa, bookshelf or even a tall one, can create a “wall” to hide the office space from view.
Convert a closet or a hook
If you have stairs, is there a faucet or closet under them? If so, this space may be perfect for a hidden home office. Just add the desk and chair and hang some curtains if there is no door. When the work is done and the door closes or the curtains are closed, you do not even think about that space.
You can do this with any random faucet or unused cabinet in your home. Because these spaces are already out of the way, they are easy to hide and ignore when you are not working. In a small closet, you may need to leave the door open to accommodate a chair while you work. However, you can move it when you are not working so that you can close the door.
Use a folding or hidden desk
If your home is small, you may not want to sacrifice part of a room to be used as an office. In that case, a folding desk is the perfect solution. Then you can set up your home office only when you need it. Setting up your desk every day creates a clear boundary between home and work hours.
A concealed desk, such as a murphy or roller coaster, is another option. This type of desk has a permanent place, but you can easily hide all work-related things by just closing it when you are not using it.
Pack a work bag
You can also hide your home office by simply unpacking all your papers, electronics and work materials at the end of each day.
Get yourself a nice, big cloth bag with a bunch of compartments so you can keep everything organized. Add everything you use when you work from home there, such as your laptop, planner and small office supplies.
Take everything out at the beginning of your work day and arrange it on your desk. At the end of the day, just unpack everything in your bag and put it out of sight. This helps prevent you from being tempted to work during your free time.
This is a great way to hide work from yourself, especially if you work in a versatile space, such as the kitchen. It even allows you to use a regular desk for other purposes when you are not working.
Unpacking every day also ensures that your work materials remain organized. Another bonus is a bag that makes it easy to take your work outside on nice days because everything you need is already packed and ready to go.
Use a wheelbarrow or cloth box
A trolley with wheels with shelves or drawers is another way to make your home office portable and easy to remove. When your work day is over, just put your goods on the cart and roll it somewhere out of sight, like a closet.
If you are not using enough things to fill multiple shelves, a toto box is another option. If your necessities are really minimal, just place them in a box at the end of each day.
If your workspace is always visible, you may be constantly tempted to take care of one last little thing. Sometimes this can lead to hours of extra work and make it impossible to enjoy your downtime.
Making your home office invisible at the end of the workday will help you avoid this trap. Without your office staring you in the face, you get the mental break we all need to feel updated and focused when it’s time to start working again.