Skip to main content
6 ways to create a remote office that works for you
Share on socials

6 ways to create a remote office that works for you

A headshot of Simon Kirrane
Simon Kirrane
9th May, 2024
A coffee mug on a desk next to a laptop showing a colourful Confluence page
A headshot of Simon Kirrane
Simon Kirrane
9th May, 2024
Jump to section
What is a remote office?
The history of remote offices
Is the beach the new desk?
6 things to consider

The office is no longer just a building - it's a place we create ourselves. Discover how to design a remote office that lets you work anywhere.

Creating a remote office is more than just getting a swivel chair and calling it a day. In this article, you'll discover that the space where you work is connected to your motivation, inspiration, and output. Here's everything you need to know about creating a remote office that gets you working.

Looking for a remote collaboration tool? Learn why Confluence is perfect for remote teams.

What is a remote office?

A remote office is a working space outside of the traditional workplace. Dedicated remote offices can be set up in a room at home or in a co-working space. Instead of commuting to a physical office, a remote office lets team members do their jobs from anywhere.

The history of remote offices

Remote work has been a long time coming, but the commute to a workspace has been king for many years. The separation of home and work down to the shift from feudalism to capitalism and the rise of mass transit meant that travelling to work was the norm for many of us.

Yet there was interest in working remotely as early as the 1970s. In 1979, five IBM employees were allowed to work from home (WFH) as an experiment. By 1983, the experiment was expanded to 2,000 people and in the same decade, it was said that ‘second offices were more popular than second homes’.

Yet in the early 1980s, only 1.5% of those in employment reported working ‘mainly’ at home. By 2019, regular homeworking (around three days a week) had tripled to 4.7% and to 5.7% in early 2020, still very small numbers, considering the huge advancements in technology.

The huge turning point was February 2020, when the pandemic saw this figure skyrocket to a staggering 43.1%. Now, for many knowledge workers, an office is no longer a building we go to, but a space we create ourselves.
A newspaper article showing a picture of a home office setup in 1983
A 1983 story in Pacific magazine looked at the latest in Seattle-area home offices. (Courtesy of The Seattle Times)

Is the beach the new desk?

A remote office is no longer a desk, either. New technologies, smarter-than-ever smartphones, and global Wi-Fi have stretched and reshaped the possibilities of where to work. Digital nomads may work on laptops on the beaches of Bali and beyond, and stats from January 2024 show that 17.4% of people work from home in the UK, an incredible increase of 2.73 million people since 1998.

Wondering how to create a remote office on a sun lounger? Nomadic working may be for you but don't jump in unless your eyes are wide open, as the world is still far from being set up for a nomadic lifestyle. Long leases, bills, storage, and the realities of bureaucracy around health care, financial services, VISAs, and education mean that for most of us, a remote office is not likely to be on a sun lounger permanently but is closer to a traditional office's layout. Let’s get that set up perfectly.

Read more: The best destinations for digital nomads

How to create a remote office space: 6 considerations

Ready to create a remote office? It’s important to plan thoughtfully with work at the forefront. With that in mind, let’s discuss how to get your remote office space right the first time.

1. Choose the right location

The space you choose matters! Feng shui dictates that your workspace or desk be in a command position so you can see the door without being directly in line with it. This position symbolises control and security. You also want to ensure the desk is balanced and not cramped. Experiment with various options, such as folding desks, single desks, and angled desks, or make space at an existing table.

The only rule? If it’s at home and it’s related to work, you need a way to pack it away, hide it, or lock it up! Shut a door, throw a blanket over a desktop, even pack everything into a suitcase and wheel it somewhere else if you must.

You also need to consider the placement of your space:
  • Noise levels
  • Movement (is it too close to a walkway or window?)
  • Connectivity/signal
  • Sound quality
  • Light levels
  • Air sources

Your attic may sound spacious, but it could become depressing if you haven't considered all the elements of a comfy remote office.

2. Add in natural elements

We promise we won't get too stuck on Feng shui, but the guidance on how to use all five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water) in your remote office surroundings is interesting. We particularly recommend adding wood and water elements. Take a look at these stats:
  • Using wooden furniture led to fewer sick days, less illness, and even faster recovery from sickness (Biophilia Hypothesis study).

  • 82% of workers who had eight or more wooden surfaces in their workplace were considerably happier (Canberra University).

  • In a study, blood pressure and heart rate were lower when participants looked at water instead of ground or trees (UC Davis Arboretum).

3. Make adjustments to your processes

In the book Atomic Habits, habit stacking is recommended as a solid route to engaging with new healthy habits. At your office, you may have habits such as making tea and chatting with a colleague, walking to the station in the fresh air, or going into a different space for a brainstorming session for peace and quiet. Changing this can lead to unwanted surprises, such as feeling lonely or constantly disrupted.

Consider making some habit stacks of your own when thinking about how to create a remote office.
  • When you make tea, you text a colleague you like or do some star jumps.
  • When you get a call, you stand up.
  • You place yourself into Do Not Disturb or Focus mode when needed.
  • You open a window to get some fresh air or take a lunchtime walk.
  • You eat healthy meals with intention (no cereal from a box).

4. Use tools to boost productivity

An analysis of data collected through March 2021 found that nearly six out of 10 workers reported being more productive working from home than they expected to be.

The key to productivity is often in the tools and systems you have in place. Is it easy to jump into work? Are distractions removed? Are you comfortable?

Consider the following for your remote office:
  1. Pomodoro timer
  2. Noise-cancelling headphones
  3. Social media blocker
  4. Remote doorbells or signs for delivery drivers to not disturb you

5. Create a visually inspiring space

Creating a remote office means considering how you want to work and why you do so. The ‘why’ of your reason to work can be a powerful motivator. Photos of your babies, fur babies, or family can help, or simply a poster or artwork that makes you feel something.

  • Quotes from a favourite book printed and stuck on your desktop.
  • Home comforts like a box of tissues, a great water cup, trinkets, and treasures.
  • Premium stationery in colours you like.
  • A desk tidy to keep your workspace clutter-free.
  • Plants or flowers - the University of Sydney found that tension and anxiety fell 37% and fatigue reduced 38% after plants were dotted around workspaces. A NASA Clean Air study also showed that plants remove toxins from the air, so pop one near your printer.

6. Look after your health

The benefits of a remote office and a reduced commute will be eliminated if you spend that time further wedged into a chair.

Sitting is the new smoking, with a study of over 90,000 women linking sedentary lifestyles with heart disease, so it’s important to treat a remote office as a way to enhance your health, not to forget all about it because you aren’t forced to walk to a meeting room.

Some questions to ask yourself:
  • Are you moving? We average 4-9 hours on our bottoms, so make it a great chair or get up. A standing desk is another great option. One study showed that introducing sit-stand desks in the workplace reported an average reduction in sitting time of 100 minutes per day.

  • Do you have enough natural light? Are you under harsh light? Could you get closer to a window or add a different bulb to a desk lamp? Studies show that people who sit near windows or near daylight have fewer sleep disturbances at night, sleep 46 minutes more per night, and are more physically active during the day.

  • Is your remote office the right temperature? Are you wondering how to create a remote office that enhances creativity? One study showed that people are more creative at 22 degrees. Being cosy can also keep you away from the biscuit tin, as those who felt colder ate more calories at lunchtime than those in warmer workspaces, according to the study ‘Warm Ambient Temperature Decreases’.

Ready to get the remote office of your dreams?

Creating a remote office goes beyond the physical setup; it's about connecting the workspace to motivation, inspiration, and productivity and what that means for you.

You might want a space that is clinical and clear or bright and buzzy. When you get it right, you’ll have productivity as standard, so design it thoughtfully to make your remote workspace work for you.

Looking to tidy up Confluence spaces too?

Improve page structure and layout with tabs, collapsible sections, and more from Content Formatting Macros for Confluence.
Written by
A headshot of Simon Kirrane
Simon Kirrane
Senior Content Marketing Manager
With a 20-year career in content marketing, Simon has represented a range of international brands. His current specialism is the future of work and work management. Simon is skilled at launching content pipelines, establishing powerful brands, and crafting innovative content strategies.

LinkedIn →
Future of Work