As millions of Canadians get settled into their newly set-up home offices, more and more workers and employers are starting to realize the advantages of working from home. 

For many of those who live in major cities like Toronto and have grown accustomed to long daily commutes, a home office in your apartment is a welcome change that offers newfound freedom and flexibility. It frees up time and energy that can then be spent on healthier activities that offer more value than riding public transportation or finding parking downtown.

If you're transitioning to a work-from-home setup, one of our tips to help you get started is to establish a designated area as your workstation. Making working from home work for you is easy when your apartment has the proper space for the job—one that strikes a balance between your workload and your home life. To help you create just that, we've put together a few strategies for setting up a workspace in any average Toronto rental that's conducive to keeping you focused, motivated and productive.

1. Choosing your space.

Whether you have 1 bedroom or 3, the same rule applies: find a place that is quiet and somewhat secluded. 

The living room or dining area can be a good spot if you're not living with family or roommates and the room can accommodate your office desk—or perhaps there's plenty of space on the kitchen table for a makeshift office. On the other hand, if you're living in a shared apartment, your distraction-free options might be limited to your own bedroom.  

You can convert pretty much any flat surface into a desk, but the most ideal option would be a space with easy access to electrical outlets and good lighting. Setting up your home office by a window will provide you with plenty of the latter as well as some fresh air. Make sure the space has overhead lighting and consider adding a desk lamp to create a well-lit home space that won't cause you any eye strain.

2. Getting comfortable.

The slightest bit of discomfort can make it hard to stay productive. To create a truly comfortable and effective work environment, consider your previous office setup. If the old workspace didn't cause any aches and pains, think about its best qualities and try to emulate those. 

Choosing a work surface:

  • Make sure that when you're seated, the surface is close to elbow height. 
  • When you're working, your elbows should be close to your side with your forearms parallel to the floor.

It's also important to pay attention to where and how you sit. If you have yet to find a cushioned office chair that would look good in your Toronto penthouse or fit the space of a smaller apartment, a height-appropriate dining chair is the next best thing. 

Choosing an office chair:

  • When you lean back on your chair, your eyeline should be facing the upper third of the monitor. 
  • Your elbow and your thighs should be parallel to the floor. 

A good office chair offers comfort when you sit and allows you to rest your feet snugly on the floor, or if you prefer, on a footrest.

3. Adding more furniture and appliances.

Throwing in some office essentials will help to establish your new work territory and jumpstart your productivity. 

Noise-cancelling headphones, a cellphone stand and desk organizers are just some examples of tools that will make it easy to turn work mode on. If the space that you've chosen isn't near an outlet, an extension cord should come in handy. A room divider would also be useful for separating your home office from the rest of the room, helping to keep your workspace and personal space separate. Drawing the line between your home office and the rest of your living space is key to achieving and maintaining work-life balance.

4. Staying Organized

Once you have established the space for your computer and its peripherals, it should be easy to designate specific areas for all other office supplies and arrange everything accordingly. Remember to position all materials by frequency of use, with items that are used on a daily basis within easy reach. If your lamps and computer equipment have loose cables and wires that tangle and crisscross the floor and clutter your desk, you will need to do some organizing. Simple twist ties, velcro cable ties, and plastic zip ties are all useful for bundling cords together and keeping them from harm's way.

Perhaps another advantage of working from home is the opportunity to add all sorts of personal touches to your work area. Nothing can boost your mood and reenergize you back from the afternoon slump quite like the sight of a happy photo or a knick-knack with sentimental value.

However, one downside to filling up your workspace with personal items is that this runs the risk of making it a bit too cluttered and distracting. To keep this from happening, just go easy on the decor and put more energy into creating a comfortable home office that includes all the essential tools for accomplishing your tasks and making the most of each day at work. And if your apartment is on the small side, be sure to check out our tips for maximizing your living space and making your home more office-ready.