The Coronavirus (COVID-19) caused a nationwide shift to remote working, and as a result, millions of people had to figure out how to work while still being in the comfort of their homes for the very first time. It totally changed the country!

Do you find yourself in that group of people suddenly out of the office? You can make it a smooth transition by using the things you have around your house. It just takes a little creativity, and you won’t have to buy a thing!

Here are a few working from home tips that will help save you money:

  • Use supplies from your junk drawer
  • Grab HDMI cords & USB cables
  • Transform odds & ends into storage bins
  • Create a makeshift desk
  • Set up a mouse pad
  • Make your chair comfortable
  • Move around lamps and/or open the curtains
  • Keep sanitizer nearby

#1: Use Supplies From Your Junk Drawer

It’s times like these when random pens that you grab from job fairs, colleges, and reception desks are total lifesavers. Dig in your junk drawer, and you could also unearth other goodies that you completely forgot you had lying around.  

You should be able to find all of the following around the house:

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • 3-hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Notepads
  • Tape
  • Mini staplers
  • Sharpies
  • Dry erase board & markers

Are you missing something? A quick trip to the dollar store ought to do the trick! You can then store your writing utensils in a cup, and put the little things in a used mint tin or other small container. Just be sure to have everything you need in arm’s reach!

“I’m lucky to have pre-K kids who are proud owners of a gigantic supply of sharpies, felt pens, and pencils of all kinds. I scavenged through their supplies and got a pretty nice collection to use for writing down the plans and to-do lists.”
– Jovan Milenkovic, Co-Founder of Kommando Tech

#2:  Grab HDMI Cords & USB Cables

HDMI cords and USB cables are always useful to have on hand. Most laptops use them, and they’re also good for video games, TVs, and other tech devices.

You probably already have an old monitor or TV sitting in your garage or basement collecting dust. Wipe it off, hook it up to your main computer with spare HDMI cords, and you’ve got yourself a second monitor. The USB cables, meanwhile, can keep you at full charge so you don’t have to worry about randomly losing power!

#3: Transform Odds & Ends Into Storage

The jars, shoeboxes, and other bins you’ve got lying around your house can become your new file cabinets! You’re finding a new use for these things, and proving to your spouse that you don’t have a hoarding problem at the same time. Double win!

Make your life easier by sticking on labels or writing directly on the containers with a black Sharpie. You’re making do with what you have available, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

#4: Create a Makeshift Desk

Now’s not the time to get fancy. If you’re only working from home on a temporary basis, use a table you already have to create a desk. A folding table, dining room table, or kitchen island are perfect in a pinch!

People have also reported using the following as a temporary desk:

  • Ironing board
  • Clothing dresser
  • Mattress
  • Wooden plank
  • Ottoman
  • Coffee table
  • Food tray
  • Couch

Are you working from home permanently? You may want to consider organizing a little nook or room specifically for work. Apps like OfferUp, Letgo, and the Facebook Marketplace sell gently used desks for a lower price.

#5: Set Up a Mouse Pad

You probably use a laptop and not a full-blown desktop with a mouse. With that in mind, you might not have a mouse pad lying around at home. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative options out there!

Use a couple books or magazines instead. If you’re really desperate, you can even use the pizza box from the takeout you ordered last night. No one’s judging you.

#6: Make Your Chair Comfortable

Do you not have an office chair? Grab a chair from your kitchen, or whatever else you have available, and make it a little more cozy.

What you’ll need:

  • Tape measure
  • Fabric (try bedsheets, blankets, or beach towels)
  • Safety pins

Here’s how to make temporary chair covers:

  • Step One: Measure the chair.
  • Step Two: Find a piece of fabric that will cover the chair from top to bottom.
  • Step Three:  Take the two loose ends of the fabric and tie a bow behind the chair.
  • Step Four:  Close the opening in the back using the safety pins.
  • Step Five:  Tuck in any extra fabric and pop a squat.

Step One: Measure the Chair

Use a measuring tape to figure out an approximate width and height for your chair. It doesn’t have to be too precise.

Step Two:  Find the Fabric

Find a bedsheet, blanket, or towel that’s about the same size. It’s better for it to be bigger as you can tuck away any extra material later.

Step Three:  Tie in the Back

Take the two top corners and tie the fabric into a bow in the back of the chair. You don’t want it to be too tight or it might pull when you actually sit down.

Step Four:  Stick With Safety Pins

Hold together the bottom half of the fabric with safety pins. Again, you don’t want this to be too tight, but just snug enough to keep the fabric closed.

Step Five:  Tuck and Sit

Pop a squat and see how your chair is working for you, You can tuck in any extra fabric at this time, or just let it hang loose. 

The thicker the fabric, the more cozy you’ll be sitting in the chair. You can also make actual seat covers if you want a DIY project, or simply put a throw pillow behind your back and call it a day.

Another option is to take a walk on garbage day and see if anyone in the neighborhood is getting rid of a nice office chair. It might seem gross, but one person’s trash is another’s treasure!

Since I don’t have an office chair, I am using a dining room chair with a pillow behind my back, and to protect my tender posterior, an upholstered ‘doughnut.’”
– Varda Epstein, Writer for Kars 4 Kids

#7:  Move Around Lights And/Or Open the Curtains

Our bodies need light to keep our internal clocks in check. Go ahead and stay in your pajamas, but open up the curtains or bring a floor lamp close to you so you know it’s morning and time to work.

The line between work and play can get blurred if you don’t take some time to set up your space. Good lighting is a step in the right direction. Plus, it will make you feel more energized and ready to tackle the day ahead.

#8: Keep Sanitizer Nearby

After getting up to get a snack or go to the bathroom, disinfect with a few spritzes of hand sanitizer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend one that contains at least 60% alcohol content

Hand sanitizers are good when you’re in the groove, of if your bathroom or kitchen is far away. You can keep working, and don’t have to worry about getting sick. Don’t forget to also keep a box of tissues and a garbage can nearby.

Final Thoughts

The suggestions above work best if you’re only working from home for a short amount of time. Are you moving and keeping the same job? How about having a baby and working from home permanently? You should dig in your wallet and invest in a good, functional workspace with a real desk and not a pizza box for a mouse pad.

Hopefully another pandemic doesn’t happen in our lifetimes, but it’s always good to be prepared for any situation. You never know when you’ll have to adjust and work from home again in the future!

References

Naik, A. (2011, January 12). How Light Affects Your Health. Retrieved from, https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/healthy-living/wellbeing/a10639/how-light-affects-your-health/

Sew Kit Kat. (2020, February 7). How to Make Chair Covers Without Sewing. Retrieved from, https://www.sewkitkit.com/how-to-make-chair-covers-without-sewing/

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over three years of experience in the industry. Her passion for writing has led to a BA in English & Communications from Aurora University and work published for the Advertising Specialty Institute and The Bolingbrook Sun Times.