Tips for Creating a Remote Workspace in a San Francisco Bay Area Apartment

tips for creating a remote workspace in a San Francisco Bay Area apartment

With the increasing inter-connectivity of technology, remote work is becoming more and more common. Studies show that remote workers have higher rates of productivity than their office counterparts. With this trend comes the freedom to control your own schedule, make your own choices and live wherever you want. With a strong enough internet connection, you could work for a marketing agency in London while living in Alaska.

However, this amount of freedom might seem daunting. How do you pick where to live when you can live anywhere?

San Francisco offers an excellent option. The diversity of San Francisco makes the Bay Area extremely appealing to a variety of people. Whether you’re coming for the beautiful weather, chasing after a lucrative tech job or showing interest in the growing market for remote positions, San Francisco has something for you.

In this guide to working from home in San Francisco, we’ll discuss how to look for the best apartments for remote work in the Bay Area and optimize your remote work in a small apartment.

Benefits and Challenges of Working From Home in a Bay Area Apartment

The freedom to live away from your job’s headquarters gives people who normally wouldn’t find a job in the Bay Area the chance to live in San Francisco. This opportunity comes with a variety of exciting perks, like:

  • Rich history: Whether you’re admiring the Painted Ladies , seeing the Golden Gate bridge or discovering the countless museums in the area, there’s so much living and recorded history to see.
  • Vibrant communities: In the summer, it almost seems like every avenue has its own street fair. Taking part in the festivities and eating the delicious food immerses you in the San Francisco community.
  • Unparalleled weather: San Francisco boasts some of the best year-round weather in North America.
  • Natural beauty: Whether you love awe-inspiring forests, beautiful mountain vistas, gorgeous oceans or jaw-dropping canyons, the landscape surrounding the city impresses many visitors.

While there are plenty of benefits to living and working in the Bay Area, an at-home workspace in San Francisco can pose certain challenges, including:

  • Learning how to work from home in a small apartment: Trying to create a division between workspace and living space becomes complicated when you can’t afford to dedicate a whole room to an office space. However, through some creative hacks and mindset shifts, you can turn even the smallest space into an effective work environment.
  • Competing with the noises of traffic: San Francisco has some of the worst traffic in the world. As a result, the bustling and impatient honking might get distracting when you’re trying to work from home.
  • Thin walls: If you live in a cheaper residence, you might find that the landlord saved money by installing thinner walls. In such a condensed city, noisy neighbors could strain your sanity. A crying baby or an arguing couple makes concentration difficult.

what to look for during the apartment search when you work from home

What to Look for During the Apartment Search

During your remote work apartment search, there are certain work from home considerations to keep in mind in the Bay Area. Here are some key features to keep in mind when creating a work from home space in San Francisco:

  • Surroundings: When selecting an apartment, location means everything, especially when the space will double as an office. If you’re near a busy interstate or a noisy nightclub, certain times of day will make it practically impossible to focus.
  • Floor plan: How many rooms do you need? When looking at the layout, can you imagine a space where a desk would fit? Or does the floor plan accentuate distractions? If you’re living with other people, you need to pay extra attention to where you put your workspace. While the living room might have enough square footage for a desk, roommates watching TV or having their own conference calls can cause distractions. Putting offices in communal spaces can succeed or fail based on the type of people you live with.
  • Community: Which demographics live in the complex? If retired individuals live there, you’ll likely enjoy some peaceful quiet. If other working professionals live there, you can build an at-home work community, so you don’t feel as isolated. If a lot of young families live there, you might have difficulty concentrating with kids running around. On the other hand, if you have kids of your own, other families could give your children people to play with, so they can stay occupied while you work. The type of community you’re looking for depends on your life and work style.
  • Amenities: Does the complex have a gym where you can get your heart-rate up after work? Do they have a pool where you can unwind after hours? Is there a picnic area where you can enjoy lunch outside?
  • Shared spaces: Is there a communal lounge you can go work in if you need a change of scenery? Is there an outdoor patio where you can work and enjoy the San Francisco weather? Having communal spaces as options for alternative workspaces can help when you hit a creative block or productivity rut.

After you’ve narrowed down your options online, you might ask some questions during your walk-through, like:

  • What WiFi providers are available in the area? WiFi is arguably the most important work from home tool. Unfortunately, you might not realize until you move in that you only have one provider option for your area. If they have poor upload and download speeds, you could quickly get behind on your work. Know what providers you have available before you sign the lease.
  • Do you have any local coffee shops you recommend? No matter how nicely you set up your home office, it’s always nice to get out and work around other people every once in a while. If you’re in a productivity rut, having other people around could motivate you to get your work done. However, some coffee shops have a no laptop policy, so ask the property manager if they have any good suggestions for locations that will let you use their WiFi to get some work done.
  • Are there community quiet hours? In some places, quiet hours can start as early as 10:00 p.m. If you’re a night owl who loves to work into the evenings, this quiet time could give you some much-needed peace to really get some work done. On the other hand, if you’re a musician, quiet hours might severely limit your practice time.

How to Set Up a Home Office in the San Francisco Bay Area

Now that you’re all settled in, it’s time to take the space you chose and transform it into a haven of productivity. Let’s go over some tips for working from home in San Francisco.

how to set up a home office in san francisco bay area

Start with your Bay Area home office set-up to make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need to maximize space and create the right mindset for optimal productivity. Here are some things to consider when setting up a home office in a San Francisco apartment:


Think about the best place in your apartment to designate as your workspace. You need to have some area to devote solely to work. This will give you the feeling of entering and exiting your office. When you enter this space, you go into work mode. When you leave, you go into at-home mode.
Set your desk to face the wall or a window. If you’re just looking at a wall, you could be anywhere. If you face the apartment, you will see all the tasks you should be doing while you’re at home. It’s hard to concentrate on spreadsheets when you can’t stop thinking about the dishes you have to do. You need to switch between two modes of thinking since you can’t switch physical locations. Try your best to stay strict between the two mindsets.


Before you settle on a space, think about how the lighting in your apartment impacts the feel of that area. Do you like working in natural light? Does the natural light come in so sharply that you get screen glare? Do you like soft white bulbs in a desk lamp or florescent overheads?


Once you find the right space, pick out your desk. If you can’t designate a space solely to work, get a desk you can fold away at the end of the workday. If you can, get a desk and a filing cabinet or shelf where you can keep all your files in one place. If you have to get up and search the apartment for a document you need, you can easily lose focus once you leave your designated work area.


When configuring your desk set-up, imagine how you could make the space most resemble the ergonomics of an office desktop. You can buy an adjustable desk riser to raise a simple set-up into a standing desk formation without purchasing an expensive standing desk.
A laptop stand raises your laptop to eye level to decrease neck strain. With the laptop raised, you can get a wireless mouse and keypad to keep on the desk. If you need a second monitor, but don’t want to buy one, you could use a tablet you have with a stand of its own.


If you’re going to sit for hours at a time, you’ll need a chair with a comfortable seat, proper lumbar support and a supportive headrest. Spending a bit more on a nicer chair could save you trips to the chiropractor later on.

how to build an office mindset at home

How to Build an Office Mindset at Home

Once you’ve got the physical set-up completed, it’s time to start considering how to develop a routine to help you tackle your to-do list every day. Here are some tips on how to work from home in a small apartment:

1. Start Your Day With a Motivation Meditation

Since you won’t be getting in a car and physically leaving the space, you need to mentally enter into a different headspace before you begin your work for the day. You can find plenty of meditation apps or guided videos online that deal with motivation, starting the day off right and workday positivity. Centering yourself on a fixed purpose will help you begin the day reminded of what you’re working towards. Finding a sense of purpose in your work gives you the motivation you need to unlock productivity.

2. Go Through Your Morning Rituals

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you can get lazy. While some find that comfortable clothing helps them focus, wearing your slippers or pajamas could keep you in sleep mode. You don’t need to go full suit and tie — although you certainly can if that works best for you. Throwing on at least jeans and a blouse or polo puts you into a more professional work mode. Plus, you won’t have to frantically change out of a tee shirt when you get an unexpected video call.

3. Keep Your Office’s Creature Comforts

Can’t make it through your morning without a cup of coffee? Invest in a machine that will give you a better brew. Need tea to stay calm and collected? Have the same assortment that a well-stocked office kitchen would offer. Do you find joy in nature? A small plant could be just the thing to give your desk that pop of color.
Does a certain smell help get the creative juices flowing? Get a diffuser or candle warmer for your desk. Every time you smell that particular scent, see that flower or drink that beverage, your brain will enter work mode.

4. Use Physical Notes as Reminders

When working remotely in a small apartment in San Francisco, organization is essential. While alarms and phone reminders can help, taking physical notes promotes generative note-taking, which improves comprehension and memory. Physically writing out the reminder helps, but seeing the post-its also reminds you of important tasks every time you look at your desk. Checking off and tossing finished to-do lists gives you a more satisfying sense of accomplishment than clicking a checkbox online.

5. Take Short Walking and Stretching Breaks

Be sure to schedule small breaks into your day. You could take a lap around your apartment, head outside for a brisk walk or do some quick yoga poses before sitting back down. Getting your blood pumping for a few minutes could give you that natural jolt of energy you need to bypass that morning or afternoon slump. If you notice your eyelids growing heavy, take a quick standing break as needed. Scheduling them ahead of time helps you beat the drops in productivity before they happen.

find a home and office in the san francisco bay area at marcotte properties

Find a Home and Office at Marcotte Properties

Whether you’re new to the area or need a change of scenery, Marcotte Properties offers apartments that are a great fit for remote workers. From our Berry Tree Apartments located within a grove of redwoods to our Timberlane’s suburban ambiance, we have the perfect San Francisco apartments for remote workers. If you’re curious about a new apartment or want to learn more about one of our properties, contact us today to get started finding your next home.

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Not to also mention that the maintenance is amazing and always kept up. I’d recommend anyone looking for a cute apartment to move here☺️

Angela D. , Timberlane Apartments