How to get the ultimate home office, according to 4 CEOs who work remotely

InVision CEO Clark Valberg’s home office. [Photo: courtesy Clark Valberg]

InVision CEO Clark Valberg’s home office. [Photo: courtesy Clark Valberg]

If you commute to an office every day, working from home is the ultimate perk. But some companies have transitioned completely away from headquarters and have workforces that are entirely remote. Some workplace experts are even calling remote work the “new normal.”

At a completely remote company, everyone in the organization—even the CEO—has to carve out a space in their home in which to work (or find a lenient coffee shop). Fast Company spoke to four CEOs who head up these remote companies—Jason Fried of Basecamp, Clark Valberg of InVision, Sara Sutton of FlexJobs, and Zack Onisko of Dribbble—about how they designed their personal headquarters for one. Spoiler alert: There are no pajamas involved.

GET YOURSELF A DOOR (OR TWO)

Having some way to separate your home life from your work life is a key element of any home office, according to every CEO Fast Company spoke with.

Jason Fried, the CEO and cofounder of the project management company Basecamp, designed an entirely separate floor in his house for his and his wife’s home offices. As a result, he has created a mini commute for himself when it’s time to go to work: He heads up the stairs to his office, and closes the door. But there’s also another door to the stairwell, giving him an extra partition from the rest of the house. “I wanted to create a mental gap or break between home and work as best I could,” he says.

Same goes for Clark Valberg, CEO and cofounder of the digital design platform InVision. While he doesn’t have two doors, he emphasizes another important feature that enforces the distinction between home and office: “I have a door that locks,” he says. “I think it’s important when you work from home you get in the habit of locking the door every time you walk in [to your office].”

The idea is to prevent distractions, like Valberg’s two children, though he takes time during the day to hang out with both of them. He sees his son when he gets home from school, but he can see his 2-year-old daughter anytime. “It’s great to be able to pop over and see her—much better than an office cat,” Valberg says. “Less hairy, more diaper changes.”

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CEOs aren’t your average worker—after all, not everyone can afford their own custom-designed house, let alone an extra room that could be a dedicated office space. For Sara Sutton, the CEO and founder of the remote work recruitment company FlexJobs, there are other ways to create that distance. “If you can’t have a door, it’s a screen—some psychological separation from where you work and where you sleep,” she says.

Sutton herself has a dedicated office, one she created by putting up a wall in her house’s guest bedroom. Her children’s desks are in there as well. “I want them to have the same sense of differentiation [from when they’re] in front of the computer and when they’re not,” she says.

CEOs aren’t your average worker—after all, not everyone can afford their own custom-designed house, let alone an extra room that could be a dedicated office space. For Sara Sutton, the CEO and founder of the remote work recruitment company FlexJobs, there are other ways to create that distance. “If you can’t have a door, it’s a screen—some psychological separation from where you work and where you sleep,” she says.

Sutton herself has a dedicated office, one she created by putting up a wall in her house’s guest bedroom. Her children’s desks are in there as well. “I want them to have the same sense of differentiation [from when they’re] in front of the computer and when they’re not,” she says.

CEOs aren’t your average worker—after all, not everyone can afford their own custom-designed house, let alone an extra room that could be a dedicated office space. For Sara Sutton, the CEO and founder of the remote work recruitment company FlexJobs, there are other ways to create that distance. “If you can’t have a door, it’s a screen—some psychological separation from where you work and where you sleep,” she says.

Sutton herself has a dedicated office, one she created by putting up a wall in her house’s guest bedroom. Her children’s desks are in there as well. “I want them to have the same sense of differentiation [from when they’re] in front of the computer and when they’re not,” she says.