The idea of a home office has been around for quite some time now. Many professionals like lawyers, interior designers, writers, architects and small time business owners work from their home offices. Latest technology, plus smart phones permit telecommuting and video conferencing from the comforts of your home.
The benefits are many. You can avoid long commutes to work. You can devote time to your business needs/job and your family by proper time management. Besides all this, you can save up on operational costs and utilize the money saved on rent for expanding your business. Money saved on operational costs also allows you to charge lower service fees than your competitors.
The point is — to make sure your professionalism is not affected by the relaxed atmosphere at home or by the close proximity to your family. You certainly wouldn’t appreciate the idea of changing diapers, for example, or handling kids’ fights in the middle of a business call, would you?
Let see how we can set up a professional home office that meets all your business needs and helps you avoid the oh-so-common pitfalls.
Organization and Setup of a Home Office
1. Set aside a separate area for your home office. It could be an attic, outbuilding, garage space or simply a partitioned area of a large living room.
2. Basic hardware needed would be a computer, a wi-fi internet connection, a printer, a scanner, a copier and a fax machine. Depending on how big your business needs are, you may buy or rent any or all of these.
3. Avoid distractions in your work area, like a music system (editor note: debatable) and television. Only office equipment and material must be present here.
4. Get organized; stack correspondences and other material in neat file cabinets. Set up a work schedule taking into account your productivity cycles. Take necessary breaks and surf the internet only for business needs. Stop lingering on social networking sites without a valid reason. Check your email at fixed times.
Cut out on phone bills by switching to internet calling using Skype or similar software.
5. Child proof your home office. Hire a care giver for babies and small kids. This increases your productivity and lowers stress levels.
6. Your home office must not encourage extensive after-work hours. Make sure you set limits to taking calls from clients after work hours. And yes, lock the door behind you with all work related issues inside, after work.
Home Office Design (Decor)
The key considerations with designing a home office are privacy (especially for client meetings), comfortable and efficient furniture, proper lighting, and sufficient storage options.
Define a waiting area for clients by using partitions. Use a semi partition or a full-length divider made of frosted glass, wood, aluminum, acrylic, or even gypsum. Glass partitions let in natural light, reducing the need for artificial lights during daytime.
Demarcate 3 activity zones – 1) Immediate work area for your workstation. 2) Reference area for your books, magazines etc. 3) A storage area for office supplies, file cabinets etc. This will save you a lot of time.
Plan your office depending on the available space. For small spaces, make optimum use of wall and floor spaces. Use vertical storage options and multipurpose, modular furniture. Pull out desks within wall cabinets can be used as work desks when needed. When not in use, you can slide them back into the wall cabinet. Use foldable chairs. This keeps your work area clear and makes the space appear larger.
Add some greens – like a small potted indoor plant that does not require much watering. Use invigorating wall colors and some inspiring art work to adorn the walls.
Proper planning and design can transform a mundane workplace at home to a functional and attractive home office that lets you telecommute, meet clients, and (especially) run a profitable business from it.
Note from the hosts:
Thanks out to Bethany for her thoughts. I wish her the best as she works from home.
For more reading on Home Offices:
- Check this fascinating post, the result of a trend toward downsizing >> the Closet Office.
- Or stay right here and explore our categories Home Office and Home Office Remodeling.
- For more on Design or the Pros we Know, see those categories also there.
Love to hear your thoughts too. Feel free to leave a comment below. ~jb