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Setting Up Your Work At Home Office

Your office for a home business is a place that will reflect your professionalism. It is a place where you are the boss and organizing it well will improve your productivity.

It should not just be a makeshift area. It needs to be a place that you are comfortable in, physically and emotionally, and where you can function effectively.

Designing Your Home Office – Considerations

  1. What are you using the office for?
    Home Office Design Ideas

    • How you will use this space. Is it just for working in, taking calls, doing paperwork and filing?
    • Or will you be meeting clients in your office, having group meetings or deliveries to your office?
    • This will determine the size of your office and its location.
  2. Where in your home is the best place for an office?
    • It needs to be a suitable designated area without noise or distractions; ideally, a room with a door that can be shut when you are working.
    • This way you can separate your home from your business too.
  3. What equipment, furniture and storage are you going to need?
    • Listing your equipment, furniture and storage requirements prior to setting up you home office will assist you in deciding how big a space you will need.

The Basic Requirements For An Office Are:

  1. Desk or work surface, comfortable chair and lighting,
  2. A computer, printer, fax machine, scanner and telephone to communicate with your clients, and
  3. Storage space.

How Do You Organize Your Work Space To Suit Your Working Style?

    • Organizing your work space will increase your efficiency and productivity. Working in a cluttered messy office or spending time looking for files is time consuming, frustrating, unproductive and will not impress your clients. A clean organized office creates a productive atmosphere.

Do you have the necessary permits or licenses? For more information regarding zoning laws, visit home-based business zoning laws.

Small Home Office Design Ideas

  • Explore the pros and cons of different areas in your home before deciding on the location of your office.
  • Look at the year round conditions of the location you have chosen, for example, it may be great in winter but have full sun in summer.
  • Does it have adequate temperature control for you to work in comfortably year round?
  • Is there good ventilation? You do not want to work in a stuffy room.
  • Make sure you have proper lighting to meet your needs.
  • Do you have a sufficient number of electrical outlets and phone jacks? Are they in the correct locations for your office set up?
  • Do not just grab the cheapest desk as it may not have the space and versatility you need. You do not need to buy a very expensive good looking desk either. Decide if you need a desk with drawers, which side the drawers need to be, how much desk space you need, does it need to be a corner desk and then look for a suitable practical desk.
  • If you are prepared to spend a little more, then buy the best office chair you can afford. You will be spending a lot of time in this chair so it needs to be comfortable, functional and have good back support.
  • You can never have enough storage space. Utilize the walls for shelving and make sure you have enough space for filing cabinets and additional storage for your supplies.
  • To establish credibility and trust with your clients, you need good communication. Get advice on what services you will need (voicemail, forwarding service, best phone system for your business, reliable email service, customer relationship management (CRM), voice over internet protocol (VOIP), online file backup service, etc.) Pick the ones that will make your business more efficient.
  • Plan the use of your space but add some personal touches with wall colors, lighting, accessories and plants. You want to create an environment that is inviting and makes you feel comfortable and motivated (you want to go to work), but not too cozy as you will never get any work done!

10 Tips On How To Improve Your Home Office Efficiency

  1. To avoid distractions, make sure your office has a door, wear headphones (added benefit of free hands), and set up and manage a weekly list of your “to do” things.
  2. Manage your time by setting office hours. This gets you into a regular rhythm of working a set number of hours per day.
  3.  Have a separate business address. This helps to legally separate your home from your business and gives your business a more professional appearance.
  4. Have a separate business phone number. Clients may want to contact you at odd hours and expect to be able to leave a message. Having a separate business number is more professional and will not impact on your family life.
  5. Make sure you have an adequate supply of office items by keeping a list of all your requirements and buying in advance. Organize, store and manage your office supplies so that you do not suddenly find you have run out of staples or paper.
  6. Use color-coding for your filing – it is easier to see and find.
  7. Make a list of good meeting places for when you have to meet customers face to face.
  8. Your computer/s need to be adequate for your business needs. Add security software and back up regularly to avoid any disasters.
  9. Have a backup plan for possible power outages, electronic failures or lost essential items, for example a UPS (unlimited power supply) battery backup for your computer or a landline if your mobile/cellphone is lost or misplaced.
  10. Keep a list of reliable tradespeople that will respond quickly for those unforeseen mishaps or failures, for example if your computer fails. You cannot afford to be without one for days.

It may sound like a lot of effort for a work at home office, but remember it is going to be your place of work for many years. Take some time to plan and set up your home office to maximize efficiency and productivity but also provide comfort and style.

For even more tips and advice on organizing your home-based business, see Home Business Organization.

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