If you work from home, you know that there are enough distractions without having equipment and supply problems as well as endless family interruptions. You may not be able to stifle the urge to overdose on coffee or take a few too many snack runs to the fridge, but there are ways to outfit your home office to make your daily routine more convenient, efficient, and comfortable.
The economic slowdown may be bad news for most of us, but it has also given rise to a burgeoning home office industry. If you’re trying to earn extra money working online a few hours a week or have a growing consulting business out of your home as a result of downsizing in your industry of choice, that spare bedroom may have turned into your new career space. It may be time to rethink the kid desk and Winnie the Pooh lamp in favor of something better suited to a serious business arrangement. You may not be ready to rent an office space, but you can make your home based business nook, room, or makeshift corner better suited to your work-a-day needs. These tips will help:
Home Office Layout and Set Up Strategies
Equipment – Most home based small business startups are either over or under invested in equipment. This includes electronics like computers, monitors, printers and phone systems. Sit down and plan out what you really need relative to your budget. Whenever possible, opt for versatile equipment that will do more than one thing well. Printer four-in-one units are an excellent example. They are effective printers, scanners, copiers, and fax machines consolidated into a single housing that takes up a minimum of space. They also go on sale regularly. Choose a unit that has good buzz and uses the most cost effective replacement toner (or ink). There are a number of sites that do the math for you to help determine the best deal.
Furniture – When evaluating your furniture needs, it’s easy to make your comfort a secondary consideration. This is a terrible mistake. If you spend six hours in your home office, using a kitchen chair instead of a dedicated office chair with lumbar support is just foolish. You don’t have to buy a solid wood office layout with a credenza and an onboard lateral filing system, but make sure your home office has enough space to house your equipment safely and sports the amenities necessary for you to sit, converse, and perform simple office tasks without discomfort or undue inconvenience.
The inconvenience factor is an important part of the overall equation. If you have to lift two filing boxes to get to your quote pads or accounting information, you need a dedicated filing cabinet or two. Three minutes scurrying around to find what you need may seem like a small price to pay for saving on the cost of a filing system or new desk arrangement, but multiply that by twenty and you have an hour’s worth of unnecessary frustration and wasted time.
Privacy – You love your kids and spouse, but if you keep losing your train of thought because of regular interruptions, it’s time to either annex an entire room for your office, or put up some barriers (and establish some house rules). Sometimes a divider like a panel screen, or even a couple of file cabinets, can inaugurate working walls to separate your space from the rest of a larger room. That and a few bylaws may help make your work time more productive and less peppered with periodic interruptions.
Lighting – Putting some light on the subject may seem like a puny consideration when you start thinking about all the things necessary to get your business operating smoothly, but if you’re squinting to read the small print on that new contract, it’s an inconvenience you don’t need. Those large overhead fluorescent fixtures in big office buildings are there for a good reason. Bright lighting saves your eyes, but it also helps to keep you more focused and energized. If the lighting in your office space is inadequate and you don’t have access to a southern facing window, add a fixture or two today.