Today, more and more people are working from home. Setting up a home office environment needn’t be expensive or difficult, but it can benefit from a little planning and fore-thought. Putting some effort into creating the right environment can really help make your home office more comfortable and productive. Here are some useful tips for what you need for a home office and for organising your workspace.
Create a Dedicated Work Space
It does not always seem easy to reconcile work and family life. Whether you live in a house or an apartment, creating a space that is totally dedicated to your work will allow you to focus while working. Careful choice of furniture can mean that this space blends with the rest of your home in an aesthetically pleasing way. Two solutions are available to you. Either you dedicate a room exclusively to your business or work, or you opt for a wall or corner of a room if you do not have enough space or a spare room in the house.
If other members of your family or people who share your home also work from home, it can be preferable to have a separate arrangement of your desks, in more than one room, rather than a side-by-side arrangement. This will allow you to have your own space. Having some sense of separation or privacy for your working space is essential, as it will improve your efficiency and above all else, you will find it easier to separate your working time from your personal time. Some people do indeed work at home sitting on their couch with a laptop, however it can be much more difficult to stay focused if you don’t have a dedicated work area or space.
Specify Your Working Time
In the same way that it is necessary to dedicate a work space to your home office, deciding on a work schedule is also very important. For this, many the best solution is to start around 9 am just as they would if attending an employer’s office, as it forces you to have a real routine and helps prepare you mentally for starting work each day. If you are an employee and are working from home due to a flexible working arrangement with your employer, then your schedule may be determined for you anyway.
This allows a real discipline that will structure your hours of work and will help separate your professional life from your personal life. It is important to give yourself an hour of lunch too, just as if you were in a traditional place of work, as this allows you to take a break, and therefore be more effective in the afternoon.
Create an Effective Home Office Space
In addition to being well ventilated, your office should ideally have at least one window, as a natural, outside light source is better for morale. You will then need to equip your home office space with furniture and basic tools. A good seat, a desk, a computer or laptop, a printer and a good internet connection would be a typical setup. The bottom line is to feel at ease in your work space. Regarding your computer, it should ideally be purely for professional use, and not general family use.
Lighting is also a very important aspect of any home office environment. Poor lighting can affect your health by causing fatigue, headaches and eye irritation.
Set Up a Filing System For Your Home Office
The administrative side of your job will very often generate paperwork. At the very least, you’ll want somewhere to store mail, computer cables, printer paper etc. If you do not have some effective storage, your desk and the surrounding area is likely to accumulate mess, and you may be quickly overwhelmed. Mismanagement of administrative documents often leads to loss of time and money e.g. it would be a shame to be penalised for late payment of a lost invoice. It is therefore important to set up a system of filing and storage for your documents and other bits and pieces that are work related.
Invest in Office Supplies
To have a really professional home work space, try not to neglect the little things you would have in a traditional office. Buy everything you need for your business, including basic stationery, envelopes, sticky notes, USB storage drives etc.
Install a Dedicated Telephone Line
Imagine that your child picks up a business call, this can be rather annoying and in some cases could also impact on your employer or customers trust. If your budget allows, it can be very beneficial to install a telephone line dedicated solely to work activity. If you only work from home once or twice each week this may not be cost effective, but if you work from home more regularly or run your own business from home, then a dedicated line can almost be essential.
Have an Optional Meeting Space For Clients
If you have opted for a room specifically dedicated to your business, consider including a few chairs and a coffee table that will serve as a meeting space, in case you bring your customers or clients to your home. Ideally, there should be access to this room without needing to pass through the rest of your home, so that your customers do not enter your private sphere. If you tend to have conference calls or especially video conference calls, then having a dedicated room can be really useful. Having the family in the background can quickly become distracting during these sorts of business calls.
Be Organised and Focused on Your Work
When working alone at home, we tend to be overwhelmed by multiple distractions. You must therefore adopt a working method that will allow you to overcome distractions and remain focused. Make a schedule of all the tasks you need to do during the week. Have a daily to-do list. There are plenty of online tools that can help with this such as Google Keep, Google Docs, Trello, etc. Work to a plan and you will have no difficulty in meeting the requirements of your job. It will give you a sense of progress and reduce the risk of losing motivation and lack of achievement that can sometimes come from working in isolation.
Don’t Delay Tasks or Become Lazy
Ok, so this is more about attitude than anything else, but as mentioned above, the home-based worker will be distracted in various ways. The reasons will be multiple but we must not push task back to the next day just because it is easier to do so while away from a traditional workplace. If you have invested in an effective home office then make sure you use it effectively by putting the same effort in as you would at an employer’s place of work. Ultimately, you’ll achieve more satisfaction this way and you will maintain and gain even greater trust from your employer and clients.
Don’t Shut Yourself Away
Working from home doesn’t mean you need to become totally isolated from the rest of the world. It is advisable to get some fresh air each day, and perhaps have a daily walk. The best plan would be at lunch time, to cut your day in half and give you a break from work and your computer screen. You can take the opportunity to see the world and relax your mind, as well as burning a few calories and having a little exercise. Taking this time out each day will often result in a much more productive afternoon.
So there you have it, our basic tips and advice for working from a home office or work space. Feel free to share this article with others, and remember, if you’re about to create your own home work space, we have some great deals on home office furniture and equipment.