Working from home is becoming increasingly popular for both small business owners and employees of larger companies who have the option to work from home. Over a five year time span from 2005 to 2010 out of all U.S. workers, the percentage of those that worked from home increased from 7.8% to 9.5% (USA Today). While some are lucky enough to have a whole room in their home dedicated to be an office, others are not so lucky. A home office may be set up in a large closet, the garage, or even in the kitchen.
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When setting up a home office, the essential items needed will vary based on the type of employment. Some may need a drafting table, others a sewing and craft table, others just a desk and some standard office electronics. For most people, a desk will be required. Desks can be found cheaply at garage sales or thrift stores. If you’re willing to pay a little more for something new, you can shop at Ikea, Office Max, Target or Wal-Mart. Of course there are specialty furniture stores available for a more specific request. The standard office equipment you may need include a computer, copier, internet modem, and a phone. A personal cell phone set with a professional voicemail message may do just fine as a business phone.
The most essential aspect of the home office is to have a workspace where you can spread out documents, balance checkbooks or complete blueprints. Determine how much space you need and shop around for the right size and style of desk to accommodate your needs. If you only need a small space for a computer and a few files then don’t go overboard with a giant wrap-around desk. If you need lots of space to spread out paperwork, make sure to find a space in your home to accommodate a large enough desk. Think creatively about out-of-the-way spaces for your workspace. A dining room that is rarely used or a spare bedroom may be just the right space. Even an armoire may do well as a desk which can hold a computer and a few key items and then the doors can be closed when the work day is over.
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Another important factor for your home workspace is lighting. Sure that walk-in closet might make just the perfect hide-away for your home office but if you have to strain your eyes to see your work then you’ve got some modifications to make to the space. Simple desk lamps may do just the trick or if possible, set your desk close to a window so that you can admit as much natural light as possible.
Storage and Shelving
If yours is a business that requires the storage of documents or books that take up space, consider adding shelving behind the desk or use small file cabinets. Be sure that these items are within easy reach so that they can be efficiently retrieved. It’s always a good idea to back up important documents by scanning them onto your computer and then backing up the contents of your computer on an external hard drive or flash drive. This way in case any documents are lost or damaged, you have a record saved electronically.
If you will be sitting for long periods of time be sure to have a comfortable chair. Standard desk chairs on wheels work wonderfully on a hard surface. Consider ergonomic desk options which are better for posture and long-term comfort. You may even consider a standing desk if you are concerned about the disadvantages of sitting for long periods.
Tools and Equipment
Collect the necessary pens, scissors, and staplers needed for your workspace. Don’t go overboard though… You do not need 5 pairs of scissors or 20 pens. Get rid of any extra clutter that could slow you down by distracting you from your work. Keep a calendar either electronically or on paper and review it frequently. Make notes about appointments, conference calls, and important deadlines.
If you expect to have clients, co-workers or consultants meet you at your home office; designate one or two chairs to sit across the desk from you. These do not need to be expensive office chairs; they can be simple decorative ones or even chairs from the dining table that you can bring to your desk when visitors are expected. Also if you do expect business visitors, it’s better to have a private workspace such as a room with a door that closes or an out of the way area in which you and your guests will not be disturbed by noisy children at play or the sound of the dishwasher running.
This for many can be the most fun aspect of creating a home workspace, for others it may seem daunting. While function and efficiency is the most crucial part of the home work space, it’s also nice to add some aesthetic appeal. The workspace should complement the decorating theme of the rest of the home. If it is positioned near the kitchen which is decorated with red and blue, don’t decorate the workspace with yellow and green. Set some heartwarming or motivational photographs on the desk or on the wall behind the desk so that you have something nice to look at and keep you going.
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